Q: My wife and I are both 27 years old, and our friends are 25. We understand the importance of etiquette and do our best to treat everyone we meet in the same manner we would like to be treated. Our dilemma involves two of our best friends, who we love and truly enjoy spending time with.
We typically host our gatherings since we have a larger house with plenty of space. Lately, it seems that we are always the ones making dinner, cleaning, and providing wine and drinks. They never bring anything over and usually drink all of our wine. My wife and I devote our time to cleaning up the house afterwards; I am getting frustrated with the lack of participation on their end. How do we politely tell them to start bringing wine, preparing a side dish, or lending a hand in the clean up?
I feel like our relationship is starting to suffer and I don’t want to see this friendship end. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
A: First of all, I respect your loyalty to your friends, and I am sure they are deeply committed to you and your wife as well. It seems like you all have gotten into a routine that needs some adjusting. You can start to set boundaries by simply asking for help, “Hey guys, would you mind giving us a hand washing the dishes before you take off? It’s an early morning tomorrow.” Or, “We’d love to get together this weekend with you two, you bring dessert and a bottle of white wine, we will make the main dish.”
Or, invite them to join you for an afternoon excursion, whether kayaking or attending an arts festival. Suggest that each of you bring a simple sack lunch to enjoy on the go, or offer to make sandwiches and ask that they bring the fruit and beverages. The change of scenery could be a welcome surprise!
It’s important to re-establish boundaries and be assertive without sounding aggressive. You don’t want to be taken advantage of, and if they are good friends, they will know your true intentions. Bottom line, nothing is going to change unless you communicate your expectations. Set up ground rules in a kind way. And, it’s always a good idea to broaden your circle of friends, invite a couple of new people over and let them see how other people behave in similar situations.