I’m wrestling out this issue in my mind, and it helps me to write this kind of stuff out. Basically, we — like everyone — have a few close friends and/or family members who like to drop by with sudden visits, and it’s stressful. For ease of clarity, I’m just going to shove the various persons who do this into a genderless conglomerate and refer to them as “Human.”
It’s on my mind right now because one of my co-workers is dealing with a similar situation, and I was sympathizing with her. Later, I was discussing the coworker’s situation with John, and we both got kind of silent and awkward as we simultaneously remembered the various times we’ve put each other in the position of having to graciously respond to, “Hey, Human just called. They’re in from out of town and want to stop by in x minutes/hours/days.”
In retrospect, it seems silly that short-notice visits used to cause such conflict for us. Now we’re pretty much on the same page — well, to be honest, we were on the same page before, I just felt like our page was rude so I forced myself out of our comfort zone to be a polite hostess. There are a couple issues with this:
- It’s really short notice. Invariably. At one point, Human showed up with no warning. S/he actually interrupted sex. It was embarrassing. Another time, Human showed up with a day’s notice and stayed two nights. Another time Human did give us about a weeks worth of warning — only to end up showing up early because s/he had given us advance notice and worn out their welcome early at their previous host’s place. Look, there’s a basic rule of thumb: If you’re dropping by without warning, be prepared for the visit to be 10 minutes or less, because people have lives and plans. If you want a long visit (3+ hours to overnight) at least call a few days in advance to work out the details and make sure the schedules of your hosts will accommodate you.
- Scheduling. Human never seems to take the time of year or our (hir proposed hosts’) schedules into account. There’s no allowing for things like our employment schedules, my schooling, or Kidling’s schooling. There’s just an assumption that since Human is a close friend/ family member, we should be able to drop our schedules at a moments notice to accommodate hir. Somehow, the corollary — that s/he should be able to call us in advance to warn us of a visit — does not seem to occur to Human.
- Mi casa no es tu casa, or, My home is not your home. There’s this incredibly awkward idea that Human has regarding our relationship. Basically, Human thinks that because we are all friends/ family members, we are comfortable with Human being in our home when we’re not there. And maybe we should be, who knows. It’s not like I think Human is going to steal our stuff, rummage through our medicine cabinets, and drink our liquor. On the contrary, I think Human is very trustworthy . . . but that doesn’t remove the deep visceral discomfort John and I experience when Human tells us it’s okay that we’ll be at work, s/he’ll just stop by our house and visit with Kidling until we get off work. It’s like, No. I haven’t had time to clean. I haven’t had time to hide the embarrassing books. I haven’t had time to hang up the jackets. I haven’t had time to password protect the computers. Kidling is a terrible host, he’ll ignore Human to play video games. The t.v. is hard for strangers to work and it’s just weird. It would be like if I showed up at my dad’s new house down there in Idaho and walked in and treated the place like it’s mine, like I have a right to slam his front door and rummage through his fridge. Maybe it would be different if John and I were that close with . . . anyone. But we’re not. I mean, I’m not even talking about family here — our rocky relationships with both sides of in-laws are a well-covered topic on this blog — we are just not that close with anyone. Neither of us has anyone who we would feel comfortable just going into their house without invitation, and likewise I wouldn’t feel comfortable if any of my friends felt like they could just open my door and walk in without warning. And that’s how we feel about our friends, people we see on a weekly basis and hang out with regularly and share similar values with. My house is my home, it’s a place to relax and have privacy and enjoy some solitude, and that sense of peace and serenity feels at risk and violated when Human says, “Oh, it’s fine you guys will be at work, I’ll just let myself in.”
- No offense intended, but offense is taken. And that’s the crux of this whole matter — over and over, Human puts us in this frustrating situation where we try to draw neat boundary lines and make reasonable requests (call us in advance, respect our schedules, don’t treat our house like it’s yours). S/he just acts like the boundaries don’t exist; like they’re unreasonable demands that infringe on Human’s right to disrupt our lives. Human acts like our requests for common courtesy are declarations of hatred, and responds by visiting less and making it our fault for not being completely accommodating of hir rudeness. It’s a really fucking frustrating situation and one I can see no answer to.
I listened to my co-worker rant in frustration about the unexpected visitors their SO told her about only 3 hours before said visitor’s arrival, and I thought about all the arguments John and I have had over the years about unexpected visitors. The worst part is, those arguments were all unnecessary.
If I had told my Human firmly, “No, my husband doesn’t want overnight guests this weekend,” or John had told his Human firmly, “No, three hours is too short of notice — we already have plans,” or if either of our Human’s had just called in advance and with an honest ability or willingness to work with our schedules instead of an insistence on, “this exact date and this exact time, and what do you mean you’re busy?” — If any of those three scenarios would have happened, if we had been able to draw lines in the sand early and stand by them, so much stress and so many arguments would have been averted.
I wish I could better advise my coworker. I’ve learned, however, that advice gleaned from life experience is rarely appreciated, even when asked for. So I just smile and make noises of sympathy. This is something coworker will have to work out with their SO through trial and error — just like John and I have.
I’m missing class today because I’m still sick. I caught up on my homework yesterday, so today I’ve pretty much been wasting time on the internet and reading smut. I won some baseball erotica on Jennifer Armintrout’s blog, and after I finished that (very short) trilogy, I went ahead and bought some of her other stuff.
John’s computer has crashed, so he’s either going to build a new one or get a new hard drive. Not really sure at the moment. Regardless, he’s been using my computers, but he doesn’t bother to sign out of my profiles for services we both use like FB and G+ and Reddit and Komo News. Our ways of interacting online are really different. He likes to troll, kinda, and rile people up, whereas I tend to take people at face (or screen) value and assume they are being genuine, so I try to respond to them in a similarly genuine manner. Since John’s been using my profiles, I’m getting some pretty interesting responses to stuff “I” posted.
I don’t mind at all, in fact I think it’s really fascinating in a behavioral-psychology sort of way, but it also makes me feel bad that these random internet people think my husband is such an angry combative person. It makes me defensive on John’s behalf, but he just laughs and tells me it doesn’t bother him so it shouldn’t bother me. Maybe that’s why he has such a thick skin and I’m so easily worried and concerned about everything and everyone — he’s just built it up over the years through shrugging off repeated insults. I dunno.
Sometimes I wish I could be thicker skinned and laugh off insults the way he does. Sometimes I wish I could be a bitch and just shut people out of my mind instead of worrying about them and hoping they’re doing well and thinking about good times instead of all the unhappy times.
Back when John and I were separated, I had this one friend who was really angry at how I sounded whenever I talked on the phone to John. He said I was too nice, too forgiving, too understanding. He said I should be more of bitch, that I should stand my ground. People tell me that a lot, and I don’t know what to say in response, because people often tell me I am a bitch when I do stand up for my values and beliefs. It seems like I’m a pushover when other people think I’m too forgiving, but when other people think I’m taking an unnecessary stand, I am a bitch. Either way, I can’t win . . . so I just do what works for me and mine, and that makes me a bitch of a pushover, I guess.
Then again, if I was more of a bitch who could easily shut people off, I don’t know that I would have given John a second chance back then, and I wouldn’t be in the wonderful relationship I am now. So maybe on balance this is better? Maybe my forgiving nature is necessary to balance John’s hard shell? Maybe this is why we work so well as a couple? I don’t know, and maybe it’s just the fever and boredom of being home all day that’s making me babble on and on. Next thing you know I’m going to be updating my G+ profile and changing my FB timeline cover/ profile picture every 10 minutes.
Or, god forbid, signing up for one of those lame Zynga games because I have nothing more productive to do with my time. Jesus. I’ve gotten so many invites for that shit since I’ve come back on FB — I block one game app from invites, only to have a nearly-similar game invite pop up within seconds.