Miss Manners: Uncomfortable question may require candid response

August 14, 2012

DEAR MISS MANNERS: What is the proper way for a woman to respond to a man telling her that his wife won’t have sex with him? It happens frequently, and I feel like I should listen to his problems like a friend, but at the same time I think he is trying to get me to take up her slack.

GENTLE READER: That would be Miss Manners’s guess, prissy though she is. And few people appreciate how handy being prissy can be.

The prissy response would be, “I don’t think she would appreciate your telling me this.” But if you’re not happy with that, try, “I suppose you’re telling me this as a friend because you want me to talk to her about it and find out what the problem is.”

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I have a same-gender spouse. Several years ago, we had a commitment ceremony and pledged our lives to each other. It was attended by our extended families and friends. Both of my sisters took part in the ceremony, and their husbands and children were present to witness the event.

For our honeymoon, John and I flew out of state and had a legal marriage ceremony. Unfortunately, our marriage is not recognized by our home state, but I thought that our relationship, at least, was recognized by our families.

The daughter of one of my sisters will soon be getting married. This week I received a “save the date” card from my niece. The envelope was addressed to me only, and the enclosed RSVP card was in my name only. There was not even an indication that I was allowed to bring a guest!

John and I are both hurt by the omission, and I have no intention of attending a family wedding from which he seems to have been rather pointedly excluded. I would like to make my position clear, but wish to avoid rudeness and unnecessary family drama. In order to accomplish these goals, I would like to send a letter to my niece, and I hope to receive your guidance.

The letter I have in mind would be something like: “Dear ---, I recently received your save-the-date card. Although John’s name was overlooked, we are both delighted with the news of your upcoming wedding. Regrettably, it appears as though we will be unable to attend; however, we wish you as much joy in your ceremony as we had, and as much happiness as we continue to have.”

What are your thoughts? Are John and I overreacting? Would such a letter be appropriate?

GENTLE READER: How can a letter not be appropriate when it wishes the recipient happiness, gives her a prompt answer (although a save-the-date notice doesn’t really require one), and, in saying that your husband was “overlooked,” provides your niece with a grateful out?

Miss Manners will even write the proper response for her: “My dear Uncle, I am mortified that John’s name was omitted — please ask him to accept my humble apologies. I can only imagine that in my silly bridal confusion, I must have used the family directory from before we knew him. Of course I want my uncle-by-marriage at the wedding. I will continue to hope that when the time comes, you and he will have been able to alter your plans in order to attend.

“Meanwhile, I send you both my love.”

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

2012, by Judith Martin

Distributed by Universal Uclick for UFS

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