A dear friend often shares holidays with me and invites me to dinner parties. Problem is, her cooking is truly, consistently horrid. It's all the same ... some dubious brown sludge from the Cuisinart that's molded into "lasagna," "corn bread," or "paella." It's even in salads and desserts! It smells bad and is unidentifiable. She expends a great deal of effort and is very proud of her cooking. Last weekend I avoided the "freezer eggplant thingie" (her name for it), but her other, less adept guests got the Tijuana two-step. Even when I host a soiree at my house, she insists on bringing the sludge. Saying "Oh, just bring wine" doesn't work. Refusing her dinner invitation would be refusing her friendship. I can't tell you how many of her friends have asked me to speak to her. What to do? I really can't eat it any more.
—Only Water, Please
Sparing someone's feelings need only go so far. Prudie does not know whether your friend's a health food freak or just nuts, but she has to be in a fugue state to think her cooking's wonderful when others can barely get it down. Because people are complaining—and coming down with GI disturbances—you, as the apparent best friend, need to talk turkey to her, pardon the expression. An intervention is definitely called for, and if you can get someone to join you, so much the better. The tack to take is that everybody loves her, but her taste buds, for some reason, are waaay different than anybody else's. It is one thing to humor a friend who likes to wear crazy clothes but quite another to eat things that smell bad, cannot be identified, resemble sludge, and induce Montezuma's revenge.
Fourteen years ago I married my husband, loving all qualities about him—especially his traditional views on marriage and kids. He is a great provider, planner, dad, etc. Shortly after our nuptials, I found a crate of porn (the hard stuff). I found out he is absolutely consumed by the dominatrix fantasy and light-pain thing. I am not. I have given those games and costumes a try. I've even gone to some pretty interesting retail shops, but frankly, it turns me off. We've gotten to a point where I avoid sex because I know what he wants and it's not the fun, sensual kind of love-making I want. I feel uncomfortable with this and am haunted by the knowledge that I am not what he wants. I am not unattractive or unsexy (even though I am a larger size), but I do feel like a trussed ham in vinyl and stilettos. I am adventurous but think sex should feel great and be fun, not abusive, even if it's on the light side of "ouch." I am treating this like an itch; maybe if I ignore it, it will go away. Who is the twisted nut here?
—Mistress Mary (Not)
S&M is nothing one can go along with just to be sociable. You're either into it, or you're not. There can be no mutually rewarding sex if you can't participate with enthusiasm. The fact is that you and your husband sound entirely incompatible in the bedroom. Unfortunately, his taste for S&M will not go away if you ignore it. Prudie is not going to suggest that you invite him to leave the marriage, taking his whips and chains with him. She will suggest, however, that you both go to a couples counselor or a sex therapist. The odds are that a professional has dealt with this problem more than once. For you to suffer with this situation would mean that you're just into M.
I am a woman who's been married for close to seven months. I recently found out that my husband went to a bar/nightclub late one evening while I was on my job. He did not tell me about this; a friend of his let it slip. When I found out, I told my husband that if he could go to this bar/nightclub with a single friend, then I was going to go sometime—without him—with a single friend of mine. He told me I'd better not do this because "the world" looked at it differently for a man than for a woman. I would really like to know what "the world" does think of this. Could you please let me know?
Tell your bon vivant that "the world" has reached no conclusion about this matter but that you have. The best solution would be if he gave up the nightclub singles' scene in exchange for your not taking it up. If he refuses to strike this event from his social calendar, tell him what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, this is the 21st century, and "the world" has pretty much accepted gender equality, even if he hasn't.
I've recently found several phone numbers in my husband's wallet! This is not the first time this has happened. He insists they are just "friends," but I'm not so sure ... though he seems to be loving in every way. We are recently married, and I know he has had affairs in other relationships. Should I just end this now and put him out or try to get confirmation first?
—What To Do?
Unfortunately, this is one of those two-handed situations. On the one hand, he is "loving in every way," but on the other hand, his history ain't so good ... and there are those numbers in his wallet ... again. Because you say there are several numbers for people he identifies as "friends," Prudie suggests you call a few of them. If they are men—terrific. If one or more is a woman and the phone goes dead when you identify yourself as his wife, perhaps yours should be a short marriage and your spouse demoted to the rank of "wasband."