Splendor in the grass cuttings
I married a domineering man 20 years my senior. We have two college-age kids. I've spent the past 22 years (half my life) navigating his ill-temperedness and high expectations, and my life is often chaotic and unhappy. For nine months, I've been infatuated with my super-hot, 25-year-old co-worker, "Dax." I've tried to distance myself, but my husband met Dax, saw how buff Dax is, and offered him a landscaping job at our home! Because my husband is such a jerk, I was sure he'd drive Dax away, but he and Dax have great rapport! Dax laughs off my husband's snide comments and teases back and even flirts with me in front of him. He's now joining us for dinner, my husband's making him egg sandwiches in the morning, and my daughter called him "kinda like a sister." I'm having intense sexual fantasies, and my marital love life has perked up because I'm constantly turned on. My rational mind says this is a runaway train, and my crush-addled brain is trying to arrange alone time with him. I fantasize that my hubby will run away with someone so I can be with Dax. — Lust-Whacked
Be careful what you wish for. The way things are going, it shouldn't be long before you come down to the breakfast table and walk in on your husband cutting up egg sandwiches and playfully popping them in Dax's mouth.
In fact, it seems your cabana boy needs a sign-up sheet. When he isn't busy removing his shirt in your backyard and letting sweat glisten on his taut pecs and drip down to his tight abs, he's got tease-offs with your husband. Then, it's off to the mall for a little shoe-shopping with your daughter — before sitting down for the family dinner. An aspiring two-timing wife just can't get a sex rendezvous in edgewise!
So, your husband is "ill-tempered" and "domineering" — and apparently has been for 22 years. By all means, do nothing about that. (If only snubbing your problems would make them hang their little heads and slink away.)
Of course, getting naked in the tool shed with a sexalicious lawnboy is loads more fun than getting emotionally naked with your husband and some disapproving therapist. The thing is, fair play in a marriage involves sticking to that boring "forsake all others" business until you've notified your spouse that you want out of your contract. And no, letting him catch you in bed with your lawn intern doesn't count as notification.
It isn't too late to take the step you should've when you first started feeling miserable in your marriage — do that adult thing and use your words. Tell your husband how unhappy you are — in a way that motivates him to take action and makes him feel that he may lose you if he doesn't change.
Think of this as triggering a positive crisis — positive in that it gives you a shot at turning a despot into a husband and a dictatorship into a partnership. You may ultimately decide to end your marriage, but at least you'll do it in a way that doesn't leave your kids with a sordid story of how Mom left Dad for the lawn guy and then the lawn guy left Mom for a hot 22-year-old with crabgrass.
Steaks on a plate
I do some volunteer work, and I've fallen hard for this guy who volunteers with me, and he seems to be into me, too. The thing is, I'm a vegetarian, and he appears to mainly subsist on cheeseburgers. He seems to be a great guy, but is this doomed before it starts? — Veggie Girl
The question isn't whether opposites attract. The question is, would they spend the entire evening fighting over whether one's chicken bone touched the other's frying pan? The answer to that question hinges on your answer to a few more questions, like, Why are you a vegetarian? Do you hear "medium-rare" and think "morally bankrupt," or do you just think meat is icky?
And let's say you're OK with the ethics of meat-eating. When you think of kissing the guy, are you imagining his lips on yours or around that chopped dead cow? Next, consider that cooking together would probably be more like cooking separately together but with shared meat stench.
And finally, be sure you wouldn't eventually feel compelled to bully him into becoming a meatless meatball eater, like by starting a cute mealtime ritual of estimating what percentage of the rainforest was destroyed by farting cows to put that steak on his plate. Thanks, hope you enjoy your dinner, too.
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail email@example.com (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle To Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society.