Ask Amy Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

DEAR AMY:My wife of 10 years dropped a bomb on me last night. She told me that she's interested in having sexual relations with a female friend of hers. She is seeking my approval.She feels that doing this with someone of the same sex doesn't constitute being unfaithful. I don't know if I'm being overly conservative here but I strongly disagree. I've known she was curious for a little while now but I was totally not expecting this. We have two young children and I'm very worried that her curiosity might put our family at risk. We had a long discussion last night but it seems she's already made up her mind and won't reason with me. Is there anything I could say that would convince her otherwise? I'm eager for your take on this. -- Scared Dad

DEAR SCARED: Your wife's reasoning is hilarious. In offering it, she is both insulting your intelligence and also diminishing the impact of her choice.

Your wife doesn't have the right to choose which of her actions constitutes a betrayal for you. Nor does she have the right to gaslight you into thinking that you are overly "conservative." I can't help you to convince your wife not to do something she has already declared that she is going to do.

Is your marriage over? No. You two are talking openly and honestly, and that's a good thing. But you have a voice, and you must not let your wife silence it.

If her choice constitutes infidelity for you, then you have the right to say so.

There are couples who mutually agree to have sexual encounters outside of their marriages and -- at least according to some -- it doesn't negatively impact their marriage. Regardless, you have not agreed to this, and if it conflicts with your own personal ethics, you should not allow your wife to pressure you. Please, see a counselor, either with her or by yourself.

DEAR AMY:Several years ago I sold a company in a lucrative buyout arrangement. As a middle-age single woman, this allowed me to pursue other interests and start yet another company, which keeps me happily busy with a full plate of paperwork, contracts and correspondence. I eat most meals out and use this time away from my hectic office to review my work. But a growing problem seems to be total strangers who stop by my table to ask me who I am and "what I do." What I do is diverse and complicated and isn't really their business.I used to respond graciously with general statements, but this doesn't seem to cut it, and I find myself getting more abrupt, with responses such as, "I do whatever I want." Since this sounds rather pompous, I've resorted to, "I'm a hooker." This usually gets a laugh and they walk away. These are admittedly horrible responses. I would like your advice as to how to handle this without encouraging more conversation. Heartland HoldoutDEAR HOLDOUT:I think these people are being friendly. They are trying to get to know the woman who always sits at the corner table at mealtime. You can't expect total privacy in a public place. You need an answer so vague and boring that it discourages further inquiry. Years ago when I responded, "I'm a freelancer," that seemed to clear the room pretty quickly. Otherwise, "I'm a business consultant" might work. If people ask you what you consult about and you don't want to discuss it, you can say, "Well, I could tell you, but then I'd have to kill you ... hahaha!

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DEAR AMY:Thank you for offering "Upset Engineer" the encouragement to pursue work in her field! I am also an engineer, and engineering offers many great career paths for women. I hope to see her at work soon. -- Happy Engineer

DEAR HAPPY: Several women engineers contacted me, underscoring the point that engineering is a great career.