Do I Talk to My Friend's Husband About Not Coming to My Birthday Party?

Updated on October 23, 2018
S.S. asks from Brooktondale, NY
15 answers

I recently celebrated a big, round birthday and threw a party. The husband of a good friend - a couple we have been close to for 20-some years - did not attend and did not let me know he wouldn't be. He and their eldest daughter, who used to be best friends with my eldest, went to an exhibition instead, something my friend only mentioned when I asked if he was coming later, offhandedly like it was no big deal. I need a reality check please. 1) Is it reasonable to feel hurt that he chose an exhibition over my party? and 2) Is this something to bring up or do I just put on my big-girl pants and move on? For more context: It was a great party, I had a wonderful time and didn't really miss him among the 50+ guests, it was not a sit-down affair, so no food went to waste, and I am closer to his wife than him. So really my only problem is that I feel hurt that he didn't let me know he wouldn't be coming or choose another day to visit the exhibition, which lasted 3 weeks.

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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone. I will let it go. It would have been nice to get a "happy birthday, so sorry I won't be there", which is what I would have done, or a "hubs is sorry he can't be here and says happy birthday." But we all have different ideas about what is considerate and who am I to impose mine on them? On the bright side, this gives me free reign to blow off his birthday party (which I've gone to every year for the last 15) for something else and not feel bad, which is great.
*update* I should have been clearer - I have made it a priority to celebrate his birthday every year as part of our family friendship and felt there was a bond there. Not going in future if there is something more pressing is not revenge or tit for tat - it is me listening to all your advice and reassessing the stress I've placed on attending a celebration for someone I am not all that close to. I am well aware that life is not "all about me". I have obviously been adhering to the rules of politeness I learned as a child and you have helped me understand that these have changed, so thanks very much for that. Of course I hope they had a wonderful time at the exhibition and will lower my expectations from now on, and not just for others, but for myself as well. Though I will still let people know if I cannot attend, even if that is no longer the done thing.

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answers from Pittsburgh on

I suggest that having a friend for 20+ years is rare, and that friends that hang around for that long have earned the benefit of a lot of grace. Let it go (and just a thought: planning next year's revenge is not letting it go).

10 moms found this helpful

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answers from Honolulu on

You had a great birthday party with over 50 guests. Please be grateful for that.

And now, you've decided to take the very wise advice given, to let this go.

But, you're not, are you? You've already chosen your revenge for next year, when you get to "blow off" his party. That's not letting it go. That's figuring out in advance how to even the score.

So don't fool yourself.

Either act like the type of friend you wish this guy was (sending his apologies for not attending and wishing you a happy birthday), or spend the next year stewing in bitterness.

If you REALLY want to let this go, you appreciate the blessings you have and you remain a blessing in other people's lives (you attend his party cheerfully without any regret or revenge). It's okay to admit to yourself that it would have been nice to have him at your party. But it's healthy to realize how small a problem this is. You have 50, not 51 guests, and had a wonderful time but one person spent time with his daughter instead of joining the large crowd at your party.

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answers from Washington DC on

your friend handled it appropriately. she didn't make a big deal about it, and also didn't ashamedly try to hide it.

because you are not everybody's first priority.

the husband (and his daughter) probably assumed that since you are not 7 years old you wouldn't expect everyone in your social circle to drop all their plans and attend your birthday party.

and it's not like you were sitting alone sadly, blowing a lonesome kazoo.

i'm rather breathless that this is even a blip on your radar.


10 moms found this helpful


answers from Boston on

A sit-down dinner for 4, 6 or 8 - yes, he should have let you know. For a big crowd, not necessary. It might have been nice, but he would have caused you pre-party disappointment, right?

And you threw your own party (rather than someone throwing it for you), so he had to assume you'd had some other "regrets" as well. I'm not sure how old the daughter is, but at a certain age (teens, especially), kids don't always want to do things with their parents. If she did, and perhaps she/they had other plans during the other nights for the exhibition (or even if they thought her mood might pass), the parents did the right thing - sent one to your party and one to the kid's preferred event. If his wife had come alone and said he'd been taken ill, you'd have been in the same boat - down one invited guest. So this is really about you feeling that you should be more important than his daughter or the possibility you have not entertained that he might not be comfortable in big crowds - so if you don't want to "go there" then you have to move on from this.

ETA: Just read your SWH and thought you were, wisely and with maturity, going to let it go. But no, you made a petty remark about payback next year. Seriously? You're going to take revenge? So apparently, he's not your friend and you're not his friend after all. It's no wonder he didn't want to attend your party. Maybe he saw that throwing your own party for a big crowd was - what? - more about getting gifts and adulation from your adoring social circle? Yes, you have free rein (not "reign") to be petty but you are really showing the rest of us that this was all about you for your birthday and it's still going to be all about you for his birthday! I looked up your profile just to see how old his daughter was, and I see you have an 18 year old. So he had a chance to do something with his mature and perhaps soon-to-be-out-of-the-house daughter, rather than come to a crowded party for someone who holds grudges. I can see why he made the choice he did.

7 moms found this helpful


answers from Miami on

You said you are close to his wife. She attended. What is the problem then? You have no idea if they are too busy and overbooked to attend that exhibit some other time. Maybe the daughter wanted to attend the exhibit or needed to because of a school project, and dad took her, or it was something they both could bond over. Again, if the wife attended and no food went to waste, I don't know what the issue is. You had over 50 people attending. I think it's sad to feel that you now can get even by deciding to blow him off, just to repay him the favor.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

My goodness, this reads like something a 5 year old would say! Good grief, get over yourself and your birthday party... is this a real question???

Generally by the late teens, maybe 25 at the absolute latest, adults realize that no one is THAT wrapped up in another adults birthday, most adults aren’t that wrapped up in their OWN birthday.

You are absolutely going tit for tat to miss the friends husbands next bday.

The whole thing just seems bizarre to me.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Springfield on

It is always best to take the attitude of being excited about what others do for you and not giving too much though to what they don't do.

It's important for you to focus on the wonderful birthday you had and the people who shared that with you and added to your enjoyment.

You don't fully know why the husband and daughter decided to see the exhibit that day. Maybe it was the only day they could both go. Maybe they were meeting one of her friends or someone he worked with. Maybe they had a special discount that day. Maybe the daughter is going through something, and the parents knew that one-on-one time with her dad would really help. There are so many reasons they could have made that decision. Don't assume that they consciously said, well, we could either go to S.'s birthday party, or we could go to the exhibit. Life isn't usually that simple.

In short, let it go. Not only is not not something to bring up, it's very likely that they didn't even think of it as choosing an exhibit over you. You're friends with the wife, primarily, and she came and celebrated with you. It's very possible the husband and daughter didn't really think you'd notice their absence.

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answers from Washington DC on

ETA - no it does NOT give you "free reign" to blow his off. Why would you stoop to his level? Come on. Get over it. Get over yourself.

S. - let it go.
this is no hill to die on.
really. LET. IT. GO.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Portland on

I agree with the others - let it go.

I have good friends, so I've become friends with their husbands over the years. I also consider my sisters some of my closest pals, and are close to my BILs. The men haven't always attended or remembered my celebrations. That's ok. I don't expect them to. Also, men don't tend to make such a big deal about these things in my experience.

The person you are close to - the connection - is your friend. That's really all that matters.

Perhaps he's an introvert and decided he'd rather not attend. Who knows. Not worth thinking about. It's not about you most likely.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

Let it go. Be happy that you had a good time. Be happy that they have a good enough relationship with their teen that she wanted to do something with him.

I am more concerned about your follow up comment about blowing off his party. That type of tit for tat attitude has led to the demise of many friendships.


Let it go. Be happy that you had a good time. Be happy that they have a good enough relationship with their teen that she wanted to do something with him.

I am more concerned about your follow up comment about blowing off his party. That type of tit for tat attitude has led to the demise of many friendships.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

You said you had fun without him so just let it go. Be happy that the 50+ came and move on.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

No, please do not talk to him. Your good friend came. Her husband had other plans, it happens. The relationship is with your friend. Just because he is married to her, and you have been friendly and socialized them as couples, you should not expect a personal call of regrets from him. That would be a little weird, I think. It's just natural that your friend would just tell you in casual conversation why her husband was not able to come. If you've been close to them for 20 years, and this is the only time you've felt he snubbed you or he has behaved less than kind, you are blowing this way out of proportion, especially for such a large event

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answers from New York on

The title of your question - "do I talk to my friend's husband about" - sounds like you're having an affair with him! NO, you should NEVER "talk to your friend's husband about" anything private or personal (other than something like planning a surprise birthday party for your friend). You certainly should not address him directly about your hurt feelings caused by his absence from your birthday party!!

The fact that you are jealous that this married man spent time with his daughter instead of at your birthday party, and, the fact that you suggest that you have attended his birthday parties in the the past even when there was "something more pressing" in your life - both of those things indicate that you believe that you are an unusually important person in this man's life. If it's not about an affair, it at least indicates some feelings on your end that you should think carefully about.

None of us here know the details of "the rules of politeness you learned as a child" - whatever it was that you learned, if it led to you being as petulant as you are now, we can all be happy that the rest of us learned differently.

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answers from Dallas on

You are pulling our leg with this post. A fully grown woman surely would not be complaining about another woman's husband not attending her birthday party so he could spend time with his daughter - in her out loud voice? This just can't be real.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

He probably had promised to take his daughter to that event on that night. No, you should not feel hurt or talk to him about it. What matters is you threw a party for your friend and she enjoyed it.

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