DEAR MISS MANNERS: ?I am looking for advice because I discovered that my husband of three months had an affair. I was willing to work through the infidelity with counseling. I then learned by way of his family that he is not what he portrays himself to be and highly suggested to leave him for my safety and sanity.
With this in mind, I am filing for divorce. Coupled with all the feelings of hurt and embarrassment, I feel guilty about the time and expense my family put into my bridal shower and especially our wedding. I have all the wedding gifts. Is there a protocol about whether to return the gifts or not when a marriage dissolves within a short period of time?
GENTLE READER: There is, indeed, a letter-of-the-law protocol, and it allows you to keep everything because you did actually get married. That is the official cut-off point. Had you made your discovery in time to call off the wedding, it would have required you to return the wedding presents.
You should hear the outrage that last part provokes in no-longer-brides who feel entitled to any material advantage they can get, as compensation for their disappointment. You would then understand why Miss Manners is so grateful for your finer feelings. She encourages you to act on them.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: On a volunteer basis, I maintain a Web site for an organization of like-minded individuals who enjoy restoring and driving little British cars. As one of the main points of contact for e-mail inquiries about these cars, I receive several e-mails each month that I strive to answer in a timely, correct and complete fashion.
On occasion, these e-mail "threads" may extend to multiple messages. In general, these e-mails are sent by individuals I have never met and am unlikely to ever meet unless they happen to join our group as a result of their contact with us through our Web site.
The latest message I received in a recent thread requested some additional information on the original topic, and the writer also imparted the information that his response to my original reply had been delayed due to the death of his mother. As I did not have time to contact Miss Manners about the correct approach without creating some delay in my reply, I did not acknowledge his loss in my response.
Should I have offered some words of sympathy to this person in my reply, even though our only contact has been through cyberspace? I should note that this is not the type of information I would have included in correspondence of this nature, and I was somewhat at a loss as to what to do.
GENTLE READER: You could hardly be expected to write a condolence letter about a stranger to someone you have never met. The gentleman could hardly expect one, as he offered the information simply as an explanation.
All the same, a formal acknowledgment would have been nice. "Please accept my condolences," for example. You can then proceed right to business, as your correspondent did.