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20-40-60 Etiquette: My husband won't stop lip-smacking at the table

20-40-60 Etiquette wrestles with a question from a reader about her husband's table manners. He eats the way he did growing up in another country, but to Americans, he makes rude slurping and smacking sounds.
by Helen Ford Wallace and Lillie-Beth Brinkman and Callie Gordon Modified: April 13, 2013 at 4:22 pm •  Published: April 14, 2013

It is certainly important that his manners improve if you have children, as it is hard for children to witness impolite behavior from a parent. You don't want them to be ashamed of eating at the table with him, either at home or at a social event.

GUEST'S ANSWER: Hilarie Blaney, etiquette and international protocol consultant: In today's global economy, we are doing more and more business at the meal table.

In fact, these days employers are making final interviews over a meal. When you are looking for a job or trying to get a promotion, your business etiquette skills are what can make or break you. I would stress to your husband that this is important enough to businesses that companies and individuals hire people like me to coach, train and educate their young professionals as well as executives that want to “brush up” their skills.

For you, this topic becomes more challenging with his country of origin, coupled with years of habits. It is my opinion that as an employee of a U.S. company, he should learn proper business etiquette, because his employer and clients expect that of him. Secondly, reading the book “The Power of Habit” will help you understand how luckily, habits really can change.

Once more, I would tell him how important this is to you and to your enjoyment as a couple, because eating is sometimes a social or romantic event. Not to mention, if you have children, you have a responsibility as guides and educators to be role models for them. Last, but not least, maybe Mr. Slurping and Lip Smacking would have some time to contemplate the importance of manners if he were eating alone in the other room!

Callie Gordon is 20-something, Lillie-Beth Brinkman is in her 40s, and social columnist Helen Ford Wallace is 60-plus. To ask an etiquette question, email For more 20-40-60 etiquette, go to

by Helen Ford Wallace
Society Editor
Helen Ford Wallace is a columnist covering society-related events/news for The Oklahoman. She puts local parties online with daily updates. She creates, maintains and runs a Parties blog which includes web casts. She is an online web editor for...
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by Lillie-Beth Brinkman
Lillie-Beth Brinkman is a Content Marketing Manager for the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber of Commerce. She was previously an assistant editor of The Oklahoman
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by Callie Gordon
Freelance Writer
Callie Gordon, a graduate of the University of Oklahoma, is working at Chesapeake Energy in the Environment, Health, and Safety Department. She was previously an event coordinator for Chesapeake Energy.
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