The “Cats in the Kitchen” Edition

Listen to this episode

S1: Slate plus members, it’s survey time again, which means it’s your chance to tell us what you think about Slate Plus and Slate in general. It’ll only take a few minutes and you can find it at Slate dot com slash survey.

S2: You’re for your prudence, prudence, your prudence here, do you think that I should contact him again? Know how I think. Thank you.

S3: Hello and welcome back to The Dear Prudence Show once again, and as always, I am your host, Dear Prudence, also known as Daniel M. Lavery. And with me in the studio this week is a very special guest. About a year ago, I had my friend, comedian Hari Kondabolu, on as a guest. And around that time, Hari suggested that we invite his mother on the show. And that’s finally happening today. A few things have happened in the last year, you might be aware. So it’s taken us a while to to get everything sorted out. But please welcome to the show, Harry’s mother, Uma. Uma, welcome to the show. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much for making time for us. I’m very excited to get started. I’ll read our first letter, which is about parenting and taking care of your children. So I’m very, very glad that we have a parent on the show and I’ll just get started. The subject is flailing daughter. Dear Prudence, my daughter is twenty three. She’s smart, funny, but unable to commit to anything. She has dropped out of community college four times, failed to finish two different trade programs, and has walked out on so many part time jobs. I have lost count. She falls in and out of love as soon as the novelty fades. She burned through her educational savings and now expects her father and me to pay for everything. My husband suggested therapy, but our daughter refused. Six months ago, she quit her job because they expected her to take a few night shifts. The agreement was she could live at home if she worked and helped pay us back for the last school loan we cosigned. This was the last straw for my husband, and he told our daughter to leave. She blew up at us, left and stopped talking to us. It kills me, but what else could we do? Her brothers got their education, found jobs and moved out. I don’t understand why she couldn’t. Our daughter called us begging for money. Her friends have abandoned her and her boyfriend stole from her. We’ve sent her money, but then she asked to come home and my husband ended the conversation. We love our daughter, but we can’t go through this again. Is there any way out?


S4: First thing that I first thought that came into my mind is all children are not the same. Right? And because her brothers did well and did what they’re supposed to do, it doesn’t mean anything to her. I don’t know. Maybe there is an underlying issue. Mm hmm. I are some health issue, something she underwent if she were my child, what they would be trying to make her sit and talk to her. Mm hmm. And sometimes children are not cooperating for different reasons because they because parents are rejected may be expectations. They are expecting too much, are not looking for my say, my angle. And I think first we need to just talk to her what it’s all about. What do you think?


S3: I think that’s a really good idea.

S4: And before even therapy are taking her to somebody, I think parents and child should open up. I said she might resist. She may be belligerent in the beginning. At some point she might give in and say, OK, let’s try that.

S3: Yeah, I think that’s a good idea, too, because as you say, I think it’s smart to stop comparing her to her brothers. I think if that were going to be helpful, it would have helped. And it starts resentment. Yeah, exactly. Exactly. And then I think you’re right, the letter writer doesn’t seem to really know what the daughter’s perspective is. It’s clear that they’re disappointed that their daughter has dropped out of school and failed to finish different programs and has quit so many jobs. But I think you’re right to suggest a conversation where the letter writer asks their daughter what’s been going on, what hasn’t been working. You might not necessarily agree with her perspective, but I think it would help to to ask the question and really listen to what she has to say, partly because, you know, it’s not like it could make things worse. Things are already pretty strained between you all, but you might hear some answers that you find genuinely helpful. And maybe I think I would encourage the letter writer to maybe have this conversation without her husband at first, because it seems like the husband and the daughter are fighting the most right now. And it might be easier for the daughter to have the conversation just with her mom first.


S4: And also, I think husband and wife should sit together as parents and then talk to each other like what is the better way to approach this without getting aggravated or taking hasty decisions? And in any case, I I always feel that husband and wife sticking together helps as a unit and whatever it is they should discuss outside of firm and then come to a decision and then face us together.

S3: Yeah, I think so, too. And even if you just decide again, we can’t invite her to move back home, that didn’t work last time. It would probably just result in another big blow up now. Yes, father is right. At least you would be able to tell her that together.


S4: Yes, father is right too, because it’s happening so many times time and again. And so he I understand his frustration and also I understand mother’s pain and her being a mother. Yeah. Both are understandable. Yeah. I think what I feel is she will it will benefit her. She will benefit. And for parents, peace of mind and part of our future, if she goes and talks to somebody, a therapist, if it is community has so many resources. Yes. I think that that would help all of them.

S3: I think so, too. And I think to be clear that whatever is going on, it’s probably not going to change overnight. So, you know, I don’t think that any conversation means that tomorrow she will suddenly finish a program, get a job, keep that job for years and years and become really, really consistent. So you should also, I think, expect this will take a while to change and it won’t change right away. So so think about to how can we be helpful to our daughter in the long run, assuming this is a problem that she may have for a long time, how can we try to be patient? What are things that we’re not going to do no matter what? What are things we might be willing to do? And I guess really just to prepare for the long haul long.


S4: Yes, I agree with you completely. And not to get disappointed with that. She might do a couple of times more than how long. We don’t know. Just keep at it. Not to give up hope and don’t despair, and each kid is different and you’ll be a parent and she’ll be back, but then you have the patience. That’s all you should show. Patience.

S3: I think we’re ready for our next question, which I found a little bit funnier, even though it was also clearly quite disappointing for the letter writer, but the subject line of this one is my family won’t eat at my house because of my cats. Dear Prudence, when I first bought a house, I was excited to be the host for family gatherings, taking the torch from my parents. My partner and avid cook was thrilled to be making a big Christmas feast in the middle of cooking. My parents decided they were not going to eat anything that he made. They demanded that we go out to eat. Instead, my mom burst into tears and my dad got furious. The reason we have two cats and apparently it is so disgusting that my partner would pet the cats and then touch a pot handle that they were unable to eat anything that was made in the kitchen. Our food is now all tainted to them. These are people whose house is so clean you could probably eat off the floor. My mom also revealed that she never eats dinner at my sister’s house because my sister has a dog that is allowed in the kitchen. I had no idea. I thought that my sister just preferred to come to our place. She’s quite a lot older than me. I was heartbroken. I told my parents as such. They then refused to apologize and told me we were being disgusting and that they were not going to, quote, eat cat hair. My partner and my dad got in a near literal fight. My mom cried on the couch. I kicked them both out of the house and told them to go home for the holidays, which is a three hour flight for them. Am I ever going to be able to have family gatherings? Was I awful for not just caving and ditching Christmas dinner to go to a restaurant to keep the peace? I don’t really have extended family, so to my parents and my sister or nothing at all.


S4: Oh gosh. Huh?

S3: Yeah, I there were a couple of times reading this letter where I just wanted to stop and like interrupt like go back in time and say, wait, wait, everybody calm down.

S4: Yes. And there is some something missing I think. Communication, for one thing, and little like there, all letters, yeah, and there is a respect missing and love is missing. Yes, the couple made an effort to call them and make food and spend time and wanted to be nice to them. And they should have at least tried to tell them this is our problem. And they know that this could tell us more than they should have suggested in the beginning, not at tell all of us. Why can’t we go out and eat?


S3: Yeah, that was my thought, too, was that at every opportunity to sort of say this is a problem for me, can we talk about our other options? Both sides kind of went for the biggest, most dramatic yell stop.

S4: And this throwing out people, sending them back is a little bit going ahead like it’s true. Yeah, and and parents. But refusing is also not nice. And I. How do you think they know that they have accepted that for the time right before they came in?

S3: I think so. I mean, I was wondering about that too, because it seems like the letter writer is aware that their parents are very, very clean and don’t have pets themselves.


S4: Yeah, because they must exhibit these things since childhood. So I’m sure she knows he she knows about the problem and the parents know that they have pets, then they should.

S3: I think little respect and the tact these missing on either side, yes, so since the letter writer is the person who who wrote to us and is for asking for advice, I want to focus on what they could have done differently instead of what the parents could have done differently because, you know, they didn’t write to us. So I would say if I were in that position and that happened, even if I didn’t like the way that they brought it up, I do think it’s fair to say having a pet in the kitchen and seeing the cook, pet the animal and then not wash their hands, I can understand that objection. Yes, I. I don’t I wouldn’t have done it in the same way, but I think at that point I would have stopped and said, hey, I’m really sorry. I didn’t realize that this was so important to you. Let’s talk about our other options instead of, you know, you’re calling me disgusting. I hate this. If you don’t apologize, you need to get out.


S4: Yeah, they could have stopped it in the beginning even before, like, if things went too far and now there can be a point of no return.

S3: Yeah. And you know the part where your partner and your dad almost got into a fist fight, you know, at that point. So the question is like, am I was I awful for not just ditching Christmas dinner to go to a restaurant? You know, clearly tensions were very, very high. Clearly, you felt disrespected. You’re not an awful person. But I do think it would have been a really good idea to say I need five minutes to go take a walk around the block and calm down. And then I will come back and we can decide what to do. And yeah, I think going to a restaurant probably would have been a really good option and it would have saved you all, you know, tears and fighting and kicking you out of the house.


S4: After five minutes, you talk about different issues and you put it aside and start having fun or at least a decent meal and time together.

S3: Yeah. So to me, you know, if you say I don’t have extended family, my parents are incredibly clean. They really don’t like eating in a place where pets are. You know, to me that suggests, yeah, if you want to host the holidays in the future, you should probably take them to a restaurant because you don’t want this again.

S4: Yeah. Yes. Anything. But, you know, I agree with you.

S3: Yeah. This is just not worth the hassle your partner can cook for other people. You don’t have to think that they’re reasonable, but you can just say, like, look, it’s worth it to go out to dinner than to ever have a fight like that.


S4: Yeah. And it takes time for both of them to understand that. And hopefully they’ll be fine in future.

S3: Yeah, yeah. Just just assume from now on that it will not be helpful or fun to try to convince your parents to relax about having a cat in the kitchen. Just say my parents are a little obsessive about this. So we go to restaurants. That’s fine.

S4: Yeah.

S3: Oh, boy. Yeah, I don’t know. Do you have any pets? Do you do you have any thoughts about pets in the kitchen?

S4: I used to have it now and it’s like a family member. But fortunately for us, it’s a very sensitive dog. Like once I say something like this is this is where you should be. This is like not for you. She lives, oh, my dog is not like that. I’m very impressed with your dog. It’s so funny. I’m one. So she used to climb one so far. So only once I told her you are messing up the bureaucratese. I know what it’s not nice. Don’t get never ever again. I wish my children listen to me like my dog. It was a beautiful girl. I miss her.

S3: I used to have a cat and I thought I was really proud because he never went in the kitchen. And then one day I came home and he was standing on top of the stove and I realized he just did it when my back was turned.

S4: But I know pets and with little proper training, I think it be OK.

S3: Is much sadder and much more serious, I think, than cats in the kitchen, so we’re going to switch into a slightly more tricky family dynamic. The subject is too many guns, Dear Prudence. I recently went through a bad breakup after a three year relationship. I went to my brother’s house for some much needed family comforts. However, when I arrived, I found my nephew wearing a T-shirt with a picture of an AK 47 on the front. I hate guns and refused to keep guns in my house ever. My brother has a huge vault full of all kinds of guns, including illegal guns. He is very proud of them. Usually I ignore this as I love my brother and his family. But as I was sitting at the table, the conversation was only about guns, where to buy them, where to get ammo for them, how to shoot them, etc.. For over an hour, this was the conversation. I said nothing I know for his house. It’s his rules, of course. But several years ago, my youngest daughter committed suicide by shooting herself in the head with a gun her father had given her. In spite of my objections, I feel this was more than just tone deaf. This was hurtful. Should I have said something to my nephews about the fact that their cousin died of gun violence? Should I speak to my brother or sister in law?


S4: Well, yeah, this was heartbreaking, a it’s and difficult issue to address.

S3: Yeah, I don’t know if this letter writer is still with her or the father of her child who gave her daughter the gun. But it does seem to me like there’s a pattern of she tried to voice her objections. Her husband gave their daughter the gun anyways. And so part of why I imagine she didn’t say anything this time around was a sense of nobody’s going to listen to me or they’re not going to try to compromise or to to think about me in this moment. Did you get that sense, too?

S4: Yes. And not so it’s the parents. It’s not Pattakos to say anything.

S3: Yeah, I thought that that was a little too far because, you know, you went over there to talk about yourself. I think you need to ask, can we discuss something else right now that’s not the same as saying never do anything in your own home, right?

S4: Yes. And also, you have to be sensitive to sister in law and you can talk to your brother when he’s alone. Not like this is how I feel. What do you think? Yeah. So it’s easy to tell them that this is what happened before even talking to the neighbors about why she’s feeling the way she is. Mm hmm. Talk to the parents like brother and sister in law and say, can I talk to them, mother? You want to talk to them, express her concerns. And I think expressing that thing wrong with it?

S3: Yeah, it’s a very reasonable request. Yes. It would not be the same as asking them to change their entire lifestyle. If you say I want some. Sorry, that was so foolish of me. Earlier I said, I don’t know if you’re still with the father of your child. Of course you’re not. The letter begins by talking about going through a bad breakup. So I apologize. I just forgot.


S4: No, I think I mean, we both are that on main issue at concentrating. So I think right. That slip.

S3: But absolutely saying, you know, I had really hoped when I came over that we would be able to talk about my breakup and to get some support. That didn’t happen. You know, I want to say something now, even though I didn’t say it at the time, I would like to be able to talk about my breakup with you. And I also want to ask if when I come over, if you would not talk about guns. I think that’s a really simple, easy request. You’re not asking your brother to never talk about guns or to get rid of his guns. You’re saying, hey, is the mother of someone who killed themself with a gun? I’d like to not talk or think about them.

S4: Yes. And I think they’ll be reasonable. And there’s they understand that. And I’m not sorry it’s their house. So she has to put it mildly and like, explain herself.

S3: Not demand anything, but this letter writer doesn’t seem like they’re going to be to me. I’m not worried that she’s going to be demanding.

S4: No, she’s not. She seems very considerate and are paying. Must be like making her bring this issue at all.

S3: I mean, I certainly cannot imagine wanting to wear a shirt like that in front of somebody whose child had killed themselves with a gun.

S4: I, I don’t think that maybe not thinking about it.

S3: Yeah. I think maybe that it seems like the cousins, the nephews. I mean, it seems like they maybe don’t know.


S4: That’s what she said. Shall I tell them I talked to them?

S3: And that is a bigger question. I don’t I don’t have a good answer to that. I don’t know how old they are.

S4: I don’t know what they know about their cousin’s death already and also and surroundings, how what their surroundings and how they were raised and what they just saw today, that different things like that. We need to know if we both need to talk about it.

S3: Yeah, but I think you’re right to talk to your brother and sister in law. First to your request. Make it clear that you are asking them to do this for you and then to say, as the kids get older, I would like to tell them how their cousin died so they understand why this is sensitive for me. I won’t do that without your permission, but I wanted to let you know. I hope to do that someday and then you can talk to them about it. And if if I hope that they apologize, I hope that they meet you in the middle. If they don’t, I think it would be OK to say, you know, then let’s wait and meet up at a coffee shop or let’s meet up at my house where I can set the rules because I don’t want to have to hear about all those guns. I think that would be a good backup in case they don’t do that.

S4: Yes. In case yes. In their place, you can say what you want, but what you don’t want. And only thing is you can explain well that they respect you enough and they love you enough not to hurt you.


S3: Yeah, I really hope that that’s how they see it, that you’re just asking them to think about your specific situation for your occasional visits. It’s really it’s not asking them to change their whole lives. And I hope that they do it. And if they don’t, I hope that you give yourself permission to not go over there when you’re feeling vulnerable or sad.

S4: Yeah, yes, yes.

S3: Oh, OK. Let’s move on to, you know, a slightly a slightly nicer topic, which is fighting about money. Isn’t that more difficult? Mm hmm. Mm hmm. But at least it’s the problem of we have a lot of money, you know, that’s not so bad. The subject is leaving out the kids. Dear Prudence, my husband and I have two young children. We have a mortgage on our home. We own a car and we both have retirement savings and life insurance. We also both work and earn a similar amount of money. However, since my husband is a few years older and hasn’t taken parental leave, which includes four paid months where we live, he has contributed more than me financially. All of our siblings are in a similar financial position and have children of their own. Before we had children, I didn’t really care who my husband left his assets to. However, we’ve been talking about wills lately and since we’ve had children, I think it makes the most sense to leave things to the kids or the other partner who would support them. My husband plans to leave his retirement savings to his elderly parents about two hundred thousand dollars, twenty thousand to each of his siblings and ten thousand to each of his nieces and nephews. To me, he has left his life insurance, which may or may not pay out and which wouldn’t even cover the remainder of our mortgage. Obviously, this would put me in a very difficult financial position. If he died before me, I would need to sell our house and might not have enough money to support the children. I have explained to him that we just don’t have this much money and suggested we talk to a lawyer and a financial adviser. He won’t agree to either one. I plan to just leave everything to him and the kids. I’m very frustrated by this and I’m also quite hurt that he would prioritize his other relatives over his own two children. I know it’s not likely that he will die suddenly, but life is full of surprises. I suggested that maybe he leave them a smaller amount for a gift to remember him by, but to no avail. Is there anything else I can do to convince him or do I just need to learn to live with it? His family rarely see or call us, and certainly none of them will be leaving us anything in their wills. We only see his parents once every two years at Christmas. His parents haven’t even met our youngest child. I don’t know about you, but I had the thought here, kind of like in our first letter of I wonder if it would be helpful to ask the husband why this is really important to him, because there might be an answer that it wouldn’t necessarily make the letter writer agree with him or like it, but might help her understand where he’s coming from so that she could at least feel like she understood it a little bit better. Does that does that seem appropriate to you?


S4: Yes, it is. But I think that she’s addressing this because I think she went through all that. And then I don’t think he’s the kind of husband who listens to the wife. Hmm. Yeah, he sure seems pretty determined and determined. Yes. He’s a stubborn husband. It looks like. And also, he’s not thinking about his wife and his kids, maybe because he thinks he doesn’t think about mortality and what happens and all that, now he’s thinking of providing for his family, thinking that he’ll be there for his own family, hopefully. Mm hmm. And she makes a reasonable point like and also, you know, sometimes I think some people like to be called good, good personal, good family members and helpful. Mm hmm. And when you do it, the wife and kids, it’s your duty. You don’t hear any praise from that. But when you do it, your sister and brother people say he’s such a nice guy.

S3: Oh, that’s interesting. Yeah.

S4: And he still takes care of his family. That might be giving him some happiness.

S3: And he likes the praise, especially since she says that the family don’t call very often and haven’t met the youngest child yet. I wonder if maybe part of him thinks this. If I tell them about this, then they might call him or they might appreciate me more or they might be calling him, not the family.

S4: Yeah, because they why would they make a gesture to talk to the wife? Because obviously they think he’s listening to them and he’s taking care of them so they don’t feel she’s and her kids are not enough value. They’re not treating him as a. Family man, yeah, I think because otherwise, why wouldn’t they be social enough to a wife and kids, too?


S3: Yeah, yeah, I can understand why the letter writer feels hurt and upset. And I think what I would advise next is if he’s going to be stubborn, then accept his stubbornness and make another plan. So you say he won’t talk to a lawyer and he won’t talk to a financial planner. That’s too bad. But you can talk to a lawyer and you can talk to a financial planner and whatever chief she’s working.

S4: I think she said she’s also working. She needs to plan separately. Yeah. This is not going to give it by talking to someone he made up his mind. Yeah. So take care of your kids yourself and make your own plans.

S3: Yeah, I think especially because she says I plan to just leave everything to him and the kids. And I don’t say this because I want her to do this because she’s angrier to punish him. But I think it’s it’s really a good idea to talk to that lawyer and talk to that financial planner and say, you know, I worry that if I died suddenly and unexpectedly and I left all my money to my husband, he might not use it to support the children. So I think you should I think you should leave all of your money to your children and find out a way to do so so that that money is protected.

S4: That seems a practical thing more than anything. It’s that despite that anger, there’s nothing helps except take it out for yourself. If you don’t sit around, he’ll be a part of it. That would be great.

S3: And that’ll make it easier to talk about the feelings, because if you know, OK, if it’s me who dies first, I’ve at least prepared to help the kids as much as I can. That will, I think, remove some of the pressure.


S4: And it’s a delicate issue to bring it up. It’s how can she approach it? Like, what if something happens to you? It’s not pleasant to say, like unless you both are practical and that kind of mentality, they approach everything together.

S3: Mm hmm. Yeah. And and it is hard because, of course, as you say, like, it’s sad to imagine your partner dying. It’s a very charged and heightened possibility. So, you know, you can pretty quickly go to, oh, my gosh, does this mean that you care about me or not? And it’s a very core subject to bring it up. Yeah. Yeah. And so I think it will really help. And you can even tell your husband, like, OK, I’m not going to try to force you to come with me, but I’m going to see a lawyer and I’m going to talk to a financial planner and I will make my own decisions here. And, you know, if that encourages him to maybe come with you, that’s great. And if he just says, fine, do whatever you have to do, at least you can still address those questions for yourself.

S4: Yes. And that should be a solution. At least you are starting to let him know what you want to do.

S3: Yeah. And I hope that in other areas of your marriage, he he’s not quite this stubborn. You don’t say much about what he’s like outside of this, but I think the letter writer would have mentioned if he was always really stubborn. So hopefully it’s just this one thing.

S4: It’s financial, I think, and that. And nothing else to mention.

S3: Yeah. OK, well, good luck. I do think that that is a problem with a possible solution. This next question, I’m not so sure what the solution is. I’m very worried for this letter writer. The subject is my partner and got his ex pregnant while I was pregnant. Well, it’s not a great start. No, dear Prudence, I’ve never had a boyfriend in my whole life. I was 22 years old when I met my current partner, who was 37 years old. He had a past relationship with his ex and had two kids with her. They never got married. Their relationship was on and off. They broke up five years ago and we’re just taking care of their kids in different homes. He told me that they were over and that he wanted to be with me. So I moved in with him. And then his ex found out he was in a relationship when she heard that I was pregnant, she decided to stop using birth control, came to the house begging to have sex with my partner. She even convinced him that if he didn’t give her what she wanted, she would kill herself and then her kids wouldn’t have any mother. Since then, my partner has been very frustrated with me since the day I got pregnant. He’s never even seemed to care that he hurt me through all these times because he wanted to make his ex happy first. So he gave in and cheated on me with his ex while I was four months pregnant. I was so heartbroken I felt like killing myself. And now he’s telling me that he still wants to be friends with his ex and also go to her baby’s delivery. What should I do? I don’t want him to go because he gave her everything she wanted and left me hurting. I don’t have any family with me. I have traveled to a foreign country for my studies and met him. What can I do? All I want is for him to listen to me one last time and not attend her delivery. Oh, this one makes me very sad.


S4: What do you think like. Do you think see problem in her approach? I had a relationship with this man.

S3: I mean, I think my advice here is going to be a little bit like my advice in the last letter. But but more which is I don’t think you can expect he’s going to change his mind based on what you have described here in this letter. I think this guy has been cheating on you under pretty awful conditions. I don’t think you can trust him. I don’t think he’s going to listen to you. I think you should act as if you know that he’s going to go to that delivery no matter what you say, that he’s probably going to cheat on you with her again and that he is not going to put you first. And you should assume that all that is going to stay true. And that way, if you decide that what’s best for you and your baby is to go home and be close to your family, you should do that. If it’s to call your family and ask them to come visit you, if that’s possible, you should do that. If it’s to call a friend and see if they can help you move, it’s to do that. But I mean, this guy got his ex pregnant while you were pregnant, and now he’s telling you he wants to go to her delivery.

S4: You are being very nice about this thing, only addressing it. And so your options. Yeah, she he’s a self-centered person, bad decision making and not a good example for the kids right now. Accountability there. And this may be the case to change her thinking and planning and take it off herself.


S3: Yeah, I think that the fact she mentions that she’s never had a boyfriend and she was 22 when they met, I thought maybe she thought maybe all relationships are like this. Maybe I just don’t know. And and I just really want you to know. Letter writer, you deserve better than this.

S4: Yes. And don’t feel bad, but like it. Things happen in life. It’s pretty difficult. And because you are already pregnant and look from your family and friends and support system.

S3: And of course, that’s really sad. You want the father of your child to want to be with you and to take care of you.

S4: I understand why that feels really awful when you said yeah, and she should develop some thick skin, not ignored. It comes with time, but this time is very delicate situation. Is it set? Yes, I’m a little angry at him, so I’m just I can meet a woman like that.

S3: Yeah, it’s it’s truly, truly awful. He sounds like a scumbag. And I think really to my main concern is she says that she felt like killing herself. And it just, you know, if there’s anybody, a friend or relative, anyone you could call and share that with, you know, I want you to just let someone know how how sad you are and how much you need help.

S4: I’m sure there are friends.

S3: Yeah, I think you should talk to anybody besides him about this. And I think he is not a good person and you cannot trust him. And that’s so awful, especially when you’re in such a vulnerable position.

S4: And he’s not going to change. If he’s doing that simultaneously to women, that is no accountability. He’s not going to change.


S3: Yeah, he’s not. You can’t you know, you say you don’t want him to go, but you can’t you can’t trust him to stay.

S4: And he’s not even accountable to his own children. That’s sad. Like he’s not taking responsibility.

S3: Yeah. Yeah. So I’m sorry. I hope you can get home. I hope you can get someone to come out and visit you whatever you need. And, you know, my guess is that you will probably need to go to court to get child support from him. He does not seem like the kind of guy who is going to voluntarily pay for his children. And that’s going to be hard to. So, you know, I think at this point I’m just repeating myself. But you cannot trust him. No. Don’t waste your time and energy trying to ask him to do something for you because he’s just made it really clear he doesn’t care.

S4: No. And she should realize it sooner the better.

S3: Yeah. As hard as it is, it’s going to make your life a lot easier. OK, we’re almost done. Thank you so much for being with me, because I know a lot of these questions have just been really sad.

S4: And you know something? You don’t need me. Actually, you are doing everything you could set.

S3: OK, that’s a good indicator that I need to back off. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, please don’t.

S4: It’s like I’m very impressed. And that’s why I’m telling you I’m here for your moral support. Let’s say that. Thank you.

S3: I feel very morally supported. So this last one, OK, the subject is I just realized my wife is a functioning alcoholic. Dear Prudence, I’m a woman married to another woman. We’ve been together for 10 years, married for eight years and have five year old twins. My wife is a stay at home mom and I work long hours in the corporate world. Before the pandemic, I’d come home around 7:00 to have dinner and spend time with my wife and kids. Then we would have some one on one time together after they went to bed. I never noticed anything wrong during this time. However, now that I’ve been working from home, I realized that my wife drinks all morning. She starts with a mimosa or a morning beer, then drinks continuously until stomping around 2:00 p.m., meaning she’s sort of sober by dinnertime. This is why I never noticed it before. I drink maybe two to three times a month and until now I had no idea that drinking was such a regular part of my wife’s life. It’s clear she’s a functioning alcoholic. I don’t know what to do. We’re trying to manage our twins virtual school from home so my wife can’t go to an inpatient facility. And are they even accepting clients in a pandemic? Virtual therapy seems like it would be less effective than in-person therapy. I depend on my wife for child care and can’t take a leave of absence from work as our vacation policy is very rigid. We live a pretty lavish lifestyle, so I can’t go on unpaid leave without sacrificing non negotiables like private school for our kids. I feel horrendously guilty for my role in all of this and also unsure whether blowing up my family is the right way to approach it. I found a therapist, but she has no availability for another three weeks. What in the world do I do next?


S4: Oh, it’s it’s a big problem on many levels. First of all, knowing that you are watching her do it and she’s saying functional at the same time, even though she’s an alcoholic. Firstly, I feel that they both should talk about it.

S3: I wondered that, too, because the letter writer said, I don’t know, she can’t go to an inpatient facility, but I don’t know. Does she think she has a problem? Does she want to go to an inpatient facility?

S4: Did you have a guest there unless she admits that she has a problem? All this discussion is from outsiders. You need to have this conversation with her first. She didn’t mention it. Whether they discussed it or not. This is all part. That’s right. Right, and so even if it is, then I think the couple’s counseling they should go to.

S3: Yeah, and I know that they’re going to be able to see someone in a few weeks, and that’s a good thing. But, yeah, the question of what do I do right now? You know, I think no one has talked to your wife and ask, you know, when did this start? I mean, it’s clearly when you two started dating, she wasn’t drinking in the morning.

S4: Or maybe she was you know, she doesn’t know because she’s not going right. She’s saying that she starts at 7:00 in the morning. Yeah, that’s early. So fast to talk to each other. And I think she needs to go to a therapist, some person to talk to in person.

S3: Mm hmm. I also think that sentence about we live a lavish lifestyle and I can’t go on unpaid leave because then I would have to sacrifice non-negotiable, like private school. And I don’t want to say you have to do that. But like, if you start this as like my wife has to do the child care. I can’t take unpaid leave. Our kids can’t go to public school. I feel like part of what the letter writer is trying to say there is like we can’t change anything about our life. But you might have to.


S4: You might have to, because that’s not an excuse. Public school and private school. First of all, this your partner should be healthy. Yeah. And living to continue this. So you need to help her get her health back. And again, accountability to children. And this is not a healthy living.

S3: Yeah, I think that’s a really good point because the implication was the lavish lifestyle and the private kids, the private school, our kids need that. But what your kids need is to be being looked after by somebody sober. Yeah. And they need stability and safety. They need good examples. You know, some of the questions you should be asking is like, has she ever been driving them somewhere when she was drinking? You know, what’s non-negotiable is whether or not your kids are being driven around by somebody who’s drunk. What’s non-negotiable is has she ever, you know, failed to notice that the kids were hurt or were they ever in danger? That, to me, is much more important than keeping a lavish lifestyle or making sure they go to a private school.

S4: And also, how well can she take care of them when she’s drunk? Driving is a big issue, but on smaller levels, like how much is she responsible for the kids involved? They they don’t mean that the department is not around.

S3: Yeah. And so I think the kids should also be seeing a therapist.

S4: Yeah. It depends on her world that.

S3: Right. Right. And I think probably also the letter writer. If you can’t go to a therapist for another three weeks, I think you should look for Al Anon meetings, which are meetings for people who have a loved one, who is an alcoholic and are trying to figure out how to maintain, you know, sanity and peacefulness and a good life on their own. I think that’s something that you could do today. You could find a meeting today.


S4: I think they have people who come to your place and talk to you. I think they can do that. So I think that the next three weeks. Yeah, she should arrange for that.

S3: Yeah. And the other question was that they didn’t know if if inpatient facilities are accepting clients during a pandemic. Yes, they are. Oftentimes spots are even more limited. Oftentimes they’re expensive and oftentimes there are risks. So I don’t want to just say, you know, yes, they’re open, go for it.

S4: But, yeah, that is an option and it’s better to address it sooner than most wanted.

S3: Yeah, yeah, really, you know the question, what in the world do I do next, learn more from your wife and don’t go into the situation, assuming the things that can’t change are we have to keep our lavish lifestyle. My wife has to keep doing round the clock child care. And I can’t take a leave of absence from work because those things just might have to change. And you also might need to talk to a trusted friend or relative to get help with the kids in the meantime. But what’s happening right now is just clearly not working. You can’t say I depend on my wife for child care if she has to be drunk all day to get through it.

S4: Yeah, that lifestyle is not making them happy and healthy. So that’s a secondary.

S3: Yeah. This lavish lifestyle is not good for your family.

S4: Yeah, my children don’t know what lavish but not like they they want to be happy and be parents. That’s up. Yeah.

S3: I’m really sorry, this is jarring and upsetting, but, you know, you need and deserve help, your wife needs and deserves help. Your kids need and deserve help. And, you know, you will be OK if your kids have to go to public school. But there are other mother who can get help for her drinking problem. That would be a better outcome than private school forever.


S4: Yeah, when situation gets better. Children can go back to their normal life. State level is normal for them at this point and in a healthy atmosphere and loving parents.

S3: Yeah. And my goodness, we’ve just had some really unhappy families today. I am sorry. I wish I could have had one sort of funny problem or something about work, but we just had difficult family dynamics today.

S4: Yeah. And it’s it’s what they did. And some of them are very touching and moving and some of said. And so many things can go wrong in a normal day to day life. I think we need to adjust and always be reasonable and considerate to others.

S3: I think that’s a really good thing, too. Yeah, the problems are always going to come up. You’re always going to have a fight at the holidays or argue about money.

S4: And so financially and this alcoholism is a problem on why we don’t know. And maybe whatever happens in people’s personal lives, we don’t know. And philandering boyfriends and husbands, it’s unfortunate, but you need to be strong to overcome them and think of alternatives and find support elsewhere from friends and family.

S3: It can be done, but it can happen. Well, thank you so, so much. Thank you. Great pleasure. And thank you also for raising such a great son who is also a guest on the show. Thank you. Thank you very much. And have a great rest of the day.

S4: Thank you. You too. And it’s my pleasure. Coming here. It’s nice of you to ask me now. Why go home? Think about these things. Wonderful. And take care of yourself and be safe. I will. You too. Bye, Daniel. OK, bye for now. Bye.


S5: Thanks for listening to Dear Prudence, our producer is Phil Cercas. Our theme music was composed by Robin Hilton. Don’t miss an episode of the show had to slate dotcom. Dear Prudence, to subscribe and remember, you can always hear more prudence by joining Slate. Plus go to Slate Dotcom slash. Pretty hard to sign up. If you want me to answer your question, call me and leave a message for zero one three seven one, dear. That’s three three to seven. And you might hear your answer on an episode of the show. You don’t have to use your real name or location, and at your request we can even alter the sound of your voice. Keep it short 30 seconds a minute, tops. Thanks for listening.

S1: And here’s a preview of our Slate Plus episode coming this Friday, all of this confidence that’s showing up in this letter is not translating into the things that you do in your daily life. You say, I applied to one job because I decided in advance that if I applied to jobs I didn’t know I was going to be offered, it wouldn’t be worth the rejection. And now I’m starting to think it might have been worth the rejection. How could this have happened? It’s incredibly clear how this happened. You applied to one job you didn’t really want. So the you know, your problem is incredibly straightforward. You didn’t apply to other jobs. And this sort of someday my prince will come energy at the end of this letter, you know, please, when am I going to get what I want? When is somebody going to recognize how I’m languishing here? To listen to the rest of that conversation, join Slate plus now at Slate dot com forward slash Prudy part.