Hannah and her scissors
My wife's a hairstylist, and I recently learned that she continues to cut the hair of a guy she had a fling with seven years ago. We're newlyweds but dated for three years. She's always been truthful and forthright, so I was dumbfounded that she kept this from me. She claims they're "just friends," insists the past is the past, and won't discuss anything. I had trust issues with my ex-wife and have abandonment issues (thanks, Mom), but had zero insecurities about my wife until this. She honored my request and told the guy he needs to get haircuts elsewhere, but I know her other male clients occasionally discuss their sexual escapades. Inappropriate! I think marriage comes with boundaries. I've been working hard to rid my mind of visions of her with others before me, but find myself prying into her past for details, which only increases my anxiety. — Love Stinks
Yes, your wife had sex with other men before you — because she was probably raised in some suburb in America, not locked away by her sultan father until you could buy her from him for a Lamborghini and a really nice herd of goats.
Instead of spending your evenings giving your wife something to smile about the next morning at work, you're giving this seven-year-old fling of hers more late-night reruns than Godfather II. Sure, she still sees the guy, but consider the environment. Yes, it's what I always advise a man who wants to stage a seduction: Put on a big pastel smock, sit between two little old ladies getting smelly perms, and give the woman a bird's eye view of his bald spot. Before you know it, he'll be telling her how he likes it, and she'll be begging, "Lemme take off my top!" — in that secret language all the hussy hairdressers use: "Want me to take a little more off the top?"
You're right that marriage comes with boundaries — and it's time you started respecting your wife's. You're her husband, not her owner, so you don't get to give her a list of acceptable topics of conversation: 1. "Nice weather we're having." 2. "Still nice weather we're having." Since you're also not her boss, she doesn't have to ask you if she's allowed to do her job: "My 2:30 appointment fooled around with me once seven years ago, but he really needs a trim."
What stinks isn't love, but being a guy who's never bothered to put his mommy issues and ex-wife trust issues on a leash and walk them to a therapist's office. Instead, you take them out on a woman you describe as "always ... truthful and forthright." Nice! And easier on the ego than admitting you're insecure, seeking reassurance and fixing what's broken. As for those dirty movies of her you've been playing in your head, all the better to feel sorry for yourself. You break a habit the way you picked it up, through repetition, so next time your mental projector starts whirring, swap in footage of Bob Vila replacing a toilet flush valve. Mmmm, sexy!
A woman is most likely to be faithful to, well, to a man who's so insecure that he keeps her in a hole in his basement and lowers her food in a bucket. Unfortunately, this is not exactly a prescription for marital joy. To have a woman make you her one and only by choice, do your best to make her happy and strive to live in the moment — instead of that moment in 1990 when she failed to pop up from her prom date's back seat and say, "I can't. Twenty years from now, I might have a really jealous husband."
Be stale my heart
What does a man mean when, after sex, he says, "You complete me"? I'm a woman just dating again after being married for quite some time, and want to make sure I'm not jumping to conclusions. — Wondering
There are things a man can do to make himself more articulate, and having sex isn't one of them. Chances are, the guy felt a rush of emotion, reached into the cupboard in his head, and found it bare — save for a seriously tired line from Jerry Maguire. Either that, or he was trying to tell you "Having sex with you reminds me of this 1996 Tom Cruise movie."
As for whether it's more than just talk, time will tell. For now, perhaps you can find what he said endearing, as many women would. Personally, I find borrowed expressions of appreciation kind of a mood-killer. Then again, at least he didn't roll over and yell, "Show me the money!"
Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave, #280, Santa Monica, CA 90405, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org (advicegoddess.com). Alkon is the author of I See Rude People: One Woman's Battle to Beat Some Manners Into Impolite Society.