When we commit ourselves to a long-term relationship or marriage, that doesn’t necessarily mean we suddenly know everything there is to know about our partner.
On the contrary, some couple still have a lot to learn about each other, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
In Redditor throwawayoldbloke’s situation, because it was an arranged marriage, he was still learning many basic things, like how his wife presented herself at social gatherings.
But when one of her behaviors embarrassed him in front of his colleagues, the Original Poster (OP) spoke out of anger.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for telling my wife to observe better table manners at a work dinner function?”
The OP recently performed an arranged marriage to his wife.
“My wife and I had just gotten married last September, and it was arranged, so we are still learning more things about each other as time goes on.”
“But something that she did at my work dinner function irked me.”
“Annually around May or June, our workplace would host a dinner function celebrating our milestones and presenting awards along with providing refreshments and letting everyone mingle along.”
“Since we weren’t able to host in the past years due to [the pandemic], this one was done in a more grand way, and it was held last Saturday.”
“We were allowed and encouraged to bring our family along, so this time around I decided to bring my wife.”
The OP’s wife embarrassed him at his work function dinner.
“It was a buffet-style setup, and once we had chosen our food, we would sit at a table of five, and at my table, I was joined by two of my managers and their families as well.”
“Everything was going well until my wife started eating. She would instead of using a knife, use her hands to tear up the roasted chicken, causing the remnants and the sauces to be stuck to her fingers, and she would chew loudly with her mouth open.”
“The worst was whenever there were any bones or meat lumps stuck to her teeth, she would openly take them out from her mouth instead of using a tissue to spit them out.”
“We also had a cocktail shrimp platter for every table, and she kept taking quite a bit and eating fast, leaving not much for the rest.”
“The final straw was when she spilled a glass of water over the table, even though I told her not to put it too close to the edge of her elbow.”
The OP had seen enough.
“I’ll admit this felt quite humiliating, especially in front of my superiors, and in that anger and embarrassment, I told her a bit harshly that she should observe better table manners and that people at our table are judging her.”
“This obviously offended her and in hindsight, I should have said it more kindly but in my defense, I was also overwhelmed by everyone secretly judging.”
“However, she refuses to take responsibility. She still thinks the spilling water incident aside, she did nothing wrong and blames me for ruining the atmosphere because she just wanted to support me at the event.”
The OP felt somewhat torn.
“I know I’m somewhat of an a**hole here, but am I the only one or should she have been more aware of the table manners?”
“If this was at home, it would be okay, but this was a formal event where even if you aren’t used to them, you will learn some basic table manners and etiquette, right?”
The OP clarified in a comment where his wife was from.
“I married her from India [based on] my parents’ recommendation, so I can understand it’s a formed habit since [she was] young.”
“I just wish she took some initiative to learn basic table etiquette when it comes to dining with others.”
He also confirmed that, yes, he had seen his wife eat a meal before.
“Yes, [I’ve seen her eat] at home and outside but never at formal events before.”
“At home, she eats with her hands, which I don’t mind. Usually, in fast-food restaurants, she doesn’t hold the contents of a burger together [but] instead separates them… It’s quite weird but not that bad.”
“Yes, I have told her, but there seems to be no change on her part, sadly.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some thought the wife needed to be more mindful when in public, especially at work events.
“I noticed in some of your comments that you have spoken to her about this before and made an effort to explain to her the importance of etiquette. This is really important information you should’ve put in the post.”
“NTA. She knows this is important to you and should’ve acted accordingly. However, the way to handle the situation was likely not to criticize her in front of your superiors as they likely judged that just as much, if not more, harshly as they don’t know the whole story, and all they saw was your clear embarrassment turn anger.”
“I doubt they’ll think poorly of you for your wife’s dinner etiquette, but they may for seeing you speak to her in a harsh way for a clumsy accident.” – Rough-Parsnip2594
“You can eat with your hands without making a mess. My grandmother was a strict lady and she made us learn that food shouldn’t touch your palm. It was considered bad eating etiquette to use the whole hand or using two hands.”
“OP’s wife could have eaten with her hands and still be mindful to people around her, eating with your mouth open or picking food out of her teeth is just bad manners and shouldn’t have to be explained.” – crystaltae
“When I eat at home, I tend to put my feet on the seat and eat with my fingers. But if I go out to a formal dinner with my fiance, I will sit and eat like a normal person.”
“NTA. She knew this was a formal work event so should have acted like it.” – Nikkiistar
“Her table manners are definitely not ‘professional work dinner’ appropriate. Knowing her habits, you should have said something before the dinner instead of waiting to be embarrassed and then embarrassing her in return.” – Odd-Astronaut-92
“You know, if I’m at a fancy dinner event, and was never taught proper table manners, I’d look around and see how everyone else is behaving, and follow their cue.”
“No, she’s probably not gonna get it right away, but just trying is still a million times better than not caring, and eating like an animal, with your hands, removing bits of food from your mouth, etc.” – RecommendsMalazan
Others wondered if there was some kind of etiquette training the couple could do together.
“It may be time for etiquette lessons. Sounds antiquated but may be necessary if she doesn’t understand the need. Etiquette is about making others feel more comfortable and maybe that’s lost on her?” – mortgage_gurl
“Search out a place that teaches Business Etiquette and proper Business Conversation classes BOTH of you go and everyone will learn something!”
“If you go too, she won’t feel singled out, plus, with so much international business going on, it will be nice to learn other customs you may encounter together.” – Realitylyn
“Speaking as another desi, in professional settings, and for desis, our ‘image’ still does play a role in the judgment of our professionalism.”
“I attend a lot of work events for my fiancé, and I make sure I am ensuring all my actions and conversations are to support him, elevate him and publicly show him in the best light. I am an extension of him, and thus, I need to play in his world when I am at dedicated work events for his company.”
“This needs to be a mutual agreement. She shouldn’t be the center of attention at any event, for better or for worse.”
“Prep her up (and yourself) with the business etiquette and conversation classes. Everyone learns something with this, to be honest. It would not look as good either if she was left at home (and it isn’t healthy for the relationship) but she definitely needs to understand the impact.”
“Intent doesn’t equal impact right now.”
“And then after, eat the chicken with your fingers and the sauce rolling down your hands while at home.” – greencheesenpudding
“When you finish the class take her out to a nice restaurant as a way of making amends for embarrassing her at the company function. (You probably didn’t help your own image either coming across as an insensitive domineering husband.)” – LowCharacter4037
The OP’s description of what happened at that work function dinner left some Redditors cringing as they imagined being at that table and witnessing what happened.
Because the OP wanted to advance in the workplace, his wife’s behavior was enough to cause concern, and many recommended discussing this further with his wife or attending social etiquette classes in order to properly participate in the next work function.
But, as some pointed out, if his wife was unwilling to see what had gone wrong, it might be best to participate in these events separately going forward.