DEAR AMY: I have been married for almost 10 years and have caught my husband with various forms of pornography. Recently I found out he has been getting erotic massages and calling "fantasy" phone lines. I'm devastated because he has betrayed my trust and our wedding vows. I say he is cheating; he says he's done nothing wrong. I overheard him telling his buddy, "I'm just a guy." Who's right? Do you think the marriage is salvageable?
-- Distraught Wife
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: When it comes to this kind of behavior and the way it makes you feel, does it really matter who is "right"? (Hint: You get to define the boundaries of the marriage you want to be in.) Your husband's characterization of his activities as just being "a guy" is an insult not only to you but to guys in general. Most married guys don't do this, but the ones who do want to normalize it.
Generally, when someone goes from viewing pornography to seeking contact through erotic phone services and then on to receiving erotic massages, it's a sign that his sexual behavior is escalating. You should ask your husband how he defines "cheating," try your utmost to have a frank and honest conversation about this and get tested for STDs.
DEAR AMY: Poor "Tormented in Tucson." She was the writer who had a weekly appointment to chat by phone with her mother, but her mother didn't always pick up when she called. My 92-year-old dad was widowed 18 months ago and has had a hard time adjusting to living alone after 67 years. He's staying as active as possible, and there have been a few times I've waited for him to return a call. We've found that a few short emails every few days has reduced our phone calls. This way, we can respond to each other when convenient.
DEAR BARBARA: Many readers thought "Tormented" was a bit much. Thank you for the suggestion.