Miss Manners: Husband’s friendship looks like an affair

April 1, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband, who is 20 years my senior, works with a female who is 30 years his junior, and they have developed a “friendship.” He tells me that he thinks of her as a daughter; however, they go for a beer every night after work, and this always turns into several beers.

Every time we have a disagreement, he always compares me to her. I have asked him point-blank if he is in love with this person (who, by the way, is also married). He has not said yes, but he has not said no.

They text each other at least 50 times a day. I have asked, to no avail, that they not text on weekends.

Am I the stupid one for wanting to fight for my husband? This woman even bought a secret phone so they can text each other without her husband finding out.

I know in my own mind that if an affair has not yet happened, it is just a matter of time. How do I know all this? They invited me to have a beer with them, then I realized I was a decoy for them. As I write this, I realize just how dumb I am to stick around.

GENTLE READER: Glad to have been of help.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My mother-in-law’s mother passed away last year. Her mother’s birthday is fast approaching, and I would like to honor her memory by presenting my mother-in-law with a wrist corsage to wear to church on the day. Is this an inappropriate expression of sympathy?

GENTLE READER: Yes. What is your mother-in-law supposed to say when her friends at church giggle and ask her whether she went to a dance the night before?

You are kind to remember the anniversary, but Miss Manners considers it a better idea to send flowers to the house, along with a few lovely words from your husband and you about his grandmother.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a chronic condition that makes the use of some kind of nose-tending a near-constant necessity. Previously I followed my mother’s habit of carrying about paper napkins, but after reading you, I purchased a package of plain white cotton handkerchiefs instead.

I like them much more than the paper napkins, and they have many advantages that I’m sure I don’t need to enumerate to you. However, I’m still not sure how to use them in polite company.

Around easy friends, I will just turn around and (carefully) blow my nose, but what about more polite company? It is a choice between using my handkerchief or my nose eventually running visibly, and I can’t run to the restroom every few minutes.

Please provide some pointers on the best way to dab one’s nose in polite company. I had this same dilemma with the paper napkins but never managed to resolve it.

GENTLE READER: Bless you. Not just for switching to handkerchiefs, but for worrying about offending others with your nose-blowing.

Unfortunately, it does, especially at mealtime. Dabbing, in contrast, does not. The difference, Miss Manners gathers, is in the soundtrack. A quiet gesture bringing the handkerchief to blot leaks before they drop, yes; but a honking blow, however satisfying, requires a trip to the bathroom.

Visit Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com, where you can send her your questions.

2012, by Judith Martin

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