Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
May 1 2003 11:21 AM

Haste Makes Waste

9_dearprudence_01

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,

I met a man six months ago, and we have been married for two months. We are very young, and the decision was made in haste. Now I am full of regrets and want to end it. After much deliberation, last week I told him I want a divorce/annulment. This man has always been obsessive and controlling, so as we discussed it, he insisted that we are NOT going to get a divorce, that we are the perfect couple, that our marriage is the "example of what other marriages should be like," etc. Truth be told, I really can't stand him, and I want to separate before things get complicated. I am not in physical danger, but I want out and quick! Should I run away? Fake my own death? Please advise.

—Tied Down

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Dear Tie,

It is not necessary to fake your death; in fact, it's probably against the law. And because you are not indentured, you need not abide by what he says. Just leave, and once you do, engage a lawyer. Of course an annulment would be preferable, but if that is not possible, begin divorce proceedings. If he digs his heels in, there are ways around that, too. A six-month relationship and a two-month marriage are not great investments of time, so except for the distress, there is no harm, no foul. Prudie suspects you have learned a valuable, though costly lesson about haste.

—Prudie, slowly

Dear Prudence,

My husband and I just returned from a three-week vacation halfway around the world to visit his sister and attend her wedding. I do not particularly like my husband's sister, and I don't know how to tell him. He would be totally devastated. They have an odd relationship that neither I nor anyone in my family understands. Every time they see each other, and one of them departs, they cry like babies. It's as if the departure is the last time that they will ever see each other—as if one of them is going off to death row. Without consulting me, my husband offered to pay for half of the ticket price or meet halfway the next time we are to visit. I would rather not go and also not pay for the ticket. How do I tactfully tell him without hurting his feelings that I do not like her and that I do not want to participate in such an offer? My family tells me I should be grateful that she lives halfway around the world and that I should keep my mouth shut. I don't want to maintain a charade of liking her when I really do not.

—Nah-Nah Sisterhood

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Dear Nah,

Some charades are worth maintaining. There is no tactful way to tell your husband you do not like his beloved sister. It wouldn't be worth it just to vent—which it sounds like you're doing quite enough of with your family. It would make a problem in your marriage, and what for? Family is an area where one must tread gently unless a relative is overtly unpleasant to you. As for future trips, go along for the holiday aspects of it and tune out the sister, or tell him you think you'll stay home so he can really have a family visit. As for the financial commitment your husband made, if he didn't take money that properly should have been spent on something else, let it go. If he DID, then make your case about the more important use of the money, not the sister. You can handle this, and you'll be glad you did. And do be grateful for the halfway around the world business.

—Prudie, geographically

Dear Prudie,

I'm (gasp!) just nearing my 18th birthday, and I read your column weekly. I guess it's like advice from my mother without having to incriminate myself by asking her. I've been talking to a man online. I say "man" because he is six years my senior. This chatting via instant message moved to the phone, and both of us have expressed an interest in each other. Right now we're kept apart by the 250-mile distance between us. The fact of the matter is that the distance won't be an issue in less than a year because I will be starting college 20 miles from where he lives. (I assure you I picked the college before I started talking to him.) Should I "hold on" to whatever is going on until September, or should I cut the strings now because I know my mother's opinion would be that he is way too old for me and that his interest has ulterior motives that I'm too naive to see? (I know my mother well.)

—Young Reader With an Older Man

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Dear Young,

Prudie thinks that your idea of waiting until you go to college—and are within 20 miles of your telephone friend—is a good one. It would not stir things up with your mother, the meeting would not involve a real trip, and going off to college is a nice marker for having a new kind of independence. As for the ulterior motives you guess your mother would assign to this chap, they cannot be all that different from those of the boys who will be your classmates. As for the age difference, 18 and 24 is not out of this world. And who knows? You might meet a fellow student who makes this whole discussion moot.

Prudie, explorationally

Dear Prudie,

My husband and I have been married six and a half years, and I am a stay-at-home mom to our toddler son. My husband has worked at the same company since graduating college. I am very proud of him and tell him so. He is the youngest VP in the history of his company. The downside to his success is that I feel like work is his first priority. He never offers to cut his hours for me if I'm sick, for instance. Calling in for him is never an option, not even when he's sick (which is hardly ever). He's always talking about how productive he is at work, yet when I ask him to do something around the house, I have to write it down so he doesn't forget. I'm just tired of feeling second to his job. We've got a son and a home that need his attention, too. We've argued about this, talked calmly about it, discussed our concerns and issues, but nothing ever changes. Work comes first. Prudie, if I can't change my husband's attitude, how can I deal with this?

—Runner-Up

Dear Run,

Work may well be his first priority. Some men are wired that way. It is unlikely that his ambition is news to you. A good way to deal with what is obviously a disappointment is to be supportive and understanding and enjoy the fruits of his labor, knowing he's doing what he loves. You can also figure out something you'd like to do with the time his absence allows you, whether it's volunteer work, a job, or a hobby. What is more important than his doing things around the house is spending time with the little boy. About this you should negotiate, perhaps by asking for a commitment to spend X amount of time with his son. If you make your requests as something for the family, and not as a way to pry him away from his career, you will most likely get what you want.

—Prudie, constructively