Dear Annie: My son-in-law’s table manners gross me out

Dear Annie: My 40-year-old son-in-law has horrible manners. At dinner, if we have a buffet set up with six pieces of chicken, and there are six people eating, he will grab four pieces.

He’s always first in line and makes sure he gets the biggest and best of everything. He once shoved his entire dirty hand into a jar of pickles instead of using the fork. He typically will go back through the line at least four times and then sneak back for more when we all retire to the living room.

He always heads outside if there’s any work to be done.

This is so maddening. It’s gotten so bad that my husband and I don’t want him at our house anymore. This leads to issues since we host events for birthdays and holidays. Everyone watches him in disgusted fascination, and the elders don’t hold back their criticism among themselves.

How can we address this?

-- Fed Up and Grossed Out

Dear Fed Up and Grossed Out: The best way to address this is head on. His behavior has got to stop or he is simply not welcome at your house. I do worry a bit about his appetite. Is he getting enough at home, or perhaps your cooking is THAT GOOD? That would be one way to look at it, but regardless, sit him and your daughter down and tell them it must stop. No one likes to eat with a little piggy around.

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Dear Annie: I love the advice you gave “Fretting the Next Day.” I’m also turning 40 this year, and it has occupied my mind a lot. I try to remember that I’m way more settled now than I have been in my life and that, as the song goes, “I’m not afraid of growing older; I’m one less day from dying young” (thanks to Rob Thomas!). So much to look forward to! -- Staying Positive

Dear Staying Positive: What a great perspective. We should all embrace getting older, considering the alternative.

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Dear Annie: I have been with my current husband for five years, though it seems like longer. We married within three months of meeting each other. I feel as if we’ve grown apart, and I don’t feel like I’m in love with him like I used to be. I care about him very much though.

The problem with this relationship is that I feel it’s becoming toxic. We argue instead of talking. Yet I can talk to certain friends of mine for hours on end. I think we gaslight each other. I’m wondering if I should stay with him or move out on my own like my heart wants to do. But yet, I can’t imagine my life without him.

Then, to make matters worse, I have an ex-boyfriend who I still truly love and have feelings for. So, as you can imagine, I live in turmoil as to what to do. I’ve thought about marriage counseling but feel as if they would tell us to probably end things because of how toxic this relationship is, and I’m not sure I’m ready for another divorce, as this would be number six. Your advice would be very much appreciated.

-- Lonely but Not Lonely

Dear Lonely but Not Lonely: Don’t knock it till you try it. You don’t know for sure that the marriage counselor will tell you to call it quits. My advice is to go to the counseling and take a break from speaking with your ex-boyfriend who you still love while you sort out your current relationship. It’s not fair to anyone to have competing relationships going on. Sort out your marriage first, and then you can reassess if you want to go back to your ex.

Annie Lane

Annie Lane offers common-sense solutions to everyday problems. She's firm, funny and sympathetic, echoing the style of her biggest inspiration, Ann Landers. She lives outside Manhattan with her husband, two kids and two dogs. When not writing, she devotes her time to play dates and Play-Doh. Write her: