Advice Columns

Miss Manners: Emails aren’t community property in a marriage

Q: There is an email discussion group in our community that my wife is a member of. She and I each have our own desk with our own computer sitting on it. At her request, I always turn on my wife’s computer in the morning before she gets up.

I’ve been reading my wife’s email on her computer at her desk after I turn it on to scan the group message subject lines and see if there is anything interesting enough to read. My wife got up early one morning and saw me doing this. She didn’t know I had a habit of reading her emails in the morning.

She has gotten angry with me and told me to stop reading her email and feels I’ve crossed the line and invaded her privacy. I feel that I’m not invading her privacy, because the only emails I look at are from the community discussion group. Am I off base?

A: Matrimony is no excuse for peeking into someone else’s mail, Miss Manners believes, as does your wife. So please stop.

Q: My fiance passed away a few days ago. Should I remove my engagement ring immediately? Or wait some period of time?

His family has arranged a large service and celebration of life to be held in two months. Should I wear the ring on that occasion?

A: There is a cadre of busybodies who have the nerve to pose as etiquette experts, telling the bereaved that they are no longer entitled to wear their rings. Besides being cruel, this is inaccurate. Miss Manners reminds you that the ring is yours, to wear whenever you wish.

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,; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.