Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Oct. 24 2002 12:34 PM

Prudie Smells Trouble

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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.)

Dear Pru,

The other day while putting clothes away, I walked past a shirt my husband had hanging on the door knob. He had worn it to work the day before. The cologne on the shirt made me stop and smell the shirt. It was quite potent. He is a truck driver and does not go to work with cologne on. When I asked him why his shirt smelled of cologne, he got very defensive and asked if I was accusing him of something. Do you think I should be suspicious?

—Not Sure

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Dear Not,

Oh my—circumstantial evidence is always difficult, isn't it, because there's always a lingering doubt: What if it's not the way it looks? Given your husband's profession, however, and his general habit of not wearing a scent on his rig, and his defensiveness, you may have a problem ... and he may have a girlfriend. Time will undoubtedly give you the answer. Be alert to how he behaves toward you and if his habits change. For the time being, he may stop using cologne ... so you will have to use your woman's intuition. Good luck.

—Prudie, nosily

Dear Pru,

I was a severely overweight woman. A very low-carbohydrate/high-protein diet (Atkins) has been my lifeline. My problem is that the conventional wisdom says my diet is bad for your health. Believe me—being as fat as I was and still am is worse! I am under the care of a physician, and all is proceeding quite well. My problem is that as soon as people comment on my shed tonnage, they ask me how I have done it. When they hear the approach I am using, they immediately tell me how bad it is for my health and how I will just gain it all back eventually. I must admit my responses to this repeated question are getting sharper and snippier. I've always felt guilty about being fat. Now people make me feel guilty for eating a steak instead of pasta salad. HELP ME!

—Skinny-Minnie To Be

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Dear Skin,

It is a too common failing that, for some reason, people feel it is their right, if not their duty, to comment on all kinds of things that are not their business. If you can accept this, you will be less annoyed. As for a retort, simply say that you are under a physician's care and are making real progress. Should the dietitians-at-large pursue the conversation, then ask them why they are sticking with a subject you plainly have no interest in discussing. This will put the burden on them—where it belongs. Prudie wishes you continued progress.

—Prudie, healthily

Dear Prudence,

I have fallen in love with a man whom I have dated for about eight months. We normally don't see each other much because he travels for his job once a month, and each trip lasts about two weeks. He is often out of the country. But when he is not traveling, we see each other once or twice a week, and when we are together, we enjoy each other tremendously. Here's the problem. He is expected to be transferred either to another city or more probably, another country. Moving with him wherever he is assigned is out of the question. But I do love this man and don't want to lose him. I'm very depressed whenever I think about him being out of my life. He admits that we do have a great relationship, but when I tell him I love him, his reply is: "You don't love me. You think you love me." So what does that mean?

—Looking for Hope

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Dear Look,

It means you're not going with him. Look, this is a man who will not even accept it when you say you love him. The long and short of it is that he's a travelin' man, and he likes it that way. He also may feel he's unworthy of any woman's love. Because you say moving is out of the question for you, your situation sounds like the classic dead end. What would be most useful for you to do is to face the fact that this is one of those star-crossed things that was not built for the long haul. Prudie hopes you can be clear-eyed about this and go on to find another man you think is wonderful ... a man who is perhaps not on the road two weeks out of four, who lives in your town, and who responds to your saying "I love you" with his own declaration of love. Good luck.

—Prudie, optimistically

Dear Prudie,

You have mentioned that your husband is a heart surgeon. Kudos to him, and to you, because it must take a lot of patience to maintain a healthy relationship with someone working such long hours. That's why I'm writing. My fiance and I used to live in the same city, but my career called on me to move, and we have continued the relationship with the help of the airlines. We plan to reunite and marry next year after he graduates from medical school. The beginning of our life together will also mark the beginning of his life as a resident. Prudie, he wants to be a heart surgeon. I could actually see less of him after we're married than I do now! I don't want anyone else, and just as he accepted my need to move for my career, I would never ask him to change his work ethic or goals. So from one "M.D. widow" to another: How do you keep a marriage strong when your spouse spends the first six years of it living at the hospital?

—Needing a Preventive Prescription

Dear Need,

Prudie cannot speak from experience because she and Dr. Pussycat met when he was an established surgeon. Though there were nights when he was answering his pager and pulling on his pants not long after having gone to bed, they were not the norm—so the resident's life you mention was not part of our life. Prudie can tell you, however, from knowing the wives of other cardiac surgeons—women who started with them—that they all seemed to get through it, either because they had children or jobs or both and because they loved the guy. This is an exciting career that you will also experience, though vicariously. As a surgeon matures in skill and experience, the demands on his attention and emotions change in nature but not in degree. A good surgeon/physician will always have part of his mind on his job. Don't expect that this will change when he finally "arrives." If you can accept this duality, you will be fine. (And his training will be over before you know it!)

—Prudie, supportively