Dear Amy: My wife’s best friend recently went through a period where she was unhappy in her marriage.
She began sexting with willing male partners and then sharing some of the pictures she had received with my wife.
I know about this because my wife asked me to fix the WiFi on her phone.
While I was working on her phone, her friend texted one of these photos.
Alarmed and a little shocked, I opened the text message string and found myself in a world of hurt.
My wife was not only tacitly giving her friend permission to send these pictures, but she was comparing my physique unfavorably to these men.
When I confronted my wife about this, her first reaction was to change the passcode on her phone.
She has since apologized, but I’m still having trouble.
I can’t seem to shake the feeling that she finds me unattractive when compared to other men, and whenever her friend is around, I feel very embarrassed and ashamed knowing that my body was described unfavorably to her in such explicit detail.
What should I do?
Embarrassed: Your wife has embarrassed, disrespected and disappointed you, and you are left wondering what YOU should do about it.
Your wife is the person who needs to behave differently.
When a partner gets caught behaving badly, their instant and universal instinct is often to very quickly attempt to sweep the problem away. A typical reaction is to issue a swift apology, insist that you “move on” and then refuse or avoid discussing the problem further.
Do not suffer silently. Describe how her behavior makes you feel, using “I” statements: “I’m embarrassed. I’m discouraged. I feel unloved. I really need to talk about this.”
You deserve an apology. A real one. One where your wife demonstrates that she understands the impact of her rudeness.
If you cannot successfully navigate this with her, you should make an appointment with a couples’ counselor. If she dismisses the need, you should go on your own. (c) Ask Amy
Oh my gosh, that’s horrible. There are few things worse that a woman can do to a man than call him small, if you catch my drift. While it can work great as an insult if you haven’t actually seen the person naked (ask about the time I told off my music teacher once), in these circumstances it’s just cruel. That’s cutting, cold, and downright unconscionable. There’s nothing a man’s more self-conscious about, and such details should never leave the marriage. I’m appalled by this.
In mediocre news, it’s possible that the wife has simply fallen victim to peer pressure. She wants to seem “cool” with the other wives, so she’s ogling naked men and dissing her husband. If her husband’s out there reading this, I’d like to state the possibility that his wife made up the “size” stuff to sound dismissive. (“Wow, Sherry, is your husband as big as this?” Followed by, “Oh, I wish! No way! What a fine example of masculinity.”) I’d also tell him that most men are bigger than they realize objectively.
But this is hard to read about, and I’m still appalled. Peer pressure at adulthood? At the expense of your husband? No, just no. Something’s wrong here. Granted, the wife didn’t expect to be caught, but how could she have so little respect for her husband? People are entitled to their privacy where nudity is concerned. Geez.
I’d say the letter writer’s wife is friends with a woman who’s a bad influence. But I’m not seeing much hope here. I can sense his demoralization, and I’m sure I’d feel the same. No one should casually speak outside of their marriage like that. It’s just so wrong. I think it’s okay to speak outside of your marriage if you’re problem-solving or brainstorming, like, what should I do about how my husband is such a spendthrift? or, how can I get along with his mother, who hates me? for example, but there’s a limit. Some things should never be spoken outside the marital union. I feel so sorry for this guy. If I were he, I’m not sure that I’d still want to be married at this point. This was a massive betrayal.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My three friends took me out for dinner for my birthday and paid for everything, as this is something we all do for each other. The next day, two of them talked on the phone and realized they hadn’t left enough of a tip.
One of them called me and said, “I know you won’t like this, but we just realized that we underestimated the tip. We want you to go back and give our waitress $15 more.”
I was offended and stunned, and suggested that one of them do it, since she lives close by. This friend responded, “No, we want you to do it, and I’ll pay for your drink next time we go out.”
I said OK, but now that I think about it, it really bothers me. I would never ask this of her, or anyone. Am I overreacting?
GENTLE READER: Friends ask one another favors. But friends also do not insist on compliance — particularly if the favor is potentially embarrassing. “We want you to do it” reeks of coercion, not to mention conspiracy.
Had you been able to ask Miss Manners in the moment, she would have advised you to avoid the trap of assuming any responsibility for finding a solution: “I’m sorry, I just can’t.” If you cannot bring yourself to make good on your word, already given, a full-blown apology is going to be required: “I’m so sorry, I agreed because I thought it wouldn’t bother me. But it does; I’m embarrassed. I know I said I would, but please don’t ask me to do this.”
This may be more trouble than delivering the retroactive tip. (c) MISS MANNERS
Hey, stuff happens. I don’t think embarrassment is needed here. I’d be glad my friends called, because if the alternative were that the server remains undertipped, I’d feel bad.
I’ve been in a few situations like that. One time my dad and I ate at Applebee’s, and my tip didn’t get applied from my credit card. I realized it, so we went back and explained it to the server, ordered again, and left her a huge monstrous cash tip.
Another time, I was in Prague with Sonya, and I can’t quite recall what went wrong… hmm… ohh. The restaurant couldn’t do tips on my American card. And we didn’t have enough cash to leave a tip. So–same thing–she and I went back to the restaurant, explained (well, she did, in perfect Czech, while I nodded convincingly), ordered again, and left a huge cash tip afterward. Korunas, baby!! Korunas!
(Did you know that two people can eat at a nice restaurant in Prague for roughly $15 total in American dollars? Yeah!! I pretty much treat Sonya the whole time I’m there. It’s a win-win, because I save on hotel costs by staying with her, and she eats like a princess.)
And then–this story is absurd. One time, I ordered a pizza via delivery. This was many years ago, and I thought that the delivery fee was the tip. (Turns out, it wasn’t.) I apologized to the angry deliveryman and said I hadn’t known, and I asked for his name so I could drop off a tip for him tomorrow. He told me his first name.
I explained the situation to my dad, who was headed that way the next day, and he offered to drop off the tip for our driver. But when he got home, he said no one by that name worked there. The guy had been so irate with me that he’d made up a name, apparently. You can’t make this stuff up. Well… no tip for him. Ha!
Anyway, I like Miss Manners’ advice. You’re either going to be comfortable with the situation, or you aren’t. It’s just one of those things. I don’t think anyone needs to feel bad for finding such a situation uncomfortable, so there’s no real need to point the finger of blame here. Hopefully someone will pass more money to the server.
I’m off to the gym now. Using the treadmill twice a day has been incredibly difficult, but I need to lose weight so badly. Go, Meg, go, you can do it!! YAY! Okay. Deep breath.