How Similar Must Our Etiquette Backgrounds Be? A Fiancee’s Conundrum

I am fortunate to be acquainted with many people and enjoy all of my friendships immensely. Recently, I was emailed by the daughter of a dear friend and asked my opinion on a sensitive topic.

Dear Lady Hooper-Brackett,

The man to whom I am engaged comes from a family that is completely lacking in any sort of manners. They think I am fussy and cold and much too much of a nitpicker, and I think they are rude, crude, and basically barbarians. I am thinking of ending the engagement because when my fiance is with them, he follows their lead and acts like a boor. Should I end the relationship?

Well, you can imagine my dismay at reading the poor girl’s letter.  She is in quite a pickle, indeed.

Without telling what her what to do, I pointed out a few important things in my response.

  1. You have no right to dictate to his family that they should change and adapt your standards of manners.
  2. They have no right to ask you to change, either.
  3. You do, however, have every right to expect that you and your fiance will come to an agreement as to the standards under which you, he, and your future offspring will live.
  4. Relationships and/or marriages are more harmonious when people have similar backgrounds, and manners are a big part of backgrounds.
  5. If he is unwilling to establish reasonable standards for the new family unit you are about to become, then I would think long and hard about marriage to him.

I maintain that it is easier and less expensive to break off an engagement than it is to get a divorce.

Best Mannerly Wishes,

The Lady Hooper-Brackett

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