Class Reunions: The Spouse Question

Claire Dunphy, Modern Family

Claire, Modern Family

If I’m being honest, the reunion might be a little more fun if Phil isn’t there. Otherwise, I spend the whole weekend telling him who’s who and explaining inside jokes, and while all that explaining is going out, the alcohol is not going in.
— On the subject of bringing her husband to her reunion

Claire Dunphy from the hit sitcom Modern Family colorfully sums up one opinion on whether or not to bring your spouse to a class reunion. For me, the answer has been quite different. The first time I went to one of my college reunions, I took my (then) new husband. The three reunions since have been a family affair with our two kids coming along. It’s become a tradition I really enjoy, and I would miss my family if they didn’t join me. To be fair, part of the reason I like having them there is that when I’m ready to go to parties with friends, my husband whisks the kids away for their own fun.

Stanford Reunion.jpg

After attending one of my high school reunions (when I brought my husband, but many other married classmates came solo), I began to wonder about how people answer the spouse question. I decided to poll a group of friends to see if there’s consensus on the issue. "I have attended my husband's reunion and am now an honorary member of the class" was one of the pro-spouse comments I heard. Some people preferred not to have a +1. "Mine is better off where he is home."

Knowing that so many people have to answer the spouse question, I’ve distilled my poll responses down to three convenient reunion guidelines:

  1. Spouses should be enthusiastically invited to at least one high school and one college reunion. Although you may have thoughts of flirting with a former crush, the potential ego boost won’t be worth it if your partner feels slighted.

  2. Spouses should go to a minimum of one of their partner’s high school and one college reunion if financially and logistically feasible. As one friend said, “Every spouse should attend at least one reunion simply because you will learn something new about your partner." Keep in mind, “attend” in this case means come as the best version of yourself so you make it look like your spouse’s life has turned out great. Wear a nice outfit and give the appropriate laughter or solemn face for every story that starts “Remember the time…”

  3. After being invited and attending once, the spouse question can be decided on a case by case basis. If you have an introvert for a partner, maybe they would be more comfortable staying home. Or you may even want your life-of-the-party spouse not to come because as one person put it, "everyone ends up liking her better than me."

In my poll there was only one thing everyone agreed on, and that was to go to the reunion. It doesn’t matter if you bring your spouse or not, or if you have a spouse or not. Ultimately, it’s about you, your classmates and all those “Remember the time…” moments.

Paula Holt