Dear Amy: I like to think that I am a caring and sensitive man, one who respects women and appreciates the spirit of the #MeToo movement.
Therefore, a recent experience has me disturbed. I am looking for some objective feedback.
One recent evening, I was with a woman that I know well. We had drinks before, during and after dinner.
It became apparent to me that she was quite intoxicated and probably should head to bed to sleep it off. I helped her up the stairs to the bathroom. After a few minutes, when I heard the bathroom door open, I came back upstairs to check on her. This is when things got “tricky.”
She was naked, and she made strong sexual advances toward me.
I knew that the “right” thing to do was to help her get dressed and into bed for sleep, and then go on about my own business. But I was weak, partly due to my strong attraction to her. We engaged in sexual activity, and during the acts I believed there was a possibility that the next day she would not remember (or at least she might not remember how things got started). Yet I continued, and for this I am feeling remorseful.
Have I committed “date rape”? Am I a “predator”?
If the situation came to a courtroom, or if I were a public figure, would people judge me to be a “bad” man?
And finally, Amy, does it matter that this woman is my wife of 25 years?
— Wondering Husband
Dear Husband: I hope this didn’t really happen; I’m assuming instead that your question might be a disingenuous and rude little riddle, designed to trip up an unsuspecting reader.
However, let’s press on.
You ask for an objective opinion. Here’s mine:
Let’s establish at the outset that no, you are not a caring and sensitive man. No, you do not respect the #MeToo movement. That much is quite obvious.
Taking the scenario you describe at face value, yes, you sexually assaulted your wife. She was drunk; you were sober. She wasn’t able to consent to sex, not that you asked her.
No, you did not commit “date rape.” You did, however, commit “marital rape.” You pursued an incapacitated woman for the purpose of having sex with her. Yes, this makes you a predator.
Importantly, and unfortunately, your wife is married to a man who thinks this is a clever and legitimate question worthy of some sort of debate. I genuinely feel sorry for her. You should be ashamed of yourself.
Turn in your good husband card. You are a cad.
Dear Amy: You ran a question from “Pay it Forward,” who was insulted when a stranger in line at the store offered to pick up their tab. “Pay” refused the gesture.
Here is my response: My wife of 40 years died last week. She died suddenly, during a routine medical procedure.
I couldn’t face another night eating alone, so I reserved a table at a favorite restaurant, an expensive gourmet place that my wife and I frequented.
After appropriate hugs and condolences from the staff, I was seated next to a social older couple who ordered what I was going to select. I asked about their order and the conversation turned to some things that we both had in common.
Eventually, I explained my lack of a dinner companion. We chatted amiably, friended each other on Facebook and they departed.
I motioned for my bill and found it has been taken care of by my newfound friends.
Their kindness and generosity made me tear up. (Of course, I reached out to them to thank them.)
My point is that the ability to accept an act of kindness is a lost art and it is this country’s most desperately needed form of etiquette.
We can’t give kindness if we don’t learn how to accept it.
Dear Thomas: My sincere condolences. You have attached the perfect lesson to accepting this generosity, and I think your story is going to inspire a lot of people to do the same. Connecting with others helps keep all of us afloat.
Dear Amy: Ah, your advice to “Middle Schooler” about dealing with testing jitters made me smile ... especially this part: “...imagine a big, friendly golden retriever sitting calmly beside you while you take your test.”
What a great image! I’m not in middle school, but I’m going to use it.
— A Fan
Dear Fan: Well, it works for me!