Our advice columnists have heard it all over the years. Each Sunday, we dive into the Dear Prudie archives and share a selection of classic letters with our readers. Join Slate Plus for even more advice columns—your first month is only $1.
A friend of mine from college, “Chris,” whom I’ve known for 13 years, is getting married this summer several hundred miles away. Since I met my long-term partner six years ago, he and Chris have met several times for daylong events, enjoyed one another’s company, and exchanged birthday wishes, congratulations, etc., online—all of which is to say that my partner is certainly not a stranger.
Which is why I was shocked to receive a wedding invite addressed to me only. I called Chris to clarify that the invite was only meant for me and was told that only married couples were receiving a plus-one. Prudie, my partner and I were living together before this couple even met! It seems ludicrous to ask someone to spend $700 for a flight, two nights in a hotel, and a gift, while leaving their partner of more than half a decade home. Far be it for me to tell anyone whom to invite to their wedding, but am I right to be upset about feeling judged and excluded? If it matters, we are in our early 30s, and while Chris and his fiancée are fairly religious, it has never before factored into our relationship.
I think you deserve at least the chance to feel miffed! Certainly, in your position, I’d send my warmest congratulations and my regrets that I wouldn’t be able to attend. I agree that Chris has the final say in the guest list, of course, and that it can often be difficult to keep the number of invitations manageable, but to overlook a long-term, live-in partner simply because the two of you aren’t married is thoughtless. —Danny M. Lavery
From: “Help! I Didn’t Get a Plus-One to My Friend’s Wedding Because I’m Not Married to My Partner.” (April 1, 2019)
My parents divorced when I was 5 years old. I have a strong and loving relationship with both my parents and each has remarried and started new families, which means I have much younger half siblings, whom I also love dearly. My father and stepmother never helped me financially through college, though their house and lifestyle would lead me to believe they could have. I worked to pay for college, lived at home, and made excellent grades. But I am saddled with over $100,000 in school debt. Now my younger sister has started college. My father and stepmother have been paying a significant amount of her tuition, are helping with day-to-day expenses, and encouraging her to study abroad. She’s stated that she’s been told “school is her job” and she doesn’t have to work. I feel like I need to distance myself and cool off, but still want to share with my father how unfair this all seems to me. How do I deal with the anger and resentment I feel toward my sister and the “second family”?
It’s always a good idea to cool off before you confront a difficult situation in which you are going to seek redress. Your goal should not simply be to unload to your father about the disparities in the opportunities you two sisters have had, but to open a discussion with him about the burden you carried alone for your own education. You can say that seeing how he and his wife are easing much of the financial load for your sister has made you wish you’d had the emotional wherewithal when you went off—make that stayed home—for college to talk to him about getting assistance. (You have left your mother out of the equation. I’m assuming you were living with her and that she didn’t have funds for your education.) Explain you maintained excellent grades while working your way through school. But you couldn’t earn enough to pay the tuition, and you now have a six-figure debt. Explain how this is impeding your ability to launch your adult life, and you are asking that he help pay off part of your college loans. I hope your father will consider your request and come through for you. If not, then you will have some understandable anger and resentment to work through, but keep in mind the person behaving unfairly is your father, not your siblings. —Emily Yoffe
From: “Help! I Once Had a One-Night Stand With My New Crush’s Brother.” (Oct. 17, 2013)
My boyfriend and I have been together for more than eight years and have two young children together. We have had our ups and downs and generally things are pretty good. We had an active sex life before having kids and now we don’t. While I’m fine with the way things are, he is not. I’m tired after working all day, taking care of the house and kids. I get that sex is important and he’s made his feelings known that he wants to have it more. Things have improved from once every few weeks to once a week. For me, that’s fine, and he is “OK” with it although I know he would be thrilled with every day. When he initiates, I try to accommodate even if I’m not feeling it because I don’t want to hurt his feelings and in the end I’m always happy I didn’t turn him down. I have told him in the not-so-recent past that I don’t like it when he wakes me up to have sex. Sleep is very valuable to me and we have other time in the evening, so why wait until I’m sleeping? He’s been good about it until recently. Last night I had taken a bunch of medicine before bed because I’m sick and had been sleeping for over two hours when he woke me up to have sex. I was so mad … but there’s a part of me that feels guilty, like I shouldn’t turn him down, so I didn’t. I know that sounds stupid to even ask it … but is it wrong of me to be pissed? Here I am, sick and exhausted knowing I have to work in the morning, and I feel bad saying no. Then I ended up being up a couple hours later with sick kids.
If you’re looking for someone to be angry on your behalf when someone wakes you up (repeatedly, it sounds like) with insufficient justification, you’ve come to the right place! Sure, sex is important, but it’s not more important than getting enough sleep or making sure that both partners are contributing equally when it comes to keeping the house clean and looking after the kids when they’re sick. You’re putting so much extra pressure on yourself right now—imagining how “thrilled” your boyfriend would be if you had sex when you weren’t really in the mood more often, reminding yourself that you often end up happy once you’ve decided to have sex with him, worrying that it’s wrong to be angry when he did something you’ve already told him not to do. It is not your job to match your boyfriend’s libido. You have a right to set boundaries, to advocate for yourself even if that doesn’t make him immediately and instantly happy, to get a full night’s sleep, and to find a distribution of housework that doesn’t leave one of you exhausted and resentful and the other bored, horny, and wide-awake. I think it’s important to tell him that your current arrangement isn’t working for you, that he needs to stop trying to wake you up in the middle of the night to have sex (and if he does it again, he’ll be sleeping on the couch or at a friend’s house), and that there are other issues in your relationship that need to take priority right now. —D.L.
From: “Help! My Boyfriend Keeps Waking Me Up in the Middle of the Night to Have Sex.” (Feb. 11, 2019)
My 9-year-old son loves going to his grandparents’ home (husband’s parents) for vacation and school breaks. He and his grandfather sleep in the same room on separate beds because they have similar sleeping schedules. I just found out that Grandpa sleeps in the nude! My son told me this like it was a secret. I asked further and didn’t get any indication that anything else inappropriate was going on. I asked my husband, and he recollected that his father did sleep naked. I was shocked, and upset, and didn’t feel that this was appropriate. What should we do?
You could send a Pajamagram by rush order to Gramps. But if he is a man who has spent decades sleeping in the buff, he’s committed to going commando. You gently asked your son if anything alarming was going on, and you got a reassuring answer. He told you this confession confidentially because he obviously realized that Gramps is hanging out in a way he doesn’t get to see at home and he just couldn’t keep the news to himself. So now have your husband tell your son that he remembers his dad never wore pajamas, and it’s kind of funny, but it’s also fine. —E.Y.
From: “Help! My Father-in-Law Sleeps in the Nude. Should I Not Let My Son Stay With Him?” (Sept. 23, 2014)
More Advice From Dear Prudence
I’m a 13-year-old girl who has always been pretty shy. However, I’ve started to hang out with a new group of girls at my school. I really enjoy their company, and they have a funny sense of humor. They talk a lot about boys, and they frequently joke about their “little guys.”