Jeanne Phillips

DEAR ABBY: My husband, “Joe,” and I have been married 45 years, and he drives me nuts! I have asked him countless times to use better table manners, speak proper English and treat others with respect. I’m not asking for perfection. I know I’m not perfect, but if someone pointed out something I was doing incorrectly or that embarrassed someone, I’d change what I was doing.

Besides asking nicely, which I always do as to not belittle Joe, what can I do? It’s hard to ignore! — NOTHING CHANGES IN NEW YORK

DEAR NOTHING: After 45 years you should have come to the realization that you cannot change another person. For the sake of your sanity, learn to change the way you react to your husband’s poor table manners and bad English. Because he’s a sloppy eater, consider eating with him less often. Because his grammar isn’t up to par, try to remember that you married him this way and he managed to get the words “I do” out well enough to satisfy the officiant.

As to his disrespect for other people, the next time it happens, don’t ask him to cut it out, TELL him!

DEAR ABBY: I have a friend who recently got married at the courthouse. Her parents were willing to host a wedding for her, but she chose not to have one since she and her husband live far from her hometown.

About a month after the wedding, I received a card in the mail announcing that she had gotten married, stating she and her husband are trying to buy a house and gift cards to start their new life would be appreciated. Abby, isn’t it out of line for someone to ask for gifts when they didn’t have a wedding and didn’t tell anyone about their elopement until afterward? Several of my friends eloped, and I was never asked to send a gift. Was this rude, or is it normal behavior for people who do not have a wedding? — NORMAL OR NOT? IN COLORADO

DEAR N. OR N.: This is not normal behavior. It’s a gift grab, and you are not obligated to send this couple anything beyond your good wishes. To request gifts is a serious breach of etiquette. Had you contacted her and ASKED if there was anything they needed, telling you then would have been appropriate.

DEAR ABBY: I’m in 6th grade. My best friend hates a girl in our class. She toilet-papered her house, posted mean signs, threw eggs onto the family’s car and dumped shampoo in their mailbox. I’m really uncomfortable with what she did. She’s nice to me, though. What do I do? — FRIEND ISSUE IN NORTHERN CALIFORNIA

DEAR FRIEND ISSUE: Although your friend may dislike the classmate, she did not have the right to damage the family’s property. What she has been doing is called vandalism, and it is against the law. That it makes you uncomfortable shows you have a conscience. If you are smart — and I think you are — spend less time with her. I say this because a person like her could easily turn on you.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

To order “How to Write Letters for All Occasions,” send your name and mailing address, plus check or money order for $8 (U.S. funds) to: Dear Abby — Letter Booklet, P.O. Box 447, Mount Morris, IL 61054-0447. Shipping and handling are included in the price.