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by Abigail Van Buren

Man's Atrocious Table Manners Make Meals Hard to Stomach

DEAR ABBY: I hate eating with my spouse because his table manners are awful. He sits with both elbows on the table, leans close to the dinner plate and uses his fingers to push his food onto his fork. He mashes everything on his plate together before he starts eating, smashes crackers in his soup, scrapes his spoon on the bottom of the bowl and slurps his liquids. He also licks his fingers.

He thinks he can modify these behaviors when he's with others, but he lapses into them even when he's with friends in a restaurant. Please help me. How can I get him to change? Must I tolerate it? I have tried constructive suggestions and gentle prodding with no success. Please respond in your column because he reads it daily -- while he eats. -- DISTRAUGHT SPOUSE IN COLUMBUS, OHIO

DEAR DISTRAUGHT SPOUSE: Your husband must have many wonderful qualities if you married him knowing this is the way he consumes his food. Among them is an awareness that he should modify his eating habits when he's with friends. Let him know that you are his best friend and you would like him to practice his "party manners" when he eats with you. If he's reluctant, point out that he "lapses" when he's socializing with others, and it isn't pretty. It may motivate him to try harder.

Read more in: Marriage & Divorce | Etiquette & Ethics