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Miss Manners, Judith Martin, Published June 02 2012

Miss Manners: Petulance is wrong response when others are rude

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband prides himself on having good manners and teaching our children good manners.

The one thing I have a problem with is that I come from a very open and welcoming family. When my nephew asked if he could come visit on Saturday, of course I said, “Sure, it would be great to have you come over.”

As he was leaving his house, he phoned to inform me that he was bringing some friends with him. I know this is not the most polite thing to do, especially since they were arriving at dinnertime before heading out to dance at a club.

So at 5:30 p.m., my nephew and five of his friends, all about 19 to 22 years of age, arrived at my house. My mother and sister were over visiting, so we headed out to the store to get wings and pizza, which my mother paid for.

While we were out, I received a text from my husband saying that he was furious that my nephew had invited his friends over. I understand this.

However, when we arrived home, and my nephew showed up with his friends, my husband left the house. My mother and sister asked where he was, and I said he slipped out to the store to pick something up.

When my husband arrived back, he did not come and join us; he sat upstairs with a drink and snacks and ignored everyone, including my mother and sister.

I understand he was not happy with the situation – but enough to be rude? As well, he is not speaking to me and is still furious with me.

How do I address this? Should I just accept that he is right? I don’t think that two wrongs make a right, but maybe I’m wrong here. Should he have been more polite even though he was not happy with the situation?

GENTLE READER: But you said he prides himself on having good manners. So why isn’t he ashamed of himself?

Petulance is a violation of etiquette, as are ignoring guests and taking out bad moods on innocent parties.

Yes, Miss Manners is well aware that he will claim that your nephew was rude to bring friends. But guess what? “He started it” is not an acceptable defense for being rude. It is indeed the essence of good manners to behave well when one does not feel like doing so.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com or to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com.