Dear Mary

Dear Mary: What is the etiquette about watching graphic sex scenes as a family?

30 May 2020

9:00 AM

30 May 2020

9:00 AM

Q. Please can you tell me the correct etiquette about signing the visitors book after you are married? Obviously you don’t sign your parents’ one before marriage — but your fiancé does. After you are married do you both sign — even if you have lived in the house all your life?
— Name and address withheld

A. There is no reason for any former child of a house to feel offended if the parent (or step-parent) asks them to sign the visitors book after marriage. It is not a veiled insult or a signal that ‘this is no longer your home’. The visitors book is a matter of record, which will be kept for decades, even for generations. Thus both members of the partnership should sign. After all, years later, there may be over-interpretation of why a husband or wife appeared to have visited alone, whether it was their childhood home or not. Almost more reason for both to sign.


Q. I live in a blessedly peaceful rural area which, in recent weeks, has seen much more footfall as ‘strangers’ have flooded in to take their permitted exercise. I am always cheerful and friendly and say ‘Good morning’ to those I pass in the lanes, but am I right to feel annoyed when many of these respond ‘All right?’ with looks of genuine concern on their faces? Frankly, Mary, it’s none of their business whether I am all right or not. Moreover if I were not all right, I wouldn’t wish to enlarge on my state of well-being with random strangers. How should I reply?
— K.F.G., Wiltshire

A. Those familiar with the countryside code know that only non-committal platitudes are exchanged with those we come across in the Great Outdoors. ‘New’ countrymen will take some time to get their heads around this custom. In the short term you can sidestep the nuisance by wearing headphones so no one need be offended if you appear not to have noticed their caring overtures.

Q. What is the etiquette surrounding the watching of graphic sex scenes as a family? My children (early twenties) are still working from home. Our problem is that most of the good television we could watch together is off-limits as everything seems to come with explicit sex scenes which are too embarrassing for both generations to watch in the same room. We have been cheated, for example, of the family bonding that could have occurred with the highly rated mini-series Normal People, which the Young watched separately on the grounds that it would be too ‘cringe’ for us all to watch it together. Any thoughts, Mary?
— Name and address withheld

A. Why not come to an agreement that you will watch everything on catch-up so one of you can fast- forward through the inevitable sex scenes and carry on with the ‘plot’. 

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