Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on manners and morals.
Oct. 21 2004 7:18 AM

Massage à Trois?

Does my wife need to know about my secret treat?

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Dear Prudence,

I'm 32, married with two children in NYC. My wife and I are both white-collar professionals. For about two years now, I've paid for a "full massage" about once a month when especially tired, stressed out over work, etc. I go to the same woman, and there is nothing we do that is dangerous or puts me or her at risk. My wife and I continue to be intimate about once each week, more than many of our friends with two small kids. I know this is "wrong," but I don't feel particularly guilty, I can easily afford it (my wife spends much more on clothes, books, jewelry, etc.) and I've come to think of it as a monthly sort of treat for myself. I guess my question is: Why should I stop? I honestly do feel better after I go and have even gotten some massage tips I've used on my wife.

—No Problem in N.Y.

Dear No,

Your signature is atypical. People don't usually write to Prudie unless there's a problem ... so here's an answer to your "question" that's not a problem. An educated guess would be that your wife does not know about your monthly "treat," which may, in fact, be at the core of your question. If you do not feel guilty, then why consider stopping? If you're not comfortable paying for sex from a stranger with whom you are acquainted, one would think that pretty much answers the question.

—Prudie, single-handedly

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Dear Prudence,

As expatriates for the last several years, my family and I have the good fortune to find ourselves in many of Europe's interesting locations with kids in tow. It's a great educational and cultural experience for the kids, to be sure, but often (especially in tourist-laden locations) a rather strange situation presents itself: Tourists (usually Asian) photograph and/or touch our youngest child (18 months old). This has happened on many occasions, from Mont Blanc in France, to St. Peter's in Rome, to Castle Neuschwanstein in Germany. This may not seem like a problem on the surface and might even sound flattering, but you can imagine our surprise when our child is all of a sudden surrounded with video cameras and a group of complete strangers kneeling down beside him with their arms draped over his shoulder posing for photographs. My older son, 6, is now asking why this always happens to his little brother. I am not sure what to tell him, and, to be honest, I am not sure how to handle the situation when it arises because I don't understand why someone would want a picture of themselves with a child they don't know. I have never sensed that my child was in any danger, but I do wonder where those photos and videos of him will end up. I absolutely want to be culturally sensitive to this and not offend anyone who simply likes (but rarely sees) blond toddlers. Please help me understand what is going on so I can better handle this the next time.

—Concerned Dad in Munich

Dear Con,

Your child photography question is somewhat unusual. The blond toddler, Prudie is guessing, must not only be blond but beautiful. The blondness as an attraction to black-haired Asians does make sense. As to what to say to your elder son, make the explanation definitely about the color of his hair and his babyhood. As to how to deal with these strangers, perhaps instead of saying anything you might just smile and shake your head "no" when someone tries to touch the child. As for people snapping pictures, that you cannot control—except that you can keep walking. Good luck.

—Prudie, photogenically

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Dear Prudie,

My boyfriend and I have been discussing our wedding, and although we have no specific date yet, there are several things we've already decided upon. I have been to weddings where children (ages infant to maybe 4 or 5 years old) were present. It never failed that they would cry, talk loudly, bang on things, or otherwise cause noisy distractions—usually while the poor bride was trying to repeat her vows and while I was trying to listen! The mothers would only make it worse by hissing loudly at the child to hush, presumably so she would not have to miss part of the ceremony, like the other guests. So my question is: How do I make it known beyond a shadow of a doubt that children are not welcome at our wedding? I don't want to come across as rude, but it is our wedding day, and I think I have raised a valid point. What do you suggest?

—Wanting To Be Heard at the Altar

Dear Want,

You are correct, my friend, about little kids at weddings. It is the parents who bring them who are rude. Some people have this lunatic idea that weddings are "family affairs," but they are totally confused as to whose families. Prudie was at a wedding recently where a kid had a crying jag that made about five minutes of the service unintelligible. If you feel that some of your friends who have young children might be inclined to bring them, by all means enclose a small printed card saying that the invitation is for grown-ups only. Do not feel that by doing this you are double-crossing Emily Post. Times have changed so much that, these days, you are lucky if people even bother to RSVP. Have a lovely wedding, and mazel-ton, which of course means tons of luck.

—Prudie, ceremonially

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Dear Prudie,

I'm in a relationship, and I want out, but I'm not sure what to do. I started dating this guy four months ago. He's a performer and very talented but also VERY broke. At first when we went out, he treated, and I got flowers and small gifts. I felt loved and cherished and valuable. But after the beginning he was short on rent and floundering, but he would not get a job to supplement his income. Now, every time we go out I end up paying, or he acts like he's doing me a huge favor to cover the dinner, or we don't go because he's broke again. And I didn't mention that he says he wants to marry me and have kids, BUT he also won't get another job. He somehow finds money when he wants to travel or do things on his own. I'm used to men treating. I like men treating. I'm no gold-digger, but I feel that he's getting used to treating me like an old shoe, and I hate it! Should I dump his broke behind? By the way, we're not young. We're in our early 30s, and I feel like I'm dating a broke college sophomore.

—With a Broke Dreamer

Dear With,

It's not so much that he's treating you like an old shoe, my dear ... more like a bank. Because you say you want out, that is what you should get: out. You are not a charitable foundation in the business of funding artists. This chap seems to know how to begin a romance, but there appears to be a steep drop-off once he lands a sponsor. (Interesting about the money he finds for travel and things he wants to do.) Bring down the curtain on this one, and count it as a lesson learned.

—Prudie, dramatically