My wife hates how often I masturbate.

Advice on manners and morals.
June 11 2009 6:46 AM

Stroke of Midnight

My wife is intimidated by how often I pleasure myself.

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Dear Not,
Since your friend has asked you to help support a swindler, it is your place to speak up. You must tell your friend that you know she would do anything to save her mother's life, but that sending her to this fraudulent clinic will only divert her mother from getting proper care. Tell her you have looked at the clinic's Web site and you know that the claims are bogus, and all this doctor is selling is false hope to desperate people—which is a special kind of despicable. Tell her you would hate to see their money or, more important, her mother's precious time go to this quack. Your friend may be angry at you for saying things she'd rather not know. But since you are a good friend, you should be willing to risk that. You might also want to alert the state's medical board to this clinic's wondrous claims.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
I'm 26, and for three wonderful months I have been dating a woman five years older than me. When we first met, neither of us realized the age difference. We share common values, and she gets along well with my friends and brother. The trouble is my parents. They find her "charming and lovely" but are appalled by our age difference. My mother has termed our relationship "weird" and "odd," which hurts me. They point out that I have not had many serious relationships. I love her and want to see how our relationship fares. It seems to me that this requires a long time, perhaps years. But my parents claim that I must decide within three months whether to marry her or not, since it would be cruel to waste her time on an ultimately futile relationship. Are my parents being reasonable here? Do I have an obligation to decide quickly whether I want to marry this lady? And, should I decide not to pursue this relationship, is there any way I could end it without hurting her? 

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—Not Quite Benjamin Braddock

Dear Benjamin,
You're right. You're no Benjamin Braddock, because Mrs. Robinson was a generation older. Five years is an insignificant age difference—your parents would hardly be appalled if you were 31 and your girlfriend 26. What is significant is that while you're an adult, you're feeling like a teenager who still needs his parents' approval for his romantic choices. Actually, most teenagers are less deferential on this topic than you are. You've only just gotten to know this woman, so I can't understand why your parents are insisting on a fast-track marriage decision, unless they know that pressuring you this way will lead you to break up with her. I'll concede your parents one thing—if this woman is interested in having children, it is unfair to expect her to just keep dating for years on end. However, where you are in your lives, and what you want out of them, is something for you two to discuss if you continue to feel serious about each other. Your parents' job was to raise someone who could make his own good choices. If they've done that, you now need to tell them to back off.

—Prudie

Dear Prudence,
A co-worker invited me to her wedding. Due to traveling for work that weekend, I responded that I could not attend and sent a gift. Now, I will be returning home a day early. I really don't want to go to the wedding. I travel constantly, and I just want to see my partner and some friends during my time off. The wedding is an overnight commitment. I am not especially good friends with this woman, but she found out I am returning early and is very hurt that I haven't said I'm coming. Am I being a terrible person to prefer some rare time at home over more travel to a wedding? Can I be honest with her about my reason, or should I just stop being selfish and go?

—Feeling Guilty but Torn

Dear Feeling Guilty,
So not only are brides telling guests what color clothing they can wear or expecting them to use up all their vacation time for destination weddings in Fiji, now even people who have declined to be guests are having their whereabouts tracked by bridal GPS. You've already said you aren't going! You politely sent your regrets and a gift. When you decline an invitation, that's the final word; it is not an opening gambit for the hostess to deem whether she finds your absence acceptable. You're not even obligated to give a reason for declining—so don't. Stop feeling guilty and enjoy your weekend off. If the bride makes any weepy, whiny remarks to you at work, say you're sorry you can't join her, but you're sure she's going to have a wonderful day.

—Prudie