Dear Prudence

I Love You, Man

A husband’s affectionate relationship with his fishing buddy leaves his wife out in the cold.

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Dear Prudence,
My husband and I were sweethearts through high school and college and have been married for nine years. We have two beautiful children and are very happy. My husband started a new job a few years ago and immediately struck up a close friendship with an unmarried male co-worker. They go on regular weekend fishing and hunting trips. They are so inseparable that our friends, families, and even their co-workers joke about their “bromance.” My husband has never displayed any bisexual or gay tendencies before. But he and his friend hug, often have their arms around each other, sit next to each other on our couch when watching TV, and talk for hours in our backyard. They even tell each other, “Love you.” I don’t believe my husband has said that to any other man, even his father. The friend has become part of our family. The kids adore him and call him “Uncle.” Sometimes I find myself feeling jealous of their closeness. Our conversations tend to be about paying bills, housework, and the kids. I tried to talk to my husband about how he and his friend often make me feel like a third wheel. My husband asked whether I want him to cut his friend out of our lives. I don’t, but I’m getting frustrated and a little resentful. Any advice?

—Third Wheel

Dear Third,
When your husband and his friend are murmuring together, have you ever heard one of them say, “I wish I knew how to quit you”? One night, after the kids are in bed, suggest the three of you watch a movie. Then pop Brokeback Mountaininto the DVD player and let the fun begin. I suppose it’s possible that what you’re observing between your husband and his friend is just really deep male bonding. Though I suspect it’s really deep male bonding, and that if you peeked in the tent when the two of them are “hunting and fishing,” you’d find they truly are inseparable. After her marriage to Prince Charles broke up, Diana gave an interview in which she said there were three people in her marriage, the third being Camilla. There are three people in your marriage, and two of them could be named Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist. You have to accept that if you want to stop being the third wheel, you run the risk of the wheels coming off your marriage because it’s not clear your husband would choose you over his friend. But after years of this, you’re rightfully tired of feeling marginalized in your own home. You and your husband need to have some serious talks about something besides the bills. For starters, you need to know whether he and his pal are lovers. Then you’ll have a better idea of whether your husband, like Ennis Del Mar, feels that in regard to his friend, “There ain’t no reins on this one.”


Dear Prudence: Always a Bridesmaid … Literally!

Dear Prudence,
I have a daughter who is an addict and alcoholic and lives under a bridge. She is in late-stage alcoholism and clearly will not live long. Periodic attempts have been made over the years to provide help; the last ended with my daughter clearly indicating that she wants to continue living as she does. My daughter has two daughters, 21 and 19, who as a result of their mother’s disease have had tragic lives. They recently visited their mother under the bridge and took pictures of her and then proceeded to publish the pictures on Facebook with a very dramatic dialogue. The pictures are disturbing: She is losing her hair, her stomach is horrendously distended. This upset me tremendously. It’s not that my child’s plight is a secret. My friends and our family all know. But it seemed to me that gross advantage was taken of a woman who has few, if any, defenses left. No one else in the family believes her children’s actions were wrong. Am I wrong?


Dear Grieving,
What a heartbreaking situation for all concerned. You are watching a daughter end a terrible, wasted life. Her daughters, who you say have suffered greatly, are seeing their mother die in an utterly debased way. And now the depth of her misery has been posted for all to see. I’m sure this is a use beyond even what Mark Zuckerberg imagined his social network would bring. I completely understand your distress, and it would have been better for your granddaughters not to post on Facebook. But what matters most here is them. Your daughter has thrown away her life; her daughters are the collateral damage. Maybe for these girls, putting out the raw, ugly truth of their mother’s life is cathartic and somehow helps them feel more in control of what has been so senseless. Your daughter is lost, but your granddaughters surely need love, understanding, and nurturance from their family. Put your anger aside and step up to try to provide this for these tortured young women.


Dear Prudie,
I am an attorney in my late 20s. I have no student loans and have a successful and challenging career. Many of my friends work for nonprofits or do legal service work. I donate money to their organizations and attend their events. I also contribute beyond the pro bono requirements that my law firm requires. Recently, I purchased a new car. I did not tell my friends or make a production of it, but once they found out, many of them made comments like, “You could have gotten X number of people off death row with that money” or “If you can spend that much money on a car, why isn’t it a hybrid?” I don’t want to sound like I’m lamenting the plight of the yuppie, but why isn’t working hard, paying your taxes, and giving back enough? Why should I have to defend my life choices when my friends simply chose other paths?

—Never Good Enough

Dear Never,
If you decide live in a hovel, eat only canned beans, and replace your car with a bicycle, you could put almost your entire salary toward emptying out death row! Alternately, you could start cultivating some friends who are less self-righteous than the ones you now hang out with (who, I’m sure, aren’t so elevated that they refuse to cadge rides in your new car). You get no credit from them for helping the car dealers of America get out of their trough—although I’m sure your friends find businesspeople less worthy than convicted murderers. It is wonderful that your friends are using their degrees to help society’s most forgotten. Many of their jobs, however, depend on funding from people like you: taxpayers who make good salaries. You’re a lawyer, so you know that it’s a losing strategy to get in a colloquy that won’t advance your case. If your friends continue to diss your car, just say, “Sorry to hear you feel that way. I’m really enjoying it.”


Dear Prudie,
I hate my husband’s haircut. He normally keeps it a medium length, but every six months or so, he gets the urge to buzz it all off and does so, which I think looks awful! We’ve actually discussed the matter numerous times, as we’re fairly open with each other and he’s not the type of guy who’s easily hurt or offended. My dilemma is that he maintains that his choice of haircut is a personal decision, but I’m frustrated and a little hurt that he doesn’t seem to care about what I find appealing. My husband is very attractive, but during the periods of buzzed-headedness … less so. Am I being controlling? Should I just accept that my husband is free to decide on whatever hairstyle he wants?

—Hairy Situation

Dear Hairy,
Let’s say a couple of times a year you decided to put a temporary pink streak in your hair because it gave you a lift, but your husband hated it. If you really liked it, you wouldn’t want to hear more than once how much less attractive your husband found you until the pink washed out. You’ve made your preferences clear, but your husband still likes to get a buzz. It could be that the more you nag, the more he feels driven to take it all off. So take another tack. Next time he goes cue ball, run your hands over his stubble and say, “Your lack of hair is starting to grow on me—you look like a Marine, and it’s turning me on.” Whether or not he remains mule-headed about his haircut, you may find you don’t mind his bare-headedness so much.


More Dear Prudence Columns

  • Abuser Seeks a Way Out: I’m an emotional bully to all my girlfriends. How can I change?” Posted Jan. 28, 2010.
  • His Endowment Is Cocktail Chatter: My wife blabs to her girlfriends about my large penis. Is that normal?” Posted Oct. 8, 2009.
  • Dirty Pretty Things: My girlfriend has worn the same undergarment for weeks. Isn’t that disgusting?” Posted Aug. 27, 2009.
  • Lunchroom Bandit: My co-worker is stealing everyone’s food” Posted Dec. 3, 2009.

More Dear Prudence Chat Transcripts

  • Callous Co-Workers Count My Calories: Prudie counsels an American whose European colleagues monitor her diet—and other advice seekers.” Posted March 1, 2010.
  • Help! I’m Too Hot for My Age: Prudie counsels a woman whose youthful looks bring her nothing but problems—and other advice seekers.” Posted Feb. 8, 2010.
  • The Pervy Principal: Prudie counsels a school worker whose boss trolls Internet porn on the job—and other advice seekers.” Posted Feb. 1, 2010.
  • Sticky Fingers Can’t Stop Stealing: Prudie counsels a good Samaritan gone bad—and other advice seekers.” Posted Jan. 25, 2010.

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