DEAR MISS MANNERS: My current boyfriend and I are quickly approaching our one-year anniversary and made a trip to look at engagement rings. As I plan a future with him, I still have a couple of trinkets at home from a previous relationship: a pair of silver earrings I received as a birthday gift from an ex-boyfriend, and a pair of sweatpants taken from the same ex-boyfriend’s closet.
I still wear the earrings and occasionally curl up in the comfy sweatpants. Is it wrong to keep them? Should I tell my boyfriend where (or rather, from whom) I received them?
GENTLE READER: Are you prepared for his response?
Miss Manners would have been inclined to allow you to keep the earrings and not mention from whom they came (or say “an old friend gave them to me,” which is perfectly true). But your intimate description of the sweatpants (from the same person, no less) is making her question your loyalties — and she fears that your beau would too.
It would seem easier all around to give or put away gifts from an old boyfriend if he truly means nothing to you now. If your future fiance won’t allow you to wear his sweatpants, presumably it would still be preferable to keep the man that is still in them.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: How does one respond to a co-worker who brags about getting a trust fund check every quarter? With the latest check, she has mentioned to me (twice) everything that she has bought with it, or that she paid off. I just sit and nod my head, currently.
GENTLE READER: Unfortunately, that is about all one can politely do. Miss Manners suggests you change the subject by mentioning local charities you know that are looking for funding — as long as you refrain from adding that you might be among them.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my husband and I were married seven months ago, we agreed that each of us would be responsible for writing thank-you notes for the wedding gifts given by our closest family and friends. I wrote the notes to my close friends and my husband signed his name next to mine; I co-signed several lovely notes written by my husband.
Unfortunately, my husband stopped after just a few notes and has left the rest unwritten. I’ve tried gentle and less gentle reminders, and while he acknowledges the importance of the notes, he hasn’t taken the time to finish them. I feel deeply embarrassed and complicit in our lack of expressed gratitude.
I clearly can’t force my husband to write the notes. I also know I will feel resentful if I decide to write notes to his close friends and family on our behalf that are many months late. What would you advise me to do?
GENTLE READER: Sympathize with his not wanting to do this, and write the letters yourself.
Wait — before you unleash your resentment on Miss Manners, let her finish. Then pick some comparable chore that you find annoying and ask your husband to take it over. Evening things out by each of you doing what you don’t mind and sparing the other from tasks that you or he does mind makes for a pleasanter marriage.