Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is on Washingtonpost.com weekly to chat live with readers. An edited transcript of the chat is below. (Sign up here to get Dear Prudence delivered to your inbox each week. Read Prudie’s Slate columns here. Send questions to Prudence at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
See Dear Prudence live! Emily Yoffe will be at Washington, D.C.’s historic Sixth & I for a special Mother’s Day themed event, hosted by Slate science editor Laura Helmuth. For tickets and more information, click here.
Emily Yoffe: Good afternoon. I look forward to your questions.
Q. Wife Walks Around Nude: I am having a rather silly problem with my otherwise wonderful wife. She gets up early every morning before work to go to the gym, and then takes a shower when she gets back to our small one-bedroom apartment. After her shower, she says she gets overheated easily while we’re both getting ready for work. I can understand that—I’ve already showered while she’s gone, she’s been exercising, and then she’s showered, plus she needs to use a blow dryer to style her hair. But her way of dealing with this is to walk around almost naked (in just her bra and underwear) until she absolutely has to get dressed to leave for work. She eats breakfast like this, puts on her makeup this way—she basically just goes about her morning routine with barely any clothes on and sometimes she skips the bra entirely. Under other circumstances, I would enjoy this. But when I’m trying to get myself ready for the day, this is kind of distracting. I find myself getting aroused, and since we’re both trying to get out the door for work, it’s a bad time for sex. But then I get to work and I’m frustrated all day long. I’ve tried raising this issue with her (delicately) and she gets offended that I can’t control myself after we’ve been married for eight years, which I find offensive. She’s the one walking around half-naked. How can I try to resolve this with her peacefully?
A: Ah, tempus fugit! At this stage in my life, the way I turn off my husband is to walk around naked. This is a sweet dilemma, so it’s too bad you both get so annoyed with each other over the fact that after eight years the sight of your undressed wife bouncing around the apartment is so arousing. I get letters from women wishing that their husbands weren’t lounging around with the family jewels draped over the upholstery (they do not find it a turn-on). But I think yours is the first from a guy who finds his wife’s toilette so distracting he can’t get out the door. But surely, once you’re at the office, you are able to focus on the marketing data and don’t spend the whole day moaning over your morning testicular vasocongestion. If you’re not able to move on and save it for later, you sound very juvenile. Instead of continuing to fight over this, try taking action (not the kind of action that will make you late for work). Buy a pretty, short, sheer robe for your wife and give it to her as a gift. Explain that she’s so damn attractive that if she were a little more covered in the morning it would help you focus on the day ahead. Tell her she of course doesn’t have to wear it, but you know that color looks great on her, and you hope it’s lightweight enough that she can put it on without getting overheated. Let’s hope that she takes your gesture in good spirit and likes the robe. Of course, if it’s silky and sexy, seeing her in it may have the unintended consequence of overheating you.
Q. Teens and Alcohol: My oldest daughter turned 16 this year. She’s known her best friend since she was in kindergarten. I was talking to her friend’s mom, whom I’ve known and been friends with for almost 20 years, about teens using alcohol. I told her that my husband and I plan on having our daughter drink a few beers or mixed drinks while at home so that she understands how alcohol will affect her. We think this will decrease the likelihood that she’ll abuse alcohol when she’s with her friends. I don’t plan on having her get so drunk that she can’t see straight, but we will allow her to have two or three drinks. My friend is appalled and told me that she doesn’t want her daughter interacting with my daughter anymore. She told me she doesn’t need to have her daughter drink alcohol, she knows without even asking that her daughter would never drink or do drugs. My daughter is crushed, as is her friend. I’m not sure there’s anything I can do to resolve this.
A: I agree with you to some extent about exposing your child to alcohol in a home setting. I’m not sure saying, “Drink up!” to a young, inexperienced drinker is the best way to go. Instead of getting her drunk and saying, “See, see how miserable you feel?” I think you should be instructing your child in how you learn to drink responsibly. First of all that comes from modeling this behavior. Second, your teen can occasionally have small servings at home of wine or beer with a meal, learning how to drink slowly and keeping track of her intake and how it’s affecting her. I agree that it is a very fraught time when your kids enter the world of parties, booze, and, most ominously, driving. But your friend sounds as if she’d prefer to enter the realm of denial and fantasy than deal with the fact that unless her daughter is the exception, she will experiment with drinking at parties. Given your friend’s attitude, surely her daughter will never come clean with her about what’s going on. The fact that she would forbid her daughter and yours from seeing each other indicates this woman is having serious issues with trust and control. (And in the absence of ankle monitors, how do you forbid two 16-year-olds from hanging out with each other?) Talk to your daughter about how out of the blue and out of line your friend’s admonition is. I hope the friend is able to persuade her mother that her demand is hurtful to her and accomplishes nothing. You should try making one more attempt with your friend, taking her out for lunch and saying her reaction has gotten you to think more about your plan, but that you hope she will reconsider hers to end your daughters’ dear friendship.
Q. Re: Lightweight robe—get cotton!: I have the same problem as the wife in the first post—I get a shower in the morning, and then as I get ready for the day (drying my hair, putting on my makeup, etc.) I get really warm. (Even if the house is cool.) Wearing a sheer or silky robe is absolutely out of the question ... they are all made of synthetic fabric, which is not breathable. Basically you would be marinating in your own sweat. A lightweight cotton robe is the way to go. (I went to Amazon and searched for “lightweight organic cotton robe” and I bought the first search result and have been very happy with it.)
A: Cotton it is! Another benefit, it will be light but not sheer.
Q. Testosterone Trauma: My husband is 66 years old. I’m 62. We’re both in good health and stay on top of medical exams and labs annually to maintain good health. Last year, my husband’s testosterone levels were extremely low. We’ve been married 40 years and had become fairly accustomed to an almost nonexistent sex life. Frankly, Scarlett, that suited me just fine. He never has been that great in that department anyway, so I felt kind of relieved. Anyway, my husband’s physician prescribed testosterone pellet therapy for him to help aid in protecting cardiac, offering higher energy levels, helping him to sleep better at night, etc. Problem is it’s fired up his libido to the point where he’s going extremely overboard. It’s every single night and/or morning. He can’t keep his hands off me at home. He’s gone totally berserk with this, like he’s some 20 year old again and I almost flipped the other night when he started talking about how he wishes he could get me pregnant again. Prudie, I’m 62 years old for gosh’s sake! Jokingly I told him I was going to have a chat with the doctor and he was slightly offended and told me I should be happy he’s so frisky. How can we find a happy medium?