Dear Annie: There is a family in our congregation, "Fred" and "Wilma," who have two kids who are the same age as ours. My wife is friends with Wilma, and the kids all get along well. The problem is Fred. He's a fat jerk. We've known them for six years, and I work at the same company as him. However, I got promoted faster thanks to my working like a horse. He's an extremely jealous man and loves to make stupid comments about my work, right in front of people in social situations, even though I rarely talk about my job. I grin and bear it.
But he also makes stupid comments about how other people look, such as saying that my wife has thighs like a ham. He said it in front of several people. I replied, "How would you like it if someone said that about your wife?" He said, "Hey, my wife knows how to take what comes." I don't want this happening, because he does it in front of the kids, and this is precisely what we're trying to teach the kids NOT to do.
Another time, we were at a formal lunch with several families at someone's home, and the kids were playing pool in the living room. Fred insisted that the kids leave the pool table alone, and a teenage boy said: "No, this is not your home. Don't give us orders, and besides, there's nothing else for us to do here." Fred got in the boy's face, and ended up being wrestled to the floor by this kid. The last straw was when he grabbed the kid's belly and squeezed it and said, "Boy, you are so fat," and the boy's father slapped him.
I don't want this man around anymore. I don't want him in my home, and I don't want to go to his. Nobody else does either. But we want to invite his wife and kids. What should we do? We can't call her and say, "Wilma, you and your kids are invited, but your husband is not." We could call him and say, "You and your family are invited, but if you can't behave yourself, you can always say you have to work that day."
What is the solution when you don't want your friend's husband around because he doesn't behave properly? — Upset by Friend's Rude Husband
Dear Upset: Wow, he does sound very unpleasant. What an unhappy man he must be to go around insulting others. The real victims in all this are his wife and kids. You have every right not to invite this man into your house. I think you can say to Wilma that her and her kids are invited over but her husband is not.
However, making a comment about his wife knowing "how to take what comes" sounds like emotional abuse. Wilma could really use a friend. Try to show her lots of compassion. If she is insulted that you will not invite her husband when you invite her, then it is time to take a break from this family until he learns how to behave properly. Toxic people create a toxic environment. Why surround yourself with negativity? It's just not worth it when there are so many great people in the world.
"Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie" is out now! Annie Lane's debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit http://www.creatorspublishing.com for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected]