Life Advice



You Don't Owe This Lady Any Butter

Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin on

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am an older gay man, and married my husband three years ago. A college friend, female, invited me, just me, to her family's lakeside cottage for the weekend.

I spent many wonderful times at that cottage ever since college. This friend's entire family considered me family, right up until I got married. I invited her, her family and their significant others to my wedding, but they all refused. So they definitely all know I'm married.

This is the first I've heard from her since then. I wrote back and declined the invitation, stating, I'm sorry, but I haven't spent a night without my husband since we married, and I couldn't imagine doing so now. But thank you so much for thinking of me.

She sent me an incredibly nasty letter, stating that I should be able to travel without my husband to her family's cottage that I've spent so much time in. There were lots of passive-aggressive comments about my never having shown proper gratitude whenever I spent time with her family. (I brought fresh clams, lobsters, corn on the cob and two pounds of butter every time I went to the cottage.)

This friend has never been married. I did not answer her letter, as it was so mean-spirited, and have quietly removed her from my contacts as clearly the friendship is over.

When mutual friends have asked me why I declined her invitation, I've responded that I choose not to travel without my husband, and that since he wasn't included in the invitation, I politely declined. I've asked those friends not to get involved, that this is between us and if it's meant to be fixed, it will be.

She hasn't shown any interest in meeting my husband. I've invited her out to lunch and/or dinner approximately a dozen times and she's always busy. I've taken the hint and will no longer reach out. I just want an expert opinion that I've done all I can and have done so correctly.

GENTLE READER: While not every social outing requires that spouses be involved, your friend has made her views about meeting your husband clear. Whether it is because of jealousy, personal taste or full-on prejudice, Miss Manners assures you that you need not include her in your social life if this is how she is going to behave. And you did so politely, especially given the circumstances.

You may also be assured that her family's generous past behavior has nothing to do with this current unpleasantness. You therefore do not owe her anything. Not even butter.


DEAR MISS MANNERS: I find it very frustrating when I decline a phone call (usually because I am already on the phone with someone else) and the caller then proceeds to call my other numbers as if I am more likely to answer them five seconds later.

I find it rude and disruptive, but I cannot convince anyone in my family to just leave a message if I don't answer the first time. Sometimes I am simply on a social call, but other times, I am in work meetings! How can I get them to stop?

GENTLE READER: Turn off your ringers.


(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website,; to her email,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)






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