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Miss Manners: Dealing with a snide sister-in-law

By Judith Martin, Nicholas Ivor Martin and Jacobina Martin Andrews McMeel Syndication

DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband’s family was not trained in etiquette as mine was, which I can understand. However, to me, much of their behavior crosses the line as rude and inconsiderate.

My mother-in-law passed away earlier this year, and was occasionally rude at family dinners that I hosted, but I felt that she genuinely cared about me, and I overlooked her behavior as ignorance.

My husband’s sister, on the other hand, is rude and inconsiderate, and thinly veils her contempt for me. She waits until late afternoon on the day of a dinner to ask if she can bring anything, knowing that I will have planned and prepared everything by then. She doesn’t lift a finger to help out, points at dishes and asks “What is that?,” makes statements like “It’s 7:30, shouldn’t we eat now?” (when she has not prepared one part of the meal), and I have caught her making a look of disgust at me when I looked up from my meal.

On other occasions, she shows up early and asks if I have “anything to munch on” or “anything sweet.” She wanders around the house to see if I’ve changed anything or look at what I’ve done, etc., bringing along her adult daughters or whoever else may be with her. I can’t take being angry and hurt anymore.

GENTLE READER: Since you managed to indulge your mother-in-law’s idiosyncrasies, perhaps you can do the same for your sister-in-law – particularly if your husband is not going to help.

In the meantime, Miss Manners suggests that you try saying in your sweetest tone, “Oh, dear. I never seem to be able to please you. I will just have to observe how you do things the next time we have dinner at your house.” This will either force her to be the host next time or concede that it will not happen – so that she had better appreciate what she has here.

DEAR MISS MANNERS: I am a guest at an upcoming wedding. Due to health issues, I MUST eat low-sodium. The bride, groom and mother of the groom all know this.

The mother of the groom just told me what the main dish is. It will consist of nearly four meals’ worth of sodium. Just for the entree.

Normally, at a restaurant, I eat half and box half for tomorrow’s lunch. I worry that a wedding is different. I don’t go to very many, and I am less than six months into the new dietary restriction.

Is it allowed to box up leftovers to enjoy at a later date? Also, can I get away with not wearing hose with my shoes?

GENTLE READER: No and yes. A wedding is different from a restaurant in that it is an extension of the hosts’ home.

Leftovers should certainly not be expected to be part of the deal. Eat what you can and leave the rest on your plate, ensuring beforehand that you are well fortified before attending the event. For your trouble, Miss Manners will be lenient about not wearing stockings.

Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, dearmissmanners@gmail.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.

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