Dear Prudence

Her Cheating Heart

Should I have thrown out my wife’s affair mementos?

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Dear Prudence,
I’ve done something that has come back to haunt me. I’ve thrown away some things that were my wife’s and she’s finally noticed they are missing. I threw them away because they were gifts given to her by men she had cheated on me with, once when we were dating and once after we were married, and both times with men she’d been friends with before they became lovers. All the gifts showed up after they entered the lover stage. I couldn’t stand these gifts in our house, so I threw them out. Now, months later, she has just noticed they are gone and has confronted me about them. She thinks she should be allowed to display those gifts. I’m stunned that she would actually think this would be acceptable in our home. None were of anything but sentimental value, the thought of which makes my stomach turn.


Dear Un,
What were the gifts—a French maid’s outfit? The collected recordings of Barry White? It sounds as if you two have not worked through the effect your wife’s cheating has had on your marriage. It would have been better to have told your wife that you couldn’t bear looking at the mementos of her flings, and asked her to get rid of them. Her response would have been instructive. Now that you’ve done it, though, you need to tell her the issue isn’t the disposal of the gifts, but the larger matter they represent.


Dear Prudence,
Recently, the father of my significant other’s best friend passed away. It was unexpected and a completely tragic situation. As I had no relationship with the man—in fact I had never met him, his wife, nor any member of the family other than the daughter and am not that close with her—I felt that my presence at the funeral was neither mandated nor especially wished for. It has always been my view that funerals are for family, friends, and those touched by the deceased’s life. As my girlfriend was obviously planning to attend her best friend’s father’s funeral she wanted me to come, but for the reasons I gave above I declined. I am now drawing ire from my lady. Was I wrong?

—Afflicted With Funereal Disease

Dear Afflicted,
Although you didn’t know the father, you know the daughter, and you say the circumstances of his death were particularly terrible. It would have been kind to express your sympathy by attending the funeral, particularly since your girlfriend asked you to accompany her. Write a note of condolence to the daughter and tell your girlfriend that yes, you were wrong.


Dear Prudence,
My younger brother and I are both getting ready to each have a first child, so our mother will be getting her first grandchildren within a few months of each other. She has announced that she will be called “Grandmother,” despite my brother and I both asking that she not use that name due to negative connotations it has for us caused by our own grandmother. We have suggested cute nicknames or the idea of her choosing a nickname, or just being called whatever each respective child comes up with; however, she is not open to any of these suggestions. Who, if anyone, gets to choose what a grandparent is called? I normally would not have a problem with asking what she would like to be called, but in this case neither my brother nor I care for this choice. Our mother has also stated that if the child calls her something other than Grandmother, she will correct her grandchild with a reminder that it’s “Grandmother” and not Gammy or Nana or whatever name the child was able to pronounce. Any ideas?

—Needs a Name

Dear Needs,
Why doesn’t everyone let the two little bundles of joy make their way into this world before all of you begin fighting over their use of nomenclature? I find it hard to believe that when a grandchild eventually runs to Grandmother and calls her “ba-ba!” Grandmother will start performing her Henry Higgins act. But if she does, try to get it on videotape for future entertainment.


Dear Prudence,
My husband and I became close friends with another couple two years ago. In the beginning I really liked the wife; over time, however, I’ve come to see another side of her personality that I’m not so sure I like. She will ask about my income and question the choices I’ve made regarding investments. She will constantly ask how I do various things and then tell me how she does them, suggesting that her way is the best way. She does this to others, not just me, and I notice that she’s offending them, too. Even her husband has berated her for this behavior in front of our friends. She complains to me that her husband still sees his ex-girlfriend (who she absolutely detests). Yet she confides things about her ex-boyfriend. It’s come to the point where I avoid her. I’m sure she wonders why. We are going on another group vacation and I dread the bold and offensive questions. Part of me wants to tell her that she risks damaging her friendships and quite possibly her marriage, but I’m afraid of her reaction and the repercussions. Is there a gentle way to put this? Should I even get involved? Or should I just continue to see her socially (because my husband is still good friends with her husband) and learn to ignore the bad behavior?

—Weary Friend

Dear Weary,
Unlike being someone’s daughter or sister, being a friend is a voluntary relationship, and it sounds as if you want to withdraw from this one. You’re stuck having to go on the vacation. But while you’re together, try some behavior modification therapy. Deflect her prying and the unwanted comments about her love life with: “I’m sorry, talking about money/your ex-boyfriend makes me uncomfortable.” Maybe this will bring out a more agreeable side to her personality (probably not). If you continue to find her annoying, cut way back on the foursomes; your husband can see his friend separately.