Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
May 22 2003 11:35 AM

Love Bytes

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 Prudie,

I have been married for nearly 22 years. We have separated several times, and the last time I found out he had been seeing someone he met online and spending the weekends with her. I decided to forgive him and try one more time. Then I found out the computer was satisfying him, which was why we were never intimate anymore. Is it being unfaithful when someone has "sex" with a computer instead of his wife? How common is this? Within the last five years, we have been intimate maybe four times a year. Now he won't even touch me or tell me he loves me. I have finally moved out of the bedroom into my own room, and we have been living like this for about six months, just as housemates. What kind of marriage is this?

—Lonely

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Dear Lone,

It is a marriage that sounds as though it has run its course. It is hard to see a reason to hang on when your husband is a serial philanderer, showers you with indifference, and has marital sex on a quarterly basis but enjoys it frequently with a computer (though Prudie is not exactly sure what you mean by that, she has an idea). As housemates go, it is a good bet that you can do much better—and without the aggravation. Make the next separation your last. That is, make it permanent.

—Prudie, forwardly

Dear Prudie,

I have met the man of my dreams (sigh). He is an awesome father, a thoughtful partner, and a wonderful lover. The problem is his ex-wife. We met while they were separated, and she still harbors such profound resentment, I can hardly wrap my head around it. I, too, have been divorced and know the pain of it, but she has taken this to a whole new level. She has called my mom, my boss, and even MY ex-husband to vent about my relationship with "Steve." She is incredibly verbally abusive to Steve and uses profanity in an almost artistic fashion in front of their teenage girls. She also only refers to me as "the slut" to her daughters. In that marriage she was loveless, both sexually (eight years without physical contact) and emotionally, so I don't think she misses Steve. I am concerned for the damage she is doing to these two girls and wish desperately for peace. Should I try writing her a letter of truce? Any other ideas? P.S.: Steve has kindly and firmly requested that she stop this behavior, but that only seemed to make it worse. HELP, PRUDIE!!

—Peace-Lover in Iowa

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Dear Pea,

The ex is a head case. And you say that this trouble-making, profane woman doesn't even miss him, so her angry and punitive behavior has clearly been driving the situation. Forget writing her a letter. If "Steve" tried and it inflamed her, imagine if one came from you. It would be useful not to respond to any of her outbursts and try to explain to the teenagers that their mother's responses are troubled—something they undoubtedly already know. If Steve decides she is actively mucking up the girls' lives with her vitriol and her temper, then perhaps you two should consider having them with you. As for the recipients of her phone calls, everyone's got her number, so to speak, so don't even give that a thought. Hell hath no fury like a nutty ex-wife.

—Prudie, distantly

Dear Pru,

I'm currently involved in a long-distance relationship with a wonderful woman. As with all relationships, we've had our ups and downs, but we've always managed to keep our problems manageable by discussing issues as soon as they arise and not letting things simmer. About a month ago, an old high-school friend of hers came back into her life, which thrilled her because she'd been feeling a bit out of place in her old hometown. This friend, however, soon began expressing a romantic interest in her. She told him that she was in a loving relationship, that she liked hanging out with him but gave him a cease-and-desist order on the romantic advances. He hasn't stopped, despite his promises to the contrary. It makes her uncomfortable, but he's been, she says, a good friend, and she feels guilty if she tries to tell him to get out of her life. Personally, I feel that his continued advances, despite her requests that he stop, show an utter lack of respect for her. I feel awkward telling her this, though, because I feel it's going to come across as though I don't trust her hanging out with him and that she will feel that my protests are based in jealousy, not a genuine assessment of the friend's character. I want her to have friends locally, especially considering that I can't be there if she should need me (well, barring a four-hour flight). However, this friend isn't good for her, in my opinion, much less our relationship. Is this just my jealousy talking, or is the friend in question out of line?

—Stewing

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Dear Stew,

The friend in question is out of line. If your inamorata has invited him to retreat from the romantic approaches and he has not, then she needs to do without this particular hometown boy. A woman cannot be involved in a romance, even a long-distance one, and have some guy mooning around who won't take no for an answer.

—Prudie, definitively

Dear Prudence,

I am a cake decorator and instructor by trade, as well as an avid cook. It's my hobby and the way I unwind. Because I love to cook and experiment with candy, cakes, cookies, etc., when I am asked to bring food to an event (such as my 5-year-old's class party), I bring fun items I've made. I've been dubbed "Martha Stewart" and "Susie Homemaker" by other moms. I guess that is a compliment of sorts. A couple of moms, however, always seem to have a comment that makes me uncomfortable. One has said, "Oh, I hate you, in a good sort of way." Another commented to me recently that my daughter's Valentine party at our house was just me "wanting a reason to make a cake." That same lady told me at the class Christmas party that she thought of making candy, but she "knew I'd show up with my perfect candy and make everyone feel bad." My husband says to let it roll off my back because those moms don't know how to just say that they admire what I do. I know he is probably right, but I get tired of those comments over and over. Is there a kind way to let them know that I just do what I do for fun and that anyone can do it if they just take time to learn?

—No Showoff

Dear No,

What odd acquaintances you have. Most women just say, "How great!" or "If only I could bake like that." Your husband is correct, however, about these women admiring your skills and perhaps being envious. And Prudie is not so sure they even want to learn how to bake. Sometimes people just want to say something, and what comes out is not always the right thing. Next time there is a remark you don't care for, just smile.

—Prudie, sweetly