Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Feb. 27 2003 10:12 AM

Loafing Around

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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 Prudence,

My problem is this: Before our son was born, my husband had a good job, drive, and ambition. He seemed to have it all pulled together. When our son was a few months old, hubby was laid off and decided to have some "son time," so he stayed on unemployment and watched our son. Now our son is almost 3, hubby works part-time while "looking" for a full-time job. I enrolled our son in day care a year ago so that he would see other children. (Before that, Daddy and he sat on the sofa all day.) Prudie, I did love this man, but now I'm so frustrated with the unending "job search" and his mostly playing computer games while sitting at home that I was considering leaving him. I was just laid off from a very lucrative position and had to take a job paying two-thirds of my last salary, so I told hubby we needed to rethink our lives. His answer was that I should get a second job! Prudie, the job-seeking can't be as bad as he says, so do I give him a change of address?

—Frustrated

Dear Frus,

Your husband's loafing, totally throwing in the towel, and inviting you to get yet another job are unacceptable. However ...  it is a fact that men who lose their jobs can become depressed and feel a sense of worthlessness. Before you give him a new address, you should insist he see a professional to determine if he is depressed. Then you will have your answer as to whether you're dealing with someone who is depressed and can't function or someone who has decided that unemployment and computer games are his chosen way to live. The depression, by the way, can be "fixed"; the lazy bum business cannot.

—Prudie, determinedly

Dear Prudence,

I've recently found out that my husband of 10 years has had at least two sexual encounters ... with another man. The other man is a close friend. His wife is a good friend of mine, and their daughter is close to my daughter. We have get-togethers frequently. Neither know that I know about the encounter. So far, I think the only thing they have done is oral sex. I have been struggling with what to do about the situation. I don't know how I can face these friends. I've put on a false front to my husband for months because if he knows I intend to leave (I can't do that until I'm financially ready), he will make my life a living hell, as he has many times before. I have left him several times for various reasons. I have always known that this marriage probably would not work out, but I have tried my best over the years to make it work "for the kids' sake." Please advise me what to do. I'm totally grossed out over this. I cannot bring myself to have sexual relations with him and I'm running out of excuses.

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—Miserable

Dear Mis,

You don't need any excuses. You have taken the position of the supplicant, which is an incorrect reading of the situation. The history of this marriage is not good, witness your having separated more than once. As for having to get "financially ready," socializing with the other couple, or having sex, you need do none of these things. What you need to do is bring the marriage to a close. You should do just fine in divorce court with your marital history and your husband's homosexual activity—these days not just a betrayal but a potentially lethal one. The judge will help you get "financially ready." Some pretenses are not worth making, and you should cut to the chase sooner rather than later. There is no upside to living a lie. Good luck.

—Prudie, immediately

Dear Prudence,

I could really use some help. My parents moved to Florida days after I graduated from high school. I went with them (unwillingly). I told them from the beginning that I didn't want to go and would not be staying. So half a year later, I moved back home (New York) and moved in with my boyfriend. We had been dating for two years and just decided to do it. That was a year ago, and I'm 20 years old now. Ever since then, whenever I talk to my parents, they ask when I'm coming back. My mother even had the gall to call me and say, "I've decided that it's time for you to come home now." Like I am just on vacation or something. I know that they don't like me living with my boyfriend and think that that is the reason I moved back up here, no matter how many times I explain to them that's not the case. All my plans for school and work are here, but they don't believe me. They keep saying I'm wasting my life and so on, but if I were there, then everything would be perfect. But the truth is (this will sound really bad), I don't miss them that much that I need to be in the same state, let alone the same city. Can you help me in trying to talk to them and help me make them understand that I'm not moving down there without making them hate me? Please help.

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—Doing Just Fine Here

Dear Do,

Life is choices, my dear, and if you are certain your life is in New York with the boyfriend, then that is your choice. You are old enough and legally allowed to make your own decisions. There is no reason for you to accede to your parents' wishes if they seem antithetical to your life plans. You will have to try to follow your own lights and realize that you are emancipated. If you've made a wrong decision, you will soon find out. Perhaps, in time, there can be a reconnection.

—Prudie, independently

Dear Prudence,

Well, let me tell you ... I am one of "those" women who has a relationship with a married man, and I have been loved by him ever since we began! He is wonderful, treats me with respect, buys me fabulous gifts, is a great dad to his two children and good-looking to boot, so here comes my question: He left his wife four years ago (and lives approximately five miles from his wife and kids), but they have not divorced. They talk about it and have been to a mediator, but still no divorce! Is a divorce important, as opposed to a separation? They both seem to be happy with the things the way they are, and I am not complaining ... am I?

—To Be or Not To Be

Dear To,

The real answer to your question is this: When you are already married, you are not free to marry anyone else. The situation, as it stands now, prevents your wonderful married boyfriend from marrying you; it lets his wife remain Mrs. So-and-So; and it may be financially advantageous to both of them. Trooping around with a man who is separated is somewhat more socially acceptable than if he were living at home, but the nitty gritty is that he is married and, apparently, planning to stay that way.

—Prudie, factually