Miss Manners has a great column today concerning politeness in marriage. My favorite bit:
Loyal, loving spouses sometimes think, “I’m so lucky I married you” and “You get cuter all the time,” both of which should be stated, although preferably not while the person in question is trying to recover accidentally deleted work that is due the following morning.
But those loyal, loving spouses may also have such thoughts as “I suppose you can’t help it, but how can any human being be that clumsy?” and “If you died, nobody would mind my leaving my stuff where I want it.”
These thoughts and feelings should not be shared.
Miss Manners is, I think, one of the most delightfully witty columnists published today. (Her answer to the nametag-Queen question at the end of the column was hysterical, in her usual masterfully subdued way.)
In general, I’m a big fan of Miss Manners — and the advice she doles out. (Back in March, I positively reviewed Judith Martin’s book The Right Thing to Say.) Proper manners are an important way of smoothing out interactions between people, of making them easy and pleasant and predictable. Without such manners, moral dilemmas abound. In fact, many of the perceived moral conflicts in honesty (like between honesty and tact or honesty and privacy) easily melt away with knowledge of the range of options that good manners offers us. So hooray for manners!