Dear Prudence, —Stars in My Eyes Dear Star, —Prudie, maturely
About six years ago I met the husband I had wished for. I have a 7-year-old son and his adoption has just been legally granted. Now we are a perfect family. “So what’s your problem?” I just got back from a trip where the son of a good friend of mine took me out to parties and dancing. In one moment, with the squeeze of my fingers, he brought back all the feelings I used to crave in a new relationship. I feel like I’m 21 years old again and I want to spend another weekend with him. It’s not that I’m keen to have sex with him, but the thought of just having him kiss my lips and run his beard over my back makes me feel young and sexy and wanted. I love my husband and don’t want to seem ungrateful, but this guy makes me feel special. Can I have my weekend and then go home and continue being a wife?
Stars in your eyes, my dear, and rocks in your head. It is quite immature to be where you are in life—in love, with “a perfect family”—and consider jeopardizing everything for the temporary thrill of someone new. If Joan Rivers were here with us, Prudie knows she would say, “Grow up!” Even if your husband never found out, there is such a thing as guilt, and Prudie is reasonably certain that being comfortable with this kind of secret would be impossible. Forget people squeezing your fingers. As for imagining this chap running his beard over your back, buy a loofa brush ... it will feel the same, and it won’t put your marriage at risk.
—Stars in My Eyes
I’m in desperate need of advice. I am independently very close to an engaged couple, “Joe” and “Judy.” Recently, Joe confided to me that he has rekindled his relationship with an ex, with whom he apparently has had no closure since they broke up several years ago. Given his impending marriage, I agreed to maintain his secret but urged him to quickly decide. He then informed me that he called it off with the ex and intends to proceed as planned. So I should be relieved, but, alas, I am not. The reasons he gave for his decision gave me even greater heartburn: 1) His family and friends hate the ex and love Judy; 2) Judy would be devastated without him; 3) they are already engaged and the wedding is paid for, etc. Nowhere in the plethora of practical/pragmatic reasons were passion and connection. I believe that people eventually do what makes them emotionally happy and that he will revert to passion and connection. I am giving him the benefit of a doubt, but should he fail, what are my duties to him, and especially to Judy, if he confides in me again? While I don’t want to meddle and don’t want to chose between the two, I want to do the right thing.
Prudie’s going to make it easy for you. If there is a next time when Joe wants to confide in you, tell him you insist he leave you out of the latest play-by-play because 1) you have divided loyalties; and 2) you don’t think much of the way he’s been figuring things out. Just as an aside, Prudie can tell you that people who are in Judy’s position seldom listen to third parties informing them that things are not as rosy as they think. (This is how Prudie wound up with her starter husband.) Should you interject yourself, BOTH Joe and Judy would likely cut you off, and they would still probably get married! You’ve been a good friend, so cross your fingers now, and go buy a box of Uncle Ben’s.
I sure need your advice. I am a recovering alcoholic. I’ve been sober for three years. I married my second husband two months before I got sober. For the first two years of my sobriety the marriage was going well, and I was learning about myself and the marriage. Then, just before my third year, things went stale and we were hardly talking. Things were just not comfortable. My ex-husband comes on the scene and starts flattering me, and before I know it I am in bed with him. Now I feel awful. My second husband knows this happened, and I said I was sorry. I wanted to work things out, but I can’t get my first husband to leave me alone. I am 39 years old.
Prudie has a flash for you. You can get your ex-husband to leave you alone. All you have to do is say “no” to everything he suggests. And for good measure, tell him you’d like him to stop calling. And mean it. Whatever the problems in your current marriage, they will not be helped by adding your first husband to the mix. Work on the marriage you’re in (not the one you got out of) and perhaps your AA group can be useful. (Prudie is guessing you go to meetings.)
I am getting married next June, and I asked my best friend to be my best man. My fraternal twin brother will be my only groomsman. I love my brother and will always be there for him, but we have never been close and don’t get along. When I asked my brother to be a groomsman, he didn’t react very well to being overlooked as best man. He seemed hurt—which surprised me because I wouldn’t have minded if the tables were turned. We rarely even talk. I told my parents of my selection this past weekend, and they literally “flipped out.” They lectured me for two hours on the importance of family, adding that they have somehow failed as parents and that I was letting someone else drive a wedge between me my brother. They said it was as if I “poured a bucket of cold water on them.” If I had any idea my family was going to react like this, I would have made a different choice. But at this point, what can I do?
—Is Blood Thicker Than Water?
Blood is not only thicker than water, it boils faster. Since there is the better part of a year before your wedding, here’s what Prudie would suggest. Looking at the big picture, both men—your brother and your best friend—know exactly who’s who and what’s what. Given the family brouhaha that took place, tell both men you would like them to exchange their “positions” at your nuptials. (Your brother, may, in fact, tell you to take a hike ... but at least you will have tried.) Some of this drama, to your parents, may be about how things look. As to how things feel, both men—and you—know the strength of the relationships. And because the guys will be wearing the same clothes as groomsman and best man, there should be no big whoop. And when the happy day comes, mazel-ton from Prudie, which is, of course, “tons of luck.”