Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.
Feb. 16 2006 6:52 AM

Designated Friend

How can I stop my friend from drinking and driving?

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Dear Prudence,
I have a friend who is a functional alcoholic. Every day after work he stops by a bar, and within two hours consumes two pitchers of beer. Needless to say he drives home. He's not sloppy drunk, nor does he exhibit signs of being drunk, but I'm sure his reaction time is impaired. Two years ago he was arrested for drunk driving. After hiring a lawyer who used to work as a police officer, he got the charges dropped to reckless driving. The lawyer advised him that next time he is pulled over not to submit to any tests, but to request a lawyer. He was pulled over again last week and did as he'd been advised. He spent the night in jail, allowing the alcohol level in his blood to drop, making it pointless to test him. I don't want to see him get away with this anymore. I don't know what to do. I fear that confronting him will do nothing. I feel if I make an ultimatum in regard to our friendship, he will choose alcohol, which won't stop his drinking and driving. Part of me wonders if I should anonymously inform the police of information that would help prove their case against my friend, but I feel this would be a huge betrayal. I just want to stop this behavior and help him avoid harming an innocent bystander.

—Afraid for a Friend

Dear Afraid,
Your friend has managed to rack up two drunk-driving arrests without apparent consequences. But this must stop before there are consequences—he kills himself or someone else. It would not be a betrayal of your friendship to report this man's behavior. While a random call to police would do no good, John Moulden, past president of the National Commission Against Drunk Driving, recommends that if you know where and when your friend drinks, you should go there and observe him get in the car and drive away. Then call the police on your cell phone, alerting them to his coordinates. According to Moulden, worried family members and friends of alcoholics do this all the time. Mothers Against Drunk Driving also suggests contacting the office of the prosecuting attorney who handled your friend's previous case, notifying them that the man is continuing to drink and drive. This may sound harsh, but not taking action could leave you with a lifetime of remorse.

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—Prudie

Dear Prudie,
I have a fiance who has an anxiety problem for which he takes medication. He wants to bring his guitar with him on our honeymoon because he said since he can't bring his piano (he's a classically trained pianist), he needs some instrument to play. He said that he needs the guitar or else he will feel anxious, because he would not have any instrument to practice. It irks me to no end that if he doesn't have an instrument and he's sharing company with me, that's what he's focusing on even though we're watching TV or at dinner, etc. When we have gone away for a weekend and he has not brought his guitar, he drinks instead. He does not get drunk, but he does drink enough over time that the alcohol keeps him from "performing." Is it selfish to want to have my honeymoon with just my husband and not have him leaving to go to another room to practice for a couple hours? I want undivided attention! Yet, I don't want to have him drinking and not able to perform, nor yearning to play an instrument while he is with me. Shouldn't I be enough, at least for our honeymoon?

—Feeling Not Important Enough

Dear Enough,
You sound like more than enough for any occasion. What do you want your fiance to do—spend the honeymoon looking deep into your eyes, contemplating the loathing he finds there? From your description, you are about to marry a man you can't stand, who is coping the best he can with an anxiety disorder for which you have no sympathy. You can't even bring yourself to say you enjoy his music. Break off the engagement, and let him find a music lover with more heart.

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—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
I am a stepmom to a young daughter. My husband and I are happily married, have one small child together, and my stepdaughter and I have a wonderful relationship. My husband's ex lives in a different state, so we get to visit with my stepdaughter only on extended school breaks, but try to stay as involved as possible given the distance. My husband's ex is obviously bitter and angry. She completely ignores me (often not responding to my e-mails) and always seems to be trying to start a fight with my husband over little things (money, travel plans, etc.). We always pay child support on time and go out of our way to make scheduling visits convenient for her. It seems like it is never enough. I think my husband does a good job of not being sucked into her drama. I try to be supportive of him, especially with some of the difficulties he goes through to maintain a relationship with his daughter. But it gets tough at times. Would you say anything if you were in my shoes? Is there even anything that could be said? The first thing that comes to mind is "What's your problem?" or "Can't we all just get along?" or "Grow up!" I have always been afraid that saying anything would make it worse or not set a good example for the child. However, it sure is tough sometimes!

—Tongue Tied

Dear Tied,
What you are doing is a model for people dealing with a difficult ex. You are kind and attentive to your stepdaughter, you don't respond to provocation from her mother, and you keep things civil. Don't change that for the sake of getting off a lame line that will only make you feel worse and be kindling to the ex.

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—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
I have a question regarding morals. I'm 36 and my husband passed away five years ago. Shortly after that, my best friend and her husband divorced. My friend and I, over the past few years, aren't as close as we once were. She has moved on and is remarried, and she and her new husband have many new interests that I don't share. About six months ago, I ran into her ex-husband while out for dinner. We ended up meeting for drinks later to catch up and had an amazing time. We've been seeing each other for dinner, movies, drinks, and dancing about twice a week. We're both very aware of the situation, as he has three children with his ex-wife. The problem is, we're really beginning to fall in love. What is the morally responsible thing to do?

—Confused in California

Dear Confused,
First of all—enjoy yourselves! Since this has been going on for several months and you both feel it's becoming serious, his ex-wife does need to be told. You don't want her to find out from someone else first. You should tell her, in person, that you and her ex ran into each other, started dating, and that while the relationship is new, it feels as if it might get serious. At best she will be amused and delighted. At worst, she will be jealous and suspicious that the two of you are mutually spilling her confidences to each other. If the latter is the case, the best reassurance you can give her is to refuse to go into details about your new relationship.

—Prudie