DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have been to social gatherings with my fiance where most of the guests were his family members or his old friends. I either am much less familiar with these people, or meeting them for the first time, so I expect him to take the lead when it comes to the end of these events.
However, there have been several times that I felt it was fairly clear the hosts would like us to go: We’ve been there several hours and they put the baby to bed; we’ve helped clear the dishes, it’s really late and the conversation has lulled several times.
I keep waiting for my fiance to do the ”Well, it’s been so great, but it’s getting late ...” Nothing. It often drags out until either I say something or the host does some “subtle” prompting (admittedly, during a time that we were at someone’s home until 3 a.m., I fell asleep).
I need to have a talk with him about this, but to be honest, I think he might just be bad at picking up on the social cues. Is it ever appropriate for me to excuse us from these social gatherings of people who barely know me?
Is there a good way for me to indicate to him, “Hey, I think these people might want us to go now”? Or should I just go along with him in these situations since he does know them better?
GENTLE READER: You are going to be very welcome in this family, which has probably been wondering for years how to unstick your fiance from their sofas.
Certainly, you can always initiate the departure with a burst of enthusiasm at how enjoyable the evening was as you stand up and move toward the door. But there is another tool that you need to have a happy marriage.
It is called The Look. In the midst of a social gathering, one spouse can stare wide-eyed at the other as a signal that something needs to be done. That could be that it is time to go home, but it could also be, “Soft-pedal that story; it’s a bit too risque for them” or, “You have some food on your face.”
Should you have children, The Look will be even more useful, as it says, “I’m not going to embarrass you in public, but if you don’t stop that right now, you’ll be in deep trouble when we get home.”