DEAR MISS MANNERS: As a member of the clergy and instructor of moral theology, I’ve condemned the practice of demanding or expecting (often exorbitant) gifts from others. I’ve said that weddings are not opportunities for those getting married to guilt or berate family and friends out of cash or expensive items.
These comments have been made publicly in general terms, never about a specific individual, and usually as a result of being asked a question. But in a private conversation, one person who was preparing to be married referenced some of my comments, saying that I must “hate” her because she’d requested cash-only gifts at her wedding.
I said, “Of course, I don’t hate you. I wish you hadn’t done that, because your wedding shouldn’t be about money, but I understand how hard it is to resist temptation.” I thought I was being tactful, kind and polite.
A few days later, her fiance told me that she’d told her family that I had “changed my mind” and said that “asking for cash was OK.” He was upset because she was using what I’d said as “a hammer to force his aunts and uncles into giving (them) money.”
Shaking my head, I said that he had my blessing to tell his relatives that she misunderstood my comments, and that they should feel free to give or not give according to their own consciences.
I’m curious as to what Miss Manners thinks, and what she would have done in a similar situation. I wanted to be polite and supportive, but I fear I became an unwitting cudgel for matrimonial extortion. I’ve considered withdrawing from performing the ceremony, but that would upset many people, including the couple being married.
Does Miss Manners have any recommendations for me? What would you advise the husband-to-be in this case to do about the situation?
GENTLE READER: That he immediately get a firm grip on all wedding-related correspondence. And Miss Manners recommends that if premarital counseling is not already included in the church’s wedding package, you quickly add it.
This bride’s manipulation and distortion of the truth – in the name of a clergy member, no less – is shameless and not likely to end with the wedding.
Who better than a member of the church to preach the importance of honesty, honor and humility? You would be doing this couple, their guests and the institution of marriage a tremendous service.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: In today’s age, what are the options for signing a birthday card to our future daughter-in-law???
GENTLE READER: What does she call you???
Is the real question whether or not you have to sign the card “Mom and Dad”? Especially if that is not an honor that you have previously bestowed?
If you would rather delay that decision or not invoke it at all, Miss Manners assures you that it is also fine to sign your names. She just suggests that you do not taunt the lady by putting the monikers in quotation marks.
Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com.
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