Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

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Advice on manners and morals.
May 5 2005 8:13 AM

Couch Potato

What to do with my slothful husband.


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Dear Prudence,

My husband and I have been together for three years, married for half that time. Lately, he has been letting himself go, for lack of a better term. This has been a downward spiral for about a year. He regularly goes three to four days without brushing his teeth, taking a shower, or even changing his clothes. I just cleaned a bowl of half-eaten oatmeal that had been sitting at the table. I left it there hoping he would take it to the sink, but after three days I had to do it. And he wonders why I cringe when he tries to hug or kiss me. Let's just say our sex life is nonexistent. He works from home a maximum of six hours a day, so time is not the issue. I love him and have tried nicely (and then not-so-nicely) to tell him that this routine does not work. Is there something wrong with him? He doesn't seem depressed at all. He is quite happy and doesn't seem to see anything wrong with this "lifestyle." I want to make this work, but I have standards. I hate to be disgusted by my own husband. How do I get across to him that this is gross and unacceptable to me?


Dear Dis,

My dear, what is going on with your husband is not a "lifestyle," it is pathology. People who give up bathing and leave food sitting around until it's a science experiment are not fully functional. Prudie would have guessed he is depressed, but the happy part does not fit that picture. You need to question the reality of the "happiness." If it's bona fide, then something brought about these changes. Prudie has no license to practice medicine, but even she knows there is some mental disturbance. You need to set limits and have him look into his, uh, "lifestyle." If he refuses, you need not put up with life as it is now.


—Prudie, conclusively

Dear Prudie,

This is probably an age-old problem, but it's new to me! I am madly in love with a man about 10 years younger than myself. We've been living together for six months now. I have tried very hard to get used to his two young children, which he only has on a part-time basis. (My children are older and on their own.) No matter how hard I've tried, I truly do not like these youngsters. They are rude, loud, and extremely demanding. He doesn't see any of these traits in his children and simply believes I am jealous of them. I'm thinking of going to counseling to try to deal with these negative feelings rather than ruin a very loving relationship with this man. I guess what I'm looking for is some solution. Thank you.

—In Love With the Man, Not With His Children

Dear In,

The solution may, in fact, be in a therapist's office—but if it is not, the romance is doomed. A woman cannot regard the beloved's children as rude, loud, and demanding and expect to enjoy a calm, hostility-free relationship, especially when you say their dad doesn't see it as you do and thinks you're simply jealous, in the bargain. The offspring will not be little kids forever, but by the time they grow up Prudie suspects your disaffection for them will have poisoned the well. It is regrettable that their father does not discipline them, but there you are. Kids are, alas, part of the package, and there's no way around it. You are not the first woman, and you won't be the last, to find the children of a divorced man an obstacle.


—Prudie, historically

Dear Prudence,

Before I started my current job, around 10 months ago, I made a decision to get back in shape. I have since lost 100 pounds and have gone from a size 24 to a size 12. While the health benefits are great, I wanted to feel good about myself and look good. This guy at work has asked me out. He's a really nice guy, but he made no effort to start a romantic relationship with me before I lost my weight. We work in the same department, and we are the only two of our race, so it's not like he hasn't noticed me. Should I be flattered that he's interested me, or should I be angry that in the 10 months that I've been here, it's only now that he's asked me out?

—Confused in Indy

Dear Con,

Any woman who decides to lose 12 dress sizes does not think she looks her best. It is disingenuous to take umbrage at a man at work who wasn't interested in you when you were 100 pounds heavier. Prudie admires your accomplishment but hopes you will not have a 100-pound chip on your shoulder because there are people who find the slimmer you more attractive. Good luck with this chap.

—Prudie, realistically


Dear Prudence,

I have been placed in the middle of a complicated situation, and I would like to know how to handle it. My divorced father has resumed his "social life" with a vengeance. He is currently seeing at least four women. (I harbor no anger; my parents were divorced long ago.) The problem is that I work for his small company—based in his home. The only way he is able to juggle these ladies is by putting me in a position to cover up and lie for him. Each of the ladies lives a considerable distance from him, so each stays at the house for a few days or weeks at a time. Each woman believes she is the sole object of his affection and has rearranged the furniture or added personal items of decoration. The problem is that he tells the others, when they ask, that anything new is my doing. The relationships with a few of them have gone on long enough that I have developed friendships with them. I hate that I am put in the position of not being honest with them. How can I extricate myself from this very delicate situation that has him playing where I work? I've tried steering clear whenever a guest is expected; I have tried vague answers and blank stares when questioned on specifics; I have tried outright avoidance of these ladies but it's difficult, given our friendships. The obvious answer—talking to Romeo—hasn't worked. He shrugged it off and said it was no big deal. Any thoughts? 

—Alibi Annie

Dear Al,

Tell the frisky old goat that it may be no big deal to him but he's putting you in an impossible position. It is not realistic to suggest you get another job, so your only recourse is to tell ALL the women that you've made it a new policy not to discuss anything to do with your father's home or his life. If they figure it out, they figure it out ... then let him deal with the fallout.

—Prudie, justifiably