Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
June 26 2003 10:11 AM

Haven't Got Time for the Pain

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 Prudence,

I need your help. I have a daughter in her early 20s who just recently lost her boyfriend (he died). They only dated for less than a year, and he was not good to her (beat her, called her fat; she is a size 2). However, she is deeply grieving, and I cannot respond to the feelings she has, knowing that he did not treat her well. So basically I have become her No. 1 enemy, and we no longer speak. We fight, and she finds fault with everything I say or do. She is educated, but he was a high-school drop out, and now she is hanging with all his old friends and calling us snobs. I am at my wits' end. Please help me as I am ready to throw her out, but her dad says to give her a chance. Unfortunately I have two other kids, young teenagers, and I fear exposing them to our fights is no way to raise them. Tell me what I should do.

—Saddened

Advertisement

Dear Sad,

Unhappily for your daughter, she is in the undertow of abuse, loss, and possibly guilt. Guilt because when he was physically abusing her, or belittling her, the thought might have crossed her mind, "I wish he would just die." She may also have had rescue fantasies: "If I simply stay with him and show him I care, he will give up this kind of behavior." Your daughter needs therapy—both for herself and to liberate your family. Make it a condition of continuing to live at home that she see a professional. With guidance, she will gain understanding of what was going on, and then SHE will be liberated. If she refuses, then early 20s is old enough to be told that she is on her own.

—Prudie, insistently

Dear Pru,

Could you help me understand why women have fought so hard for equal rights ... and then stuff their feet into pointed-toe shoes? In my opinion, this is right up there with the huge corsets my great-grandmother wore. Years ago, my aunt showed me her deformed feet from wearing pointed-toe shoes. It was enough to teach me a strong lesson about footwear. The human foot was not designed to fit into the shoes the designers are creating. Why do women give in to this torture and frank discrimination? You don't see men walking around in trendy pointed shoes. Please tell me why women buy them.

—"Bear" Foot

Advertisement

Dear Bear,

It is said that all men are created equal, but for women, there is a rather substantial iniquity in the sexy-and-alluring department. Enter the shoe designers—who are not always men. A very high heel and a pointed toe make the leg look longer. There is even a name for these pumps, which of course there is no need to mention here. Prudie, however, agrees with you: Women who put up with this are fools … sheep in high heels, if you will.

—Prudie, limpingly

Dear Pru,

What is it with women and married men? It's really so simple: If he's married, he's not available. I don't care how many times a man says he's going to leave, or do this or that; he won't. Now if a married man says, "We are divorcing, but the final documents haven't been signed," that's different. However, do your homework, ladies. Go to the courthouse, and make sure. Bottom line: Leave married men alone. This way us married women won't have to worry about our cheating husbands because they will have no one to cheat with! Married is married, and don't look at it any other way.

—Somebody's Wife

Advertisement

Dear Some,

Prudie is inclined to ask what planet you live on, but she will simply respond to your solution to the "other woman" problem. Yours is, indeed, a modest proposal. All that needs to happen for your plan to work is that the entire female population consistently resist the urge to play in someone else's yard … and then have the tooth fairy's sister reward them for behaving honorably. Your utopian guidelines, alas, have no connection to reality. It is the nature of at least some of the beasts—of both sexes—to stray. Your suggestion about verifying who is really divorcing is also a nonstarter. If the girlfriend of every married man who claimed to be separated actually went to the courthouse to check the documents, there would be no room for the judges, bailiffs, litigants, clerks, or lawyers.

—Prudie, practically

Dear Prudence,

After more than 40 years of marriage, I discovered that for at least the past seven years, my husband's been having an affair with a woman he's known for 25 years. But this is way more than an affair; it's a long-term, serious relationship. When I finally caught on (it took me four years—what a dummy I am), his response was, and continues to be, "I'm in love with this person and will not run out on her." And he cites as the reason for the affair my lack of sexual interest in him, albeit that for all this time, we've had sex two to three times a week. Because he's in love with us both, he wants me to accept the situation. As he puts it, his relationship is with her and has nothing to do with me. He sees her just about every day, but because he returns home at night, he cannot understand why it's an issue. He says it's not his fault he's in love with two women at the same time. Our two adult children think the whole thing is so bizarre that they want to sign us up for the
Jerry Springer Show. Financially it would be difficult for either of us to set up separate households, but she has a home, and he could move in with her. Why won't he do the right thing and leave? Most important, why do I continue to tolerate an intolerable situation? Who's the real wacko here???

—Mrs. C.

Dear Mrs.,

He won't "do the right thing and leave" because you have not insisted. The reason you continue to tolerate this situation probably has to do with fear, both financial and social, and maybe even habit. Your husband is talking rings around you, my dear, which Prudie finds simply outrageous. He is not a sultan, and you are not part of a harem. Not to mention the unmitigated gall of this man to give you his numskull "reasons": The affair has nothing to do with you; it's not his fault if he loves two women; it happened because you're not amorous enough; he doesn't know why it's an issue. It is likely that most women, told to ignore an extracurricular romance—spanning a quarter of a century, yet—would break every piece of crockery in the house … over his head. Forget Jerry Springer, unless that happens to be the name of a good divorce lawyer in your town. After 40 years you are entitled to everything you can get, monetarily, and if he has to go live with his "friend," well … tell him you can't understand why it's an issue.

—Prudie, sputteringly