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DEAR ABBY

Southern manners off-putting to some

DEAR ABBY: My husband is a thoughtful, kind person and an excellent partner. Raised in the South, we were both taught to call people "ma'am" and "sir." Instead of reserving these terms only for older or more distinguished people, he uses them with everyone, including when speaking to our peers (we are in our early 40s). I have noticed that it's off-putting to some of my female friends when he refers to them as "Ms. (first name)" or "ma'am." They feel he's calling them old compared to himself, which I know is not his intention.

I've mentioned this to him a few times, but it's a habit he is finding hard to break. I don't want to hurt his feelings by constantly harping on something that seems insignificant, but I also want him to stop being quite so polite. Have you any advice for getting around this?

— MANNERED IN THE SOUTH

DEAR MANNERED: Yes, I do. I'm advising you to stand by your man and straighten out your overly sensitive female friends. Assure them that this is the way both of you were raised, and the nicety is regional. It would be better than nagging your husband about it because he is doing nothing wrong by using those formalities.

Contact Dear Abby at DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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