Click here to read a transcript of Prudie's live weekly chat with readers at Washingtonpost.com.
I consider myself a moral person. I'm lucky to be married to someone caring and attractive, whom I love and who loves me back. We just had our first child. My wife has a sister who's been married for several years, has kids, and seems happy. She's also extremely sexy. My wife is beautiful to me, but she doesn't have the confidence to pull off "sexy" like her sister. A while back, my sister-in-law came over and we shared a bottle of vodka—my wife was pregnant so couldn't drink. Ever since, I catch glances from my sister-in-law that get my mind racing. She's paraded her body in front of me in bikinis all summer long. I'm not a cheating person, but I've also never been tempted before. I've tried to talk about it with my wife since we share everything. Now she feels I don't want her. She also doesn't think her sister would ever "want" me (not sure how to take that one). Hanging out with my sister-in-law and her husband is one of my favorite aspects of being a part of my wife's family. I don't want to disrupt anything, but I don't know how to carry this around with me. Would it be wrong to confront my sister-in-law about this and try to clear the air?
I can just imagine how you'd like this "confrontation" to go: "I think we should clear the air about the sexual attraction between us in Room 426 at the Holiday Inn off Highway Exit 22." You want advice, so here's some: Stop sharing everything if you think sharing includes telling your wife you'd like to bang her sister, declare pool season over—no more swimming with the in-laws—and throw away the vodka bottle. You gloss over the crucial point that your wife just had a baby. That means that, for many months, she has not been as sexually available as usual, and even when she is, her flesh is distributed in strange and not totally alluring ways. Now think of what's going on in your marriage from her perspective. She is wondering whether she will ever get her old body back and whether her husband will still find her attractive. Your confession was not reassuring, and you're lucky it didn't prompt your wife to suggest busting up your new family. You also seem to be insinuating that you're insulted that your wife thinks her sister is not interested in you. Which prompts some more advice: Grow up. You're an adult and a father, so stop acting like a horny teenager. It's time you understood that not every desire is to be acted upon or even spoken of. Use your intellectual powers to appreciate what your wife has gone through to bear your child and to recognize that while you're frustrated sexually, you're not going to say or do something so monumentally stupid that everyone you've ever known ends up thinking you're the biggest jerk they ever met.
My mom has a serious obsession with reading. Every waking moment, she reads—including during meals and even at long stop lights. It seems she never has time for me, her only teenage daughter. She often says that this is an "escape" from her life. Whenever I try to strike up a conversation with her, she says I should leave her alone so she can read or let her finish one last chapter. I can't take it anymore. We rarely talk, and if we do, it's some argument about how she reads too much. I'm starting to think this is all my fault and that she hates me. What should I do?
—Her Nose in a Book
Dear Her Nose,
How sad that your mother can't appreciate what a wonderful gift it is to have a teenage daughter who wants to talk to her. However, since your mother is not listening, reach her where she lives: Write her a letter. Don't make it about how she's failing you but about your longing for her. Tell her you're only going to be around for a few more years and that you want to connect with her and learn from her in the time you have left. Tell her you know she's busy and stressed out and that books are a necessary escape, but that you would like her to carve out some time most days—sometimes it may not even be more than 15 minutes—when the two of you just talk about what's going on in your lives. Then when you have her attention and she's actually talking to you, suggest that you both join a mother-daughter book club. If that's too hard to arrange, make your own. Maybe you could start with some books that look at mothers and daughters, such as The Joy Luck Club, Little Women, Terms of Endearment, and The Diary of Anne Frank, which should spark some good discussion between you two. And if none of this works, try reaching out to some other adults in your life (Is your father around?) who could talk to her about your distress. Finally, if she's adamant about checking out as a mother because she'd rather check out books from the library, maybe you can find solace in your own reading about how other people have dealt with neglectful mothers, such as the books listed here.