Dear Prudence

Over Sex

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My 18-year-old daughter is driving me crazy! She has met this 21-year-old no good LOSER, and there is no reasoning with her. This guy that she has known for three months has no job, no car, no money, and was in jail for two weeks on a charge relating to drugs. When he was arrested, he was driving my daughter’s car and it was impounded. It cost (us) $398 to get the car back. Now that this person is out of jail on probation, he claims to have changed his ways and wants my daughter to live with him once they get full-time jobs. All through her life my daughter has not given me any trouble and has been honest. Since she’s met him she’s changed dramatically. Even her friends don’t like this guy, but no one can reason with her. This is also her first boyfriend. His parents kicked him out years ago, and he lives with his grandmother. My daughter was planning on going to college after she graduated, but now that has changed. I’m inclined to kick my daughter out, but I can’t seem to do it. I am also afraid she will become pregnant. I’m a single parent and took pride in her—until now. I’m at my wits end and see her going in the wrong direction with this guy, and I can’t help her.

—Concerned Mom

Dear Con,
Too bad this bum is your daughter’s first boyfriend. The good news, though, is that her second can only be an improvement. For whatever reasons, your formerly wonderful child has morphed into a rebellious and defiant young woman who is flexing her independence with Mr. Bad News. All you can do is outline for her, in a conversational tone—no tears, no yelling—what her future will be like and what she is denying herself. And you might ask her why she’s choosing to have a relationship with someone who is such a bad bet and offers her so little. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to convince her to see things your way or to stop her from whatever she has in mind. What she will collect, beside heartache, is called “experience,” and sometimes the painful lessons are the ones best learned. The lesson for mothers, of course, is that you can’t live your children’s lives for them. Accepting this will be useful to you in not beating yourself up over something you have no control over.

—Prudie, philosophically 

Dear Prudence,
I am engaged to be married to a wonderful man. He is kind and considerate and has many of the other qualities I admire in a human being. However, and it’s a big however, our sex life leaves a lot to be desired. I have tried talking about it, but he just doesn’t seem to “get it.” My responsibility in this scenario is that I have “faked it” too many times. You know the old saying: It’s too late to close the barn door once the horse is out. I really want to work this out but don’t know how. Also, since I am older than he, I am from the school that says “good women” don’t make a big deal about this and definitely don’t talk about it. I need your help.

—Waiting To Exhale

Dear Wait,
Prudie is betting you have quite a bit of company in the faking-it department, though it may be somewhat unusual that after all the “performances,” the “actress” would like to rewrite the play. So … here are a couple approaches. You could say that you have somehow, uh, lost your orgasmic capabilities, and then kind of begin again, together. Or you could be absolutely honest and confess that, out of deference to his ego, you’ve been faking it … but you would now like to have a more fulfilling experience. When you say you’ve brought the subject up but he “doesn’t get it,” this suggests you may need either books or a sex therapist … though it’s a little unclear to Prudie how you tried to improve the situation while at the same time pretending to be satisfied by him. Bottom line, it is Prudie’s belief that most loving men are willing to receive a pointer or two. Or three.

—Prudie, compatibly

Dear Pru,
I have been married for over three years and am all done with sex. I admit that’s kinda soon, but I wasn’t that young when I got married. No more, please, all done. This makes my husband mad. But I don’t WANT ANY MORE! I achieve orgasm and all that, I just don’t want to be bothered. Can’t he just go have an affair, or something?

—no, No, NOO!!!

Dear no,
Prudie suspects he has done just as you wish. If a sexless marriage works for you, mazel-tov. Now you just need to persuade your spouse that he’s having a nice life. Prudie is not quite sure why you are making this disclosure in Slate. Perhaps it is just to vent, announcement cards being out of the question. Prudie also can’t help but fantasize how nice it would be if you and the woman who wrote the preceding letter could mix ‘n’ match, but alas, life doesn’t work that way, so we all must soldier on.

—Prudie, wistfully

Dear Prudence,
My wife and I have been married for just under 10 years. We were both married when we started dating 11 years ago. I know we met under the wrong circumstances, but I thought we were that one-in-a-million couple to beat the odds. Fifteen months ago we were having some pretty rough times due to my wife having to go to work again because I had a financial failure with my business. For the last eight months I thought we were stronger than ever. About three weeks ago I found out she had had an affair with her best friend’s husband. I have tried to tell myself it was in the past and to be the strong one who is able to forgive and forget, but I’m having trouble not feeling empty. I love my wife and want us and our three boys to be together but I can’t seem to let the hurt die. How do you wipe this away?

—Loving Husband

Dear Lov,
To forgive and forget is extremely difficult, so just try forgiving. And talk. If your wife convinces you that it is positively over and she feels real regret, then you have something to hold on to. And while you’re talking, you may learn what part of your relationship, if any, figured into her decision to stray. The best friend’s husband part is not so great, but is rather common. After all, affairs have to be with someone you know. So now that you’ve revisited the odds on one-in-a-million, if you can both recommit to each other you will be strengthened. Your marriage is in need of some emotional feng shui, and if you can achieve this, time will heal your heart and the empty feeling will fade. Good luck.

—Prudie, constructively