Dear Miss Manners: Two of my adult nieces (in their 30s) stayed at my home with me for a weekend. After they left, I discovered that a remote control had been broken and that there were coffee stains on my couch, in my car, and on blankets in the guest room.
Accidents happen, but I would have preferred knowing about these so I could have addressed them in a timely manner. Am I overreacting?
You are not overreacting, but would you not also like to know what to do about it? (Not asking seems to Miss Manners like confessing to soiling the couch but not offering to help make it right: a half-completed task.)
You cannot ask if your guest broke something, but you can say you had not realized the remote was broken and apologize for not having provided a working one. This will tell your nieces that you noticed, while also testing their reliability as future guests.
Dear Miss Manners: A friend wrote to express her hurt and puzzlement when we neglected to call and visit her while seeing other friends and relations in her state. She demanded to know how this could have happened.
Some background: For the past few years, we have been reluctant to spend time alone with this couple. In a larger group it is okay, but they tend to treat us (and everyone else) as though we had just fallen from the turnip truck. We are subjected to lectures on all manner of things about which they believe themselves to be experts.
After our trip, I explained that we could not fit them into our busy schedule this time. She seemed to accept that, but then went on to reveal that what she really wanted to know was whether something had upset us and caused us to rethink our longtime friendship.
I am unsure how to respond to the question, or whether to leave it to fester. Is there a polite way to get out of this dilemma?
You have been doing the polite thing, which is to have limited availability, so that you are not driven to confess that you are tired of your friends’ insulting demeanor. Keep at it.
Dear Miss Manners: My niece is getting married in a couple of months. All four of my sisters (two from out of state) and my mother will probably attend.
My girlfriend and I are thinking about marriage. It will be the third time for each of us. We want a small, no-frills wedding.
Would it be appropriate to marry the day after my niece’s wedding? I don’t want to steal her spotlight but would like to take advantage of everyone being there.
It is not Miss Manners whom you have to convince, but your niece. She has a legitimate claim to have been there first, so for the sake of peace in the family, her support needs to be, if not entirely genuine, at least convincing. This means no leading questions or statements of the “Why are you making such a fuss? Your mother thinks it’s a great idea!” variety.
New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on washingtonpost.com/advice. You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, missmanners.com. You can also follow her @RealMissManners.
©2022, by Judith Martin
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