Emily Yoffe, aka Dear Prudence, is online 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 email@example.com.)
Q. Peeing Standing Up: My spouse—a man—pees standing up. I have told him several times that no matter how careful one is, it leaves pee on surfaces—the toilet, the floor, and probably his legs! I have shown him several times how there is pee on the flat part of the rim. He huffs and cleans it up, but of course he doesn’t see what’s on the floor. My problem is that he acts as though he is doing me a favor by sitting to pee. If he cleaned up the toilet area and left it pee-free, I wouldn’t care a bit how he goes. But he gets very offended when I point out that standing up to pee just isn’t very clean. How can I convince him about this without getting him defensive?
A: If you want your husband to do something with his penis besides urinating, something that involves you, then lay off the demand that he pee sitting down. I agree with comedian Rita Rudner who remarked that as far as urinating is concerned often “men aren’t that specific.” But telling your husband his man-style method of relieving himself is not allowed in his own home could have an unfortunate spill-over to other areas of your marital life. Tell him you want to call a truce. Say that you understand that he doesn’t want you monitoring his bodily functions, but neither is it fun for you to find the bathroom floor is a slip-and-slide. Put a roll of paper towels on tank and ask him to try to get in the habit of wiping up if there’s a spill—explain that will take about five seconds of his time and will immensely improve your mood, thus his life. It’s true that the drip, drip, drip of conflict over domestic details is very wearing, but if he makes an effort even if it’s not perfect, that should help you accept the fact that your husband is not ever going to care as much about the mementos he leaves behind as you do.
Q. Birthing Photos on Facebook: While I was in labor, my mother-in-law used my cellphone to take pictures of me in various stages of undress and used my account to post them on Facebook. I had no idea as I was half out of it and only had vague awareness of her holding my phone. I didn’t check Facebook for a couple of days so the pictures were up there for all to see, accompanied by very detailed captions of how I was progressing. I can’t even begin to explain how violated I felt. I have taken down all pictures but I also feel embarrassed that my friends, co-workers, etc., all thought it was me posting photos of myself in such an intimate situation. Should I post some kind of an explanation? I don’t even know what to say.
A: First of all, I hope your husband knows he needs to discuss this with his mother. He needs to say something along the lines of, “We are appalled by your violation of Jenna’s privacy and our trust. We are shaken that you would take intimate photos and then post them under Jenna’s name for the world to see. Mom, you need to do some serious thinking about what you did, because we have a child now, and if we can’t trust you, that will be sad for everyone.” Now that you’re feeling more yourself, go ahead and post some cute pictures of your baby. You can add a brief message saying that if anyone saw the accidentally posted labor pictures, these were the result of unauthorized Facebook access by an overzealous relative and you apologize.
Q. Bathroom Intruder: I’m a male student who has moved in with my parents after finding a summer internship near their home. They aren’t charging rent, they cook for me, and they only ask that I help with the occasional chore. The situation would be ideal if their modest home had more than one bathroom. When I shower before work, my father will often barge in to go number two. I told him that he needs to wait until I am done but he claims that he has no control over when he needs to go and can’t hold it. The last straw was when he brought his breakfast with him this morning. I had to wait in the shower until he finished eating a full plate of meat and eggs. I told him that this behavior is abnormal and needs to stop. My father insists he is in the right, arguing that he was kind enough to let me live with him rent-free and that he shouldn’t have to change his morning routine. My mother is remaining neutral. I am trying to avoid spending loan money on an apartment but I don’t think that I can deal with this for another month. How do I get him to stop?
A: I wonder if bacon on the bathroom floor is more disturbing than urine. You don’t make clear why you didn’t find a way to deal with this when you were growing up, but maybe your parents have downsized since your departure. Possibly they did so to help pay for you to go through school. I agree that there is something odd about eating on the toilet, but maybe your father is a busy man and he wants to maximize the efficiency of his digestive functions. As for his barging in, well, when you gotta go, you gotta go. Here’s one solution: Shower at night! That way you can make haste during your morning ablutions. You are now in a countdown situation until you blessedly get back to school. If this is the worst thing you ever have to endure, consider yourself lucky.
Q. Re: Peeing Spouse: I agree men can be a problem, but women aren’t innocent. My office is home to some of the foulest bathroom perps out there in the ladies room. They smear blood on the walls, throw the little bits of TP on the floor when they can’t get the paper to roll out, all manner of hair and pee on the seat (when they’re squatters). It’s shameful!
A: I’m assuming that if original letter writer was one of these offenders then the husband would have already used this argument. However, thank you for pointing out how gross ladies rooms can be, especially when women want to protect themselves from toilet seat germs, so they hover over the seat and spray it like they’re using a water pistol.
Q. Just Add Water: I am 28-year-old, single, successful, on the better-looking side, debt-free, well-balanced, and active mother of one who has 50/50 custody of my amazing daughter. My life is great and, while I have dated in the past I, never felt a connection as the amazing man I met a couple of weeks ago. He is like my man twin—26, promising future, no children, no debt, good looking and caring and sweet. My mind is blown. I have done my fair share questioning and investigating to ensure he is not married or involved or a serial killer, etc. … (my skepticism is half complete surprise of finding someone so awesome who’s single and the other half is bad experience). We are ready to jump in head first out of excitement. We both want the same things in life including children. My question to you is this: Based on your experience of being married a short time after you met and advice you give out are we crazy? Do you wish you had waited?