Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 24 2002 2:28 PM

Is That Normal?

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Prudie,

Can you give me an answer to this? I have been married for six years. We haven't had sex or even hand-holding—because he wiggles his hand away after five to 10 seconds. There is cuddling rarely, hugs maybe once or twice a month. We had sex three times the first two weeks after we married and nothing since.  I love him, but I need more. He says I am too needy.

—Wanting

Dear Want,

You are TOO NEEDY? Nuts, maybe, to have stuck around for six sexless years, but "too needy" you are not. This man has deep psychological damage and is not operating anywhere near the vicinity of normal. If you love him, as you say you do, you must insist he get into therapy—though Prudie is not sure that even that will guarantee a corrective. Lest you think there is something wrong with you, take it from Prudie: There is something seriously wrong with your husband's ability to relate to people in general or women in particular. You may have made a great mistake with your choice of a mate. With no flippancy intended, Prudie will cite an old retailing term that applies to your situation: Your first markdown is your cheapest. That is, do not invest any more time without solving his frigidity problem ... one way or the other.

—Prudie, sympathetically

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Dear Prudie,

My problem involves the computer and the Internet, but does not have to do with a no-good who looks at porn sites for hours on end or is e-mailing some sweetie who thinks he's single. My concern has to do with my teen-age son. He is a whiz and very accomplished with all things computer. His teachers rely on him at his high school when it comes to their computers, and he has a part-time job with a corporation working for the man who runs their systems operation. Ordinarily I would think his "gift" is wonderful, but I feel he is slighting social activities and friends because he is so wrapped up in technology. Would you be worried, and should I be?

—Mississippi Mom

Dear Miss,

Since the lad is a teen-ager, Prudie sees nothing wrong with being a little slow on the social track. It is, in fact, probably preferable to being too advanced. There's plenty of time for him to catch up. What has captured his imagination is laudable ... the kid isn't hanging out at the racetrack. And remember, my dear, in this year of our Lord 2002: The geek shall inherit the earth.

—Prudie, supportively

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Dear Prudence,

I am a 72-year-old-widow who has been married, not counting the three years after my divorce, from the age of 16. My second husband died last year, and I am truly enjoying my freedom. My problem is an old male friend of mine. He contacted me earlier this year, after his wife died, to talk. He has since let me know that he has always been "in love" with me and would like a relationship. The thing is, I do not want anything like that with any man. If he just wanted to be friends, I might consider that. How do I tell him I do not want a relationship with him without hurting his feelings? After all, he is an old friend. Please help.

—Thank you,

Wondering in Oklahoma

Dear Won,

You tell him the same way you told Prudie: "I do not want anything like that with any man. If you just want to be pals, I would consider that." If your response does cause hurt feelings, so be it. At age 72, you have earned the right to have your life just as you wish it to be. There is a friendly and kind way to say everything, and Prudie is sure you will find it.

—Prudie, singly

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Dear Prudence,

My husband of 41 years (and three grown-up children) has a special way of coping with disputes or problems: silence. It means that when he is angry with me, justly or unjustly, he just stops speaking to me, goes to sleep, and sleeps. After some days, he will start talking again. I've discussed it with him several times, and we even went to counseling. Now, starting three days ago, he said that I was wrong in a certain behavior, and I admitted it. Then he started the silent treatment again. I am sick and tired of it. What should I do?

—At Wit's End

Dear At,

Forty-one years, huh? That's a pretty long marriage in which to hope for fine-tuning. Because you say you both went to counseling and it apparently didn't take, Prudie's only suggestion for dealing with his passive-aggressive behavior is for you to go to a therapist to learn to be less annoyed by the silence, to accept the situation and understand that you cannot change his head. Until you can book an appointment, try, mechanistically, to regard his silence as the absence of fighting or harsh words or crockery hitting the wall.

—Prudie, adaptively