1. Michelle

    My husband and I have been debating for some time (about 16 years) the proper etiquette for retiring for the evening. Every so often, he will decide that he is tired, and simply go to bed without so much as a word. I, myself, prefer to wait for him so that we might go together. As a result of our differences in practice, I have spent a limited number of evenings awaiting his return for a great deal of time before the thought hits me and I go seeking him out. While I must acknowledge that my practice of waiting does not seem to be customary, I do wonder if I am more off the beaten track than I have assumed; is it considered acceptable etiquette to simply retire for the evening without saying good night to one’s spouse?

    • Gertrude

      I am not sure what is proper, but in our family, it is common for me to go to bed before my husband, or vice versa. We say to the other person “OK, I am going to bed now”, then we kiss, wish each other good night, and then the sleepy person goes to bed.

      That being said, it is not necessary for one person to wait for another. Sometimes, one person comes home AFTER the other has gone to bed. In that situation, the person working late calls home and says “Hey, I’m working late tonight”. Then we say goodnight on the phone. I do not wait up if he is working late, and he doesn’t wait if I am. If he does not call, I will call him before I go to bed. I do consider it rude for him to work late and not call, and he considers it rude for me to go to bed without wishing him a good night. For example, if I suddenly feel like going to bed at 6pm, before he leaves work, all I do is call and say to my husband that I am tired, and I am going to bed. Then we say goodnight, and I go to bed while he stays up and does what he wants.

      Bottom line: In our family, it is not necessary for both to go to bed at the same time, but it is necessary to communicate and wish each other a good night.

      I’d love to hear what else is customary….

      • Elizabeth

        My husband and I are similar. We will say, “hey, I’m going to bed, good night!” if the other seems to want to stay up later. I would not just walk out of the room silently. A lot of times the subtext is “I’m going to bed now, so would you mind keeping it down?”

  2. jamie

    My cousin who is estranged from her dad has approached my dad (her dad’s brother) about giving her away at her upcoming wedding. My dad and I are extremely close and the thought of him giving somebody else away before he given me away hurts me beyond words. I do not want to be perceived as a witch, but I do not want my dad walking anyone down the aisle but me, Help!!

    • Elizabeth

      Jamie, you are certainly entitled to your feelings. However, this is not an etiquette issue. The tradition of “giving the bride away” is just that – a tradition that symbolizes the bride leaving her family of origin and joining her husband’s family. Your father, as a representative of her extended family, could certainly function in that way. It does not in any way diminish the special role he would play as your father on your own wedding day. Alternatively, her mother could give her away, a brother could do it, or she could be a modern women a walk down the aisle by herself. (In this day and age, is it even appropriate for women to be “given away”??) I would not bring this up with your cousin, try to have some empathy for her position as a bride without her father present on her wedding day. Instead, think long and hard why this proposition bothers you and then have an honest talk with your father. Hopefully he can explain that his love and goodwill is not finite, it is not “used up” if he serves in some capacity in your cousin’s wedding as a representative of her family of origin.

      • I love this answer.
        I walked myself down the aisle (I was 29, and hadn’t lived at home for a decade), but I’ve had friends who preferred their mother or a grandparent give them away.
        Please, jamie, be understanding about a women without a father figure in her life. She is not taking your father away from you, and your father won’t experience the same emotions with her as he will with you when he sees you on your big day.

  3. Cynthia

    I have a phone etiquette question:
    Here’s my dilemma: my cell rings, and at that very moment I’m preoccupied. Should I reject that phone call and let the voicemail answer, or answer and tell that person I’m busy? I always personally found it awkward, even rude at times, when someone answers their phone only to tell me they’re busy.
    Here is the exact situation I was dealing with: I was recently on a call with my friend, “Alice,” (on my home phone), when another friend, “Bob,” called my cell phone. I let the call go to voicemail, and called Bob after I finished speaking with Alice, about 15 minutes later. Bob said he tried calling me, but my cell phone was off; I explained to him that my cell phone was on and I saw him calling, but I was on the phone with Alice at that moment. Bob seemed offended that I ignored his call, which surprised me.
    So now, I’m wondering what the proper thing to do would have been.
    ~Thank you for any answers

    • Elizabeth

      Bob seems a bit technologically challenged…does he not have a cell phone and understand how it works? In this case you may have given too much info to bob. You could’ve said, actually no my phone wasn’t off, I just couldn’t get to it. Or, I was in the middle of something. I agree with you that it’s better to go to voicemail than for someone to pick up to say they can’t talk. That’s just frustrating and opens the door to the caller saying, oh it’ll be quick, I just wanted to tell you x,y, z.

    • PJ


      You do not owe Bob an explanation as to why you did not answer his call. It is none of his business.

      I think it’s okay to call people back and just start talking, without mentioning why you didn’t answer and without apology (unless of course the two of you had predetermined that you would talk at a specific time). This is what I do and I’ve never had anyone ask me why I didn’t answer his or her call. If someone does ask – which is rude – just say you were busy. That’s all.

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