Dear Prudence

The Adultery Pulpit 

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Dear Prudence,
Help me!! I am married to a minister who has had one physical affair and at least one emotional entanglement in the past 10 years. I have taken him back both times because I thought it was the “forgiving” thing to do. Now I am miserable and have very little respect for him and his ministry. If I leave the marriage, it will ruin his reputation because he is supposed to be a “family man.” What is the best way for me to survive his infidelity to me, the church, and to God?

—Sign me,
God Help Me

Dear Sign,
‘Tis a pity your spouse is doing unto others what he should be doing only unto you, but there’s no need to sacrifice the rest of your life on the altar of his chosen career. He is not entitled to a get-out-of-jail-free card just because he’s a clergyman. It is no certainty, by the way, that a split will ruin his reputation. There’s a good chance that members of the congregation already know of his special ministrations. Please do not feel you have to stay in an empty marriage and be miserable. You tried forgiveness; it didn’t work. Prudie is surmising that your religion is not one that prohibits divorce, so make a clean break … he will manage. A marriage devoid of respect is not worth continuing.

—Prudie, honestly 

Dear Prudie,
My husband and I bought a house and have become friendly with several of the neighbors. Last year, to celebrate a holiday, we were invited by a neighbor couple to a party. The husband got disgustingly drunk and behaved in a revolting manner. In addition, he had other friends who were also out of control. One man kept trying to kiss me when his wife wasn’t looking. They all saw it as good, dumb, drunken fun, and I was encouraged to “lighten up.” We are still friendly with this couple because they are nice, helpful people and good neighbors—when he is sober. However, I need to know the best way to refuse invitations to occasions where the revelry might get out of hand while still maintaining a neighborly affection.

—Not a Party Pooper

Dear Not,
Figure out the “drinking holidays” as best you can. Easter would be a safe bet, New Year’s Eve not. A simple, “Thanks, but we have other plans” will get you off the hook. If you do wind up with this group and things get out of hand, just excuse yourselves and call it a day. (Or a night.) Do not to be concerned if you are called party poopers, because people who are schnockered are not reliable judges.

—Prudie, soberly

Dear Prudence,
My wife has been having an online affair for several months. At first she lied about it, but finally I got her to admit it, and we went to a marriage counselor a few times. As part of the sessions, she said she would drop the relationship as a sign of “good faith.” Well, several months later, I find out that she has been lying and deceiving me. The relationship is still going on, and now she wants a divorce. I do not want to break up the family because we have a 12-year-old daughter. My wife has agreed to see a counselor again but is not ready to give up her affair. It is up to me to “win her back.” Should I bother attempting to rebuild this relationship, or should I go with the writing on the wall and separate?

—Up in the Air

Dear Up,
Actually, the writing is on the screen, and the pixels have struck again. Nothing you report sounds as though you can make a go of it. Give her the divorce. Your wife is not honest, though she is pretty upfront about not calling it off with Romeo. Furthermore, she seems to be blackmailing you, in a way, by challenging you to win her back. Cut your losses, and wish her all the best. The important thing for you both is to let your preteen know that she has two parents who love her. Better luck next time.

—Prudie, agreeably

Dear Prudence,
I have been with my husband for nine years. Throughout this relationship, he has promised to quit smoking pot but has not. I recently gave birth to our second child and don’t have the energy to take care of my 32-year-old “son.” I feel as though I’m carrying this family on my shoulders because he has no motivation and remains emotionally distant. (I do everything.) I also do not want my children to be exposed to his problem. He refuses counseling because, he says, “The only one with the problem is you.” Please advise.

—Burned Out

Dear Burn,
A substance abuse program is what he needs, but you say he refuses counseling. He is clearly addicted because he promises to quit but is unable to do it. Perhaps if you make it an “or else” ultimatum, he will get help. If he does not, then you need to figure out a way to make a life without him. Unless he has glaucoma or is undergoing chemotherapy, the pot is just him self-medicating and avoiding life. It might as well be vodka. Because you say you do everything now, life without him will be an improvement … you will still be doing everything but minus the aggravation. Nothing occurs to Prudie as a reason for staying with a chilly, unmotivated pot smoker whose influence on the children is all bad. Good luck.

—Prudie, forwardly