Dear Wendy: “My Husband Smacks His Food And It Drives Me Bonkers”

It’s time again for “Shortcuts.” For every question, I’ll give my advice in three sentences or less, because sometimes the answer to a person’s question is so obvious and the need to hear it so great, being as clear and frank as possible is simply the best way to go. Today we discuss living with bad table manners, whether it’s appropriate to apologize to a long-lost love interest, and making the first move.

I have been married to a wonderful, supportive, loving and funny man for about a year and a half. We have a great relationship, BUT he smacks his food every time we eat. Loud, irritating, teenager with a mouth full of double-bubble smacking. I know no one is perfect, and this is FAR from a dealbreaker (we’re married with a kid. I’m not completely insane), but I don’t really know how to approach it. I have mentioned the habit in conversation a few times, mostly in the context of “I don’t want our daughter to have poor table manners; therefore, could you please work on this?” but he forgets after a day or two and goes right back to it. I don’t want to be a nag, and I know that, as my husband, I need to accept and love him, flaws and all, but the sound drives me bonkers. What do I do? How else can I bring it up? Thanks for any advice you can give, including, “You’re being a child. Get over it.” — Nails on a Chalkboard

If it bothers you that much, you need to not just mention it in conversation, but actually make it the conversation. That means sitting your husband down and telling him that while you love him dearly (it wouldn’t hurt to name some of the things you love about him), this food-smacking habit of his drives you batty and is something you simply cannot happily live with for the rest of your life and you’re willing to do just about anything to help him stop, including offering to give up a habit of yours he has a problem with. If you can anticipate what you could do (or quit doing) for his sake before you ask him, this will help him feel less attacked and go a long way in negotiating a compromise.

Almost five years ago I had a summer fling with a guy who lived states away from me. It was short-lived, but it was the first real relationship I ever had at that point in my life (going into college) and the first person I ever really loved. Unfortunately, I had a huge substance abuse problem at the time and moving away for my first year at school while starting a long-distance relationship did not turn out well. Long story short, the breakup was totally my fault. It was ugly, but I’m pretty sure we’ve both moved on and wounds have healed. Sort of. He stopped talking to me because fighting was pointless at the time and I respected that.

Apparently, he just decided to start using Facebook again and now my news feed constantly instills a guilty pang in my gut every time I see it. I feel so bad for any bad feelings I may have caused and want a chance to sincerely apologize for my immature ways. Since it’s been so long since it happened, would I just be stirring up history that should be left alone or am I right to want to clear the air? I think if someone did me wrong I would be happy if they were to at least apologize and recognize the impact of their actions. I don’t want it to come off as a selfish act of contrition either. What should I do?? — Righteous?

I guess I have a hard time believing you don’t have ulterior motives in wanting to apologize to your old fling. Unless you can honestly say you don’t harbor unresolved feelings or a fantasy that your apology might help reignite a spark between you, I’d simply defriend him on Facebook and leave the past in the past.

I am currently three months into a relationship with a guy I absolutely adore. For the better part of these last three months that we have been dating, I have stayed at his place more nights than I’ve gone home. We spend our free days together, cook dinner at night, while also having enough time to ourselves so that we are both constantly happy. I have met his family, he has met mine. We both know that we are an exclusive couple. So I feel that this three-month relationship is probably fast-forwarded a bit more than a normal three month-er. But, while we have talked about it a bit, neither of us has ever introduced the other as “boyfriend” or “girlfriend,” neither of us has delved into the conversation that needs to happen to actually make us official, neither has pressed the “in a relationship” status on Facebook. There are times when I wonder if we did it all wrong, if our closeness over the last three months ruined the so-called thrill of the chase for us both … but at the same time, I love the way we did it our own way. We are definitely in this relationship; I’m just not sure how far into it we are and I worry that if I ask where we stand, and if it turns out that I am so much more into him than he is me, I will ruin everything prematurely. Should I wait for him to say something? I feel like at this point it would be dumb to ask him “so where is this relationship going?” What is the best way to find out how he feels about our relationship and how far he is willing to go to keep us together? — So Into Him

Good lord, if you both know you’re exclusive and you’ve already talked about calling each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend,” why do you need to have some big conversation to make it official? Just call him your “boyfriend” … or not! Regardless of what you title him, you should quit fretting so much and just enjoy where you guys are … which, I hate to break it to you, is pretty much exactly where almost every other couple in a 3-month relationship is (cozy but not completely comfortable just yet).

I’m a college sophomore who recently transferred from a pretty uptight Christian school to a much more liberal one, and since transferring I’ve found myself to be the object of a lot more male attention than I’m used to. Just this last weekend I had my first one-night-stand. I have his number, and he’s a pretty nice guy whom I wouldn’t mind hooking up with again, without expecting a relationship; I like company, but it’s not like I’m desperate for a boyfriend. However, I’m also getting pretty strong vibes off a guy friend of mine (who I’ve had a crush on for a while now) that he’s really into me, and I’m curious to see where that would go. Nothing’s happened, and he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy to rush into things. I mean, he’s both a non-drinker and a virgin for religious reasons, so he’s sort of outside my usual frame of reference. My question is, is it wrong for me to get with guy number one while still waiting to see if the tension with guy number two ever goes anywhere? I’ve never been in this position before, and the last thing I’d want to do is hurt anybody, or ruin a potentially good thing, but I also don’t want to sit around mooning after a guy who may or may not ever make a move. What do I do? — Feeling the Vibes

There’s nothing at all wrong with going out with one or both or neither, but if you’d only be hooking up with the first guy to kill time while waiting around for the second guy to make a move, why not avoid the potential drama or hurt/confused feelings and ask out the one you’ve been crushing on? It’s 2010; sure, women can hook up with guys for no-strings-attached fun, but they can also make the first move now, too.

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