DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband and I have been married 121 / 2 years. He once lost his original wedding band, and we got another one. (Maybe 10-plus years ago — a while back.)
Today, he “surprised” me with his Father’s Day gift of a new wedding band. His replaced one had gotten too small and needed to be resized. Obviously, the salesman was a good one.
Truth is, I love it — it’s just perfect — but I feel like I should have been a part of it. The kids (we have three) had been telling me there was a surprise for me at home. That’s what the surprise was. He bought himself a new wedding band. For Father’s Day, no less.
I feel awful for being upset with him. He says, “Why are you upset? This is the ring I wear and shows that I love you.”
GENTLE READER: Funny, Miss Manners is wondering the same thing. Why are you upset?
Is it possible that a third enactment of the ritual of giving him a ring is more important to you than his feelings?
He has now told you plainly what this act symbolized to him. Anyway, you should have been able to deduce that from his planning it as a holiday surprise, a demonstration of his pride in the family. He actually used a day when appreciation would ordinarily be directed to himself.
And you have told him — and the children, who were in on the plan — that loving intentions don’t count; that you get to decide how things should be done. Miss Manners would think that you would want to cancel that ungracious lesson as best you can.
This is a case in which explaining your own feelings would make things worse. The implication would be that your husband should have known them. Rather, it should be an apology, combined with a show of appreciation — “Forgive me for not understanding what a sweet, loving gesture this was” — and it should be made in front of the children, as they were in on the surprise.
But now that Miss Manners has scolded you, she will attend to those feelings of yours. To compensate for your not having participated in buying the ring, she suggests you say: “It’s so beautiful. Will you let me take it to be engraved with our initials and our wedding date?”
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Every time I go to virtually any chain retail outlet these days, I am asked at checkout for my “club” card. As you know, belonging to these exclusive “clubs” involves divulging, at a minimum, one’s phone number, ZIP code and e-mail address. I prefer not to release this personal information, even if it means giving up a slightly better value.
So how should I respond to the insistent clerks who act as if I’m some kind of idiot for passing up the “free” benefits? I’m tired of explaining myself, and a simple “No” doesn’t seem to work.
GENTLE READER: Then try a more elaborate no: “Thank you, but I said no. May I still make this purchase?”
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