Archive for Friday, March 2, 2001

Quick splits complicate etiquette on wedding gifts

March 2, 2001


Dear Ann: Please advise your readers before they send a wedding gift to check and make sure the couple is still married. I wish I had.

"Mary" and "Jerry" were high school sweethearts. They went together five years before they married. Everyone thought they were the perfect couple. The wedding was one of the most beautiful this town has ever seen bridesmaids, ushers, a flower-laden canopy, a string quartet, a harp the whole nine yards.

I spent a lot more on my dress and the gift than I had a right to, but I was so sure the relationship was rock-solid and that this would be the social event of the year, I went all out. I sent the gift 10 days after the wedding. Guess what? Five weeks after the extravaganza, the couple split. They were divorced the following month. No wedding gifts were returned.

What do you think of this, Ann Landers? I'm signing my name, but please do not print it. Skunked Somewhere East of the Rockies

Dear Skunked: Back in 1993, the Bureau of the Census predicted that four out of 10 first marriages would end in divorce. Many couples split up within the first two years of marriage, although a growing number of divorces are occurring among the elderly.

A recent issue of a magazine featured on its cover a photo of actress Courtney Thorne-Smith, radiant and smiling, wearing her elegant bridal gown. There was a six-page spread with Courtney's firsthand account of how she was planning her wedding. Seven months later, the couple separated. Is this a sign of the times? I'm afraid the answer is yes.

Dear Ann: I have been married for nine years. My husband had an affair five years ago. He told me about it later, and we have had individual and joint counseling for the past two years. I know I must forgive him and let go of the past if our marriage is to go forward.

The problem is, I cannot trust him, and do not believe I ever will again. My husband continues to lie about little things, such as what he spent money on or where he had lunch. I frequently find out from someone else that my husband has lied or has neglected to tell me about something.

We have three small children, and I want them to have two loving parents, but I cannot take the dishonesty any longer. What should I do? Betty in Ohio

Dear Betty: The habit of lying is often very difficult to break. Why does he persist? Are the consequences of telling the truth too severe? What has come out of the counseling sessions?

Your major consideration must be those three small children. Their best interests must be served. Please don't give up. Talk to your counselor about the best way to handle this, and follow his or her advice.

Dear Ann: All my life, I was told to "mind your p's and q's." I knew it meant I should behave myself and watch my language and manners. However, I have no idea where this phrase originated and why we use it. What exactly is a "p" and a "q," and why must we mind them? Ramona in Florida

Dear Ramona: My language expert, Alden Wood, a professor at Simmons College in Boston, said the phrase probably originated when teaching children to write. The lower-case letters "p" and "q" are quite similar in appearance. Another possibility is that it started in an English pub. The bartender would keep a running tab on a chalkboard, writing "p" for pint and "q" for quart. He needed to "mind his p's and q's" so that he didn't overcharge the customers.

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