My husband is too close to his best male friend.

Advice on manners and morals.
Oct. 7 2010 6:45 AM

I Love You, Man

A husband's affectionate relationship with his fishing buddy leaves his wife out in the cold.

1_123125_122976_2180583_dearprudence_ey2

Get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week; click here to sign up. Please send your questions for publication to prudence@slate.com. (Questions may be edited.)

Got a burning question for Prudie? She'll be online at Washingtonpost.com to chat with readers on a special day next week: Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 1 p.m.  Submit your questions and comments here before or during the live discussion.

41_fullwidthslideshowlaunchtemplate

.

Dear Prudence,
My husband and I were sweethearts through high school and college and have been married for nine years. We have two beautiful children and are very happy. My husband started a new job a few years ago and immediately struck up a close friendship with an unmarried male co-worker. They go on regular weekend fishing and hunting trips. They are so inseparable that our friends, families, and even their co-workers joke about their "bromance." My husband has never displayed any bisexual or gay tendencies before. But he and his friend hug, often have their arms around each other, sit next to each other on our couch when watching TV, and talk for hours in our backyard. They even tell each other, "Love you." I don't believe my husband has said that to any other man, even his father. The friend has become part of our family. The kids adore him and call him "Uncle." Sometimes I find myself feeling jealous of their closeness. Our conversations tend to be about paying bills, housework, and the kids. I tried to talk to my husband about how he and his friend often make me feel like a third wheel. My husband asked whether I want him to cut his friend out of our lives. I don't, but I'm getting frustrated and a little resentful. Any advice?

—Third Wheel

Dear Third,
When your husband and his friend are murmuring together, have you ever heard one of them say, "I wish I knew how to quit you"? One night, after the kids are in bed, suggest the three of you watch a movie. Then pop Brokeback Mountaininto the DVD player and let the fun begin. I suppose it's possible that what you're observing between your husband and his friend is just really deep male bonding. Though I suspect it's really deep male bonding, and that if you peeked in the tent when the two of them are "hunting and fishing," you'd find they truly are inseparable. After her marriage to Prince Charles broke up, Diana gave an interview in which she said there were three people in her marriage, the third being Camilla. There are three people in your marriage, and two of them could be named Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist. You have to accept that if you want to stop being the third wheel, you run the risk of the wheels coming off your marriage because it's not clear your husband would choose you over his friend. But after years of this, you're rightfully tired of feeling marginalized in your own home. You and your husband need to have some serious talks about something besides the bills. For starters, you need to know whether he and his pal are lovers. Then you'll have a better idea of whether your husband, like Ennis Del Mar, feels that in regard to his friend, "There ain't no reins on this one."

—Prudie

Dear Prudence: Always a Bridesmaid ... Literally!

Dear Prudence,
I have a daughter who is an addict and alcoholic and lives under a bridge. She is in late-stage alcoholism and clearly will not live long. Periodic attempts have been made over the years to provide help; the last ended with my daughter clearly indicating that she wants to continue living as she does. My daughter has two daughters, 21 and 19, who as a result of their mother's disease have had tragic lives. They recently visited their mother under the bridge and took pictures of her and then proceeded to publish the pictures on Facebook with a very dramatic dialogue. The pictures are disturbing: She is losing her hair, her stomach is horrendously distended. This upset me tremendously. It's not that my child's plight is a secret. My friends and our family all know. But it seemed to me that gross advantage was taken of a woman who has few, if any, defenses left. No one else in the family believes her children's actions were wrong. Am I wrong?

Advertisement

—Grieving

Dear Grieving,
What a heartbreaking situation for all concerned. You are watching a daughter end a terrible, wasted life. Her daughters, who you say have suffered greatly, are seeing their mother die in an utterly debased way. And now the depth of her misery has been posted for all to see. I'm sure this is a use beyond even what Mark Zuckerberg imagined his social network would bring. I completely understand your distress, and it would have been better for your granddaughters not to post on Facebook. But what matters most here is them. Your daughter has thrown away her life; her daughters are the collateral damage. Maybe for these girls, putting out the raw, ugly truth of their mother's life is cathartic and somehow helps them feel more in control of what has been so senseless. Your daughter is lost, but your granddaughters surely need love, understanding, and nurturance from their family. Put your anger aside and step up to try to provide this for these tortured young women.

—Prudie

Dear Prudie,
I am an attorney in my late 20s. I have no student loans and have a successful and challenging career. Many of my friends work for nonprofits or do legal service work. I donate money to their organizations and attend their events. I also contribute beyond the pro bono requirements that my law firm requires. Recently, I purchased a new car. I did not tell my friends or make a production of it, but once they found out, many of them made comments like, "You could have gotten X number of people off death row with that money" or "If you can spend that much money on a car, why isn't it a hybrid?" I don't want to sound like I'm lamenting the plight of the yuppie, but why isn't working hard, paying your taxes, and giving back enough? Why should I have to defend my life choices when my friends simply chose other paths?

—Never Good Enough

Dear Never,
If you decide live in a hovel, eat only canned beans, and replace your car with a bicycle, you could put almost your entire salary toward emptying out death row! Alternately, you could start cultivating some friends who are less self-righteous than the ones you now hang out with (who, I'm sure, aren't so elevated that they refuse to cadge rides in your new car). You get no credit from them for helping the car dealers of America get out of their trough—although I'm sure your friends find businesspeople less worthy than convicted murderers. It is wonderful that your friends are using their degrees to help society's most forgotten. Many of their jobs, however, depend on funding from people like you: taxpayers who make good salaries. You're a lawyer, so you know that it's a losing strategy to get in a colloquy that won't advance your case. If your friends continue to diss your car, just say, "Sorry to hear you feel that way. I'm really enjoying it."

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore, and Schools Are Getting Worried

The Good Wife Is Cynical, Thrilling, and Grown-Up. It’s Also TV’s Best Drama.

  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 19 2014 9:15 PM Chris Christie, Better Than Ever
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 19 2014 6:35 PM Pabst Blue Ribbon is Being Sold to the Russians, Was So Over Anyway
  Life
Inside Higher Ed
Sept. 19 2014 1:34 PM Empty Seats, Fewer Donors? College football isn’t attracting the audience it used to.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 19 2014 4:48 PM You Should Be Listening to Sbtrkt
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 19 2014 5:09 PM Did America Get Fat by Drinking Diet Soda?   A high-profile study points the finger at artificial sweeteners.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.