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.
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November 01, 2005
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Excerpt from Essential Manners for Couples by Peter Post
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 entrýe 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.