Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
May 23 2002 2:33 PM

The Devil's Really Not Into the Details

Get "Dear Prudence" delivered to your inbox each week; click hereto sign up.Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

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Dear Prudence,

I am living with a great guy, and we've been a couple for three and a half years. I've never been married; he was married for three years, divorced now 11 years. My problem is he can't remember details about me but remembers all details about his ex-wife. For instance, when he was talking to the Census Bureau, he had to ask me my birthday and how to spell my first name. Yet recently he was filling out a form that asked information about his ex-wife, and he knew her birthday, her full name including middle, and what state she was born in. I have expressed to him how much this hurts that he can't be bothered to even try to remember this information, but he just says he's no good at remembering details. Then why can he remember everything about the ex?

—What About Me?

Dear What,

Details? How to spell your name? Prudie would say this chap has rather severe ADD when it comes to you. Also that your definition of a "great guy" is a little off. It is obvious that he's never gotten over the ex. Let's put it this way: If Prudie were in a romantic relationship with someone who did not know her birthday or how to spell her name, there would be skid marks away from this man.

—Prudie, huffily

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Dear Prudence,

I've been dating a man for six months. He says he's in love with me, and things were looking pretty bright as far as spending the rest of my life with him. He called me up a few days ago, however, to confess he got drunk, picked up a woman in a bar, took her home, and was intimate with her. He's pulling that Clinton crap and saying it wasn't actually sex because there was no penile penetration. To me, cheating is cheating, whether the little guy found his way home or not. I told him he really hurt me, and the excuse he gave was that we aren't married, so it isn't cheating. We
did have an agreement that we were only seeing each other—but he seems to have forgotten that conversation. He won't even apologize, and he said if I came around more often, he wouldn't have done it. So now it's my fault! I am not sure what to do. I really care about this man, but I think that trust is the No. 1 thing in a relationship. I have a feeling I should let him go, and he can go back to the drunken barfly whose name he can't even remember. I'm hurt and confused and getting way too old for this kind of stuff. He's a divorced grandfather, and I'm in my 40s. Is he worth hanging onto?

—Curious

Dear Cur,

Prudie thinks not. If he doesn't have a drinking problem, he has a zipper problem. Tell Gramps, to stay with his kind of reasoning, that because you're not married, the next step can't be divorce ... merely adios. You don't need this. And not to beat a dead horse, but people are on their best behavior before marriage, and this man's best is nowhere near good enough. Prudie wishes you a happy, early Independence Day.

—Prudie, liberatedly

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Dear Prudie,

My wife and I are both 25. We've been married for six months and are in big trouble. The stress of planning the wedding was very trying on our relationship, but we got through it. Immediately after the wedding, we had a run of bad luck, including losing our honeymoon because our travel company went bankrupt. The list of bad things is quite long—but needless to say, they took their toll on our relationship. We're now in a position where we've been married a little over six months, and there's no passion left. No spark, no fire, no energy, no nothing. We've been completely consumed by reality and routine; we don't kiss, have sex, or even spend any time together anymore. (And it doesn't seem that either of us really wants to.) I feel like nothing but a paycheck, and she complains that I don't do enough around the house. I've read that these are somewhat normal situations for people who've been married for five or more years, but I haven't been able to find any advice for newlyweds. Are these normal emotions, or are we doomed since we're having problems already? I have to admit that I find myself attracted to other women—not sexually, but intellectually and emotionally. My home life has forced me to think about what I really want in a life partner and all the ways in which my wife doesn't measure up. All of this makes me feel absolutely wretched. Can you offer any advice?

—Almost Frantic

Dear All,

Get thee to a marriage counselor. We can't settle things here. Your early marriage meltdown suggests you're both experiencing buyer's remorse, exacerbated by circumstances ... some beyond your control ... and perhaps a too hasty decision to marry. You're not communicating at all, whereas you should be speculating TOGETHER about what went wrong so fast.

Re the bedroom, often sexuality is a thermostat for what else is going on. In any case, you two are in need of intervention, guidance, and direction. If you were a gambler, your situation could be summed up with the saying, "When the dice are cold, they're all cold." Before you write finis to your marriage, explore the possibilities for a repair. Prudie believes you can succeed.

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—Prudie, optimistically

Dear Prudence,

My parents and I have had a rocky relationship right from the start. According to legend, I was the only baby in the hospital nursery capable of lifting her head and looking around. From that moment, it was expected that I would just know everything. Now, I'm a 27-year-old woman in circumstances that have brought me back to the nest for a somewhat extended stay. As you might expect, this has thrilled my parents to no end (sarcasm, sarcasm, sarcasm). I've recently become engaged to THE perfect man and, unlike the bozos of the past, I'm bringing him around to the folks and basically initiating him into the family. The problem is that my parents refuse to even acknowledge his existence, tell me all manner of vicious lies about him (i.e., he's secretly gay), and treat him like a nonhuman to his face. Pru, my parents don't acknowledge any reasoning other than their own, and to experience them is to intimately understand untreated bipolar disorder. Is there anything I can even try to do or say to keep my family together? Thank you for your time.

—Living Proof That You Can't Pick Your Family

Dear Liv,

There's perhaps a missing piece here, but just going on the info as you present it, it sounds as if your folks are in the nobody's-ever-gonna-be-good-enough-for-our-daughter category. Life is choices, my dear, and you're going to have to choose between your man and your parents. It has always been Prudie's contention that one's personal happiness trumps a blood relative's opinion. (Caveat: Sometimes the parents are right.) And there's always the chance that once the deed is done, your folks will come around. Good luck making your decision.

—Prudie, choosily