DEAR MISS MANNERS: My good friend is obsessed with how expensive things are. She likes to share about her expensive, top-of-the-line jewelry, brand-new car, new house, luxurious vacations, large income tax refund and so on. She insists it’s not bragging, as she is proud – of her husband.
This is all paid for with what her husband makes and gives to her generously. She got mad at me once because I thanked her husband, but not her, for a dinner that he treated us to. She said it’s her money, too. (She is unemployed and is a stay-at-home mom.)
I told her that when I go out with my parents, I thank my dad when he pulls out his credit card, not my mom. (I also thank my friends’ husbands when they pay.) Nor does my mom care, or other wives that I know of. They have jobs and have shared credit cards, but he was the one with the card out, so it’s an automatic thank you to the person with a card.
How do I get this friend to stop obsessing and realize how she sounds when she is bragging about how expensive something is?
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She has accused me of being jealous because I am not well-off. But honestly, I have – or had – exactly the same income as her, minus the husband to pay off all her bills, or their house.
Even the husband complains how much he does for her, and she did not give him a Christmas present. I tell him that’s his problem and he needs to address his issues with her. But as long as he enjoys spoiling her without expecting anything in return, that’s his pattern in their relationship.
How do I tell him, too, that his spoiling her with the finest things is turning her into a princess who can’t stop obsessing over how much things are? She gets angry very quickly, and I’m afraid I don’t know how to bring it up to her that I don’t care how much “they” made in tax returns. I get it and assume how luxurious her vacations are. I don’t need her telling me the price tag.
GENTLE READER: Why do you need her at all? You describe this good friendship as being a constant round of bickering and bragging on one side, and interfering and nagging on the other side — yours.
However, Miss Manners has learned that people who complain about impossible conditions while continuing to contribute to them may not be seeking change. The situation, such as it is, seems to work, and they are just venting.
This seems to be equally true of your friend’s marriage, and of your friendship with her.
Butter or fish?
DEAR MISS MANNERS: Due to their similarity, can a butter knife be passed off as a fish knife in a formal setting (where there should be no butter knife present to reveal the ruse)?
GENTLE READER: If it is one of those notched butter servers, sure. Miss Manners promises not to tell.
Judith Martin writes the Miss Manners column with help from her son, Nicholas Ivor Martin, and her daughter, Jacobina Martin. Send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.
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