Curious Companion: Dealing with a nosy spouse

by epi on March 26, 2012

Q: We just spent a weekend at the home of our daughter’s future in-laws. I was terribly embarrassed when my husband went over to the dining room table, which was set for dinner, picked up a plate, turned it over, and looked at the back. He then did the same thing with the silverware. He said he was just curious and that should be a compliment to them. Then he said he just wanted to tap the back of the plate. My two questions are: How do I get my husband to understand that this is not courteous behavior for a guest? He has done this recently at someone else’s home and we have already had a discussion on the subject. Also, what is the best way for me to handle the situation once he has done something like this? I made no comment on his behavior while we were there, but I really was mortified.

A: You should explain that, if your husband is curious about the hosts’ china and silverware, he should ask. For example, he might say something along the lines of “What lovely china and silverware. What are the names of the patterns.” For him to pick up a plate and/or a piece of silverware to find out could be perceived as being nosy and on par with looking in someone’s medicine cabinet. You might even add that if someone did that at your house, you would be offended. If your husband does this again, you could say “John, please don’t do that. You know it embarrasses me.”

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Country Girl March 26, 2012 at 12:05 pm

I agree, this is really strange and invasive behavior. And not only is it offensive to the hosts for the reasons the EPI listed; but I would guess other guests (who would have no idea when your husband has last cleaned his hands) probably perceive his actions as pretty unsanitary. I don’t especially want a fellow guest handling any of my dinnerware before I am to use it. =S


Sandra May 4, 2012 at 11:53 am

I would like to know the principle behind viewing the back of a plate and cutlery as nosy and invasive while asking the hostess as being okay? I don’t see it as strange since he clearly likes the tableware or unsanitary. How many people really don’t although they should wash their hands before eating”


Winifred Rosenburg May 4, 2012 at 12:20 pm

I think it’s like grabbing the tag of a friend’s dress instead of asking where she got it. Okay, maybe it’s not that bad, but the idea is you could easily just ask and have it be an actual compliment instead of acting like you don’t trust them to tell the truth so you decided to find out for yourself.


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