Help! I Wish My Ex Would Just Die. For Real.

Advice on manners and morals.
March 25 2014 6:00 AM

Die, Philandering Louse

In a live chat, Prudie advises a woman who hopes her cheating ex suffers a painful death.

(Continued from Page 1)

Q. Re: Unmotivated Boyfriend: If Unmotivated Boyfriend is doing the housework, then he is not unemployed—he is a househusband. What’s wrong with that? A lot of working women would like to have that kind of support. I have a lot of working friends with husbands at home and I think they’re lucky.

A: He’s not her husband, and this isn’t something they’ve discussed and agreed to. He’s a boyfriend who kind of does some stuff around the house and otherwise is not interested in being economically independent or even contributing to his room and board.

Q. Relationships: My boyfriend of four years and I are breaking up after a rather bitter relationship. At the worst part of the relationship, he cheated on me with someone he used to date in college. He says, and I believe, that he thought it was a mistake. Upon my request, he let her know that I’d found out and that he would not communicate with or see her anymore. She works for a corporation with a household name, and I viewed their ethics policy online. It states that members of the public and employees of the corporation can and should report any unethical use of corporation resources. There is no “statute of limitations” and it can be done anonymously. My ex-boyfriend said that he did not want me to inform the corporation that she had used the company hotel suite and comp account to carry on an affair—she paid for his drinks and his parking—because that would “bring her back into our lives.” (She had threatened to press harassment charges against me if I contacted her.) Can I file an anonymous complaint with her employer?

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A: The statute of limitations has expired on your relationship, and you should seek to have it expire on the way you deal with the world. By your own account you had a four-year bitterness fest. It was punctuated by your boyfriend seeking more pleasurable company elsewhere. What you do now is look inward and try to understand your role in this unhappiness and address that. It’s one thing, like the letter writer above, to have understandable fantasies about the grisly end of someone who broke your heart. It’s another to actually try to damage the career of a bit player in your life. Note that your boyfriend’s paramour has threatened to press harassment charges against you. I’m imagining that didn’t come out of the blue, but it’s because you see other people as the source of your distress. Get some help so that you don’t continue to go seething through life.

Q. Supporting Mother-in-Law: My husband and I have recently been asked by his brother to help support their mother with a monthly amount of money. The amount is fine, but I am having a hard time not being annoyed that I know the money is going to go to cigarettes and not necessarily toward bills. I think it would also be helpful for us to provide a smoke-cessation aid to improve her health and also cut her cost of living, but I’m not crazy. I know that there isn’t a good way to broach this subject as the daughter-in-law. Do you think we just send the money no questions asked and hope for the best that she uses it wisely and that the amount doesn’t creep up? She is married to a heavy-smoker who is in failing health and both are retirement age but bereft of any savings or retirement plan.

A: A monthly stipend for nicotine does not sound like a useful way to address your in-laws’ financial troubles. Your husband and his brother have to have some serious talks with each other, and eventually with mom, because what happens to her and her husband has to be addressed now. You don’t want to wait until mom and stepdad show up on your doorstep with their possessions and a case of Marlboros. However, if you’re willing to help out now, do not send cash. Pick a bill (or bills) that has to be paid monthly and do it as an autopay from your end. Then at least you know no matter how much they smoke, they won’t be doing it in the dark.

Q. Re: Wishing Death on an Ex: Honey, all of us who’ve been cheated on are in the same boat. My solution was to bake bread: The recipe I used required lots of kneading—and boy, did I knead that stuff! (I even slammed it into the clean wall.) I had the lightest, fluffiest bread in town ...

A: I love this, and what an idea for a bakery. You could advertise the guaranteed fluffiest bread kneaded by the most pissed off bakers in town!

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Emily Yoffe is a regular Slate contributor. She writes the Dear Prudence column.