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I want a dog but my wife is against it. I told her that I'll be responsible for walking and feeding him, but she just laughs and says that she knows she'll end up doing the dirty work. I'm not a 6-year-old -- why do I need her permission anyway?
She Says: Why do I get the feeling, from the tone of this question, that your wife knows you much better than I do? Tell the truth: Are there unused hang gliders and boat-making kits languishing in your garage? A dog can't be stuffed in the closet to gather dust: It's a member of the family, as much as your children. (You do help with the caretaking of your children, don't you?) So can you honestly say that the dog won't become your wife's responsibility? Right. I didn't think so. You'd better wait until you can give an unequivocal yes.
He Says: Sorry, buddy, on this one I'm on your wife's side. That's because 10 years ago my wife promised that if we got a dog she'd be so attentive I'd never even know he was in the house. Ten years later I'm the one holding the pooper-scooper three times a day, singin' "you ain't nothin' but a hound dog, cryin' all the time." Her exasperated rejoinder: "Do you know how busy I am?" Yes! That's why I didn't want to get the damn dog. My advice? Unless you both have the same level of doggie desire, don't do it.
My husband keeps buying me sexy, skimpy outfits. I'm in good shape but I'm too old to be prancing around suburban parties in micro-minis and too-tight tops. I told him if he wanted a hooker, he shouldn't have married a lady!
She Says: First, congratulate yourself. Obviously your husband thinks you're as hot as Gabrielle on Desperate Housewives. But explain that while you love looking good for him, you're feeling as though you're the talk of the PTA. Then compromise: You'll don the stilettos and French maid's uniform in private if he'll lay off demanding the hooker wear in public. (P.S.: Is it possible that you merely think of yourself as too old and that you're dressing like a mother superior when your body and your age allow you to dress like a vixen?)
He Says: I don't know Mars from Venus. Bud I do know that nothing illustrates the differences between my wife and me more than our reactions to a lingerie catalog. While I'm imagining her in a skimpy outfit, she's picturing a thong riding up her rear. My advice (thought it is totally ignored at my house) is to release your inner tramp, preferably on a Friday night. If the push-up bra and French-cut bikinis do the trick, you won't be wearing them for long anyway. And I guarantee he'll smile through the honey-do list on Saturday.
My son wants to get a motorcycle for his high school graduation, and my husband thinks it's a great idea. I'm violently opposed. They're high-fiving each other, and I'm furious. What should I do?
She Says: There's a lot of stuff that I can joke about, but as the mother of two boys I can't be flippant about vehicle safety. And in this case your husband's being a jerk. Tell him in no uncertain terms that you don't think he's being a responsible father. If he still insists on giving your son the motorcycle, say that your graduation present will be a series of intensive safety lessons -- and you won't give your son a penny for anything else until he completes them.
He Says: I know what you're thinking: Roaring down the open road, Steppenwolf blasting on the radio, your son's body parts rearranged like a Picasso portrait. While I've had a few Harley fantasies, I agree that teenagers and motorcycles are usually a bad combination. To scare him off you could get a tattoo and threaten to ride with him. Or if your husband and son insist on a bike, demand that the gift include safety gear and a gift certificate for a motorcycle safety course.
Originally published in Ladies' Home Journal magazine, May 2006.