Essential Manners for Couples: From Snoring and Sex to Finances and Fighting Fair - What Works, What Doesn't, and Why

Essential Manners for Couples: From Snoring and Sex to Finances and Fighting Fair - What Works, What Doesn't, and Why

by Peter Post

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From the man who closed the lid forever on the "toilet seat debate" in the New York Times bestseller Essential Manners for Men comes the follow-up book that paves the way for couples everywhere to fix relationship problems before they start.

Peter Post offers the secrets to a long and happy marriage or partnership—without

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From the man who closed the lid forever on the "toilet seat debate" in the New York Times bestseller Essential Manners for Men comes the follow-up book that paves the way for couples everywhere to fix relationship problems before they start.

Peter Post offers the secrets to a long and happy marriage or partnership—without psychoanalysis or prescription medication. The good news: often just a few simple words or actions can mend a rift. Essential Manners for Couples reveals how easy it can be to keep the spark in your relationship.

With self-deprecating humor, clarity, and wit, Peter recounts couples' most mischievous manners foibles (his own included). Essential Manners for Couples is based on Emily Post Institute surveys, Peter's years of fielding thousands of etiquette questions, popular demand from couples attending his national lectures and workshops, and his experience as a husband and father.

Peter looks at couples' private lives and public lives, revealing the common "flashpoints"—the places, situations, and times when inconsiderate behavior is most likely to invade your blissful coupledom. He offers "etiquette imperatives"—simple truths and concise nuggets of advice not to be ignored, including:

  • Permissive flirting: How to define parameters and enjoy verbal combat with the opposite sex.
  • The "Chore I.Q." test—are you really divvying up the workload fairly?
  • When you hate her friends: socializing with the enemy.
  • Enter children: Good parents still spend time together as a couple.
  • Bedroom etiquette—getting beyond the headache excuse.
  • Interactions with in-laws—smooth merge or crash and burn?
  • Where to go for the holidays: surviving family visits and how to say "no."
  • Balancing life with your other significant other—your work ... and much more.

Essential Manners for Couples is a must-have resource for the couple who wants to celebrate their union and strengthen it. As Peter Post says, "By using the principles of etiquette, couples can avoid many of the potholes on the road of their shared life, and the ones they do hit are smaller and more manageable." With this book in hand, you'll enhance your relationship, head off hostilities, and have fun doing it.

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Editorial Reviews

Chicago Sun-Times
“Most of us could stand to be reminded once in a while to be nice to each other.”
New York Times
“Thorough...straightforward....Resolving those hot-button issues...may well prevent a public flame-out.”

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HarperCollins Publishers
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Essential Manners for Couples

From Snoring and Sex to Finances and Fighting Fair-What Works, What Doesn't, and Why
By Peter Post

HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.

Copyright © 2005 Peter Post
All right reserved.

ISBN: 006077665X

Chapter One

Etiquette -- The Pathway to a Better Relationship

The elegant Manhattan restaurant was packed, with the tables so close together that the couple next to my wife and me might as well have been sitting at our table. As a result, it was impossible not to notice what was occurring between them.

A minute or so after the couple sat down, the waiter brought them menus. I noticed, to my puzzlement, that the woman was talking -- but not to her husband. Then I realized she had her cell phone to her ear and was conversing with a friend. One by one, she read off each item on the menu, then discussed it at length with her unseen pal. Meanwhile, her husband sat there with his head buried in his menu.

That was bad enough. What happened when the main course arrived, however, was truly astonishing. In the middle of eating, the woman again took out her cell phone, called the same friend, and launched into a long discussion about how good the food was -- leaving her husband to eat his own entree in silent isolation. This time, I could tell that he was getting frustrated and annoyed.

You think etiquette doesn't matter when you're part of a couple? Besides leaving an unfavorable impression on everyone around her in the restaurant, the woman's rude behavior turned what should have been a lovely, shared experience for that couple into a serious disappointment on the husband's part. That evening, his wife's lack of etiquette directly affected their relationship -- and not in a good way.

So, What Exactly Is Etiquette?

When I first took on the role of spokesperson for the Emily Post Institute, I read all of my great-grandmother Emily Post's books and interviews in an effort to find out what she truly thought about etiquette. I was surprised to discover that Emily actually disliked the notion of rules. What she was a proponent of was people having a wonderful time together -- engaging in spirited, interesting conversations, getting to know each other well, and doing fun, interesting things together.

In my quest, I came across a perfect description of etiquette that my great-grandmother had given to a magazine writer. It captures the essence of Emily's attitude toward etiquette:

Whenever two people come together and their behavior affects one another, you have etiquette. Etiquette is not some rigid code of manners, it's simply how persons' lives touch one another.

That's it: no manners, no rules -- just behavior, and how it affects relationships. Or, to put it another way: The more people's lives touch each other, the more important etiquette is to the relationship. And what better example is there of lives being intertwined than that of a couple?

The Three Factors That Affect Every Relationship

A relationship is a pretty amorphous thing -- tough to grab hold of. If someone simply told you to go out and start doing a better job in your relationship with your SO, you'd probably look at them as if they were nuts.

But what if I were to tell you instead that just by improving your specific, day-to-day actions, appearance, and words, you can materially affect your relationship with your spouse, partner, or boyfriend/girlfriend for the better -- starting immediately? That sounds a lot more doable, doesn't it?

Can it really be that simple? To find out, let's take a closer look at what can happen when things go wrong in these three areas.

Actions. When the woman sitting next to us at dinner picked up her cell phone to call a friend, she instantly cut her connection with the very person she was supposed to be sharing that moment with -- her husband. Her behavior shouted, "I'm not considerate of your situation, I don't respect your feelings, and I don't value our time together." Her thoughtless actions spoke volumes.

Appearance. Even if you don't do or say anything, your clothes and grooming send a clear message about what you're thinking and feeling. Another night, while eating in that same Manhattan restaurant, I glanced up to see a couple arriving for dinner. She was dressed very nicely in a skirt and blouse, with a scarf providing an accent of color and style. Her hair was washed and attractively styled -- she really looked good. He, on the other hand, was wearing rumpled jeans and a black T-shirt with an inane slogan on the back. "They've got to be married to each other," I said to my wife. "Otherwise, there's no way she'd be out with him."

Words. Misunderstandings come from poor word choice as much as anything else. One of the simplest words to misuse is the we. The ubiquitous we often really means you -- "Should we call and check the time for the performance tonight?" translates into "Why don't you call and check the time for the performance tonight?"

I can just hear it now: "What do you mean, 'we'? If you want to ask me to do something, just ask!" Better yet, why not simply offer to make the call yourself?

As these examples show, whenever a questionable action, appearance, or word rears its head, it abruptly shifts the focus from whatever activity you are engaged in -- whether it's an intimate dinner together, a public event, or an important discussion -- to the question "Why is he doing (or looking like) (or saying) that?" When this happens, reversing course and returning the focus to where you want can be difficult.

The Three Principles of Etiquette

Etiquette is governed by three principles: consideration, respect, and honesty. These provide the framework for defining every manner or "correct" behavior that has ever been formulated. These principles are timeless, transcending cultural and socioeconomic boundaries. They apply equally to all ages and all types of relationships -- including your closest relationship.

Consideration is understanding how other people are affected by whatever is taking place. To be considerate is to show empathy for those around you. Consideration, above all, requires thinking before acting. In order to consider the effect of your actions, appearance, and words on your SO, you'll ask yourself, "How's he going to feel or react if I do that?" It's when you just blindly go ahead and do something without thinking that you're not showing consideration -- and stuff is likely to hit the fan.


Excerpted from Essential Manners for Couples by Peter Post Copyright © 2005 by Peter Post. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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