Bum Out

Bum Out

Bum Out

Advice on manners and morals.
Sept. 14 2000 11:30 PM

Bum Out

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

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Dear Prudie,
I was married two years ago. From the beginning this marriage has been abusive verbally and physically. I bought a house, and everything in it is mine. I pay all the bills. (The house is in only my name.) He doesn't work or contribute anything to the household at all. I've told him I want a divorce, yet he refuses to leave. He hangs out and drinks every day and is very messy—which I have to deal with when I come home every day from a full-time job. The police say, "He's your husband, therefore it's his home and he doesn't have to leave." I don't know what to do. He's spent all my money, so I can't afford a lawyer to get a divorce. I don't know how to get this slug out of my house. I live in New York state and the laws here suck.

—Feeling Trapped

Dear Feel,
Prudie is wondering what drew you to Prince Charming in the first place, but that is for you to ponder when things straighten out. If you have no funds for a lawyer, find out an agency in your town that offers free legal services. You need not be held hostage by this slovenly, unemployed, abusive, freeloading lush. If it becomes necessary, though it may sound drastic, because you have title to the house you can sell it. Then the leech would have to vacate ... since Prudie strongly doubts the new owners would have any use for him. It would be an extreme solution, but with luck, you could find a place on a par with what you have now. And even if it isn't, you would have peace of mind and be able to get back on your feet. Alone.

—Prudie, hopefully

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Dear Prudence,
I find your response to "Looking to Connect" quite offensive. As a Christian, I also find it insulting to suggest this man go to church to hook up with a woman. As a figure in public media, do you really consider this sensible advice? I don't know whether you go to church or not, and if you do, I don't know your motives. Not all people go to church with the intent of hooking up, and if they do, there is something wrong there. God bless.

—Sincerely,
Saved by Grace

Dear Saved,
Perhaps Prudie did not write with enough clarity. She did not mean to suggest that the romance-challenged writer consider church as Our Lady of the Divine Dating Service. Prudie's suggestion assumed that if the young man were a churchgoer, such a place would be one of the better venues in which to meet a like-minded person.

—Prudie, precisely

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Dear Prudence,
I am 44 years old, my husband's 46. We have been married for 23 years with a 21-year-old son. We have had the usual rough spots in our marriage: lack of money when we were younger, working long hours, struggling to get ahead, but we made it through. He is a very hard worker, and we have been fortunate. In the last two years, though, my husband has started drinking. I have watched him go from two beers to three to four to five to six—however many it takes for him to reach his "high." He also drinks when he drives. He says as long as he gets up and goes to work every day then he's not hurting anyone. Both his parents were alcoholics, so we both know the potential for trouble was there for him. I have tried to get him to stop. I have tried being kind, angry, even joining him, but nothing works. We fight about it constantly. He says when he is ready to quit, he will and not until. I don't know what to do.

—Sad and Confused

Dear Sad,
After 21 years of being sober, something pushed your husband over the line so that he has become a beer drunk. Take him at his word about one thing, however: He will not quit until he is ready. He is wrong when he says he is "not hurting anyone," because the drinking and driving could, literally, be the kiss of death and that could happen at any minute. The way for you to understand the situation and figure out what's best for you is to go to Al Anon. The group has been the savior for many a person annexed to a problem drinker. Do know that his problem is not your fault, and therefore beyond your power to fix.

—Prudie, proactively

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Prudie,
Please help. I have a problem with men falling in love with me on the first date. This makes me immediately lose interest since there's no challenge left. I can't seem to find a man who's as strong as I am. All the men seem to be needy. Everyone asks me what I do to them, but I'm just being myself. What am I doing wrong? I am getting upset. Now when I go out with someone that I like, I don't believe them when they say they love me, or even like me, because I hear that every time. How do I know for sure? Helllllp.

—Elk Grove, Ill.

Dear Elk,
Your Illinois signature was surprising, because Prudie would have guessed you were from Troy, and your name was Helen. Isn't it just the pits to be a femme fatale, irresistible and desired by all—and on the first date, yet? Either you have an ego that can be seen only from the air, you are totally delusional, or the caliber of men you meet is not quite up to snuff. Prudie wishes you well.

—Prudie, wonderingly