Not That There's Anything Wrong With That ...

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That ...

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That ...

Advice on manners and morals.
July 26 2001 11:30 PM

Not That There's Anything Wrong With That ...

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Dear Prudence,
My husband and I have been married for nine years now, and I recently found things on his computer that upset me. I found out he has been looking up gay and bisexual pornography. I talked with him about it, and he told me that he has just become comfortable enough to share this information. He told me that he wanted to have sex with a man, both as the giver and receiver. I was shocked, but I've tried to keep things together because we have two children and a great marriage—other than this. He says that he is not gay because he does not want a relationship with a man, just sex. I am having a hard time with this. Please help me. I am utterly dazed and confused.     

—Trillium

Dear Trill,
It is a bit of a stretch to pretend one is "sharing" information that, in fact, one has been confronted with. The really sad news is his saying he is not gay—just that he wants to have sex with men. This is like saying he's not an exhibitionist, just that he likes to expose himself in public. Your husband has been, as they say, caught, and is trying to manage the situation without blowing apart his marriage. If you buy his explanation that he just wants to have sex with men, but not a relationship, where does that leave you? Unfortunately, a pretty good definition of being gay is wanting to have sex with people of your same gender. You also must consider the fact that his "interest" may carry a health risk for you. It is crucial that you both deal with this, uh, development. Your best bet is to find a marriage counselor who is a psychotherapist.

—Prudie, speedily

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Dear Prudence,
I am terribly jealous of my husband's past. Before I met him, he was quite wild—drinking and sleeping around. He's got an ex-wife, many ex-girlfriends, and a son. All of his past flames were "exotic"—that is, Japanese and Native American, while I am "fresh from the farm" (meaning I was raised in a small farming community in Indiana—not what you'd call exotic). His past flames drank and smoked and raised hell. I'm just a smart, hard-working girl who wants to come home every night to her husband. Until I met my husband, I turned heads when I walked into a room, and I knew it. Now I feel miserable and probably look the same. My self-confidence is shot. To make matters worse, my husband hardly ever makes love to me. This makes me so jealous because he used to sleep with anyone and everyone. I feel jealous and inadequate. A man I work with has been flirting with me, and I am contemplating taking him up on it. Not because I want to hurt my husband, but because I feel desirable when I'm with this other man. Even if it is for one night, those warm feelings could probably go a long way when I'm staring at the back of my husband's head at night. I know my husband is not cheating on me, but I feel as though he wishes he were still running around. I'm going absolutely crazy with these feelings.

—Desperately Waiting for Your Response

Dear Des,
Prudie agrees that something has flown off the tracks. If ever there was a situation that called for therapeutic mediation, this is it. There are a ton of interlocking factors here. You think your husband's become uninterested in you; you are feeling inferior to your "exotic" predecessors; his libido seems to have wandered off somewhere. He's not cheating, you believe, but your guess is that he'd like to. You're considering flinging around just to prove you've still got it. You have to find out why your confidence evaporated and his yen for you is in sleep mode. Prudie is guessing that you've tried discussing the subject, but with no good result. Which means you need a marriage counselor or psychotherapist to guide you back to your former relationship. In the meantime, try to remember that your husband chose you, and his sexual indifference may have more to do with him than you. With a trained third party, Prudie believes the two of you can fix whatever it is that's broken.

—Prudie, optimistically

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Hi Prudence,
I was wondering if you could help me out. I have a friend who I spend time hanging out with. He and I have similar intellectual interests, and we enjoy each other's company. Unfortunately, lately he's been creeping me out. He says things like, "If either of us were a girl, we would make such a great couple!" Or: "You are my whole social life. My life revolves around you." He also told me that he frequently makes the two-hour drive from his home to mine just to check and see whether I'm home (which I am usually not). This seems strange to me. Not only that, but it seems that lately almost every word out of his mouth is sexual in nature. Not only am I not gay, but he is engaged to marry a woman in a year—though he frequently says things like, "I have a feeling I'm going to be breaking her heart soon." What do I do? I don't like being hit on, I am not gay, and he is engaged! I don't like the pressure he puts on me, and I certainly don't want to be the focal point of his entire social life. I don't even see him that much—maybe two or three times a month, at the most. I haven't talked to him since the last time I saw him, and now he is sending me multiple e-mails and calling me at work two or three times a day, telling me he's sorry if he came on too strong. Well, he shouldn't have been coming on at all. I haven't returned his calls or e-mails yet and am wondering if the silent treatment is the way to go? It seems to me that if I don't talk to him, he will get the hint sooner or later. What would Prudie do? I am SO uncomfortable with this.

—Uneasy

Dear Un,
Prudie would not choose the silent treatment. It is unkind in a situation where you have been friends. This chap has clearly gone overboard in a number of areas. He has chucked the normal boundaries of a friendship by leaning on you, steering the conversation to the sexual, and actually stalking you. He has probably long been a repressed homosexual, and something about you has inched him toward the closet door. Prudie, if she were you, would phone him or e-mail, whichever is more comfortable, and say that you believe the friendship needs a timeout and you'd appreciate it if he would allow you to take a breather—with no communication. Then just let things fade to black. If there is any begging you to reconsider, be firm.

—Prudie, determinedly

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Dear Prudence,
My dear grandmother passed away last month at the age of 98. Of course I was saddened, but she was very old and had a full life. The problem is that my brothers can't get over it. I respect their right to grieve any way they need to, but they have signed all of us up for a weekly group therapy thing called "Men and Death." I went once to humor them, and it was terrible—full of men who had just lost wives and children. I told them that I felt I didn't need to go again, and they said I was still in shock and obviously needed more help. I don't think I can handle anymore group therapy sessions, and my brothers are driving me crazy. HELP!!!

—Ken

Dear Ken,
Would you be offended if Prudie told you this sounded like a Saturday Night Live sketch? The over-the-top response of your brothers is very odd. There is something screwy about three guys—surely middle-aged—who are grief-stricken to the point of needing a support group to deal with the demise of someone who nearly made it to 100. Did your brothers' poker club disband or something so that they're looking for something else to do once a week? You might invite them to take note of the fact that the participants in their grief group are mourning spouses and children, not grandparents. This is not meant to be disrespectful to grandmothers (hell, Prudie is one herself), but tell your brothers that there is something loopy about this performance and they are not to guilt-trip you into going to any more meetings.

—Prudie, amazedly