Dear Prudence: My wife commissioned a horribly ugly portrait of me.

Help! My Wife Commissioned a Gruesome Portrait of Me.

Help! My Wife Commissioned a Gruesome Portrait of Me.

Advice on manners and morals.
March 18 2014 6:00 AM

Color Me Bad

In a live chat, Prudie advises a man whose wife commissioned a gruesome portrait of him.

(Continued from Page 1)

A: I want to see this movie. A young Marcello Mastroianni comes sauntering to a table of young American women, and the one complaining most about not having a guy doesn't even make eye contact with Marcello because her nose is buried in her dating app. What you experienced is a question beyond etiquette. There is no doubt the world behind the touch screen has become more vivid and compelling to millions of people than anything happening in their lives. But if they looked up and told you what kept them so intent upon the screen, they'd have to admit it was mostly a bunch of banal texts, games, and useless news alerts. It's one thing to zone out with your phone on the subway. It's another to miss Italy because you're playing Flappy Bird. The next time you're out to dinner with your gang and this happens, speak up. Say you understand how hard it is to break away from the phone because it's hard for you, too. But you'd like to institute a no-phone rule when you're socializing. That means they're in your purses and off. If it turns out your friends would rather socialize in the virtual world while they're with you, it's time to get a new group of friends.

Q. Marriage and Adoption: My husband and I have been married for 13 years. We have two children 20 and 9 and I have struggled to have children. I tried for many years after the birth of my 9-year-old to conceive again. After many failed attempts and with all my reproductive issues we decided four years ago that we would adopt. We went through CPS in our state and have been on a waiting list for over four years. My husband was very detailed in what kind of child he wanted and I feel like it held us back into bringing a child into our home sooner. I am now facing a hysterectomy due to my reproductive issues and while I am sad about that, I accept the reality. My husband has just told me that he does not want to adopt. I am devastated. I feel duped and so disappointed. I feel like walking out—I can't even look at him in the eye. He is adamant that he is not going to change his mind and he wouldn't even reconsider it even for my sake. I am at a loss at what to do.

A: As you know, many of the children in foster care who desperately need homes come with the kind of problems to be expected in children who have had to be removed from their families. I'm assuming your husband has been saying to the social workers that he does not want a child with considerable learning or behavioral issues. So no wonder your four-year wait has been fruitless. It turns out you two have drifted very far apart on what you want. But I don't see how walking out improves your life. Even though you have accepted your infertility issues, a hysterectomy puts an end to the thought that a "miracle" might happen, so you are in a particularly delicate, vulnerable state. Sorry I don't have anything more original to say than that since you two are barely speaking, as a couple you need to see a counselor. You need to address your issues of loss, your husband has to come clean with what he wants. You both need to figure out how to understand each other and repair your marriage. I understand you feel there is a hole in your life where a new child should be. But don't let that blind you to the needs of your 9-year-old, who surely knows Mom and Dad are very unhappy and who is suffering because of this.


Q. Is It Worth Coming Out?: I am a female university student. Over the past few months, I have come to realize that I am bisexual. So far in my life, I've only ever dated men, though none of those relationships have been long term. I'll be home on break soon. Part of me wants to tell my parents about this. The other part of me thinks I should only tell them if I do end up in a relationship with a woman. While I don't think my parents would disown me, or have a moral problem with it, I do have concerns that they will question whether or not I'm "sure," or refer to it as me "going through a phase." Every time I come home my parents ask if there are any boys that I'm interested in at school, so I know the topic of my love life will come up. Would that be a good time to mention it? Or should I just keep quiet until a same-sex relationship actually occurs? 

A: Separating from your parents and establishing a new, adult phase of your relationship with them can be full of uncertainties and disconnections, as the letter from the student dealing with OCD issues illustrates. At your age people feel not fully fledged, but also aren't sure how much to share and how much to keep private from their parents. Given that your exploration has been psychological to date, I think you should keep this to yourself until you know more about yourself. You have anticipated your parents’ questions and conclusions, so there's no reason to go through the exercise right now. Without having sought a same-sex partner, you yourself don't really know how you will feel when this idea becomes a reality. You are living away from home which means you aren't under daily scrutiny. So explore away, and wait until there's something more concrete to report.

Q. Re: Smartphone addicts: I have the following rule with some of my friends when we go out for dinner or drinks: the first one to start playing with their phone, picks up the drink tab for everyone! The phones are sure to stay hidden.

A: Love it! And I admire that you can get buy-in from the addicted.

Emily Yoffe: Thanks, everyone. Have a good week.

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Emily Yoffe is a contributing editor at the Atlantic.