DEAR MISS MANNERS: My husband asked me if I would hand him a specific item from his sizable work bag, which was across the room. I brought him the entire bag instead of removing the requested item.
His response was to angrily snap at me that I might as well have not done him a favor at all, and went on to imply that if I’m too lazy to do a favor in the manner requested, that I should say so and he would just do it himself.
I was floored at the rudeness of it all and stubbornly stood my ground, saying that he should be more clear. He maintains it is common sense that I should have brought him the specific item requested, not the entire bag, and that it is not unreasonable to expect a favor to be done precisely as it was worded.
He apologized for his overreaction, but he wants an apology from me -- for angrily telling him that the only proper response when someone does you a favor is “thank you” and that his argument is absurd.
I just can’t bring myself to apologize for doing him a favor. I have a feeling this argument is going to stay around until I break down and apologize, but fear it will set a precedent wherein asking for favors will become a dreaded question.
GENTLE READER: At the risk of getting herself embroiled in this volatile dispute, Miss Manners will say this: Her own dear mother taught her never to look inside anyone else’s belongings and to just hand the whole bag over, as you did. She permits you to relay that to your husband. But for the sake of the marriage, you might preempt it by saying, “I am sorry that I got angry, dear, but ...”