Miss Manners: Public display of affection is no fun to watch

October 31, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband’s sister and her husband are a nice enough couple, but their tendencies for PDA (both physically and verbally) are starting to drive me bonkers.

They are that couple that kisses at the dinner table, sits on each other’s laps when there are more than enough chairs to go around, and professes their love for each other on Facebook, even if they are in the same room. I’m not a prude, but it makes me feel very uncomfortable.

The last straw was when I received my wedding photos a few weeks ago and was dismayed to find many pictures where my in-laws were kissing and making googly eyes at each other in our wedding party (bridesmaids and groomsmen) pictures. Looking at them you would wonder why my husband and I were wearing the bride and groom’s attire instead of them.

I really want to say something without hurting their feelings too much, but my husband is convinced they don’t know what they are doing. We are all in our late 20s and early 30s, so there is no chance that they will grow out of this behavior.

GENTLE READER: You mean that they look like newlyweds, and yet will never outgrow that stage? Miss Manners finds that a rather charmingly optimistic view of marriage.

It is not charming to watch, however. Prudery — so common a charge that you anticipate it — has nothing to do with it. Watching people kiss (and more) on film constitutes a great deal of our so-called entertainment. The reason that onlookers dislike this in life is because it is clear that the loving couple is not interested in others, to the extent of pretending that they are not there.

Do not seat them next to each other at dinner, where couples should be separated anyway, for variety of conversation. Elsewhere, a slightly more polite way of saying “get a room,” at least among visiting relatives, is, “It’s all right if you want to go home now and be alone.” And to keep from going bonkers, stay off their Facebook pages.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: During the offertory collection at my church, some form of religious musical performance takes place. It may be the choir, a soloist (vocal or instrumental) or the bell choir.

At the conclusion of the performance the entire congregation applauds as though they are at a concert. To me this borders on being sacrilegious.

Is this acceptable behavior? Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to compliment the performers individually and informally after the service? Is this a common practice in other churches?

GENTLE READER: It is, alas, increasingly common for people to regard everything as a source of entertainment. Miss Manners is grateful that you recognize that church music is indeed intended for the glory of God, not the pleasure of worshippers. Praise for the performers may certainly be delivered after the service, but it should not be allowed to interrupt praise for God.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays on www.washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her Web site, www.missmanners.com.

, by Judith Martin

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