Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
June 20 2002 1:54 PM

What Do You Do When Your Wife Switches Teams Midstream?

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,

My sister is a closet lesbian. It really does not matter to any of my immediate family. However, my wife of 10 years has finally been bold enough to tell me that she is in love with my sister! We've got a beautiful young son, the glue that is holding us together. Our marriage is on the rocks, with my wife admitting she doesn't love me—at least not as much as she longs for my sister. My sister has told her, and me, in no uncertain terms, that she will have nothing to do with my wife, meaning any serious relationship, ever. My wife says she first had feelings for my sister soon after they met but only told my sister about three years ago (and told me about a year ago). My wife has not been hunting around for any other lesbian lover, saying she only wants to be near my sister. Our sex life has been winding down for years, but upon learning of her lesbian leanings and desires for someone else, I just can't "do sex" without love being a component. And "do sex" is the operative phrase since she is totally unresponsive and immobile. The word "necrophilia" would not be out of place in this discussion. I know I should not abandon my family, but I can't exist in a loveless relationship, especially with my wife pining for my sister. I'd consider a divorce, but the pitfalls of single-dad life are daunting. Other than my sister, I've yet to confide this to anyone else I know. Prudence, you are No. 2.

—Regards,

Unsure Whether To Stay or Go

Dear Un,

Prudie is flattered to be taken into your confidence. Though your problem is startlingly similar to one in Jonathan Franzen's book The Corrections, your letter has the ring of truth, so Prudie will dismiss any skepticism. Putting aside, for the moment, the shock of having your wife confess she would prefer a romantic relationship with your sister, try to deal with this in a more generalized way: that your marriage has fallen apart because your wife bats for the other team. (Prudie admires your sister, by the way, for stipulating they will never be lovers.) As for how to go forward ... knowing what you know, and living through the demise of the marriage you initially entered ... don't let fear of life as a single father immobilize you. It not only can be managed, it is, by millions of people. Perhaps a few outings to Parents Without Partners will shore you up. The bottom line is not that your wife finally acknowledged her true sexuality, or that the object of her affections is your sister (jarring as these facts may be), but that you need to exit your marriage. There are many avenues of support, and you should now make it your business to find them.

—Prudie, hopefully

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Dear Prudence,

It's that time of year again, my most dreaded stretch of the year, the summer. This is when, oh joy, my worthless relatives descend upon our tiny apartment like cockroaches with their swarms of screaming kids and endless criticisms. I would not detest the swarm as much as I do if they just stopped judging me and my dear husband. We are good Catholics and wouldn't dream of divorcing, but our marriage is somewhat different from the norm. We met in Vegas, and yes, we were a little drunk, but I always thought of it as fate since we've been married for a decade now. The Elvis impersonator at the casino married us, and we live together quite happily. He sees his girlfriends; I see my boyfriends. The relatives are scandalized. I say, go to a hotel or visit the Caribbean if our lifestyle does not suit you. I am sick of being judged by people who are eating my food, drinking my beer, and taking my time. What should I tell the swarm this year?

—Expecting More Trouble

Dear Ex,

Too bad the rellies know all the details of how your marriage works, but there you are. Prudie is wondering, though, how people you regard as worthless, judgmental cockroaches—who come in swarms and insult you, no less—got invited in the first place. And if they invited themselves ... well, short of squirting Raid on them, just announce that since they're offended by the knot tied by Elvis that has, alas, loosened enough to allow for an open marriage, you want to protect them from further moral schmootz, therefore the hotel is closed now and forevermore. Prudie is guessing from the few details you've supplied that you will be pretty much impervious to being sputtered about within the family.

—Prudie, unreceptively

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Pru,

Ya gotta help me for next year! Please explain to my husband why it is plain wrong (not JUST massively illegal) to cheat on your income taxes. He thinks that because the federal government uses our tax dollars in ways we don't necessarily approve of (say, to subsidize Enron, build nuclear weapons, or clean up former Superfund sites), people should feel perfectly justified in claiming fictitious charitable deductions and the like in the name of getting a little bit extra back. The very thought of it makes my hair curl. Meanwhile, he has begun to refer to me as "Mother Teresa." Can you provide some clarity on why his argument is wrongheaded? I have gotten nowhere with "render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's." A thousand thanks in advance.

—Ethically Challenged

Dear Eth,

U.S. citizens are not permitted, legally, to act out their displeasure at how the government spends money. There is some nutty movement that tells people they can—but they can't. And forget the "rendering unto Caesar" business. Your husband's chiseling could actually get him five to 10 in Leavenworth. Most important, if you have been filing jointly, tell him Mother Teresa may have to consider filing separately if he doesn't straighten up ... the reason being that knowingly signing false tax documents makes you just as guilty as he.

—Prudie, representationally

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Dear Prudie,

I have recently acquired a fiance who lives overseas now but will be immigrating to be with me. Due to the haste of our engagement, we chose a high-quality cubic zirconium "diamond" to represent our fidelity until the "real" ring can be purchased. It is only a 1-carat representation in a classic, 14-karat gold Tiffany setting. I am a successful professional female in a traditionally male-dominated industry. My intended is blue-collar. I have had male customers, friends, and colleagues alike grab my hand, put on their glasses, and inspect my "diamond," some of them even turning my hand sideways. They all comment on my "rock." One of them actually asked, "Is it real or fake?" I said, "You tell me," and he professed that if it were a fake, it was a good one. I expected admiration from my female friends, but not scrutiny from the men. I would like to know if the average human being can tell the difference between a diamond and a CZ. Furthermore, I would like to know how to respond to these presumptuous men who feel it is appropriate to editorialize on the symbol my fiance and I have selected to represent our love and respect for one another.

—Faker in Love

Dear Fake,

As far as "regular people" looking at a stone and knowing whether or not it's genuine, that can go either way—depending on the quality of the CZ, the setting, and the viewer's eye. To know for a certainty, one would need the thermal gizmo that jewelers use to test diamonds. As for a retort to people gauche enough to ask if your ring is real, why don't you sweetly answer with something like this? "I'll see if I can rustle up the bill of sale for you." Anybody who doesn't know they've just been told, "It's none of your business" isn't worth having a conversation with.

—Prudie, privately