Dear Alma: Navigating Friend Relationships With Married Men, Cooking For Guests

Dear Alma: Navigating Friend Relationships With Married Men, Cooking For GuestsDear Alma,

At work I’ve met some really interesting, funny men. I see them infrequently but would love to see them more often, outside of the work setting, maybe have them over for dinner. By the way I am happily married. I don’t know their wives but would love to invite both husband and wife over for a meal. Is it inappropriate? Would the wife feel threatened that her husband has a female friend? I’m concerned too, that my husband will feel threatened that I have a male friend- even though he will see that this friend is happily married. I want to clarify that there is no funny business involved! I just enjoy the companionship of both men and women. How would you proceed? Is this something a married person should avoid doing?

Feeling Short Changed On Who I Can Socialize With

Dear Feeling Short Changed On Who I Can Socialize With,

Pardon my frankness, but as long as you are honest with yourself about not wanting to lure the guest(s) into your bed with your delicious cooking, I see no reason why you shouldn’t invite them over. New friends are the spice of life whether they are men, women, Syrian refugees, whomever. I would suggest discussing it with your partner and if he has an issue with it, there may be other issues at play in your marriage that need to be addressed. As for the wives of the men, they’ll have to figure that one out themselves, not you.

Enjoy the dinner party!

Dear Alma,

Should one be all done with cooking before the guests arrive?

Never Ready in-Time

Dear Never Ready in-Time,

You definitely want to have the bulk of the meal done ahead of time for a few reasons. One, you don’t want your guests to wait too long for dinner, and two, you want to enjoy your guests and not be locked up in the kitchen alone!

If you are fortunate enough to have a sitting area in the kitchen and are able to socialize and cook simultaneously, you can finish up last minute items while you are drinking wine and chit-chatting with your guests, a la Ina Garten. If you have a distracted cooking personality, however, do not attempt this multi-tasking or your dinner may be a culinary disaster.

A good strategy to avoid too much cooking while guests are there is to make no “day-of” menu items, such as room temperature/cold items and prepped, marinated dishes and casseroles that you simply place in the oven before guests arrive.

Good luck!

Dear Alma,

My nonverbal preschooler with autism is obsessed with fruits and veggies. He’s very wily and will strategize, attack and demolish fruit and veggie platters and the contents of fruit bowls at other people’s houses the moment our hyper-vigilance is relaxed. And we can’t keep up the hyper-vigilance forever, no matter how hard we try. His impulse control is getting better with school and therapies, but he goes gaga over those foods and is not yet at the point where he can show restraint around them.

Many people whose homes we go to for dinner, even if they’re warned about this in detail, even if we request that they move the food out of his reach beforehand, still place the food within his reach (say, on a coffee table) among the guests, then say “oh no, let him eat,” and then get upset when he…does. How do we help our hosts understand this issue to make things easier all around? Is there a polite yet very strongly-worded way to do so? We’d rather keep visiting our friends, and they seem to want to keep seeing us despite this.

Veggie Lover’s Mama

Dear Veggie Lover’s Mama,

As kind as your hosts must be to keep inviting you over, I believe that at this point, if you have indeed explained to them in detail about your son’s issues, the onus now falls on you to take control. Yes, it can be a burden for the family of people with special needs to have to take responsibility but that is our plight (or fun challenge!), if we want to socialize effectively. We don’t want to be isolated and we want to be invited back.

I am wondering if the hosts are simply being polite to say “let him eat” when what they may actually mean is “let him eat, but you need to be ON him”? Sad to say, you need to remain hyper-vigilant, which is exhausting, or simply no longer bring your child. Your son’s double dipping and messing up of the platters will probably get tiresome after a while for your hosts and while they still may invite you back, they may not want to. I see trouble coming down the pike.

If you definitely want to bring him with you or don’t have a way for him to be cared for when you go out, one strategy to help you stay more relaxed is to provide a plate separate from their platter filled with these healthy treats just for him. Make his more enticing so he is distracted away from the other items.

I hope this helps!

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