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Didi’s Manners & Etiquette: The Emotional Affair + More

Thursday, January 08, 2015


Is your spouse cheating on you physically or just emotionally? What do you do when you do not want a gift, or when you are asked to pull strings you don't care to pull? What is the 2015 dress code for a high school banquet? 

Spouse's Emotional Affair

My wife is having an affair with this guy she works with. I don't believe they are having sex, because she is very conservative and real religious. We have two kids and she comes from a family with many divorces.

Cathy has always been keen about keeping it together and being proper. My wife loves me, but emotionally this other guy seems to give her a kind of support she doesn't get from me. Should I talk to him? I don't want a duel or any confrontation with either of them. I just don't want to lose my wife. 

~A.L., Providence

Examine your life. All longstanding relationships are riddled with disappointments and rarely survive without daily compromises. Have your interests wandered elsewhere? Do you watch pornography? Are you addicted to the internet in other ways? Even a virtual affair can give a sense of distance.

When one spouse is happier than the other, the bigger the difference in the happiness of the respective spouses, the greater the chance of a mutual uncoupling that could lead to a divorce. Try talking to your wife, but beware of a double edged sword. By bringing up your wife's emotional affair, you will appear insecure and even petty -- if it is just a friendship.

Cathy's coworker has poached some of her emotional space and it is up to her to take it back. Find out what your wife's needs are to figure out why she is finding emotional support elsewhere. As an etiquette consultant, I can only suggest that you seek counseling with a relationship expert, who will help you sort through the issues and emotions that are ruffling your marriage. 


When You Don't Want To Pull Strings

As much as I would like to help out our friends, they have put me in a very awkward position. Their only child was wait-listed at an ivy league college where I guess I have some pull. The parents think my importance is more powerful than it is, because I did assist mutual friends in a similar situation. The difference is that this particular applicant has a sense of entitlement that makes him obnoxious and doesn't appear to be as qualified as he should be to be an acceptable candidate.

What is my social obligation to these friends who are also our longtime neighbors, which is why I know the applicant well? 


Because they are your neighbors and friends, whom you'll be encountering for years to come, you have to write a letter. If you don't, your refusal will haunt you. Nevertheless, you do not have to make a special phone call, nor do you have to give the parents a copy of your letter. In the letter, you should stress how long you have known the candidate. Then say something kind about him, but use restraint. Don't lie or exaggerate. You should also mention how much you respect the parents -- if that feeling is genuine.

This way you have filled your obligation to the extent that you are able. The powers that be, who will be deciding the fate of the candidate, will not base their decision on your letter alone. 


Dress Code For A High School Banquet

I attend a small school where we don't have a senior banquet but my boyfriend's school does. He invited me to go and I'm not sure what to wear. A short dress or a long one? Fancy or not fancy. Please help! 

~Harper, Maine

Assuming this is not a prom -- but a banquet -- where you wouldn't be expected to wear a prom dress, you can be more creative with how you dress.

Look through your closet or in a thrift shop for a tartan plaid skirt of any length to wear with an oversized thin, light-weight pullover black sweater, along with your best boots  -- booties or high. Not motorcycle-style boots. You want to look dressed for attending a social dinner in a scholastic setting.

Another dressy casual look would be a floral top with a solid skirt and a cardigan sweater to tie around your waist. Or vice versa, a floral skirt with a solid top. Both florals and tartan plaids are popular this winter for a pop of color, but look best when worn along with a solid color. Also trending is a black leotard-style dress with long sleeves that falls above the knee. The correct length would be no shorter than the length of your arm when it is resting along your side and your finger tips are extended to your thigh. Worn with high knee socks and platform cork shoes the dress looks even cooler.

If I were you, I would ask another girl who will be going to the banquet what she's wearing. Do a bit of homework to find out what the dress code is for the girls. If that's not possible, ask your BF if you can look at his year book from last year to find photos of the banquet. They will show what the girls wore and you can update the look to suit your style.

To get a sense of trending outfits, take a look at these websites: JCrew.com, TheReformation.com, NastyGal.com (don't be put off by the name, it is a totally cool site), BetseyJohnson.com, and RentTheRunway.com -- where you can not only buy or just browse, but rent a dress as well.

The key here is to find out the dress code for the banquet and adapt from your wardrobe -- improvising to express your own look. In my opinion, where length is concerned go short or midi. Possibly a maxi, but not an evening gown. You would only wear a gown if your date was wearing a tuxedo. Ask him what he's wearing, because that might also help you decide what to wear. 


When You Don't Like A Gift

What do you do when you don't want the gift? Lucky as I was to be the recipient of  a beautiful silver plated ice bucket, I don't want it or need it. Worst of all, there was no gift receipt so I'm stuck with it. Would it be rude to ask for the gift receipt? 

~Nancy, Boston

When there is no gift receipt it usually means one of two things. The gifter is regifting the ice bucket and has either misplaced the receipt or the receipt is older than a year. Or, the gift was bought at a discount and the gifter would rather you did not know he didn't pay full price. Either way, you're stuck.

Unless of course you do a bit of leg work to find out if the gift is still stocked by the store. If it is, and the ice bucket is in it's original box, a respectable store will give you credit toward another purchase. Unless the ice bucket came from a very, very dear friend or close relative -- your mom, dad, sister or brother -- don't ask for the receipt.  Because hurt feelings may make the gifter think you are as cold as the ice the bucket is supposed to hold  -- and there is a good chance that they may not be in possession of the receipt.


Do you have a dilemma about love, family and life in general for Didi? Go ahead and "Ask Didi."  If your Question is used, we can withhold your name and/or location. 


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