After returning from an Anniversary trip last week, my sister informed us of an upcoming birthday party being held for her daughter this coming weekend - the drive there is several hours away, so we would have most likely opted to take the train instead.

Since we have had to content with both paying for our trip and an unexpected car breakdown, we had originally declined the invitation due to tight finances, which my sister had accepted.

Then my mother called two days ago, and told me she would be driving down - offering to take the two of us as well.

And that's where my problems start.

If it were just me, I would go down to the city for the party. I wouldn't especially like it, since most of the people there I don't know and it's a muggy New York City day. But I would go out of obligation to my niece and sister.

My wife has also said that she will go if I ask her, but has also made it clear that she does not want to go - and there are several good reasons for her feeling this way.

  • We just got back from a long and exhausting trip, and she's still feeling exhausted from it.
  • She doesn't especially like my sister, and especially dislikes the city, so this would be even more of a loathsome trip for her than for me.
  • She recently found out this week that her childhood home was shot at in a drive-by shooting, and is emotionally compromised and stressed out from this ordeal.
  • She also had plans to host a DND game that night, and will have to cancel to attend this party.

This is also following a trend in my family that I've become aware of lately - where we give our refusal to attend an event, and are then guilted into attending anyway, generally being unhappy while there. Normally I do not fight such invitations, but my wife is from a very small family that she rarely gets to see, and is not so keen on having our own personal plans interrupted by various family events.

I'm not entirely sure what to do here - I could just go on my own, but I know that my sister and my parents would be offended at my wife not wanting to go for personal reasons (some of which I can't exactly explain - like her discomfort with my sister on personal and political things). I could ask her to go with me, but I know she will be miserable during the whole thing. We could refuse, but I feel this is a fairly important event, and I've already opted out of a more recent graduation party for a cousin on the other side of the family.

There's also the fact that my parents don't entirely understand the feelings of my wife - who dislikes these frequent family events with people she barely knows, and has had a bad reputation with my sister for years that we try not to bring up in situations like this. But I'm not sure how to breach that subject with them either, and I feel it will come up if I decline their offer, or suggest leaving my wife behind.

So, my current stance on this is that I want to attend this party with the ride my parents have offered, but not force my wife to attend - I've made this proposal to my wife and she accepts my decision, but now I need to call my mother. What should I tell her, and how do I avoid going into the personal details of why my wife does not want to attend?

  • Hi Zibbobz! I'm a bit unclear on what you're trying to achieve. Are you trying to politely tell your mother you would rather stay at home? What reasons would you like to invoke? Do you think she'll react badly if you tell her you don't wanna go without giving further details as to why?
    – avazula
    Jun 21, 2019 at 18:57
  • @avazula I would personally like to attend, though I'm not going to enjoy it. And my wife does not want to attend. So at this point, I'm looking to tell my mother that I am going to attend, and that my wife is not, and preparing to tell her this without going into personal details for why my wife doesn't want to attend. I'll update the question to reflect this more specific question.
    – Zibbobz
    Jun 21, 2019 at 20:11
  • Since your wife is hosting the dnd night, is there a reason you can not simply tell your mom “she has already made other plans, but I will happily join, thank you for offering to drive”?
    – AsheraH
    Jun 22, 2019 at 11:34

2 Answers 2


"Thanks so much, Mom, for offering to drive us, but we'll be staying home that night."

I saw something like this in a question on here about how to avoid changing seats on an airplane, and while I have not had the opportunity to use it, I love this idea of deflecting a request by thanking the person for offering to do something.

You get to be gracious about the offer for a ride. Imagine that you badly wanted to go. It would be nice of your mom to offer a ride. On the other hand, you communicate that you will not be going to the party---not that you're uninterested or that your wife isn't keen to go after undergoing legitimate trauma ("it'll be good for her to have some fun" could be a response), but that you will not be attending the party.

  • 2
    This seems like a good idea on paper - but I can already imagine several follow-up questions about why we aren't going.
    – Zibbobz
    Jun 21, 2019 at 13:34
  • 4
    Then it turns into the art of saying no, which is covered on here quite extensively. The gist is to be boring and repeat that you won't be going. "No is a complete sentence," is a mantra on here.
    – Dave
    Jun 21, 2019 at 13:39

No one else can make the decision for you as to what you "should" do. However, based on "If it were just me, I would go down to the city for the party", it sounds like you want to go (out of obligation). It also sounds like your wife really does not want to go, for a lot of reasons, but you are afraid that will look bad.

Your wife has some reasons like the long trip and her childhood home being shot at that seem like they'd be reasonable to anyone. If you want to attend on your own, present those reasons. Your family may not be completely happy, but they shouldn't be too offended.

There's a separate issue of your family events being a problem for you and your wife. If you develop a pattern of skipping events or attending on your own that's not going to look good. Sounds like part of the problem is that these events are on your family's schedule, so they don't fit in well. It might be useful to schedule a family get together on your schedule. Not necessarily any particular thing like a birthday, just a chance to get together when you and your wife don't have other plans and aren't stressed out.

  • 1
    The thing about the last paragraph is, left to our own devices, we tend to not want to have much interaction with people - we're very introverted people, and thrive on limited social interaction. My family is...very social and extroverted. Even if we had the motivation to plan events like that (which we don't), I doubt we would be able to sate my family's desire to see us frequently.
    – Zibbobz
    Jun 21, 2019 at 13:36

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