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My wife has packed on the pounds and I just don't feel attracted to her anymore. I work out at the gym to stay in shape for her. I hold up my end of the bargain -- why won't she?
She says: I understand your disappointment that your wife's not the same size as she was on your wedding day. (P.S. How's that hairline of yours doing?) But if there's any chance of getting your wife to shape up, it's not going to happen if you attack her. Instead, whip up a few (low-fat) dinners for two and offer to work out together. If you don't feel like making passionate love, hold her hand. With us wife-types, kindness will get you far, cruelty will get you nowhere.
He says: Remember that you married your wife for richer or poorer, in fitness and in fatness, till death do you part. Something has gone wrong if your wife has swapped orgasms for Oreos. Shutting her off from lovemaking will only further deflate her self-esteem and cause her to reach for the Haagen-Dazs. Instead, take romantic walks, suggest joining the same health club, and ask for a couples' discount. Work up a sweat together and the rest will follow.
My mother-in-law came to stay with us for two weeks and she was rude and obnoxious the whole time. We had a screaming match, and I refuse to apologize. My husband says I have to.
She says: Sorry, your husband's right and you're wrong. With mothers-in-law, you gotta suck it up and I don't care if she's Joan Crawford. Besides, don't you want a man who respects his mother? If he's not kind to the woman who selflessly stayed up all night long with him when he was sick and then allowed him to puke all over her early the next morning, as well as patiently enduring his two-hour monologues on Thomas the Tank Engine, what chance do you have?
He says: You have little choice but to get along with your mother-in-law. She's going to be around as long as you're married. Keep in mind, though, that your husband is stuck in the middle. He must keep Mom happy. Simultaneously, he must please you or you will shut him off, reducing his entire sexual existence to surfing the Internet with one hand. Be the bigger person and apologize. Then tell your husband to limit his mom's visits to holidays, like Earth Day.
My husband goes out with his buddies every couple of weeks, and I think they're a bunch of immature jerks. Plus, my husband doesn't tell me where they go or what they do. Do I really have to tolerate this?
She says: Chances are excellent that they're doing something moronic yet ultimately innocent. Think boozy poker games, bowling, maybe even a strip club. (Do you care? I wouldn't, if I knew that everything else at home was okay.) You know what's really bugging you? It's not so much where they are going as much as, "Oh, my God, I'm married to someone who is actually friends with these puppetheads!" But you love him anyway. Right?
He says: Remember that you tied the knot figuratively, not literally. You have to let him go out with the boys as long as he's not engaging in activities you find deeply offensive, such as slipping dollar bills into sequined thongs. Simply ask, "Why won't you tell me where you go?" If he insists on secrecy, start going out every two weeks with your girlfriends to undisclosed locations. Soon enough he'll want to know what you've been doing and you'll have bargaining power.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, October 2005.