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DPs table manners

(63 Posts)
thisisfartoohonest Tue 04-Dec-12 15:37:29

This seems so daft when writing it down, but here goes. I really don't like my DP's table manners. We got together when we were young and carefree and I never noticed them, probably because we never sat down for proper meals then. But now that we have young dc I care more as I want them to have nice table manners. He eats on his elbows, and scoffs his food. Do you think I am being totally unreasonable?

TweedSlacks Tue 04-Dec-12 18:30:35

I was invited to a friends house for dinner after helping them out once.
Her DH 's table manners were a little like Homer Simpsons. An amazing whirl of flashing cuttlery and chinking china , and all the food gone in a minute or so.
He then got up and put his plate on the drainer whilst I was still eating .

Have seen some friends OH's lick knives , wipe plates clean with a finger , then lick their fingers , eat cooked food from their dinner plates with fingers.

SomersetONeil Tue 04-Dec-12 19:18:49

An ex-fling of mine had bad table manners - found it impossible to eat things like chops with a knife and fork. I looked at him like shock the first time he just picked one up and went for it and he was all like, 'what? What's wrong? I spelt it out for him, he gave a cursory attempt at using the K&F, then have up in exasperation and went for it with his fangs teeth.

Don't get me wrong - eating things like that with fingers is fine at home or at BBQs, when you've exhausted your knife and fork, but not from the off at a restaurant. :-/

Anyway... As for suggestions. It's a tricky one, because it's not really about table manners. Or at least not just about manners. At the heart of it, it's a criticism of the way he was raised, and fundamentlly, of his parents, so it's a really delicate issue once you look at it like this.

In a way, it's impossible to really advise on the best way to tackle this, since none of us know the best way to appeal to your DH's good nature. To say things in a way which won't automatically have him go on the defensive, clam up, and then not resolve the issue. Maybe have a think about this and work out how to raise it in a way that he might be receptive.

Perhaps have a chat over dinner - or even better, not at at the table at all! - as opposed to reacting to him when he's showing bad manners. That way he might not be as defensive. Bring it up more generally - talking about things which you feel are important to distill into your DC, and why. Maybe open it out by insinuating that there are perhaps things about you which he doesn't agree with, which you'd be open to changing just so that it's not all one-sided (and I do mean table-manner level things; not fundamental personality issues!) - but beware that becoming a can of worms. grin Be sure not to go on the defensive yourself.

I dunno - table manners are important to get right, because your DC go out into the world, and rightly or wrongly, are judged on them. They just are. You need to appeal to his sense of not wanting to disadvantage them. Which is tricky because he'll say he hasn't been disadvantaged by a lack of polished manners - when of course he's probably been silently judged countless times. But pointing that out is hardly going to endear him!

Well, this is a really long-winded way of providing no useful advice at all. grin I feel your pain though - it would be a big deal for me.

jingleallthespringy Tue 04-Dec-12 19:44:13

I've hosted foreign students for years and am well-used to instructing them on the way to eat food at a british table. As a consequence, I am hyper alert to table manners generally - lick a knife? I see it , even if you are behind me iyswim . I tell my students that if they are finalising a business deal and lick their knife at a business dinner, the deal would be off immediately. They believe me blush

OP are you generally going off your husband?

SolidGoldYESBROKEMYSPACEBAR Tue 04-Dec-12 19:54:22

It is a tricky one as table manners are not an issue of malice or harm, and people's family standards do vary. TBH I am in the camp of thinking quite a few things (such as using the right spoon and folding your napkin rather than rolling it, or fussing about whether or not certain foods should be eaten with your fingers when it's perfectly logical to do so eg pizza slices or chicken wings) are pointless wank designed to make other people feel inferior. However, behaviour that's likely to put lots of other people off their own food is a matter that needs addressing, simply because it's selfish and unkind.

But the best way forward is probably to ask your H what habits of yours bug him and work towards a compromise that both of you agree will benefit DC.

BelleDameSousMistletoe Tue 04-Dec-12 20:07:14

This may be tactless and a little glib sounding but I've always thought that you don't mind/notice table manners particularly when you're happy with someone but when things start to break down, you start to notice and be irritated by such things...

How many 'other little things' have you started pulling him up on since you had DC?

He may be acting defensive if you have started pointing out every little thing he does that annoys you/isn't done your way? (not saying you have but you might be doing it more than you realise).

SomersetONeil Tue 04-Dec-12 20:53:21

That's true Belle, but not necessarily so.

It's almost impossible to envisage life with children, raising them, etc, when you're first with someone. It's very difficult to know then absolutely everything that will become really important to you further down the line. Table manners then might seem like a mere piffle, or else easily addressed. Then it turns out not to be so. Nobody can foretell - raising children and all that that entails is impossible to know until you do it.

And I honestly think people asking why the OP married him if his table manners weren't 100% up to scratch are being disingenuous. I find it hard to believe that table manners - unless appalling - would be a deal-breaker if everything else was good.

suburbophobe Tue 04-Dec-12 21:08:44

"it is not a big deal and he just wants to relax at the dinner table"

Tell him to fix his own dinner then. In his own time and in his own room.

No excuse for him to teach his DC <and for you to put up with it> how to disrespect everyone else around him <cos that's what he's doing>

oldraver Tue 04-Dec-12 22:11:26

Somerset My OH used to do the same when I met him, he just used to attack things with his hands pulling it to pieces. He does this with Yorkshire Pudding, tears them apart then dunks them in gravy. He even used to pull steak apart and eat it with his fingers. I was gobsmacked when I first saw him do it.

He is a lot better now, as I've reminded him that I'm trying to instill good table manners into DS and its hard if he doesnt. He did once throw a Yorkie across the table and I did stamp on that immediately. I know he's an adult and I dont want to be 'telling him what to do' but I dont think he has ever had any guidance as to what constitutes good table manners, it didnt occur to him he was being a bit piggy..

Yes I know there are some foods that its ok to eat with your hands (and for some people this is the way of their culture) but if you have what I would consider good manners you can then decide when to apply them

snoopdogg Tue 04-Dec-12 22:20:26

My ex (note the ex) husband licked his knife.

Deal breaker.

'nuff said.

Helltotheno Wed 05-Dec-12 00:15:50

Things that irritate me beyond belief:
any type of noise, slurping, slobbering, chomping, moany noises when eating, mmms when eating etc, and messy eating, especially around the mouth.

Things I don't care about and don't understand how anyone could:
licking knives (so what... it's the same as a fork only a different shape), eating with fork in left and knife in right (who cares?), elbows on table (can't say I noticed), ridiculous cutlery positioning conventions (unless you just want the table to look symmetrical) etc.

Helltotheno Wed 05-Dec-12 00:17:27

He even used to pull steak apart and eat it with his fingers

OK that too.... no... just... no!

ClippedPhoenix Wed 05-Dec-12 00:20:46

Exactly, a slob will always have an excuse for being a slob. If i was doing something that say my parents didnt teach me well, then i would learn to do in other environments. Just becasue say you were brought up in a barn doesnt mean you want to stay in it, thats just pig headed behaviour.

Would your partner act like that in a restaurant? if the answer is no, then he bloody well knows its wrong.

SomersetONeil Wed 05-Dec-12 00:21:42

Well, licking a knife is so ingrained into me as a Bad Thing, that seeing somone do it is like fingernails down a blackboard. grin Irrational, middle class sensibilities, no doubt about; complete social conditioning at work - absolutely.

But the fact is that other people feel like this as well, and getting on well in social situations is really, really important.

I internally judge when I see someone holding their pen like a knife. I know that it doesn't matter a single iota how someone holds their knife as long as they get it into the mouth neatly, but still, against my better nature, I judge. <rolls eyes at self> People just do. It's human nature.

Most cutlery placings, just have the diner work from the outside in, so it's nothing more than ease and logic, really...

ClippedPhoenix Wed 05-Dec-12 00:22:44

Ohh Im at home, and my home is my castle therefore I will do exactly what I want to do in my "castle" so fuck you wifey.

BelleDameSousMistletoe Wed 05-Dec-12 14:19:44

It's just me then? grin

I can't bear bad table manners (including elbows on table, knife licking, etc). The only thing I have learned to tolerate is holding knife like a pen. I hate it but since it's equally bad manners to point these things out I keep it zipped!

rufussmum Thu 06-Dec-12 17:42:11

My DH eats noisily with his mouth open - I can see the food - sticks out his tongue to lick round his mouth then uses the back of his hand as a napkin, wolfs his food down so fast I'm left half-way though mine eating alone. While eating he is constantly eyeing the dishes in preparation for seconds. I have posted on here before about us having no conversation to speak of so mealtimes tend to be silent too.
He also has had adenoid trouble so makes a vile snorting and swallowing mucous sound every so often that really turns my stomach. I have tried telling him politely but nothing changes. I now dread going out for meals because there seems little point and I hate sitting in silence. Bit sad really.

rufussmum Thu 06-Dec-12 17:43:07

...and he always manages to leave mess on the table and often down his front.

peeriebear Thu 06-Dec-12 17:50:21

My college boyfriend (MC, from a lovely polite family, not wolves) used to eat like bigger boys were coming- cramming it in so fast it was painful to watch. I mentioned it several times but he didn't give a shit!

ImperialBlether Thu 06-Dec-12 23:42:06

I would feel ill if I had to eat with some of the people described here. How do you enjoy your food? It seems sad to never eat with your partner, but I'd prefer that than sit opposite them.

I have sat opposite my sister - a very middle class, middle aged teacher, who has licked her knife. It makes me want to stop eating. With her, I wonder whether it's all the years of living alone that let her think that's acceptable.

I'd rather not eat than be uncomfortable when I'm eating. If I had to listen to someone eat, or watch them eat really fast, or watch food falling out of their mouth, then I wouldn't want to eat another mouthful and, frankly, I'd want out of the relationship. It's bad manners and disrespectful and really, really ugly.

shrimponastick Fri 07-Dec-12 11:14:10

Have family dinner to attend tonight, I will be biting my tongue (not whilst chewing with my mouth politely closed) not to nag DN who hasn't been taught how to handle cutlery yet aged 10. Sigh.....

gettingeasier Fri 07-Dec-12 14:44:55

God rufussmum thats more than a bit sad

I have never encountered this problem but my BF was regaling me with tales of her new mans dreadful manners. I thought she was hamming it up a bit for the story but now reading all this maybe not.

Table manners are hugely important to me , I spent years tediously telling the DC to "hold your fork properly" "sit round and face the table" and remember that side of parenting as deathly dull but I am glad I did now.

If I wasnt living with the culprit I could get through a meal or two a week but every meal in perpetuity ???

Helltotheno Fri 07-Dec-12 15:23:13

whether it's all the years of living alone that let her think that's acceptable.

The knife licking thing is a construct arbitrarily imposed by some parts of Western society... hell in some places around the world (yes, there is a great big world out there grin) they don't even use knives, much less lick em (shock \o/)...

It's not 'wrong'.. will I go to prison if I lick a knife? Is it morally wrong? How is it unacceptable to lick one piece of stainless steel and acceptable to lick another????

Helltotheno Fri 07-Dec-12 15:24:13

rufussmum that would be an LTB situation for me unfortunately..

ImperialBlether Fri 07-Dec-12 15:44:57

For me too, rufussmum. How can you bear it?

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