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To wish for hospitality to be returned?

(33 Posts)
mrsmopp Mon 10-Mar-14 16:52:58

We live over 300 miles from family; we drive to see them, stay in a holiday inn or similar, have evening meals with them in pubs or restaurants. Nobody says come round for dinner, nobody says stay with us. OK. But they are pleased to see us and we do all get on.
But this time of year the emails start - We'd love to come and see you, can we come and stay in May/June/July etc. we have welcomed them time after time, but now I feel why doesnt anyone do the same for us? I feel like I am running a free holiday service. The last lot that came, I said, how long are you staying and the reply was 'till you chuck us out'
How can I deal with the resentment I am feeling without upsetting anyone? I am getting a bit fed up with it all, but I don't want to feel like this.

tanith Mon 10-Mar-14 17:09:27

It sounds very unfair especially if they do have space to offer you a bed. Could you not plead that you aren't feeling up to accommodating them all but will be happy to spend time with when they are in the area.

petra Mon 10-Mar-14 17:11:57

What I do in this situation is ask what dates they are thinking of. When I get them I say Oh No! We are on holiday at that time. Do it a couple of times, they soon take the hint.

Agus Mon 10-Mar-14 17:21:26

I had a similar problem when we lived abroad, friends and family would arrive assuming they were coming to an hotel yet whenever we returned home, not even a dinner invitation. When chatting to neighbours we all said how exhausted we were at the end of the summer due to so many visitors. I even found a couple of visitors checking my calendar looking for available dates to return. I started putting the names of anyone I could think of to fill the calendar so they knew we had other visitors on those dates.

I think you have to be blunt and say, sorry, but we have something on for those dates.

I loved having visitors and made them very welcome but eventually I resented the one sided hospitality and cherry picked who I would prefer to see. Not at all the way I wanted to be either mrsmopp but I eventually saw some visitors as very selfish and entitled so, unfortunately for them, they lost out on a very cheap holiday.

janerowena Mon 10-Mar-14 17:35:35

Do you have pets? Do you need pet-sitters? We go away and let friends stay in our house in return for pet and plant-sitting, it works very well. We may see them for one night or afternoon to hand over, then just leave them to it, and we have stayed in other houses a couple of times. If you gently suggest to some of your visitors that you house-swap, it will be interesting to see their reactions.

granjura Mon 10-Mar-14 17:44:12

When we moved to Switzerland, we made a big joke about everyone welcome on a 1 - 2 - 3 basis. Oh they said, what's this. And we explained, we cook on evening 1, we go out on evening 2 and YOU cook on evening 3, and start again! They all said it was a brilliant idea- and bless them they've all respected that. We do have flexibility in the 'system'- depending on activities and weather- but overall it works so well. When we go out, we go insist on going Dutch- although visitors usually insist on taking us out to a nice place towards the end of the stay.

It's never too late to smile and say- would love you to come, but from now on it's on a 1 - 2 - 3 basis. And we also take it in turn to pick up the tab when we fill up with petrol/Diesel on our trips all over during their stay. Only fair and polite - and of course we do the same when we are invited to stay at friends too.

JessM Mon 10-Mar-14 17:55:26

Well you have obviously got into this rut. Families can be like that. Assumptions get made e.g. "they prefer to stay in a hotel" "they love having visitors" and things get taken for granted. Easier to set ground rules at the beginning than change things.
What do you want - do you want them to still come and visit you? Do you want them to put you up when you visit?
You can either take an indirect approach e.g. "we're in the middle of decorating so its not convenient" - but that tends to be only temporary effect.
or the direct one "we're getting a bit fed up with always being the hosts and never the guests" or " money is tighter these days - I wonder if you could put us up" or "yes you can come and stay but I'd like you to sort out your own meals and bring your own sheets"
The second "assertive" approach is more risky, but more likely to change the goal posts permanently.

KatyK Mon 10-Mar-14 18:02:44

Same here mrsmopp. We always try to make an effort, nobody else does.

rosesarered Mon 10-Mar-14 18:03:00

MrsMopp it sounds as if you are living up to your name, as far as visitors are concerned! Yes, it has to be a 2 way thing IF they can really put you up in a spare room then they should offer.I would say outright next time, 'we are thinking about coming to stay with you, when would be a good time?' if they then say 'oh, you always stay in a hotel' say 'that's getting rather expensive for us now, and it would be nice to stay in your house.' Of course, that's if you really want to stay with them, and it seems you do.Otherwise you will have to restrict their visits to you to 3 days [claim tiredness.]Why did you stay in a hotel in the first place, was there a good reason?

granjura Mon 10-Mar-14 18:28:27

There are several threads at the moment basically on the same topic- allowing others, be it OH, kids, family or friends- to walk all over us- part guilt trip, bordering on blackmail almost. And it really makes me think about an older thread- entitled something like ' people will behave with you as you allow them to- or something like that. Can anyone find the link- it is so true. We can all be our worst enemies sometimes, and allow patterns to establish themselves and remain- which we then resent and find very difficult to reverse.

Visitors are always tiring- but it should be a pleasant and enjoyable shared experience- or what is the point. Find a way to say next time- would love to see you, but this is how it works now for x, y, z reason (tiredness, age, finances, whatever...) and stick to it. You'll soon find out who really wants to come and see YOU, and those who want to come for a free ride. Bonne chance.

granjura Mon 10-Mar-14 18:30:40

Here is one article, out of many on the net:

How Not To Let People Walk All Over You
May. 5, 2013

By Payal Shah info
Co-authored by Payal Shah and Nainika Agrawal.

It’s really easy to lose yourself to the people around you. Maybe you’re the one who stops studying the day before your final exam because your best friend has boy trouble and NEEDS to vent about what an asshole he is. Or the one who’ll trudge it up to the residence hall a mile away because the cute boy in your Psych 101 class said he needs notes for the quiz that’s in two hours. Let’s face it; we’ve all had those moments where we let people treat us like a bathmat when we really don’t deserve it. Though it’s not always conscious, it can still make you feel your worst. I’ve faced this problem to an almost crazy extent, and getting out of that phase took a lot of working on my basics. Here are a few things I learned during my journey, mostly the hard way.

Learn to say NO. Hey, why the hell should you give your last five dollars to bats-her-eyelashes-to-get-everything-she-wants Stacey when you very well know that you need it because you’re starving? This is the first and hardest step into being your own person and stopping yourself from being a people pleaser — turning down requests you find unfair or absurd, or are simply not in a position to fulfill. Sure, nobody minds doing someone a favor (which you really shouldn’t every single time or else I’m sorry to inform you, but no one is ever going to help you when you need it), but if the favor is “Hey can you please do my math homework while I go out and get plastered with my friends on a Sunday night kthxbye”, then we have a problem. Just telling the person that you do not want to do the math homework can feel very liberating, and sometimes it needs to be done. For your own sake. Because no one needs more math homework than there already is. But what if they get upset?

Hold your own once you’ve learnt to follow step 1. Once you say that no, always expect a “why not?” in retort. If (or rather, when) this situation comes up, don’t be scared! Just make sure you’re turning them down for the right reasons, and not “because you like Justin Bieber and I don’t do favors to pussies, dude.” If you have things on your plate that you need to do first, tell them! Or if you know that the request is outright bull, just say so…nicely. As scary as doing this might sound, remember that you come first. Not your boozy roommate’s math homework.

Be an equal. The harsh reality is that very few relationships are truly equal. There is always a balance that is tipped a little more to one side than the other. But in healthy relationships, this balance moves equally between the two people. If your balance is tipped at 45 degrees with your best friend, maybe it’s time to start evaluating how good she really is for you. Being someone’s friend is not the same as being their bitch. The aim of a friendship or even a relationship is to enjoy things at an equal footing, not to run behind them like a butler and to allow them to choose what you do every time you meet because you can’t muster up the courage to tell them you want to check out that new Thai restaurant. 

Communicate. Communicating is the key to train yourself to stand up for yourself and not get walked all over. It’s the hardest part of this whole process, but also possibly the most important. If you feel it’ll help you to hear it from someone else’s mouth, speak to a friend about it and ask them to give you reasons why it’s okay to say no sometimes. Simply hearing your own thoughts from another person you trust can sometimes help give you that surety and confidence in yourself that you need. If you need to, stand in front of a mirror, look yourself in the eye and say, “I come first. It is okay not to want to do what my friends want all the time.” Slathering Post-It notes all over you wall works too. 

Learn that it is not necessary for everyone to like you. Most of the time, what one person wants is quite different from what another wants. So, if you try to do what everyone wants and ignore how that makes you feel, you will drive yourself crazy. But many people, despite realizing this, run from end to end of the earth trying to please everyone for the simple reason that others’ opinions matter to them too much. Their sense of self-worth stems from others’ judgment of them. If someone says “Oh, she’s so selfish,” or “Man, that girl needs to be less of a bitch,” they will spend a ludicrous amount of time thinking of how selfish they are and convincing themselves that they are, in fact, a bitch. What these people don’t realize is that no matter what they do, how they do it, and who they do it with, there will be someone or the other out there who will have a judgmental comment to make. Always. So — let’s exercise the logic center of our brains here — what’s the solution? If you’re being judged for doing or saying something any which way, you’d might as well do what’s right for you!

So basically what I’m trying to say here is that it’s really easy for relationships to become a one-way barter transaction. And though the above steps may seem fairly easy to implement, sticking to them is one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. As the soul-searing legend who sings us to sleep on those lonely nights, John Mayer, once said, “It’s very liberating when you finally realize that it’s impossible to make everyone like you.” And if we just learnt this and applied it to our daily lives, I promise you that you will probably be about 47% happier. A small (and a bit of a weird) number, but it can make a big difference. TC mark

KatyK Mon 10-Mar-14 18:45:57

granjura - Your words are very wise indeed. The only problem is that, as you say, it is VERY difficult to reverse. I have always been a 'mouse' and so people have treated me as such. After a horrible time in my life a few years ago I decided I was going to change and not be so meek and mild and stop saying yes to everyone. I decided I was not hopeless, useless etc as I had been conditioned to believe in my upbringing. My (very slight) change in attitude caused major problems, especially with my DD. She was used to me being a certain way, always agreeing with her and to a certain extent, letting her walk all over me. When I stood up for myself a bit she accused me of 'being up my own backside' and 'having a go at her for no reason'. I don't feel that she treats me very well at all but I have gone back to being meek, as at least we are still on speaking terms. In my experience, people don't like mice that roar or worms that turn, which is fine for the people you are not close to but it can cause big problems in families.

annodomini Mon 10-Mar-14 19:35:44

mrsmopp, one thing about the OP puzzles me. You say that they email you to say that they would like to come to stay and that you have welcomed them time after time. But you have voluntarily gone to stay in a hotel. I hope you don't mind my asking why you don't send a similar email to them? I have the opposite problem. My family are all so busy at weekends - swimming, cycling, scouts, cubs... that they don't have the time to come north to stay with granny. However, I am always welcome to stay with them.

granjura Mon 10-Mar-14 20:27:14

Find this puzzling too- how you initially decided to go and stay in a hotel. Can you remember the reasons for that decision?

mrsmopp Mon 10-Mar-14 20:55:06

Yes, when both sets of our parents were still alive we stayed with them and they came to us, but once they had gone, nobody offered, and I guess at the time it seemed the option to stay in Holiday Inn, in order to keep in regular contact with the remaining family members.
I felt it was cheeky to ask for accommodation, not wanting to impose, & thinking the offer would come from them but it never did. Not even an invite to dinner, but if they come here it's all home cooking.
I should be more assertive I know but it's not my personality. Mouse? Maybe.

KatyK Mon 10-Mar-14 21:03:40

I didn't mean to imply you are a mouse mrsmopp - not at all. I am speaking only for myself. I get angry with myself for being such a wimp.

granjura Mon 10-Mar-14 21:16:15

Thanks Mrs Mopp- didn't mean to pry- but I was wondering.

Could it be they are embarrassed because you are such a good cook and put on such a good spread- that they feel they are not up to your standard?

When we first lived in Newcastle u Lyme- we were surprised about the lack of return invitations. Talking to a neighbour who had become a very good friend- one day I asked her why. And her reply (remember it was in the early 70s- before all the cooking revolution in the UK)- that she and the others felt that as I was European, they felt they could not possibly live up to the standards. Well, I could hardly boil an egg then- so we had a really good laugh about it- and then invitations started, and they all realised they were much better cooks than me. Very funny.

Nothing wrong with being a mouse, but it is a pity to become a resentful mouse. And no need to jump to the other extreme of becoming a hyena either- just try to become a more open mouse, and make your feelings quietly but firmly known, with a smile. It might well work. Bonne chance.

granjura Mon 10-Mar-14 21:17:30

Thanks Mrs Mopp- didn't mean to pry- but I was wondering.

Could it be they are embarrassed because you are such a good cook and put on such a good spread- that they feel they are not up to your standard?

When we first lived in Newcastle u Lyme- we were surprised about the lack of return invitations. Talking to a neighbour who had become a very good friend- one day I asked her why. And her reply (remember it was in the early 70s- before all the cooking revolution in the UK)- that she and the others felt that as I was European, they felt they could not possibly live up to the standards. Well, I could hardly boil an egg then- so we had a really good laugh about it- and then invitations started, and they all realised they were much better cooks than me. Very funny.

Nothing wrong with being a mouse, but it is a pity to become a resentful mouse. And no need to jump to the other extreme of becoming a hyena either- just try to become a more open mouse, and make your feelings quietly but firmly known, with a smile. It might well work. Bonne chance.

ffinnochio Mon 10-Mar-14 22:27:53

I may be going off at a tangent here, but here's my little story that I found v. enlightening.
When my mother was seriously ill, I travelled a long way and stayed in her cottage for several weeks in order to spend time with her in hospital. I was kindly invited out numerous times in the evenings by extended family - but was just too tired to accept. More driving, more late nights, more having to be upbeat and bright when I was feeling anything but. One day a cousin phoned to say she understood how I must be feeling, but she'd like to see me, so could she bring along a picnic supper to the cottage, and that I wasn't to do anything.

I was very touched by her thoughtfulness, and guess who I always choose to visit and take out for the day when I return to the UK.

No, I don't think you're being unreasonable, mrsmopp, but once a precedent is set, I can understand how difficult it is to undo. Try changing the dynamics a little at a time to suit your situation. Lots of good advice in how to do this in all these posts.

Good luck.

Eloethan Mon 10-Mar-14 23:54:25

This seems a very unfair situation. Is it possible that, as you have always booked to stay in hotels, they think you prefer to stay in a hotel - have your own personal space, bathroom, etc. Do they have much space at home and, if not, might they be embarrassed that they can't offer you a very comfortable stay?

It's a shame that this pattern of behaviour has been established as it's a bit awkward confronting it now. But I think that as you are feeling used and resentful you should perhaps consider being upfront and asking if you could stay with them on your next trip. If they are unwilling to do this, I would imagine they would probably be too embarrassed to continue to expect you to accommodate them.

I hope you manage to sort things out. It's nice that you're generous and accommodating, but there should also be some degree of give and take.

mrsmopp Tue 11-Mar-14 00:18:38

Thanks to all for taking the time with me on this. I agree it's hard to make changes when things seem to be set in stone, and patterns have been established. But as you have assured me that I an not bring unreasonable,
I will have the confidence to smile and suggest it's time to make a few changes.
Where would we be without Gransnet? So many lovely caring people giving sound advice & helping one another. Cheers everyone!

FlicketyB Tue 11-Mar-14 08:21:05

I do not always think it is selfishness, more thoughtlessness or an assumption that the current way is the way you prefer it. Once a pattern is set it is just followed.

I am very conscious that there were things I did and didn't do in relation to my own parents and my grandchildren that I did because I thought they were not bothered about something and because they never said anything that I now realise they possible found quite hurtful. I didn't mean it. I just didn't think.

mollie Tue 11-Mar-14 09:24:45

MrsMopp - others have touched on this but something similar happened to me and I discovered quite by accident that everyone thought that I preferred it to be this way and didn't consider offering to try something different. It seems that this might be the same for you - you say you're waiting for someone to make the offer and it's not happening. They might be under the illusion that you wouldn't want things changed - that you go to a hotel because you prefer it and maybe you always seem so welcoming that they think you like being hostess with the mostest! They aren't mind readers and unless you tell them, they will continue to think everything is OK.

You need to be honest and tell the family how you feel.

Last year I got so fed up with being the only one who arranged family gatherings etc. that I stopped. Have to say it was wonderful for me - no hassles with organising and trying to make everyone else happy and a lot less work. My lot are missing them but not one of them has suggested taking up the reigns and until someone does I'm sitting back...

granjura Tue 11-Mar-14 09:27:46

Be quietly but firmly brave- and make quiet suggestions- maybe as a confidence do the person you'd prefer to stay with. Like 'we always stayed in hotels because we didn't want to disturb anyone, but I really don't enjoy it anymore. Do you think it would be possible..?'.

Oh, and change your name from mrsmopp to mrs.topsmile

felice Tue 11-Mar-14 10:30:25

The first year we lived in Portugal, Algarve, we had lots of people wanting to visit, one family of 5 for 4 weeks, they didn't hire a car and seemed to think we would be taking them out and about every day, I had to sit them down and explain we were there to work and not on an extended holiday. They never offered to buy food even when i took them to the supermarket with me and as we worked in the evenings didn't take us out for a meal either. They just sat around the pool and drank our beer. I am afraid they put us completely off having any other guests to stay, and from then I just offered to find them reasonably priced accommodation. Most took it up but some were quite offended.
As most of you know I had a very bad experience with a 'friend' last year, well she came for a coffee last week, with a bag of new books as a gift and a grovelling apology. She is still not staying here again.