Open Thread

by epi on August 1, 2011

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This open thread is your space to use as you like.  We invite you to discuss current and traditional etiquette. Feel free to ask questions of each other and the community moderators here.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Elizabeth 2 August 1, 2011 at 10:11 am

My high school boyfriend and I found each other 24 years after breaking up and being married to others 12 and 20 years respectively. Friendship turned to love and we are engaged. The issue is that the pastor that we want to marry us, who is so special to us because he was the pastor in our church growing up, married me and my first husband. How do I ask the pastor that I have already stood in front of (along with God and family) promising to be faithful forever to another man to marry me to a second? This is so complicated!

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Just Laura August 1, 2011 at 10:21 am

Most churches require the engaged couple to attend some pre-marital counseling with the pastor before the pastor agrees to marry them. Even if this isn’t a requirement, I encourage you to do this. That way, your pastor will know your feelings on the topic and will see how serious you are about your fiance. None of us are perfect, and your pastor knows this.
There was a Chicken-Soup-For-The-Soul story that I [mostly] remember about this very topic: A divorced woman wanted to marry a never-married man, but was uncomfortable because their Jewish faith frowns upon divorce. The rabbi told her that she could look at this as if she were a seasoned sea captain. She knows where the reefs and shoals lay when the waters get choppy, and would know how to navigate them better than a less experienced captain, making for a safer, happier journey.
I wish you and your fiance many years of smooth sailing, but I also hope you both know where the dangers lie and how to avoid them. :)

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Rusty Shackleford August 1, 2011 at 10:33 am

Elizabeth 2, this is a difficult question to answer without knowing the details of this particular church. Does this particular faith forbid divorce? or remarriage? Many modern clergy have come to realize that we are all human, and that marriages end for a number of reasons. I would hope that your pastor is no exception. Pastors routinely minister to people dealing with marital difficulty and divorce, and I’m sure he can appreciate your situation and understand that sometimes things just don’t work out.

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Elizabeth August 1, 2011 at 11:36 am

I agree with all of the other advice already given, but just want to add this: When you take those vows, the other person also takes them. I don’t believe that the vows you take are absolute. You don’t promise faithfulness and undying loyalty to a person who turns against you, cheats on you, beats you, or otherwise turns bad. I believe a marriage is an agreement between two people and once the agreement falls apart for whatever reason (and the reason doesn’t have to be as bad as my other examples), you are no longer required to keep up your end of the bargain. Lots of people make mistakes the first time they marry, so count yourself lucky that you found your true love before it was too late.

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Alicia August 1, 2011 at 10:18 am

It seems to me that you are making this more complex then it needs to be. I’m assuming you are both divorced and whatever annulment like procedures are in your religion have been followed. Then simply say to the pastor “Pastor you are so special to both of us due to being our pastor growing up and all you taught us it would be a great blessing and a wonderful thing if you are willing to perform our wedding. Would you please perform our wedding?”
Pastor will either then say yes or no or perhaps require you two to do some sort of premarriage meetings in order to decide to say yes or no. But being worried about this question makes the situation no better . So ask and then decide what to do with the answer.

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Just Laura August 1, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Some of you may remember a while back when I asked what to do about my wedding pictures which had yet to materialize. My brother-in-law had asked if his photographer friend could take the pictures, and this would be his wedding present to us. As our photographer was suddenly deployed to Afghanistan, this was a nice option. But then month after month passed, and no pictures. My mother-in-law, my husband and I kept after him, and even offered money in case he wasn’t able to come up with it himself. He kept putting us off. The intelligent people on this forum suggested I bypass the brother-in-law, and go straight for the photographer.
Well, I procrastinated because I thought for sure after 5 months this would get handled. Finally last week, my husband found the woman’s contact info, and asked if he needed to pay her for her time/efforts. She said no money was necessary since the pics were just raw, and that she’d put the photographs on a CD.

My dilemma is this: I’m very upset with my brother-in-law. My grandfather passed 2 weeks ago, and never got to see the wedding pictures. I don’t like having to put this much effort into something that was supposed to be a gift to me, and I don’t like it that our reasonable requests were ignored. B-I-L is normally a nice person, but I feel like he doesn’t even care about something that was really meaningful to the rest of his family. Is there anything I can do to gently let him know that I was hurt, or should I just shrug this off and count my blessings?

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Elizabeth August 1, 2011 at 6:45 pm

Laura,
Thanks for following up on this – I was wondering what had happened. I’m so glad you got in touch with the photog and it was easy to get your photo. But can I ask – what the heck was the photog waiting for and why was she just sitting on the images if she never intended to do anything with them??

In terms of your BIL – is this your sister’s husband or your husband’s brother? How many times did you talk about this with him?

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Just Laura August 1, 2011 at 7:29 pm

I apologize for failing to be clearer – this is my husband’s brother. About a month after the wedding, I sent him a FB message thanking him for getting his friend to take pictures, and asking when I might expect to get them. He said “wait 6 weeks.” So after two months, his mother (also my husband’s mother) asked where they were. Then my husband asked both in-person and in telephone conversations maybe four times. I know my M-I-L asked at least twice. I asked one more time in front of his mother (phrasing it like, “hey, my parents were just wondering…”)
No, I don’t know what the photographer was waiting for. Honestly, perhaps she’s busy and since the B-I-L didn’t remind her, she may have put it on the back-burner. I just don’t know, and I hesitate to blame the professional, as she may not have been paid for this (I would have never allowed that to happen had I known – I paid all my professionals the night of the reception in cash).

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Elizabeth August 1, 2011 at 8:51 pm

Thanks for the clarifications. It sounds as if he either meant well but was clueless or too distracted to follow up, or was perhaps a bit flaky about it. Perhaps he had something else going on in his life…?

Regarding your original question about whether to reproach him or not … it’s a tricky thing, saying something negative to a BIL, especially about a gift. I would follow your husband’s lead, after all this is his brother. If BIL is just the kind of person you just don’t trust with important things, I would take the lesson and move on. Thank him for the gift and don’t ask him to be a godparent! If he was careless and negligent and it IS out of character for him, perhaps your husband could gently say, “BIL, usually you are such a conscientious guy. We were super grateful that you came through with the photographer when ours fell through, but we were dismayed at your lack of follow-through when you knew how important it was to us. What was up with that? Is everything OK?” Unless you yourself have a close and strong relationship with BIL, any communication is probably best done through your husband.

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Jackie August 2, 2011 at 6:07 pm

I think this is a great lesson for everyone in choosing who handles any part of your wedding. I mean, if you felt confident in your BIL’s friend, then you couldn’t predict the future, but it shows the rest of us that if anything goes wrong, the personal connections can make it extremely awkward. My friend used her fiance’s friend as the photographer and was disappointed in both the photos and the fact that he ended up charging her MORE than any of the professional strangers she had met with. She decided to just pay him and be done with it for the sake of the friendship, but stories like this show the possible pitfalls of these types of arrangements.

Shawn August 3, 2011 at 2:50 pm

Question for anyone out there:

I recently hosted a cocktail party. Attendees included neighbors, friends from college, parents from our children’s schools and sports teams, church , and some colleagues from work. A professional associate (not someone in my immediate office) heard about the party and emailed me the night of the party writing “I guess I didnt make your guest list.” I have not responded. What should i do ? Advice?

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Mrs. Czeisel August 3, 2011 at 3:12 pm

Don’t respond. It’s rude of him to try to pressure you into inviting him. He didn’t ask you a question, so no response is required. If he presses the matter further, you can say “it was a small gathering and there were a few difficult people in attendance that I didn’t want you to have to endure.”

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Just Laura August 3, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Agreed.
Don’t mention it. Don’t bring it up. If he does, “It was just some close friends,” usually suffices.

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Tom August 4, 2011 at 9:19 pm

My wife and I have had an ongoing disagreement that I am hoping you can solve. When together and around other people, is it proper for my wife to refer to me as he or him as…”he doesn’t like mushrooms” or should she say “Tom doesn’t like mushrooms” or “when we get home, he goes straight to the computer” or rather “when we get home, Tom goes straight to the computer”. Thanks

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Elizabeth August 5, 2011 at 8:16 am

There is nothing inherently wrong with using a pronoun to refer to someone when it is clear to whom you are referring. If you think about reading a novel that never used any pronouns, you can imagine it would get tiresome to read all of those proper nouns all the time.

If you think of it another way, if someone asks your wife “Does Tom like mushrooms?” it is only natural that she would answer, “No, he doesn’t.” It would sound weird for her to say “No, Tom doesn’t.”

What about it bothers you?

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Katie K August 5, 2011 at 9:51 am

Hello Tom, I agree with you about the awkwardness of being referred to in the third person. My husband did this until I explained that it’s how one might refer to a pet, small child, or even (unfortunately) The Help! It seems dismissive, doesn’t it? This is what another etiquette expert has to say:
http://en.allexperts.com/q/Social-Etiquette-Good-2570/2010/2/use-pronouns-conversation.htm

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Just Laura August 2, 2011 at 6:37 pm

I agree, Jackie, and I thank you for your response. I will say that the officiant was a long-time friend of my husband’s, but the first words out of my mouth were “how much do you charge for everyone else?” And I paid cash. The bartender was also a friend of my husband (my husband owns a pub). I offered him $20/hr, including travel time (1 hr each way, and he didn’t have to accept). And I paid cash. Nothing ruins relationships like money. It was the part where this service was offered as a gift that I should have known better (as you said), but I guess I was concerned since we were unexpectedly without a photographer, and I thought I could trust the BIL. It was the part where I was offering any amount of money, just give me a pic or two, that I began to wonder.

Lesson learned, friends.

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