Minerva's Breakdown 

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Dear Minerva,

I have a couple of friends who are married. I like them both but I have a problem with the wife. She constantly belittles and berates her husband in public. There is no limit to how she humiliates him. It makes everyone around feel uncomfortable. I don't want to avoid spending time with them, but that is what I feel like I might have to do. What would you do?

—Awkwardly Ever After

Dear Awkwardly,

This kind of behavior is not only disconcerting, it is socially disturbing. We never really know what goes on between couples in their private lives, but this woman's behavior is rude for a couple of reasons. She sounds like a bully. Spouses should honor each other in public. If she feels the need to degrade him in front of friends and peers, I would question her character. If she'll do that in public, what could she be doing in private? Also, it is tacky behavior to change the mood of the whole party of people by blatantly insulting one's spouse. It is the height of inhospitality and extremely gauche in my opinion. What I would suggest is to arm yourself beforehand with a list of topics that you can suddenly bring up to steer the conversation to more polite chat. If you are a funny person, never underestimate the power of humor to change the tone. Hopefully she will get the hint and bite her forked tongue. If not, reconsider that invitation next time.

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