Dear Whys Guy: "How Do I Teach My Husband Good Manners and Social Skills?"

By Aaron Traister, REDBOOK


Four years ago, I met and married my husband. I was a single mom with four kids, and he quickly adapted to the role of stepdad, husband and dad after we had two children together. He is the nicest, most mild-mannered man I have ever met, he loves me and all of the kids unconditionally, and he would do anything for anyone. BUT! He is sorely lacking in good manners and social skills. I have subtly taught him some, saying "You're welcome," when he doesn't say "Thanks"; holding up a hand to quietly remind him not to interrupt; and asking him to introduce me to his friends. But how do I stop him from letting out big yawns without covering his mouth or excusing himself, taking off his shoes in public to pick between his toes, not greeting people who come into our home, and not looking away from the TV or his book to make eye contact during conversations? He has so many wonderful qualities, but my kids have better manners than he does! Do I ignore it or enroll him in a social skills class?

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I could almost let him slide on everything else and just chalk it up to being uncomfortable socially, but the toe picking is TOO REAL, and it implies an obliviousness that's weird. Does he have a social disorder where he doesn't realize how his actions (you know, like PICKING IN BETWEEN HIS TOES IN PUBLIC) might make other people feel?

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If these social issues are really getting in the way of living your lives, consult a specialist and see if there is a diagnosis and treatment out there for him. If the issues aren't really a big deal but just kinda annoying, then prioritize what bothers you most and talk to him about working on it. I think you should focus on the public toe picking first. In my mind that's the most important thing. Whatever course of action you decide to take, encouraging him to keep his shoes on in public will be an important first step in not grossing me out.


Need help decoding odd male behavior? Redbook columnist Aaron Traister, who lives in Philadelphia with his wife and two kids, is our resident male who is happy to answer any questions you might have about the mind of a man. Either leave your questions in the comments or email him at with Whys Guy in the subject. Letters, emails, and comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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