The Naked and the Bed
I want to sleep nude with my wife-to-be, but she refuses. Can I change her mind?
I am a widower with teenage children. Through my church, I met a divorced woman with two younger children. I would like to marry her. My problem is that there's something I would like her to do that she refuses. My wife and I slept together in the nude every night, even after having kids. One of my fondest memories was how we would hold each other as we drifted off to sleep, and when we woke, how sensuous and intimate it was. It also provided an incentive to work out any problems so we could look forward to going to bed each night. When I discussed this topic with my new love, she made it clear that she would never sleep naked with kids in the house. I assured her that parents can sleep in the nude and not cause any harm to children. All our kids saw were bare shoulders, and we kept robes next to the bed. The woman I now love is not my former wife nor is she a substitute, but I really want to keep this one joyful element from my old marriage in my next marriage. I don't want to give up this relationship, but would like this one request honored, yet she refuses. What should I do?
What was mutual in your first marriage would be resented in your second. Even if you could get your new wife to agree (and it sounds as if you couldn't), it would hardly be erotic to find that though she was naked, she was also cold and unresponsive. I agree that what you had with your first wife sounds blissful, and that you're not pulling a Vertigo and trying to remake your second wife in her image. But if someone doesn't want to sleep in the nude with kids in the house (particularly a set of stepkids), trying to convince her of the benefits will only drive her into a flannel nightgown. Drop the discussion and let it go. Perhaps on a night down the road, when you two are by yourselves, after you have made love, suggest that you two fall asleep naked. If she agrees, enjoy it as something for special occasions (and if she doesn't, just forget it), but don't try to convince her that birthday clothes should be her nightly uniform.
Dear Prudence Video: Family of Freeloaders
I recently worked for Barack Obama's campaign in Iowa. Since returning home, my grandfather has been sending me anti-Obama e-mails, including several claiming Obama is a Muslim. I have never known my grandfather to be anything but a good man who served his country, so I bit my tongue. However, these e-mails have persisted, and now I'm receiving some that are not just anti-Obama, but anti-Muslim. These e-mails have crossed from that which I disagree with politically to that which is sheer bigotry. While I can simply delete the e-mails, it is also upsetting because his e-mail list is in the hundreds, and includes my entire extended family and family friends, many of whom now openly question me for supporting Obama and are 100 percent convinced he's a Muslim. Coming from the heartland, I'm used to finding myself a little to the left of my family in the political arena, but this is getting out of control. Is there anything I can do, or should I continue biting my tongue?
Next time you get one of these mass e-mails, hit the "Reply All" button. Write a brief, nondefensive message saying you felt the need to set the record straight. Explain that while you are a strong supporter of Barack Obama, and hope everyone will take a look at his candidacy, you want them to make their decision based on the truth, not Internet rumors. Say that Obama is a Christian, which they can confirm by taking a look at this article and this page from Obama's Web site. Before you do it, send an individual note to your grandfather explaining that while you respect that you have differing political views, you're sure he would want to know the facts about Obama—give him the links above—and let him know you're going to follow up with the group.
My husband and I have been married for two years, and we get along great. The only rift we have in our happy marriage is my husband's best friend. When he visits, he can be mean and at times downright cruel. He berates me, and mocks me about a disease I was diagnosed with as a young child. When my husband and I announced our engagement to him, his response was, "Marriage is for idiots." I have brought up the issue with my husband, but he tells me "It isn't a big deal" or "You know how he is, he's a moron." During one visit, the insults got so bad that when I discussed it privately with my husband that night, I burst into tears. My husband sees fit to simply ignore the issue, and if I get mad and chastise his friend myself, I get a lecture from my husband on it. What should I do?
I hate to tell you this, but a marriage in which one partner allows his creep of a friend to mock and berate his wife is not happy. You must explain to your husband that his friend's last visit was his last visit, and that he's no longer welcome in your home. Why is your husband not only making excuses for this sick, nasty person, but turning on you when you try to fend off his blows? This is deeply disturbing, and you need to take a hard look at who you've married. Get the names of some counselors, and tell your husband you are so upset about this issue that for the sake of the future of your marriage, you two have to discuss it with a neutral party.
I'm a 30-year-old male who suffered from extremely bad acne during my teenage years and into my 20s. As a result, I never had a girlfriend, and never experienced all the things that someone should during those years (first kiss, love, sex, etc.). Now that I'm older and the acne has cleared up, and I have enough confidence in my appearance to start dating, I've developed a new problem. I've become very self-conscious of the fact that I have no clue how to start a relationship, be intimate, all the things that I should have learned during my formative years. How do you propose I get over this? Do I just be upfront with a woman after two or three dates regarding my lack of experience and hope she doesn't laugh? Or do I just keep my mouth shut and hope I can figure things out on the fly?
If only I could run a service in which I put together my male and female correspondents who have somehow gotten into their 20s and beyond without connecting with the opposite sex. At least you have a 10-year jump on your role model. In fact, look again at The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and take some lessons about really getting to know a woman from the sequence in which he goes on 20 sexless dates with his love. Since you feel like an awkward schlemiel, you might want to rent Annie Hall to see how a real schlemiel gets the girl. (Don't take this too far and rent Superbad in order to model yourself on McLovin.) Go to the bookstore and look at the relationship section—you will find guides on everything from how to kiss, to how to flirt, to, well, you know—and consider the suggestions that feel comfortable to you. Sure, you're self-conscious about missing those practice years in high school and college, but be assured that everyone who's single and looking is still trying to stumble their way to the right person. Even if you weren't dating, you surely were making friends. You did that by listening to the other person, asking questions, suggesting that you do something you would both enjoy. Those are techniques easily transferable to the dating scene. And once you have gone out on a couple of dates with someone, do not blurt out that she's about to be the first person you've ever kissed. When the time is right, just kiss her. Then take the relationship slowly, so that when you do feel the need to tell her about your lack of experience, you'll know her well enough to know she won't laugh.
Photograph of Prudie by David Plotz.