Miss Manners: Husband’s gifts feel excessive

My discomfort is compounded by unsolicited comments from friends and family about his giving nature. When I express to him that he doesn’t need to buy me things or take me on extravagant excursions, he gets upset and says it is how he expresses his love.

I am grateful to have an issue like this when there’s so much worse in the world, but I still want to be able to let my husband know that I don’t need all of this to know how much he loves me. He shows me every day in many ways, and I always make sure to acknowledge these actions.

What advice do you have for me to get over this and just learn to be thankful for such a “problem”? Each time I bring up my feelings about this, it never goes well.

The discomfort you feel is nothing compared with that of the husbands among those friends or relatives who forgot Valentine’s Day.

As you recognize, there can be worse marital problems. And unless he is spending the grocery money, your husband is not the problem. The problem is that you are listening to silly, if not catty, remarks and even expecting your husband to change accordingly.

What you should be responding with is a firm, “Yes, he is a dear. I’m very lucky.” And what you should be saying to your husband about these gestures is “thank you.”

Dear Miss Manners: My wife offered a plain but earnest apology for a small domestic transgression — it involved overstaying her turn in the television room — and I was unable to summon a gracious, honest response.

“Apology accepted” and “You are forgiven” both seem to violate the modern norm of “no problem” or “forget about it,” which don’t recognize that the error really did cause a problem. What’s a handy way of accepting an apology without either minimizing the error or piling on to the perpetrator?

It would seem to Miss Manners that one could accept without qualification a spouse’s earnest apology for a small domestic transgression — in the interest of marital harmony, if not of strict justice.

But if you cannot bring yourself to do so, surely you can thank your wife for her apology and assure her that the incident is forgotten. And if not, you will have more than etiquette trouble.

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