Author Topic: Etiquette and your spouse  (Read 6623 times)

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Danika

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Etiquette and your spouse
« on: October 02, 2013, 04:33:58 PM »
I've posted here recently about sparing a friend's feelings when they've given you a gift that you disliked for whatever reason. What about from your spouse?

This happened this summer. I like a few flowers - outside. I rarely like flowers in the house. Mainly, they die quickly, they leave dead petals all over the place, it's a lot of cleanup and I don't enjoy them. I have allergies and I find them to be a burden, not a joy. I'm not even neutral about them. They annoy me. If I do have flowers in the house, on the very rare occasion, I only like 3 kinds (roses, carnations, daffodils). DH knows this.

When friends bring me flowers as like a thank you gift, or a hostess gift, I just thank them and put them in a vase. And I'll guilt myself into keeping them for a few days even though I don't enjoy them.

Out of the blue, DH bought me flowers this summer. I think they were mums or daisies or something. I don't know, but they were the kinds with tons of petals that eventually (in about 3 days) fall out and make a mess all over my counter. These kinds drive me nuts because I'm just always waiting for the mess to happen. I told him thank you. And then he asked "Are you glad?" and I was honest and said "No, I was actually looking forward to the other flowers in the vase" [that I had gotten from a friend a few days before] "dying so that I could toss them. But I'll keep these. Thanks for the thought." And he got mad. I understand why he was mad, but should I have lied to him? I didn't volunteer that I didn't want them. It was only after he asked. And he knew the answer. Why buy someone something that they don't like, just because you think that they should like it?

Normally, he buys me balloons. I like balloons. In the future, should I just thank him for the flowers or whatever the gift is that I don't like, and then throw them out when he's not looking?

mspallaton

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2013, 04:38:17 PM »
I'm not sure if there is a specific etiquette since the spousal relationship is so much closer than other relationships.  Ideally honesty should be the best policy, but him asking if you like a gift can be an indication of a lack of confidence in the quality of the gift so being honest in that moment makes it a lot easier to have hurt feelings.

When my DH has gotten my presents I haven't liked very much I've generally waited a little while and said something along the lines of: "I thought it was very sweet that you got me X, but I think I'd really love Y next time."  Along with some other various kind words.  DH isn't particularly fragile or anything - I just find it nicer to soften the blow of not liking a present very much.

gollymolly2

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2013, 04:55:09 PM »
I agree. You can be more honest in a close relationship, like marriage, but you should still try to be kind/thoughtful about the way you say things.

flickan

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2013, 04:59:32 PM »
When my DH has gotten my presents I haven't liked very much I've generally waited a little while and said something along the lines of: "I thought it was very sweet that you got me X, but I think I'd really love Y next time."  Along with some other various kind words.  DH isn't particularly fragile or anything - I just find it nicer to soften the blow of not liking a present very much.

This is how I handle this with my spouse as well. It shows respect and gratitude while expressing oneself clearly.  After all, if you can't be honest with your partner than who?

The bit where he asks you "Are you glad?" is kind of strange to me though because he already knows you don't like flowers right?  I mean I don't know your husband but if I made my preference clear on something and then mine got me something knowing I didn't want it and then asked something like "do you like it?" or "are you glad?" I'd be pretty irked.  It does come off a bit PA.

I don't think he has any cause to be upset if he got you something he knows you don't want.  I don't like flowers either, they're so pointless and they just die.  I told my spouse this early on so there's be no surprises.  Now he buys me gifts of chocolate and tacky owls :)

Arila

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2013, 05:05:07 PM »
I'm having a somewhat similar problem with my mother. She often says negative things and then gets really upset when people "take it the wrong way" when she was just being honest. This is the kind of situation where it really doesn't matter THAT much is what white lies were invented for. They don't cost that much, and you could always throw them out when they start to droop instead of waiting for everything to fall off.

Our family counselor has been trying to help us to identify the intention (hopefully positive) and respond to that. You might not have been glad that he brought you flowers you don't like, but you could be glad that he 1. Thought of you 2. Decided to demonstrate that.

TootsNYC

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #5 on: October 02, 2013, 05:06:38 PM »
Quote
The bit where he asks you "Are you glad?" is kind of strange to me



I wonder if the OP let her lack of enthusiasm for the flowers show.

And DH was looking for some enthusiasm in favor of *the gesture*--he thought of her while out and about, and purchased something that he hoped would tell her that he loves her. That's worth some enthusiasm--even if only for the fact that he wanted her to be glad.

So I think a better response would be, when he said, "Are you glad?", to say, "I love that you thought of me" or "what a sweet gesture" or even "I love you so much, honey."

Later, much later, you can say, "I love when you brought me balloons."

You can even say, later, "remember when you brought me flowers? It was so sweet, I felt so loved. But I thought I'd tell you that flowers don't really do it for me. Balloons, or XYZ, they're more my speed."

As to the general question:

Miss Manners has said that precisely BECAUSE we live in such close quarters, for such a long time, and for so many hours, with our family & friends, it is even MORE important that we treat them politely.

It's incredibly impolite to criticize a gift. Really, ever. But especially right at the moment of it being given.

Your DH didn't bring you flowers. He brought you a gesture of love. Surely you can love -that-.


Quote
[/b]though because he already knows you don't like flowers right?  I mean I don't know your husband but if I made my preference clear on something and then mine got me something knowing I didn't want it and then asked something like "do you like it?" or "are you glad?" I'd be pretty irked.  It does come off a bit PA.

Really? I've been married to my DH for a long time. He forgets stuff like that. Men often get bombarded about the "give her flowers" idea. There's even a song! So sometimes they fall into the stereotype. That doesn't have to mean anything. It can just mean they forgot, or they love the "official language" of love themselves.

It was a nice thing! Don't start turning it into a fight, into a gesture of how much he doesn't notice you, love you, etc.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2013, 05:09:15 PM by TootsNYC »

oogyda

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #6 on: October 02, 2013, 05:07:12 PM »
I agree that honesty between spouses is important.  Actively trying not to hurt the other's feelings is also important. 

That's why I really don't understand that he bought you flowers knowing you don't like them and then expected praise like a puppy learning to sit. 

I think I might have answered his "Are you glad?" question with "I'm glad you were thinking of me and wanted to get me something nice."  and saved the conversation reminding him of your preferences regarding flowers later. 
It's not what we gather along the way that matters.  It's what we scatter.

shhh its me

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #7 on: October 02, 2013, 05:10:00 PM »
........And then he asked "Are you glad?" and I was honest and said "No, I was actually looking forward to the other flowers in the vase" [that I had gotten from a friend a few days before] "dying so that I could toss them. But I'll keep these. Thanks for the thought."


 should I just thank him for the flowers or whatever the gift is that I don't like, and then throw them out when he's not looking?

I think there are many steps between these two extremes.  I think you were pretty far on the needlessly harsh side of honest.  Since he never gets you flowers and knows you don't like them I think " I'm glad you were thinking of me, but why flowers?"  there might have been some genuine thoughtfulness behind his choice.

There is no way to be so polite you will never hurt someone feelings but it may help to start with a positive thing in this case " ITs nice you were thinking of me." let the person have a few moments to enjoy good emotion then as gently as possible be honest. He may not have heard a word after "no".


CakeBeret

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #8 on: October 02, 2013, 05:13:02 PM »
I think you may have been a little too blunt. I agree that honesty is the best policy, but there are different ways of going about it.

My DH is not terribly demonstrative, so I tend to want to reward the effort even when he misses the mark. In your situation I probably would have said, "I really appreciate you thinking about me! These flowers smell really nice. These are the kind that make a mess and set off my allergies, so I may donate them to LocalNursingHome, but I appreciate the gesture."
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shhh its me

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #9 on: October 02, 2013, 05:14:36 PM »
I agree that honesty between spouses is important.  Actively trying not to hurt the other's feelings is also important. 

That's why I really don't understand that he bought you flowers knowing you don't like them and then expected praise like a puppy learning to sit. 

I think I might have answered his "Are you glad?" question with "I'm glad you were thinking of me and wanted to get me something nice."  and saved the conversation reminding him of your preferences regarding flowers later.
I'm not sure what OP meant by I rarely like roses ...... if that means she on even very rare occasions buys flowers for the house and of course she graciously accepts flowers from other people.  I can understand why a husband might think she had changed he mind about flowers.

TootsNYC

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #10 on: October 02, 2013, 05:16:18 PM »
I think you may have been a little too blunt. I agree that honesty is the best policy, but there are different ways of going about it.

My DH is not terribly demonstrative, so I tend to want to reward the effort even when he misses the mark. In your situation I probably would have said, "I really appreciate you thinking about me! These flowers smell really nice. These are the kind that make a mess and set off my allergies, so I may donate them to LocalNursingHome, but I appreciate the gesture."


I think you should separate the "donating to the nursing home" from the "thank you" by at least 2 hours. Ye gods, how deflating, to be told right in the middle of the thank-you that the gift will be given away to someone else.

rose red

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #11 on: October 02, 2013, 05:23:32 PM »
I think the wording was kind of harsh and dismissive.  There are phases that are honest without hurting feelings.  Even if he forgot about your views on flowers, I assume he was just trying to be nice. 

heartmug

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #12 on: October 02, 2013, 05:42:51 PM »
I too don't care for flowers.  Walking thru gardens, yes.  Having a vase of flowers in my home, no.

I have told DH "Make it easy on yourself.  You never have to remember what type of flower I like.  Treat me to an iced coffee from Favorite Coffee Place instead."  He has done that.  One year he kept a running tab of times he wanted to get me flowers and instead presented me with a gift card for another favorite store at the end of the year.  I told him I loved his creativity!!
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NyaChan

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #13 on: October 02, 2013, 05:46:29 PM »
I think the wording was kind of harsh and dismissive.  There are phases that are honest without hurting feelings.  Even if he forgot about your views on flowers, I assume he was just trying to be nice.

POD.

Danika

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Re: Etiquette and your spouse
« Reply #14 on: October 02, 2013, 06:46:19 PM »
I agree that honesty between spouses is important.  Actively trying not to hurt the other's feelings is also important. 

That's why I really don't understand that he bought you flowers knowing you don't like them and then expected praise like a puppy learning to sit. 

I think I might have answered his "Are you glad?" question with "I'm glad you were thinking of me and wanted to get me something nice."  and saved the conversation reminding him of your preferences regarding flowers later.
I'm not sure what OP meant by I rarely like roses ...... if that means she on even very rare occasions buys flowers for the house and of course she graciously accepts flowers from other people.  I can understand why a husband might think she had changed he mind about flowers.

I think this is what happened. DH saw the other flowers already in the house and thought that maybe my stance had changed. When in fact, it was the opposite. The existing bouquet was starting to annoy the heck out of me, but I felt bad throwing a sort of living thing away, like it was disrespectful to the poor flowers, as if they have feelings. He saw it as a green light to buy me flowers. But I was already super annoyed with the existing ones.

I didn't say I rarely like roses. I said I rarely like flowers in the house. We have roses in the backyard. I always love the roses on the bushes. Always. And when I see the bouqets at the store, they're nice. I might buy a bouquet of roses once every three years. And then once I get them home and they've been on my counter for 48 hours and they're drooping, I get really irritated and feel like I wasted $10-15. So I'll hit my limit of flowers in the house and not want any again for many many months.

Now, I regret coming across too harshly. I remember I threw in a few more "I really appreciate the sentiment. I really appreciate the thoughtfulness" several times. But I think shhh its me is right that after DH heard me say "No" he didn't hear anything else.