Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.

Advice on manners and morals.
Jan. 11 2007 6:39 AM

Dog Fight

How can I prevent a family war over a dog that bites?

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Dear Prudence,
My sister has an old dog, part pit bull. The dog has always been very skittish, and over the years, has nipped at the ankles of men and on occasion a woman (including myself). My husband, brother, and two older sons have been nipped on several occasions, and the dog is now starting to nip at the ankles of my 7-year-old son. We really never made much of an issue of this. Recently, my sister attempted to take the dog outside, when it bit her and held on to her hand, causing puncture wounds and resulting in a hospital stay for a severe infection. She insists this was not the dog's fault because he is deaf and was startled. Whenever my parents have a gathering at their home, my sister insists on bringing the dog. Last night, my mother asked me if my family would like to come over for a get-together. I respectfully requested that she ask my sister to leave the dog home. This morning my mother told me that the gathering has been canceled because of my request. Please let me know if I am out of line.

—Wants My Son in One Piece

Dear Wants,
So, collectively, the family leaves with fewer limbs than it came with—what is this compared to the happiness of a demented pit bull? No, you are not out of line, but something is awry with your family dynamics if your mother would prefer to cancel the event than tell her daughter she has to leave Cujo at home. Untrained dogs who view grandchildren as appetizers should be banned from family social events. Don't back down.

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—Prudie

Dear Prudie,
Several years ago I began dating a well-mannered gentleman. We married a couple years later and sometimes his thoughtfulness continues. My problem is that I guess he really feels comfortable around me—some of his bodily functions are taking over and making it hard to see him for who he really is. I can hear him walk out of a room—flatulating with each step. He burps whenever and wherever the need strikes him. When we're in the same room, he at least says excuse me, but I can hear most of the rest of it (our home is quite open). In the past three months, I have convinced him to close the door when he uses the bathroom—yes, even when he's in there for that. Most people go into the bathroom to blow their noses—he comes into the kitchen. Then we have the mucus issue: He brings up phlegm from his throat and about 80 percent of the time just swallows afterward. I am not without some function myself, but I contain it to the bathroom at all costs. How can I tell him his manners are so lacking that I am about to lose it? Am I too sensitive? Surely, if so, there must be some happy medium?

—Disgusted

Dear Disgusted,
Hey, get your hands off my man! If you've come to me for advice on how to get your husband to stop farting, burping, and clearing his nasal passages, you do have a problem. You may find your husband's level of comfort disgusting (being disgustingly comfortable seems to be an occupational hazard of becoming a husband), but what's the point of marriage if you have to hold in your gas for the rest of your life? Still, given your door-closing victory, it sounds as if he's educable. Explain that when he's constantly firing on all cylinders, it takes some of the magic out of your marriage. But while you may prefer to hide your functions in the bathroom, sometimes you just have to let a guy rip.

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—Prudie

Dear Prudie,
Although my wedding is still two years down the road, I want to tell my bridesmaids who they are now, but am worried the financial burden will be stressful for some of them. About half of my bridesmaids will come from the rural Southern town where I grew up and half from Southern California, where I live now. Between the bachelorette party in Las Vegas and the ceremony here, travel, hotel, dress, etc., the whole affair will put a financial strain on the families of three of the girls from my childhood town (two have young children). Is it appropriate for me to pay for their transportation and hotel? I'm afraid they may be insulted if they found out that I only did this for them or that the other girls may be resentful they've had to pay their own way. I considered paying a percentage of everyone's, but it seems as though my less well-off friends will still struggle, and the girls who are, quite honestly, loaded don't need the money. When I share the news that I want them in my wedding, I would love to tell these girls I'm covering the expenses so this is not a stressful event. I have asked my family and fiance and can't seem to find anyone who agrees.

—Bewildered Bride

Dear Bewildered,
When a social event requires a financial aid package for the participants—and the planning takes as long as getting an MBA—maybe it's time to rethink the scale of the whole thing. A wedding should be a lovely occasion that launches a couple on their new life. Instead, planning and celebrating one has mutated into a life project itself. As for your bridesmaids, asking someone to commit two years in advance is too much notice. You may find over time that some of these women insist on being more wrapped up in their own lives than in what you perceive as their obligations to help you. So, see who you're still talking to a year from now. Since it sounds like you're loaded, too, if you want to pick up the airfare for the bridesmaids who will have to fly to the wedding, that shouldn't cause resentment among the locals. When you do bestow your honor, let them know you're having a multicity extravaganza. Of course, you need them at the rehearsal and wedding, but explain that you understand the shower and bachelorette party may have to be electives (and if you don't understand, again, you need to rethink the role your getting married plays in everyone else's life).

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—Prudie

Dear Prudie,
This is my first relationship ever, first everything, in fact. It's been a little bit over a year now, and I find myself constantly wondering if things are normal. Is it normal to see each other only twice a week, despite the fact that we live 10 minutes from each other? We both have very busy schedules, but as excited as I am to see him, our conversations are so dull and flat that I could scream. Dinners in restaurants and outings make me nervous, because there's a high chance that the conversation will be strained and I will be depressed, chiding myself for not connecting with him. He doesn't get a lot of my jokes and I don't get a lot of his. But then there are wonderful moments of intimacy that come much too infrequently. A lot of my girlfriends tell me that I'm expecting too much out of two people who aren't perfect, and I have problems with insecurity and dealing with criticism, but I constantly wonder if I should move on whenever things don't go as planned. What to do?

—Wondering

Dear Wondering,
Your conversations leave you depressed or wanting to scream; you each tell a joke, the other stares uncomprehendingly; you could get together more often, but you don't. On the other hand, you say you're excited to see him and have wonderful, though rare, moments of (unspecified) intimacy. What a topsy-turvy world we live in! Overall, your relationship seems unpromising—except for the other clues about this being your first romance of any kind and your girlfriends pointing out that this lack of relationship history may be due to some personality problems on your part. Remember, if you end this relationship, you'll take your anxieties and insecurities into the next one. It sounds as if in order to make this, or any romance work, you need to work on your own problems. Consider group therapy, which could help you learn how to connect—with your boyfriend and others—in a more satisfying way.

—Prudie