Miss Manners: Secretly married, and now expecting

July 1, 2013

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My longtime boyfriend (we started dating in high school) and I bought a house together in 2009, and soon after decided to become legally married, mostly for financial reasons. He had a well-paying job and I had just started grad school. I assumed we’d have a wedding within the year, and decided not to let anyone know we were legally married.

Fast-forward a few years: I’m done with grad school, starting out in my career, and I recently found out that I’m pregnant.

I don’t know how to let people know that I’m legally married years after the fact and that I’m expecting. I still plan to have a wedding, which I see as more of a community gathering, and we’ve both agreed that we’ll do that when the baby is born and a little older.

How do I announce any of this, and what do I announce? Do I wait until after the baby? Before the baby?

GENTLE READER: So the plan is to appear as a bride, either pregnant or with a baby in tow, and announce that you were married several years ago? Good luck with that.

Miss Manners rather doubts that people care enough nowadays to keep track. But if you want to let them know without inspiring chortles, you need only confide, “My husband and I are expecting a baby.” And if you want to have a party, throw yourself an anniversary party.

But don’t imagine that you can fool Miss Manners into believing that “a wedding” is a community gathering that need not involve anyone actually getting married. She hears often from those who have attended such events, thinking they were being invited to witness a marriage taking place, only to discover that an already-married couple was acting the parts of bride and bridegroom. Those guests have some harsh things to say about the motives for staging this.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My late and very proper Bostonian mother insisted that it is inhospitable to have candlewicks that have not been lighted. As soon as she brought candles into our home, she would light the wicks.

I have taught my daughters this custom and have no idea why a lighted wick is hospitable! Can you shed some light on this, oh wise one? Is this an outdated custom from the Dark Ages?

GENTLE READER: In the Dark Ages, wax was an expensive necessity, and no one would want to waste even the amount it would take to darken the wicks. But in the Age of Enlightenment — well, actually the Age of Electrical Enlightenment, which came later — candles were no longer a necessity to see beyond your nose.

They are now used for a special effect. However, to keep a utilitarian object without using it smacks of pretentious display. Miss Manners is pleased to know that she is not the only person left on Earth who goes around singeing her fresh candles.

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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