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Miss Manners: My wife has horrible table manners

3 min

Dear Miss Manners: My wife and I like to eat out a lot, but her table manners are bothersome to me, bordering on embarrassing. We are both educated, and she even attended a girls’ school growing up. I came from a middle-class family, but I was taught to have some manners at the table.

My wife likes to put too large of a portion on her fork, then raises it to her mouth and bites off a piece of whatever she’s eating (chicken breast, fish, etc.). I have tried to get her to pick up smaller pieces, but to no avail.

When we are out, I always wonder whether others see her doing this and what they must think. How can I get her to use her knife and take smaller bites?

Warn her about the dangers of choking — if not her doing so from the meat, then perhaps your doing so from disgust.

Dear Miss Manners: When calling a business or person I do not know and leaving a message, I am in the habit of leaving my telephone number. Nowadays, of course, there is technology that makes this unnecessary, but I am unsure whether the technology is so common that leaving my number wastes the time of the message recipient — not to mention makes me look (heaven forbid!) old-fashioned.

Conventions, I realize, must at some point yield to reality and common sense. Has that point yet been reached for leaving your telephone number?

If Miss Manners approved only conventions that were practical, rather than old-fashioned and unnecessary, she would have far fewer useless silver Victorian gadgets cluttering her desk.

Perhaps in lieu of leaving a redundant phone number, we can all promise to leave our full names, clearly spelled and pronounced. This is something that has eluded our technological assistants.

Dear Miss Manners: I just had a baby, and my mother-in-law is staying with us to help out. She is fantastic — truly — except for one thing: doing laundry. She dumps everything in the same load. Jeans, towels and Velcro bibs often end up in the same cycle as delicate wool sweaters.

She’s ruined multiple items. I’ve asked her to let me do the laundry, but she’ll do it anyway.

How do I gently tell her to separate the laundry according to my preferences? Is that possible without looking ungrateful for all of her help? Other than the laundry issue, I’ve been blessed with a fantastic MIL. I don’t want to hurt her feelings, but I do want to save my clothes!

As Miss Manners sees it, you have three choices:

1. Hide the Velcro bibs and delicates, and save them to do later, when your mother-in-law has left.

2. Tell your mother-in-law, “Please at least let me separate things for you to make the sorting part easier.”

3. Let her catch you folding the clothes afterward while good-naturedly saying: “Oh dear! I thought this was my sweater, but now it seems it will be better suited for the baby!”

Unless you want the baby to have a new itchy wardrobe, Miss Manners suggests you act on at least one of these choices quickly.

New Miss Manners columns are posted Monday through Saturday on You can send questions to Miss Manners at her website, You can also follow her @RealMissManners.

©2022, by Judith Martin