Repetition Theater Playhouse

February 24th, 2011

Incidentally, as some of you have pointed out, the second question in Sunday’s column — the one from the woman who made up excuses, rather than telling her husband what she did or did not wish to do — also appeared in “Miss Manners.”

We were equally bemused. Miss Manners wrote:

He is being bewildered: “Honey, are we having guessing games for dinner again?”

You have your manners reversed. Your husband has a legitimate interest in knowing what pleases you and what doesn’t; your hosts are just trying to get a body count.

Miss Manners assures you that no excuse is necessary when declining a social invitation – only thanks and apologies: “I’m so very sorry we can’t be there – you are kind to invite us.” One of the joys of marriage is the ability to say, “Oh, I don’t know, I just don’t feel like going out tonight. Okay?”

My response:

Why would you think that “social convention” applies in your own home? One of the challenges and delights of marriage is that spouses may create their own conventions together. You are the monarchs of your castle: Rule!

I must admit I find it disturbing that you don’t feel able to communicate your desires directly to your husband. I’m not sure why you can’t — or why you think you can’t — but you’re making your marriage far more difficult than it needs to be. If you truly cannot discern each other’s wishes, consider marriage counseling to help you develop better communication habits. (This may rock your world, but I don’t even think the “social convention” you speak of is necessarily in effect, or a good idea, in many social situations. How is a person to know if you really don’t want to go out or if you have some real but easily solved problem?)

I’ve run the same question as other columnists before — here’s why that can happen.


One Response to “Repetition Theater Playhouse”

  1. bluemoose on February 24, 2011 10:02 am

    That letter made my skin crawl. I am not married, have never been married, and will never be married. But I am in a long-term relationship, and the joy of that is that I can be honest with my partner, often in shorthand. The idea of being in a relationship where I felt the need to come up with a polite excuse to a dinner invitation? *shudder* It makes me claustrophobic, in an emotional sense.

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