How to teach your spouse table manners
About two or three months after our wedding in 1986, my wife, Carol and I were having our evening meal, chatting on the dinner table, when she told me that my chewing was too loud.
To her, it was not proper table manners. Before now, people had commended me about my table manners, my use of cutlery sets, etc. And here was my wife telling me in the middle of a delicious meal, which she prepared, that my chewing was too noisy. I reminded her immediately of how I was well groomed on how to hold cutlery sets in one of the best mission schools in the country, James Welsh Grammar School, Emevor, Delta State. I made her realise that this was how I have been chewing and that she should leave me alone.
Instead of my wife to cease fire, she went annoyed me further by saying: “it is the person who loves you that will tell you that your mouth is smelling.” I do not know how I did it, but somehow, I was able to eat the delicious meal into an angry stomach.
There is a secret I discovered early in my marriage. It is that when I have a disagreement with my wife, one, two or three times, I will not allow a disagreement the fourth time on that same issue. I interpret it to mean that my marriage wants to grow in that direction. This principle enabled and enables me to begin to look at the truth that my wife or any person is telling me, whether it is being told me in a bitter way, served on an ugly plate. Therefore, instead of getting angry at Carol, I told myself that if my chewing was not too loud, she would not deliberately cook up a lie and tell me so. Personally, I was very convinced that I was chewing in the most civilised way. But here was my wife telling me that my chewing was embarrassing. That was how I started teaching myself chewing lessons. I started by doing my chewing in a slower manner, until I became a chewing master.
I would not advise wives and husbands to correct their spouses the way Carol corrected me. That was her level of knowledge at that time in 1987. And I still appreciate her for it. But it is better for such corrections to be done at some other more relaxed time and not during the meal itself. For example, if your spouse does not know how to hold cutlery sets, it is not proper while eating to tell him to hold his or her cutlery sets properly. It can be done with such words as “Honey, you know you are going to be a great man/woman and you will meet with people and eat with people who matter in the society. It will, therefore, be proper for you to master the use of cutlery sets and all forms of table manners, so that you can be a good representative of your work place in future. Moreover, this can make your office to send you to represent them at dinners, conferences and other places. Hope you will not mind me helping you on how to hold cutlery sets and on table manners generally. I love you.”
With words like these, a normal human being should not fight back. Let us teach in love, and let us learn in humility. Love you.