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Health & Spirit

Friday night dinners are marred by bad habits

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My wife and I host a family dinner every Friday night. There's only one problem: my sister's ill-mannered eating habits.

She is a wonderful aunt to my kids and does many extraordinarily thoughtful things, however, her eating has taken a toll on me. I simply can't enjoy my dinner when she is at the table. She attacks her food like a starving animal; she gulps her water so loudly that everyone at the table hears, she chews with her mouth open and she talks while chewing her food. On top of that, she can be counted on to loudly blow her nose at the table at least twice!

She blames her loud gulping on a stroke that she suffered some 30 years ago. I really doubt that, but, OK, what about all the other things?

We've always had a strained relationship and the very LAST person that she wants to hear from about this is me.

She greatly respects my wife, but my wife won't say anything, even though she's put off by my sister's eating habits, as well.

If I say anything, I risk that she will not come over again; if I don't say anything, my weekly dinners will continue to be ruined.

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Please, what are my options?

-- Disgusted Brother

Dear Disgusted: This topic evidently has come up before -- because your sister has offered a (plausible) explanation for her gulping.

Your "option" here is to pull up your trousers and speak -- privately and respectfully -- to your sister. In one sense, the fact that you already have a strained relationship means that there is less relationship at risk.

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