Dear Prudence

The Son Remains the Same

Should my fiance take a paternity test?

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Dear Prudence,
My fiance, “Ken,” has a 10-year-old son whom he loves very much. The only problem is that he isn’t sure “David” is his. The doubts surfaced before David was a year old, after my fiance already believed and accepted he was his. It came to Ken’s knowledge that a week after David’s mother had intercourse with Ken, she had intercourse with someone else (she has never revealed with whom). It was during this span she became pregnant, but insisted she knew for sure it was Ken’s baby. Personally, I don’t see how she could know. There is a very real chance David is not Ken’s biological son. David becomes brokenhearted and tearful when this is discussed. The mother has two other children by two other fathers, and she can’t be sure about the exact father of those, either. My fiance loves David dearly and is afraid of the consequences if it’s discovered David is not his. Should he get a paternity test and get it over with, or does he try to once again fully accept what he did 10 years ago, that David is his son?

—Concerned Fiancee

Dear Concerned,
David is his son. David has been his son for 10 years, and your fiance is the only father David has ever known. Where is the pressure coming from to legally resolve this situation? It doesn’t sound like the mother or your fiance want to explore or change David’s paternity. Perhaps you see an opening to eliminate an uncomfortable situation from your new marriage and get David and his mother out of your life. Drop it, encourage Ken’s relationship with his son, and embrace the boy.


Dear Prudie,
I’ve been having an ongoing argument (13 years) with my husband. I do all the everyday house cleaning (dishes, laundry, bathroom, picking up). When I tell him to help with his share, he brings up the fact that I don’t do any outside house maintenance (mowing the lawn, picking up leaves, fixing the washer). Our grass doesn’t grow well, so I can count on one hand how many times he mows in a year. It has gotten to the point that when I get home, I feel like the dirt is taking over my body. Instead of being glad I’m home and seeing my family, I am upset and I grab the cleaning tools. I feel the only way to fix this problem is to not care about the dishes, clean clothes, or the bread that has its own fur coat. But I can’t do that. I need a way to get it through my husband’s thick skull that his help is needed! The reason I am finally writing is I just asked for his help, and the next words out of his mouth were, “Let’s have sex.” He fell asleep not getting any, and I was awake, angry.


Dear Cinderella,
I will address the male readers of the column: OK, gentlemen, it’s hard to believe, but let’s put aside hormonal shifts, depression, or your lousy technique as the reason your wives are not giving you more sex. If you want to get some conjugal action, how about turning to your wife and saying, “I think I’ll do a load of laundry.” As for you, Cinderella, this fight has been going on for 13 years. I’m not going to defend your husband, but you have to find a way to ratchet down your anger—it’s your rage, not the dirt, that’s taking over your body. The reality is that you’re always going to do the bulk of the inside work. As Dave Barry explains, men are essentially incapable of doing housework because they suffer fromMale Genetic Dirt Blindness. So, what to do? Try a radical change of perception and consider that the housework is probably helping you live longer. There is scientific evidence that engaging in day-to-day physical activities like housework can burn a significant amount of calories. While your husband is beached on the couch, you’re running the vacuum and giving yourself a longevity edge. Can you afford to have the house professionally cleaned once or twice a month? If you can’t, find something else to cut back on so you can. Drop your expectations that your husband will spontaneously clean up, but have a discussion (pleasant, if possible) about specific inside tasks he will agree to do on a regular basis. (Then be prepared to remind him for the rest of your married life.)  Sex does not cure dirt blindness, but having more of it will make you look better to each other.


Dear Prudence,
My desk at work is in the middle of a large common area. I am fairly easily distracted. The individual with the desk closest to mine makes an inordinate amount of mouth sounds and noises throughout the day. He makes almost constant and excessively loud lip-smacking and loud breathing sounds, and has a tendency to groan loudly when he makes a mistake and to curse and speak out loud to himself. Despite all this annoying activity, he’s a pretty affable guy who likes to think that his carrying on is amusing to the rest of us. Due to this and his good nature, his behavior has been tentatively accepted, but I can’t take it anymore. How do I politely ask him to keep his mouth shut without causing a rift in the office?

—About to Crack

Dear Crack,
Judging from the letters I receive, every office in America is required to have someone who chews like a buffalo, hums like a swarm of mosquitoes, and grunts like a walrus. Since not everyone is equally annoyed by these sounds, could you possibly change desks with someone who doesn’t mind the mouth of hell? If that doesn’t work, turn to technology. You could spend a couple of bucks for earplugs, or buy one of those expensive noise-blocking headphones. You’ll hardly look eccentric since these days everyone has devices attached to their ears. And if for some reason that doesn’t solve the problem, you could delicately raise the issue with the offender. Try something like, “I hate to bring this up, but unfortunately for me, I am supersensitive to distracting sounds. You’re probably not even aware of it, but could you try to tone down the [insert behavior driving you berserk]?” You may get no response, or even a hostile one, but there’s a chance you’ll—even temporarily—enjoy the sounds of silence.


Dear Prudie,
I am having casual sex with this guy. I really like him. He says he isn’t ready for a relationship. How will I know when he is?


Dear Wondering,
When he stops having casual sex with you, you check out why, and you learn he’s in a relationship with someone else.