Faithful in Madison County

Faithful in Madison County

Faithful in Madison County

Advice on manners and morals.
Aug. 31 2000 11:30 PM

Faithful in Madison County

Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com.

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Prudence,

Please help me! A week ago, my husband asked me if I was having an affair with someone in my office. The person he had in mind has been a friend of ours for 10 years, and we have often done things together as couples. About a year ago they split up. I am not having an affair, and I am not attracted to any of the men I work with. The only one for me is my husband. When he first confronted me with his suspicion I was shocked and assured him I was not having an affair. He apologized, and I assumed it was over and done with. But he surprised me last night by informing me that he was not completely convinced. All he could remember was how much it hurt when his ex had an affair, and he doesn't think he could live through that again. I do not know how to get through to him that he is the only one. I have even started to look for another job. Help!

—Sincerely,
Faithful in Iowa

Dear Faith,

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Ah yes, other voices, other rooms ... the common fly in the marriage ointment. Your husband's insecurity is bubbling up, though it is in the realm of normality because he has been burned and is overly cautious. You might ask him what he thinks you could do to "prove" your loyalty, then go out of your way to reassure him ... inform him of your doings without being asked, for example. Try to be understanding about his distrust, but verbalize that you are NOT his first wife and that he must not generalize her betrayal as the behavior of all women. If his mistrust escalates, or even stays where it is, then he ought to shrink a little.

—Prudie, comfortingly

Dear Prudence,

I had a shocking experience with my parents' neighbor, who is about to get married next month. This guy had been a friend of the family for a long time, and I have known him for quite a while as "the neighbor kid." A couple days ago I went to my parents' house (they were out of town) to feed the dog, bring in the mail, etc., when this kid came over to return a magazine and to ask "a favor." He told me he had long been lusting after me and then asked if we could have sex right then and there—at which point he put his arms around me and tried to kiss me! I immediately pulled away and told him, "No." (I happen to be a newlywed, myself, and have never given this guy any encouragement.) The guy called the house later to apologize—and then continued to beg and plead for me to "do it" with him just this once! What I am wondering is if this guy's bride-to-be should know about this "incident" before she marries him.

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—Yours respectfully,
Bothered

Dear Both,

Prudie knows there is not a unanimous chorus behind her nodding agreement, but her instinct is always to try to give people information that might be helpful to them. That said, you must take two factors into account. One: Do you have any relationship with his intended? Because if not, you cannot call up a woman unknown to you and say, "Oh, hi. You might want to know that your fiance put the major moves on me and then didn't want to take no for an answer." Second: Often even when people are given information that might save them from themselves, they go ahead and make the mistake anyway. (Prudie's starter husband comes to mind.) And something else to factor into this particular equation: If you do decide to clue in the young lady and the little letch berates you for it, so what? You owe this oaf nothing, least of all silence.

—Prudie, directly

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Yo, Prudie,

You must be nuts! In your column dated Aug. 10, there is a nice letter from a 20-year-old who wants to marry her father's 40-year-old friend. You give the union your blessing, and I certainly have no problem with that. But in your column dated Aug. 3, you tell a 33-year-old woman who is considering marrying a 25-year-old she is robbing the cradle! Nice double standard. What gives?

—Sandy

Dear San,

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Prudie perhaps instinctively tilted toward the traditional double-standard template, but ... the wild card in the letter you refer to is that the younger man continuously brought up a painful issue that the woman thought was resolved. It was for this reason that Prudie suggested that maybe this match wasn't such a good idea; it was less about the older woman-younger man issue than about the particular issue creating tension between them. Thank you, though, for keeping an eye out for Prudie's inconsistencies, but in this case, no cigar.

—Prudie, dismissively

Dear Miss Prudence,

I have been dating a gentleman for about a month and a half and the subject of meeting his parents came up. I personally am not ready for that great adventure, but I don't want to be rude. I have spoken to his mother on the phone and waved when I met him in front of his house. I just don't feel I should build a friendship with a boyfriend's mother until I am sure it is going to last a while. What do you suggest? That I give in and meet them, or respectfully decline and wait until I am ready?

—J.C.

Dear J.,

Prudie thinks you are attaching too much importance to meeting the parents of someone you are dating. You cannot continue waving, and not to put too fine a point on it, meeting the folks is not a prelude to choosing bridesmaids. You have two choices. You can tell your young man you would prefer to put off the parental meet-and-greet until the relationship is a little more firmly established, or you can just treat meeting them as another social engagement—which it is. Hint: Prudie has always found that meeting someone's family is a useful tool for gathering information and insights.

—Prudie, sociably

Prudie,

Please say that I am correct. The other day my boyfriend and I were messing around. We had clothes on. I was wearing a swimsuit, and he was wearing trunks. There's no possible way I could be preggers. Those clothes were on the whole time!

—Beckie

Dear Beck,

You are correct. You are also in need of a sex education book. What you think might have happened would be like getting hard-boiled eggs through a sieve.

—Prudie, informationally