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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?

purrpurr Tue 04-Dec-12 15:40:10

I don't think you're being unreasonable. One of my exs had horrendous table manners. In the finish I put down my knife and fork, waited til he'd finished eating, then quietly left the table and put my food in the fridge for later. When he asked why, I simply said that I didn't want to spoil his meal, but the way he was eating with such volume and obvious mastication had turned my stomach.

I went for dinner with him a few years after that and his table manners were impeccable.

NatashaBee Tue 04-Dec-12 15:40:41

No. It's bloody irritating when i try and get DSD to eat nicely and she says 'but daddy doesn't!'.

ohfunnyface Tue 04-Dec-12 15:45:03

Have you pointed out to him his bad manners? Obviously tactfully!

shrimponastick Tue 04-Dec-12 15:46:06

sort him out. It isn't acceptable.It amazes me how many people haven't been taught basic table manners.

DH took me out for dinner on our first proper date - if he hadn't been able to handle himself and his cutlery then I wouuldn't have gone out with him again. Luckily he passed. grin

CuriosityKilledTheCrapTree Tue 04-Dec-12 15:48:40

Agree. I said to STBXH a while back (when still together) that 'you wouldn't eat like that on a first date - so why now'

His mouth was full of spaghetti hanging out so he couldn't answer me hmm

thisisfartoohonest Tue 04-Dec-12 15:55:13

Yes, I've mentioned it to him on several occasions and he gets really annoyed, telling me that it is not a big deal and he just wants to relax at the dinner table and not have me judging him. I've explained to him that it's a big deal to me and about our daughter etc but it does no good. His whole family have bad table manners, as they don't eat at a table, just on their laps. It is bothering me a lot and I just don't know what to do. He already thinks I pick at him because I've started pulling him up on other things, like when he says he can't be 'arsed' rather than 'bothered', 'pissed off' etc in front of our dd. I feel like I am being such a moan, but these things really matter to me. He is a really good dad by the way, we have just been brought up with different standards of ok, and now it's really starting to be a bother in our relationship.

Thanks for taking me seriously by the way, I was feeling a little pathetic writing this post.

Any ideas for dealing with this?

I wouldn't eat with someone with such disgusting manners.
And don't bring out the 'really good Dad' line. It only seems to be used on here by women whose OH's leave a lot to be desired.

bradyismyfavouritewiseman Tue 04-Dec-12 16:06:01

Hmm. Wonder what the answer would be if a woman came here saying her dh had called her disgusting because of her table manners. That have always been the same.

I don't like bad table manners, but i wouldn't marry someone then start moaning years down the line that 'now' its not acceptable.

LemonDrizzled Tue 04-Dec-12 16:08:51

When I was growing up my dad used to play the Table Manners Game where we got points for good manners and lost them for bad. Elbows on table/talking with mouth full/reaching over someone to get the butter -10, putting knife and fork together neatly +10 etc.
I started playing it with my DC and included their DF as he needed training too! Also proved useful when teaching DC to use loo brush, put loo seat down, hang towels up etc. It only worked partially as we split up later but it made 26 years bearable!

Lueji Tue 04-Dec-12 16:11:41


Eating with elbows on the table and scoffing food.

As bad table manners go, that's not so bad, IMO. grin

Is he eating with his hands, and wipping his mouth with the back of his hand?

Maybe just tell the DCs and if they ask, just tell them that daddy didn't learn when he was younger and now he's too old? Maybe he'll get more self conscious.

AllBellyandBoobs Tue 04-Dec-12 16:19:50

I'm a stickler for good table manners but elbows on the table doesn't really bother me. Luckily DH has generally good manners, he wouldn't be H if he didn't. His mother though, dear God, she talks with food in her mouth and makes smacking noises when chewing. She's posh too, had a nanny and everything smile I dread having to remind dd about her table manners if MIL is eating with us, I'm not sure there is a tactful way to do it.

Letsmakecookies Tue 04-Dec-12 16:54:55

I don't think you are being totally unreasonable to not like it. My x had terrible table manners, mind so did his family. Last time we sat down for Christmas dinner with his dad, his dad had finished half his plate before I had finished dishing out, and the two of them I think had 4 full plates before the meal was over. To be honest it made me so nauseous and became a real bugbear of mine.

Would I have minded in the throws of early love, no because I was young and to be fair was not self-aware enough about how much it actually bothered me that he was unable to hold a knife and fork properly, elbows etc. But as time went by I have to say I began to see it as a bit disrespectful. But I guess for me it was more a matter of lots of other things breaking down and this just being one of the things that I lost tolerance for (although I never said anything), and actually something that he stopped 'trying' with too. That list of 'can I live with this habit/behaviour for the rest of my life' did get longer and longer!

But I do think you would be unreasonable to say anything really, same way you would be unreasonable to tell him how to dress.

thisisfartoohonest Tue 04-Dec-12 17:06:05

Thanks for replies - some really good posts for me to bear in mind. I suppose the difficulties I'm having here arise in relationships when you have been brought up differently and have different standards and expectations...which become more apparent when your own children come along. How best do you deal with this??

Luegi Thanks I like your idea of still being able to speak to the children without tackling their daddy too much.

ihearsounds Tue 04-Dec-12 17:13:39

Table manners are a big deal for me. I dumped someone for lack of manners, he spoke with his mouth full, chewed with his mouth open, made loads of noise, licked the plate.. I have seen pigs with better manners... He looked really shocked when I told him why I was dumping him.
Found out recently that 20 odd years later, he's a lonely old (much older than me) man who keeps getting dumped because of his lack of manners. hmm

dappledawn Tue 04-Dec-12 17:16:22

My DP chomps his food really loudly, and I can hear the eating noises even from the next room...! A bit like a cow chewing its cud. Urrgh, it does sometimes make me feel a bit sick....I also don't like it when he helps himself to food /vegetables with his fingers, putting them back in the communal bowl after they've already transported food into his mouth -! (is there a germy emoticon?) Yuk!! I suppose he'd do well in a society where they all sit around a table and help themselves with one hand from communal bowls, though. It's not a great example for DS though, whose table manners also leave a lot to be desired....

Angelico Tue 04-Dec-12 17:17:53

Was interested in this as my DH has a maddening habit of not putting his knife and fork together when finished eating - he just kind of abandons them. I don't understand it as he has a senior job, goes to work dinners etc so can't understand how he didn't notice that what he is doing is a bit strange. The thing is when we are out for meals it causes real confusion for waiters etc as they don't know if he is finished eating. I get fed up asking him if he's finished - it's like being his mum! I don't understand why he does it confused

I told him before we had DD he needed to sort it before she learned to copy him - she's a baby so have a bit of time to mould him yet...!

This would be a big issue for me, but it is difficult for you if you accepted it initially, and so it is you, not him who has changed.

My DH chews his fingers, not nails, but often the flesh round the nail is bleeding or raw. It is revolting...I am trying (~after 17 years) to get him to change...sometimes it is worse than others. I think making the point that others find it revolting too (he is trying to change jobs after 24 years) is hitting home.

jingleallthespringy Tue 04-Dec-12 17:58:06

There's a word for skin-chewing/picking - it's a recognised compulsive disorder.

I'd find it really difficult if my partner had bad table manners. I have a friend who has an enormous mouth and scoffs the food, I kid you not, like a pig, with accompanying snorting. Truly vile.

Even people who culturally eat with their hands do it neatly.

ClippedPhoenix Tue 04-Dec-12 18:16:15

I couldn't sit opposite someone who ate like this it's bloody awful. I also can't understand why, if when you've told him, he hasn't rectified it.

I'd refuse to eat with him until he got it into his head that eating like a pig isn't on.

thisisfartoohonest Tue 04-Dec-12 18:16:23

Thanks all.

so, finding myself in this position, what would you do? It really is a big deal for me, although to be honest, he isn't a pig at meal times, not disgusting, just elbows and a bit of food shoveling...

ClippedPhoenix Tue 04-Dec-12 18:19:11

I'd just tell him to stop it.

thisisfartoohonest Tue 04-Dec-12 18:22:12

Done that...several times. He says I'm making a big deal out of something really small. That he'd understand if he was a real pig at the table, but that I am just nit-picking and he isn't so bad (which is semi true). I told him it mattered enough to me, but he said that I was being unreasonable.

ClippedPhoenix Tue 04-Dec-12 18:24:50

Well it's put up and shut up then where he's concerned isn't it.

Is there something you do that irritates him? If so, then keep doing that and give him exactly the same answer.

Letsmakecookies Tue 04-Dec-12 18:28:38

I really think you should do nothing. He is an adult and you either learn to accept it or don't eat near him. You cannot 'teach him how to eat properly' that is actually quite demeaning, but you can deal with it internally and work out why it annoys you so much, and decide to let it go. How would you feel if he decided he didn't like the way you drove and started re-teaching you that.

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?

BelleDameSousMistletoe Fri 07-Dec-12 17:35:11

It's no more morally wrong to lick a knife than it is to not say please or thank you. It's just considered poor manners in UK society. Up to you entirely if you choose to lick it but don't be surprised if it raises eyebrows from those of us who are less rebellious. grin

SomersetONeil Sat 08-Dec-12 00:15:00

/\ /\

Helltotheno Sat 08-Dec-12 02:25:07

In UK society??? ho hum... <fnar fnar>

Well as it happens I don't lick knives myself but am a serial 'elbows on the table' offender so shoot me.... i guess if breaking those arbitrary rules is what defines a person for you, there it is.... I could say the same about my intolerance for noisy eating (I think that's actually a condition, I can't remember the name of it...)

BelleDameSousMistletoe Sat 08-Dec-12 08:20:48

Who said it "defined a person" for me? I just said I don't like it and that it is considered bad manners (which it is). Hardly defining someone. You could be a saint for all I know.

Sounds more like my preference for nice manners is actually what you"re using to define me.

CominThroughTheWry Sat 08-Dec-12 13:12:07

My partner licks glasses, cups, knives and plates. He slurps everything - hot or cold - noisily. He chews with his mouth open and speaks with his mouth full. He scrapes bowls and plates to get every last bit and his teeth bite and scrape against the cutlery.

I have tried very hard not to do things that annoy him. I do believe there needs to be some sort of give and take. I mentioned quietly how much it upset me and he said that he could behave how he wanted as it was his house. I was told to stop picking and back off.

Do you get used to it over time? I read somewhere that it is also bad manners to say to someone that they have poor table manners. I am guilty of this. I admit it. grin

One of my old employers interviewed applicants then took them out for dinner. He told me he couldn't bear the thought of sitting across from someone who showed him their half chewed food every lunchtime and hired accordingly.

ImperialBlether Sat 08-Dec-12 22:14:28

You deserve better, CominThroughTheWry. Everyone does.

How can you stand to sit opposite him? He's disgusting and he's disrespectful. I couldn't do it.

DDiggler Sat 08-Dec-12 22:59:50

Imperial you just come across as a cunt tbh. I feel for the bloke that has to put up with your precious attitude.

GrimAndHumourlessAndEven Sat 08-Dec-12 23:24:11

oh come on Diggler, that's a really horrid post sad

And you sound so much better Diggler hmm

ImperialBlether Sun 09-Dec-12 00:12:25

You're calling me a cunt because I wouldn't sit opposite a man who ate like that? Really? Says more about your eating habits than anything else, DDiggler.

Helltotheno Sun 09-Dec-12 00:23:25

Of course you're not a cunt.. I said worse on this thread. That said, I thought your comments about your sister were nasty... just because she licks a knife the odd time, she got the 'oh she's so used to being a sad singleton alone that she's completely lost the run of herself and... shock horror... licks her knife. How weird'. Maybe you don't realise how badly that came across?

ClippedPhoenix Sun 09-Dec-12 03:56:57

Never call anyone a cunt because a cunt is useful grin

SolidGoldFrankensteinandmurgh Sun 09-Dec-12 09:14:55

I do think that if someone is intensely precious about table manners, that person needs to work on getting over him/herself a little bit. While it's selfish to eat like a wolverine when it distresses your dinner companions (slobbering, food everywhere, noises and smells...) it's equally selfish to pick away constantly at trivia such as using the right spoon to the extent that other people can't enjoy their food for worrying about the next thing they do that might make you start whining or giving them martyred looks.

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