Husbands need to be trained their entire life. We wives can’t ever slack off, ease up. That’s the reality of it. And Pennsylvania German husbands, however good-hearted and loyal people they may be, suck at manners.
My husband had a terrible teacher in this department. When we were first married, my new mother-in-law merely grunted, “Salt!” when she wanted someone to pass the salt shaker. I was speechless. I realized shortly after I was married, that my husband had a very difficult time with the words, “Please. Thank you. You’re welcome. I’m sorry.” I repeat them after I give him something like you do a very small child in training, preparing them to be a polite adult.
When my husband began work wth a Pennsylvania German man, I began to see the same behavior in him. If we took him out to lunch, or bought him a present, he would not say thank you, although I knew he was grateful, not just for the act but also our friendship, but these men certainly do not vocalize it. When I witnessed my husband leaving the job and not saying good bye to his boss, I questioned him. He told me that they do not even say “hello” or “good morning” at the start of the day.
I found this shocking and after over thirty years of witnessing it, I am continually shocked.
I came downstairs from my workplace last night and went down into the cool cellar for a grapefruit. I passed my husband reading in his chair and said, “Do you want a grapefruit or an orange?”
he said, “no, I just had one.”
I looked at him and said, “Are you a bachelor?”
“Do you live alone?”
Tonight, just one night later, he came into the bathroom while I was taking a bath with a dish of ice cream.
I said, “How about me?”
“Here, take it,” he said, pissy.
“I don’t believe you. Why don’t you think of me?”
He said, “You get things for yourself all the time- coffee, tea.”
That was just lame. My husband NEVER drinks hot liquids unless he is in the wilderness fighting hypothermia.
I said, “I always ask Bryce if he is home if he wants a cup of coffee or tea if I am making one.”
My husband got angry and left the room with his bowl of ice cream. We had just gone out to hear music and held hands lovingly. He had just had sex the night before so he was not grumpy. He just has piss poor manners. How did we get to be married for thirty years, after thirty years of work trying to teach him manners and he has not learned them yet? Is it hopeless? It feels like it.
When the kids are home, he gets into bed and doesn’t says, “Good night.” I sometimes make him get up and kiss the kids good night, if they are home from college or visiting from a foreign country. We don’t get blessed with our children’s presence as much as we’d like, so we should celebrate them being home, make them feel as if we are glad they are here. Or they might not want to return as frequently.
I have a good man. He will do anything for me. He will do nearly anything for anybody. He puts himself last. Why can’t I teach him manners? Why isn’t this something a man can learn? Why does he refuse to learn? Is it really a cultural Pennsylvania German thing? I Googled German rudeness and found this behavior to be spot on.
“They just seem to have this bizarre understanding between each other that there’s no need to apologize or say thanks, etc.”
Or good night. Or please. They are an efficient and thrifty people. No need to say more words than is necessary.
My husband’s ancestors came over from Germany in the 1600’s. That’s a long time ago. His family has been marrying other Germans for hundreds of years, until MY husband marries a warm and fuzzy, vocal Sicilian/Pole and he runs into trouble.
I know other wives have to train their husbands when it comes to other traits. Mine sucks at manners. I have my job laid out for me until one of us dies.
“Please. Thank You. You’re Welcome. I’m Sorry. Good Night.” I will not quit.
PS Please read what Holger Heinz wrote in comments- a brilliant insightful look at the German male mind.