Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.
July 21 2005 7:22 AM

Runaway Wife

When your spouse leaves with no explanation.

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Dear Prudence,
My wife of five months has left me. One Sunday we were fine, and the next day she was gone. No call, no note, nothing. It has now been about a month, and she still won't talk to me. We never had a fight or an argument, and all of our friends are as baffled as I am. Everyone tells me that I was a model husband, worked hard, was always supportive and loving. This is her second marriage. (Her first ended in divorce.) She is now 23, and I am 30. I wish I knew what went wrong. We dated for almost two years before marriage. Any advice?

—Heartbroken in So. Cal.

Dear Heart,
Of course you would like to know what she thought was wrong. If she won't talk to you, however, you are unlikely to hear it from her. A 23-year-old who simply leaves husband No. 2—no explanation offered—just might be what went wrong. It is entirely possible this girl is immature and has turned marriage into just another dating experience. It is not uncommon, by the way, for people to date for a longish period of time, then marry, only to have the marriage go kaput. Life happens, my dear, and it sounds to Prudie as though the failure of your marriage may not have had much to do with you. With time, you may even consider yourself lucky.

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—Prudie, philosophically

Dear Prudie,
I am seeing a man who I just can't figure out. Let me tell you the whole story. I was engaged a couple of months ago to a man who I could not marry. I loved him, but it was not working out. After calling it off with him, I started seeing a man who I've had a crush on since the minute I met him. Things were good in the beginning; not perfect, but good. But he is divorced with two children, and he's five years older than I am. (He is 28 and I am 23.) His children are 8 and 6, and while I know I am not ready to be a mother, I am willing to have them be part of my life because I want their father to be part of mine. The problem is that he is so distant. He refused to get a phone for the first four months we were seeing each other, and since he's gotten one, he never answers it; he leaves it turned off. He also blows me off on the weekends without even a call to explain why he isn't coming. He has done this for the past month. I am writing this as I wait for him again. When I tell him this isn't acceptable, he apologizes and says it won't happen again ... but then it does. The other problem is I keep hearing that people are seeing him with his wife and kids in town, when he tells me he can't stand the woman. I know I should stop seeing him, but when we are together it's so good. In our four months together, I haven't met his kids or any of his family. Should I confront him and give our "relationship" another try, or just dump him and move on?

—Beyond Blown Off

Dear Be,
Are you sure he's even divorced? Be that as it may, it is clear to an outsider that this isn't going anywhere. You are mooning over a man you say is "distant." Prudie would call him inaccessible. Do you know a lot of people without a phone? Or people who get one and then won't answer it? The weekends should have been the deal breaker. The guy is an iceberg, and you have seen more than the tip. Row, row, row your boat, my dear, and get far away.

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—Prudie, absolutely

Dear Prudie,
Help! My housemate is nice. He's oh-so-considerate, always asking if I'm okay, making me mint tea. And driving me insane. When I was interviewing people to share my spiffy flat, I was quite upfront about my expectations. I wasn't looking for a friend, I was looking for someone who'll pay the rent on time, clean up after himself, and basically do his own thing as I do mine. If we happened to get along, so much the better. My feeling is that the housemate (HM) is trying to close the essential gulf that must exist in flat-sharing situations and become my friend. Basically, I have enough friends. I don't want to feel guilty because I don't want to go out for dinner with HM, watch Desperate Housewives reruns with HM (a show I loathe), or spend hours hearing about HM's boyfriend woes (we are both gay males). Did I mention that I don't have any problems in strongly but politely defining my boundaries, but that he blithely ignores them? At first I thought it was a cultural thing: He is from an exuberant, outgoing North American country and I am a laconic, distrustful Australian. However tolerant I may be, I am almost at the end of my tether, Prudie. How can I handle this situation and have things the way I want them?

—Robert M.

Dear Rob,
You are batting .500. Prudie loves Aussies ... but she loves Desperate Housewives, too. Here's how to get your life back. Tell HM that while you greatly appreciate the mint tea, the "essential gulf" matters to you, Desperate Housewives updates do not, and he seems to be paying no attention to your wishes. Make it plain that you're not a lovelorn adviser, you are a landlord. Tell him that if he can't manage to live within your behavior code you will be forced to return to the "Roommate Wanted" ads. Prudie feels certain you can finesse this sticky wicket.

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—Prudie, assuredly

Dear Prudence,
My mom is a very caring woman, but ... whenever she comes over, either to visit or to pick up my 12-year-old, she sticks her finger in my plants (checking for water), walks around my house (checking for cleanliness), etc. When I was growing up, my mom had a full-time job, but when it was time for dinner, she had a full table—meat, veggies, fruit, the ultimate dinner. Now that I am a mother, she often comments on the state of my house. I know she cares, but how do I tell her tactfully that I am independent, she raised me well, and I am OK?

—MCJ

Dear M.,
Take it from someone who knows from problems—this is not even on the chart. Your mom's habit of being the housekeeping police is ingrained and really quite benign. Try to laugh it off and don't let it annoy you. This is a somewhat common mother-daughter dynamic. Prudie's own mother, for example, used to sigh that Prudie's children were raised by wolves. You are old enough to know that she did it her way, you're doing it your way, and never the twain shall meet. The way to see this situation, my dear, is with humor. Or at the very least, when she is checking for plant moisture or dust, do the mental equivalent of "la, la, la, la, la, la, la."

—Prudie, obliviously