Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Aug. 22 2002 11:40 AM

A Double-Black-Diamond Marriage

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Note: Prudie recants! She has just returned from lunch ... where, as gazillions of readers pointed out, she was out to when she told "Turning Blue" that his mate's citing the Bible as a reason for abstinence was nonsense. Upon rereading the original letter, she saw it in an entirely different light. She also had input from Leviticus 21:9 and 19:29; Deuteronomy 22:20-21, 22:23-29, and 23:18; and Exodus 22:16. Prudie made a regrettable blunder in both interpretation and advice. She would ask all who wrote, as well as those too shell-shocked to even hit the "Send" key, to remember that to err is ... well, you know.

—Prudie, apologetically

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.)

Prudie,

I'm writing for advice because I am feeling sad about missing my teenage daughter, but mainly I am angry with my husband for the whole situation happening in the first place. To make a long story short, we have been married (I wish I could say happily) for more than 15 years, and we have three kids. My husband is a very good skier and all the kids have been skiing since they were around 5. I like to ski, but it's not my favorite thing. Anyway, this winter father and daughter decided she would become a downhill ski racer, and they went to our local ski hill every weekend. It's not like we can really afford this expense.
 Then he started to research summer ski camps, and the next thing I know my daughter is going to Norway for two weeks to a ski camp. I guess the advice I need is regarding the larger question of parents not agreeing about what they want their kids to do. He thinks I'm shallow and selfish because this is such a wonderful experience for her. I think he is overindulgent and living his dreams through her. What do you think? 

—Unhappily Married

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Dear Un,

Your signature is the crux of the problem, not lift tickets. Assuming the family did not have to eat potato chips with ketchup to finance your daughter's Norwegian adventure, your distress is not primarily monetary but seems, rather, to be an occasion to go toe-to-toe with your husband. What could be more wonderful for a kid with talent than to have her father nurture it, both with his tutoring and encouragement? Prudie thinks you could make progress on this front if you went to work on the marriage and its underlying stresses. As to the larger question—what to do when parents disagree about children issues—a useful and rational approach is to operate as a pair of grown-ups who weighs all the factors, then ends up with the option making the most sense—without the subtext being marital difficulties.

—Prudie, collaboratively

Dear Prudie,

Before I came out, I was married for 20 years to Debbie, a very nice gal, who wised up to the situation before I did and left me for another guy. As divorces go, it was pretty amicable, especially since we both wanted to minimize the damage to our teenage daughter. Since then, we have seen each other at family events, exchanged Christmas cards—that sort of thing. I moved out of state many years ago, and we both appear to be in solid relationships. Two weeks ago, I was informed that Debbie has cancer, and it does not look good. I sent a card, and we talked on the phone for about an hour a couple of days ago, which was nice, but I did not bring up one topic. Should I go back for her memorial service? I will miss my ex-wife and mother of my child and feel that I owe her my respects, but I never really got along with her (now) ex. Also, the focus of any memorial service should be about her, not her (somewhat famous) gay ex-husband showing up out of the blue. On the other hand, I am worried about how my daughter will be holding up, but I really do not know if my presence is a good thing or bad thing. Any advice?

—Wondering

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Dear Won,

By all means, go. This is a woman with whom you shared a life and had a child, and your parting was friendly, to boot. These "qualifications" remove you from the category of someone showing up "out of the blue." Your presence will surely be appreciated, and it is appropriate for you to pay your respects. (And forget her ex. These days, a great number of people have them.)

—Prudie, encouragingly

Dear Prudence,

I have been seeing my boss (a married man) for about two months. I know it is wrong to be involved with someone like him, but when we're together, it feels so right. He is constantly telling me he misses me when we don't see each other, and he tells me I make him happy. Every time we're alone, we end up kissing, hugging, making out ... and twice we actually made love. I really love him, but I'm confused as to whether he feels the same or he's just in it because it is a sexual thing to him. I get the impression I'm more or less a sex object. I've been thinking about breaking it off, but I'm unsure about it because I want to figure out what is it that we have—a loving relationship or a sexual one. 

—Confused

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Dear Con,

He's maaarriiiied. But you knew that, so we'll just concentrate on your actual question. Because all your get-togethers are, literally, get-togethers, suggest a movie one night and see what he says. As to Prudie's opinion about whether you are more or less a sex object, Prudie's answer would be "More."

—Prudie, directly

Dear Prudence,

My mother's side of the family is Italian, and I look like that side of the family. The things is, I see my father's side of the family a lot less (they are German), but whenever I do see them, they tell me how they've found the best spaghetti ... or they talk about the pope ... and for some reason they always take me out for Italian food! Am I overreacting, or are they just singling me out?

—DF

Dear D,

Singling you out for what? Ziti? A good guess would be that the German grandparents, whom you don't see terribly often, are just trying to make conversation ... perhaps not being familiar with Britney Spears or body piercing. Then, too, Prudie supposes there are a lot more Italian restaurants than German, unless you are visiting them in Berlin. And be honest: Wouldn't you (and perhaps they) rather have lasagna than schnitzel? In any case, your "problem" is a bit of a non-starter, so ... yes, you are overreacting.

—Prudie, ethnically