"There's nothing wrong with my life," a lady of Miss Manners' acquaintance complained.
It was from the tone of voice that Miss Manners recognized that this was a complaint. "No?" she prompted sympathetically.
"So nobody wants to talk to me," the lady continued. "Or rather they talk to me -- they're dying to talk to me, for hours at a time, but they never let me talk. It's because I don't have anything bad to say."
"Oh, dear," said Miss Manners.
"If they ask 'How's it going?' and I answer 'Great,' they won't let me get in another word. That's it. The rest of the conversation is devoted to recitations of their ills. Their jobs are terrible, their marriages are worse, the children hate them, they're afraid of getting old -- that sort of thing."
"The poor things," said Miss Manners.
"That's what I say," said the lady. "It's not that I don't want to hear their problems. I feel for them. These are good friends of mine I'm talking about, and of course if they're in trouble or unhappy, I want to help them. I know listening helps, so it's the least I can do.
"Anyway, I'm genuinely interested. When I ask them what's going on in their lives, I really want to know. Don't long-term friends -- some of these date back to junior high school with me -- want to know what's happening to everybody?"
Miss Manners murmured that she would have thought so.
"Not in my case. I'm leading a life too, even if it's not a disaster. I don't claim to be any smarter than they, just lucky. I can't help it if I'm doing work that I like, and getting along fine with my family."
"Of course you can't," said Miss Manners.
"It's not that I want to brag. I just want someone to be as interested in my news as I am in theirs. If they can talk to me about the most private details of their lives for hours at a time, why can't I get in a few minutes?"
"That seems modest enough," said Miss Manners.
"No," said the lady. "I do want to brag. My daughter was put in the top class at ballet school. My son plays in the band. My husband's been put on a special project that's really going to turn into something exciting."
Miss Manners asked to hear all about it.
"You can't mean that," said the lady gloomily. "He's not neglecting me for it -- he's asking my advice. And you know what? I got a special commendation from my boss. With a huge bonus. When I mentioned that to a friend, she perked up. You know why? She said, 'That's bound to make trouble between you and your husband.' She explained to me that whatever men say, they hate women's success, especially if it includes making good money, and she asked me if I'd seen signs of his straying. When I said no -- the poor man is as weird as I am (he bursts with pride when I do well) -- she lost interest."
"There, there," said Miss Manners soothingly. "People just get self-absorbed when they're unhappy."
"I know, I know," said the lady. "I always let them talk first. I only bring up my things at the end of the conversation, when they get tired and some little memory of manners prompts them to ask about me. All I ask then is a little sympathetic enthusiasm."
"Perhaps," said Miss Manners, "you could have a little general conversation with them after the exchange of news. Would that work better?"
"No," said the lady. "I've tried that. They're not interested in my opinions. My experience isn't worth anything, because they say everything is easy for me -- I just lead a charmed life. I have my ups and downs too, you know. But because I haven't seriously messed up, I don't know anything about how to handle life."
"You must," said Miss Manners.
"But is it rude of me to mention any of this, even to old friends?" the lady asked plaintively. "Is only unhappiness fit for sharing? Worse -- is it rude of me not to be miserable? Is it an affront to everyone else?"
"Of course not," said Miss Manners.
"Well, anyway, thank you," said the lady. "I feel better for having poured out my problems to you."
Is it correct to use a couple's married name with the wife's name, as in "Mr. and Mrs. Lisa Beth Doe"?
I think the husband's name should be used, as in "Mr. and Mrs. John Doe" or "Mr. John and Mrs. Lisa Beth Doe."
Of all the attempted solutions to the unfortunate omission of ladies' names in traditional forms, your first example seems to Miss Manners to be -- forgive her -- the stupidest. It only reverses the problem it purports to correct.
Sprinkling the honorifics in the middle is not much better. The old "Mr. and Mrs." form at least has custom going for it. The acceptable innovation, for the understandable sake of clarity, is "Ms. Lisa Beth Doe and Mr. John Doe." ("Mrs." does not go with a lady's first name.)
Notice that Miss Manners slipped in a sop to tradition by putting the lady's name first. She does not care to listen to any arguments against doing this. There is far too much discussion of the rationale of name usage nowadays -- such a bore when we are only trying to get past introductions.