Advice on manners and morals (Aug. 28, 2008).

Advice on manners and morals (Aug. 28, 2008).

Advice on manners and morals (Aug. 28, 2008).

Advice on manners and morals.
Aug. 28 2008 6:42 AM

Bonnie and Clyde Break Up

My wife continues to do drugs and break the law, but I've cleaned up. Should we part ways?

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Dear Prudence,
When I married my wife, our wedding vows sure didn't cover this. In 2005, she and I were both arrested for shoplifting for drug money (obviously, we both had drug problems) and were given probation. I took that opportunity to clean up my act. Now I've been sober for three years and have put my life back into some semblance of order. It hasn't been as easy for her. She has continued to indulge in this behavior (she told me very candidly she didn't want to stop) and managed to get arrested again on a shoplifting charge a year and a half ago. I thought that would be her wakeup call, but I guess not. On our eighth wedding anniversary, my wife was arrested for felony shoplifting again! She is looking at a minimum of one to five years in prison. Her probation has been violated this time, so if I bail her out, she'll be immediately rearrested. I am confused as to what to do now. Should I wait for her or start consulting divorce lawyers? Would it be wrong to start seeing people while she's locked up? I love my wife deeply, but five years is a long time, and by the time she gets out we'll both be almost 40.

—Needs Help

Dear Needs,
Your vows probably covered "sickness"—and your wife is definitely sick. But you're right, they didn't mention "felony conviction as a repeat offender." You may love your wife deeply, but I think she gave you a "get out of jail free" card when she told you she enjoys being a drug addict and intends to pursue this interest no matter what the consequences. Surely, for your own ability to stay clean as well as your right to have a life, not just a semblance of one, you must move on. Tell her you would have given anything for her to go straight. But because she didn't, all that's left is for you to give up.  And since you're enjoying being on the right side of things, don't start dating until after you've begun proceedings to dissolve your marriage.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
My husband and I have recently begun taking classes in order to join the Catholic Church. We have met many kind and friendly people in our parish, but one couple in particular has made us feel very uncomfortable. They are very "huggy" in an over-the-top way. We have tried turning hugs into handshakes and standing back when they hover over us, but they don't seem to be taking the hint. Alarm bells are starting to go off, as the wife patted my husband's rear end at a recent luncheon and the husband stood so uncomfortably close to me that I had to keep backing away from him. We are in our 40s and this couple is in their 70s! They are long-standing church members and we are newcomers, so we don't want to be rude or make a fuss. She is my church sponsor but hasn't once made any effort to help lead me on my spiritual journey. This whole issue is making us want to throw in the towel and find another church. How do we tactfully bring these issues up with our priest without sounding like we are complaining or trying to rat out geriatric philanderers?

—Church Newbies

Dear Newbies,
You should be grateful that your sponsor has not attempted to help lead you on a spiritual journey whose final destination is an orgy. As far as how to bring it up with your priest, let's think of it from his perspective. Your plan is to go to him and explain that while he barely knows you and you have never done anything for the congregation, you would like him to lecture the elderly couple who has been active in the parish for decades on keeping their hands to themselves. You have no idea if this couple is widely known to be overly concerned with matters of the flesh, or if they are canny enough to limit their explorations to new prospects. But surely your best course of action at this point is to deal with them yourselves. If you want to stay in the congregation, start adopting an icy response to these people. Explicitly tell them you're not huggers and that you need them to respect your feelings. A hand on the rear end should be met with, "Please don't touch me like that again." Eventually, they should give up. But if they don't, and you start dreading Sunday mornings, then go ahead and find a more compatible congregation.

—Prudie

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Dear Prudence,
I am a first-time mother of a 6-week-old baby. Last night, when I went to watch a movie on our home computer, something much saucier came up on the screen—porn. I went to our browser history and found that my husband had been looking at porn quite regularly for weeks. I confronted him, and he admitted to four weeks' worth—when our baby was only 2 weeks old! He apologized and said that he was embarrassed and knew it was wrong. I'm shocked, disgusted, and feel betrayed. I'm up with the baby all night, and he's having a party downstairs. But maybe I should just chalk it up to "boys will be boys" behavior. Having just had a child, our intimacy is, of course, compromised, but it's not going to get much better after this discovery. Do we need counseling, or do I need to chill out?

—Mother of a Newborn Against Porn

Dear Mother,
Though you might be temped to put your infant in a snuggly and start picketing your own home with a placard that reads, "Mother of a Newborn Against Porn," yes, you should chill out. Your sex drive has been temporarily derailed by giving birth and nursing round-the-clock. But there's your husband, who's trying to show solidarity with you, when the fact is he's not just a new father but a young, horny guy with no outlet. So he sneaks down to the computer for a furtive thrill. So what? He's home, not pursuing the new sales rep who happens to have a terrific figure. Before you seek counseling, try to accept that you're exhausted and anxious and your body is not your own, and that your husband has apologized for something that you should just let go.

—Prudie

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Dear Prudie,
My mother and I were involved in a car accident about a month ago. Mom was seriously injured and fractured her ribs. She is at home recovering, and I have been working from home to look after her. We have no other family nearby. Friends and acquaintances have been kind enough to visit often to cheer us up as well as offer help and support. However, I am unsure how much I am expected to entertain these visitors given the circumstances. Prior to the accident, if anyone unexpectedly arrived at my home at lunch- or dinnertime, I would have offered them a meal and served drinks and snacks. I haven't been doing that, and I feel guilty that I am unable to entertain and feed visitors who have to come to show their support. Am I rude if I don't offer lunch or dinner to visitors who arrive around mealtime?

—Guilty Hostess

Dear Guilty,
Surely your friends are coming at these somewhat awkward times because that's when they are available, not because they are thinking, "Hey, we can do a good deed and get a free meal!" Most people visiting recuperating friends would be appalled to think they were causing inconvenience and extra work. Actually, before they come, they should call and ask if they can pick up some groceries or bring by a meal. So don't worry about whipping up something for your guests. But have on hand some drinks and a block of cheese and crackers since being able to offer simple refreshments would make the visit more comfortable for you.

—Prudie