Make us your home page

You have right to your habits, but it's okay to give in a little

You have right to your habits, but it's okay to give in a little

Q: My boyfriend is on a VERY pervasive health kick. Everything about his lifestyle has changed, from transportation to diet. All these changes took place after we began dating, but he seems to expect me to jump on board.

I don't want to! I like my habits the way they are, so while I'm happy for him, I don't want to go vegan and hire a Pilates coach. He is offended by this: He says if we're going to be together, we need to agree about such things as food. Right now our dinner plans are very complicated and strained most of the time, but it seems to me that he should be the one who smooths things over. Who's right?

This Basically Makes Me a Vegetarian

A: He is "offended"? I'd like to hear his version. In the meantime, I'm tentatively in your camp. He brought these changes to the relationship, so the burden of accommodation is on him. He has no right to issue veiled ultimatums — if I read you correctly — that you change your lifestyle or else.

But even his clear responsibility to "smooth things over" is a nuanced one. If he now wants home-cooked, vegan meals, then he cooks them himself — but doesn't your love for him motivate some healthy accommodation? Say, experimenting with vegan recipes when it's your turn to cook?

If you won't even replace butter with olive oil on your vegetables, then I could see someone taking that personally. There's being yourself, and then there's being rigid — and rigidity is its own kind of ultimatum: Deal with it (or else).

Even if he accommodates you 75 percent of the way, consider kicking in your 75 percent. In tight relationships, people want to be loose — and generous — with the math.

It's NOT okay to go after guests who didn't come bearing gifts

Q: I got married two months ago, and almost none of my friends have given gifts. My wife's friends all have. We paid for the wedding ourselves.

I think most of my friends are aware of that, as I mentioned it at the bachelor party a few times.

I am considering sending an e-mail to everyone who hasn't given a gift to let them know we'll no longer be paying for our building's concierge service (which we signed up for to deal with gifts), and giving them our address.

I might also mention that our lease ends soon and we might move, so they should let me know if they send a gift. Is this rude? I know etiquette says guests have up to a year, but we have a limited time to get a discount for fulfilling our registry.


A: Robert, Robert, Robert. While your guests really ought to give you a gift, promptly, etiquette says they don't have to. There is also no connection between how much you spend and how much your guests owe you or by what discount deadline (!!). Had you bankrupted yourself serving oysters and caviar, your guests' obligation would be to say "Thanks." Because you invite people to weddings for their company, not their loot.

So, no e-mails, no warnings — just a change-of-address notice to these friends who cared enough to celebrate your marriage. Any mention of your gift-processing system will sound like the shakedown it is.

You have right to your habits, but it's okay to give in a little 03/05/09 [Last modified: Thursday, March 5, 2009 6:22am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Washington Post.

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours