Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

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Advice on manners and morals.
April 14 2005 7:41 AM

Lost That Lovin' Feeling

When marriage becomes unbearable.


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Dear Prudie,

I am a pastor, with 25-plus years of marriage under my belt. I don't love my wife. We have two wonderful children, both grown up and out on their own. The "why" of getting married is immaterial, but staying married has always been based upon the "for better or worse" part of the marriage covenant. We get along fine. We don't fight or argue. When I am not at the church, I am at home. We do all of the things a married couple does, except without the sex. She has never been a "turn-on," and that's my problem. She has a vulgar mouth. She has packed 75 pounds of flab onto her frame since our wedding. She is also, frankly, dumb, with no desire or ambition to learn anything. She isn't satisfied with our sexless relationship but has resigned herself to the fact of it. Neither of us has ever strayed into marital infidelity. What I yearn for is companionship that can be warm, intimate, cultured, and intellectually stimulating. With 20/20 hindsight, I know I could have done much better. I also know that my wife and I could never have brought finer children into the world. I am content to stay married, even if only for the legal benefits and to avoid the uncomfortable ramifications of a marriage that "failed." But I find myself casting my eye around lustfully. I know I would make a very comfortable divorcee, and yet I don't want to rationalize my actions by blaming her shortcomings, or by accentuating my needs. Rather, I need "prudent" advice.

—Ain't Broke, but Ain't Workin' Either

Dear Ain't,

You understand the situation quite well, so Prudie won't suggest you discuss this with your clergyman. Clearly you have outgrown your wife. The wild card is that this "dumb" woman with a sailor's mouth and 75 extra pounds was able to nurture fine children. Could it be that she is as unhappy as you  …  hence the 75 pounds? In any case, there is no reason two people should stay yoked together like two mules if the marriage is empty. Right now, you are like Jimmy Carter—with lust in your heart. The trick is not to become Jimmy Swaggart. What you must do, whether through prayer or therapy, is to divine (no pun intended) what is most important to you and then proceed honorably. Life is about choices. Good luck.


—Prudie, contemplatively

Dear Prudence,

I'm currently in a situation. I am 16 and live with my mom, and I want to move to my dad's, which is three hours from my mom's. She and I have never really been as close as my dad and I. Well, the problem is that I'm not quite sure how to tell my mom I want to move without hurting her too badly. My dad offered to tell her about it, but I didn't want her to hear it from him first, because that would probably make her feel worse. What to do?

—Daddy's Girl

Dear Dad,

Prudie believes a 16-year-old is old enough to know with whom she wants to live. The assumption is, of course, that your dad is not out-of-this-world permissive and a pushover. Also that he has a suitable lifestyle, i.e., no parade of babes or addiction problems, etc. You are correct that you should tell your mother, and instead of saying you'd rather live with your dad, why not tell her that you'd like to have the experience of a live-in dad for a while, and of course you will visit her. Then have your dad ask your mother if she has any particular house rules she would like him to follow. Good luck.


—Prudie, alternatively    


I'm 23. I have a 2-year-old son and just discovered child No. 2 will be arriving in about six months. I've been married for just over two years to a man who, in the beginning, seemed to be perfect in every way. Now, however, I have a very hard time justifying wasting my youth on this man. I love my son, and in that aspect of my life I couldn't be happier. But there have been other women. He claims he hasn't had sex with any of them, but I've found love letters written by one woman, and he even confessed to telling her he loved her. He says they never had sex because they didn't have time. Of course he claims she meant nothing and that I overreacted. He has several female friends I have never met. I wrote one woman an e-mail requesting her to please tell me the nature of their relationship. In her reply she called me names and told me that her friendship with my husband was "none of my business." My husband laughs about this and insists I am jumping to conclusions.

—HELP! Please!

Dear HELP,


Jumping to conclusions does not necessarily make them wrong. Any man who tells you he "doesn't have time" for sex with a woman he is telling he loves is lying. And the class of people he is dallying with just confirms that you should, indeed, not waste your youth on this lowlife. The sooner you leave this marriage, the better your life (and your children's) will be. Good luck.

—Prudie, sympathetically 

Dear Prudence,

Never before a user of these kinds of columns, I am irresistibly curious to see what you might think of the following: My wife and I are hoping to have a baby and have debated, at some length, the choice of first names. I've conceded/compromised on possible choices and thought that was the end of it. Now, she wants to talk about the last name. I consider myself very open-minded and am willing to discuss a hyphenation. (I find them dated, clunky, and pretentious, but I only have one vote.) She is insisting on her last name: no hyphenation. In theory, I can appreciate that the choice of the man's last name is, tradition aside, somewhat arbitrary. I've joked about selecting a new last name; an amalgam, or anagram perhaps. I have been assuming that as that future day approaches, the issue would disappear and the children would have my last name. But testing the waters tells me that her resolve is firm. In 100 years, maybe the convention will include choosing your own last name, but for the coming year or two, I doubt it. Any advice?

—Queryingly yours, Nameless in New York

Dear Quer,

Is your wife a militant feminist? Or perhaps your surname is the same as one of the major crime families? Prudie only knows of one instance where the last name on the birth certificate was the mother's: There were no males to carry on the name, and the name was that of a major corporation. Another instance would be if the parents weren't married and it was the mother's choice to use her own name (which, of course was her father's, but onward). What Prudie would like to know about your wife's "resolve" is the thinking behind it. You might want to get into this subject a little deeper, because there's a slim chance that the baby's name may be the least of your problems.

— Prudie, portentously