David and I host a lot of people in our home. We have frequent dinner guests, parties, and overnight/weekend visitors. Until she passed away, my mother was, for many years, our most frequent visitor and the person who stayed with us for the longest period of time on each visit. As hosts, David and I spend a lot of time planning for our guests’ visits, including inquiring about food and beverage preferences, ensuring our home is clean upon their arrival, providing ample towels and other necessary supplies, and in general, doing everything we can think of to make our guests comfortable. During the time of our guests’ visits, we try to entertain them with activities they enjoy; we try to prepare meals with their tastes in mind; and we accommodate their desires in every way it is feasible to do so (unless they make “unusual” demands that we do not feel comfortable meeting and/or it is impossible to meet their specific requests, including guaranteeing sunshine for their beach outing). In the past few months prior to writing this post, David and I have hosted several groups of visitors, including family and friends. Readers who recall prior posts on “traits of a good houseguest” and “traits of a bad houseguest” now know various things we have experienced, ranging from the good, bad, and the ugly (behavior, not appearance). After a recent weekend spent hosting out of town visitors, David and I remarked that a distinguishing feature among our recent guests is the amount of fun that we, as hosts, had during our guests’ visits. When we recently had a weekend planning meeting with some long time friends with whom we went to Liverpool, England to attend a Beatles festival, David and I enjoyed their company so much that we were sad to see them leave. Similar to what John Lennon famously said in “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite,” a splendid time was truly had by all! In contrast, we have hosted several groups of people who left us tired, emotionally drained, and wondering if we should avoid hosting any more visitors in our home. These guests were argumentative, too self absorbed to realize the extent to which they were over stepping the norms within our household (as opposed to someone else’s), and disrespectful to both David and me. As with many things in life, if something isn’t worth the effort that has been put into it, it is doubtful it will be repeated. Think about this the next time you visit someone. If you have fun, but your fun was at the expense of your host(s), who didn’t have nearly as much fun as you did, will you be invited back? Thanks, Bob and Nancy, for being as much fun for David and me as we hope we were for you!
We have had our share of guests whose interests and happiness were exclusively their own. But, we learn our lessons quickly and they are typically one time guests. The positive experiences with visitors occur when everyone is in tune with each other. Living in south Florida, we have many choices of things to do and when visitors arrive, if there is not a pre-determined purpose to the trip, such as a concert or other event, we present the options. We know we’ll enjoy the possible choices or we wouldn’t present them, and so, when we select a choice, everyone is usually happy. That said, we’ve experienced exceptions to this rule and had visitors who appear bored (falling asleep in the middle of a tour) or, in the extreme, thrown a tantrum while visiting. The visits with Nancy and Bob that Melissa mentioned were unique in that we were engaging in a collective planning exercise. All 4 of us provided input, did research using various devices, asked questions, and negotiated the plans. It was a major undertaking but because the purpose was to prepare for a fun adventure, the required effort was for something fun, and the common good of the 4 of us.