My husband has a close female friend—they met in college, became friends, dated briefly one summer, and then went back to being friends. She eventually married and we enjoyed hanging out as couples. My husband has lunch with her once a month or so, and they text weekly. Recently she and her husband decided to separate. During this turmoil, she has been calling and texting my husband much more often, which is understandable. Now she has asked something that makes me want to put my foot down. We all live on the West Coast, but she hails from the other side of the country. She wants to fly out there with my husband, pick up her old car, then drive all the way back with my husband. He will do just about anything for her. He helped build her a new office, picks her up from the airport, etc., so he wants to do this. He asked me for my permission, but was taken aback when I expressed concern. He feels that I should let him have a “friend” vacation since I get together for a trip with my college roommates—who are female!—once a year. I want to say no because I am really unhappy about this but I don’t want to be “the bad guy” and I don’t want my husband to think I don’t trust him. I would really appreciate some advice.
—Just Say No
I guess someone has to trust your husband, because I sure don’t. I’m all for mixed-gender friendships, but prior to the possibility of this road trip, your husband was too involved in the life of his erstwhile paramour. Now he’s making you feel like a jailer because you object to his going on a cross-country journey with a single woman who sounds to me like she doesn’t plan on being single for long. It’s one thing not to be jealous, it’s another to be a chump. Either your husband and this woman are already playing you for a fool, or they are fooling themselves about the likelihood of their fooling around before they reach Ohio. (I lean toward the former.) You’re right to say permission denied, but you also need to assert that this friendship is undermining your marriage, and that you and your husband need to do some work on putting each other first.
I am about to graduate from college. It’s common at my school for people to send out graduation announcements. Mine would be sent out to my own family and friends as well as friends and co-workers of my parents who have known me throughout the years. My father is concerned these announcements sound like I am “looking for money.” He doesn’t like the idea of putting pressure on his friends and colleagues, especially subordinates, to take the out checkbook. He wants to put “no gifts please” on the bottom of each card. When I told this to my friends they scoffed in disbelief! They say I deserve to send them out and that receiving gifts is fine because graduating is a big accomplishment. I’m taking out loans for an expensive graduate program next year and I need money.
—Polite but Poor
The announcement is supposed to be just that: a message to people who would care that all your hard work has paid off. It is not a notice to the recipient to help pay off your future educational expenses. In Emily Post’s Etiquette the Post family says such announcements to one’s family and friends are fine but should not be sent with the expectation of a gift. Miss Manners points out that the list of recipients can be problematic: The people who really care already know; the people who don’t know likely won’t care. Social media has also helped make such printed announcements ever more anachronistic. I agree with your father that you shouldn’t send these cards to his co-workers. Many will see this as a plea for a check, and putting “no gifts” on such an announcement just makes the uncomfortable unseemly. Surely, the best way for your parents to get the word out to their friends and colleagues is to tell everyone they’re excited about seeing you get your diploma, then after the happy event show off a couple of photos of you in your mortarboard. The graduation announcement may be fading away, but sure, go ahead and send some to a handful of older relatives and friends you’re not in frequent touch with who would appreciate hearing your news. Be sure to add a handwritten note letting them know about your exciting graduate school plans.
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