DEAR MISS MANNERS: Earlier this year, my wife and I rejoiced in the news that, after 10 years of trying, we could expect our first child. It was only then that I began to realize how much we disagreed on matters of personal privacy.
It began when my wife sent out the ultrasound photograph in a mass email to all our friends, announcing her pregnancy. I realize many do that nowadays, but I was taken back -- she didn’t even think to ask me how I felt about this.
Now, her mother has shown us a Christmas card that she designed and printed up, featuring this same image, which she’ll send to over 100 people. (There is also the matter of the card’s text, which announces a “miracle birth at Christmas.”)
I asked my mother-in-law to destroy the card. She refuses. My wife will not even discuss this with me.
For the first time in 20 years, I am seriously considering divorce -- not so much over one card, but over this gulf that has opened between my wife and myself. If we can’t see eye-to-eye over this, what happens after our child is born and we need to make more major decisions?
Miss Manners, what would you have us do?
GENTLE READER: Whatever it takes to resolve this -- and not only the privacy issue, important as it is in regard to the eventual safety of your child, if his or her life will continue to be posted. How you will handle child-rearing is in question.
The idea of ending a 20-year marriage upon the birth of a child horrifies Miss Manners. But what about those 20 years? Is this really the first time that your wife has refused to consider your deep concerns?
Privacy is a peculiar issue these days. Citizens are railing against invasions from government and industry, but at the same time, daily surrendering their own privacy, voluntarily as well as involuntarily.
There is little understanding that privacy is valuable for its own sake, even if there are no legal or financial consequences. Even if dignity is not valued, Miss Manners would think that the internet has exhibited enough evil consequences to displaying one’s life to show the folly of opening this to everyone’s evaluation and criticism.
But if your wife does not understand that, she may think that the disagreement between you is as simple as whether this publicity is ordinary sharing or showing off. She could argue that births have always been publicly announced, and this is merely the modern method of doing so. You, in turn, should point out the dangers, as well as your antipathy to this.
Miss Manners urges you to have this conversation. Now.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: I notice that a former ambassador to the United Nations is referred to by government spokespersons as “the ambassador,” and uses a form of that title in his Twitter handle.
Is this correct? I thought only presidents, vice presidents and senators retained their titles after leaving a post.
GENTLE READER: Actually, it is correct, as it is for senators, military officers and some others. It is unique titles, such as “president” and “vice president,” which are supposed to be abandoned upon leaving office -- a rule that Miss Manners notices being constantly violated by themselves and others.
(Please send your questions to Miss Manners at her website, www.missmanners.com; to her email, firstname.lastname@example.org; or through postal mail to Miss Manners, Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106.)