Having guests is a big mitzvah. We learn in the Talmud that it’s one of the few mitzvos that we can enjoy the fruits of in this world, yet the principle is still intact in the World to Come. So it’s kind of a big deal. It can be inspiring, enjoyable, entertaining. But what happens when the guest makes us uncomfortable, insinuates disapproval or outright insults us? What do we do in a situation where one spouse wants to have a guest, but that guest makes us uber uncomfortable, effectively making Shabbos, usually a delight, into a day of tension and stress? When it puts a strain on our marriage?
I ask because a reader contacted me with the following dilemma, and she would love to hear your advice on this tricky situation.
My husband has a good friend who has been single for a long time. He frequently came to stay with us over Shabbos. His visits always made me extremely tense, for a number of reasons. I felt that he looked down on me. He would make comments about the kids, the books, and the food that weren’t outright insulting, but were very critical. As if that weren’t enough, he would monopolize my husband’s attention by only talking about his own interests which led to our young children being ignored. The last straw was an explicit comment he made about my food. I had had enough, and I told my husband not to invite him again.
This man doesn’t have many friends and it’s painfully awkward now when he calls to speak to my husband. Of course I feel terrible, but what can I do? He lives far enough away that he can’t come only for a meal, he has to stay for the whole Shabbos, and I just can’t take it. It’s possible that I could lessen the intensity by inviting other guests, but that doesn’t always work.
I would really appreciate hearing what your readers have to say.
Yikes. That’s a tough situation. Let’s give her some advice that will hopefully be helpful.
What are your thoughts? What advice can you give her? How would you react in such a situation?