DEAR MISS LONELYHEARTS: I devour books with a passion. When I get a new pile home from the library, I'm obsessed and will spend a whole weekend ripping through them until they are finished. My wife was OK with this when we were working opposite shifts and it didn't affect her. Recently, to help save our marriage, we both moved to day shifts. Now she says, "The damn books have to go," as they're getting in the way of our intimacy. And she's right. I don't even want to go to bed and have sex if I can go to bed and read my book beside my wife -- that's real heaven. Today at the marriage counsellor's office she said: "It's either the books or me." I told my wife and the counsellor that was an idea cooked up by a couple of idiots. That would be like taking away my wife's sports car, which she loves to drive everywhere, and her credit cards for clothes shopping. Don't you agree? -- Major Book Worm, Tuxedo
Dear Book Worm: Most couples have hobbies that are secondary. Marrying someone does not mean you forbid people those other loves, but enjoying your other passion does require smart timing. While you two are struggling to save your marriage over a number of issues you don't mention in your letter, start doing your reading at the library, in the car, during lunch at work, or go to a park and read under a tree. You don't need to sit there in front of your wife with your book and be absent. Likewise, you should be totally present in the bedroom, so no books and no TV. If there's a book in the bedroom, let it be on sexual experimentation or fantasy and take turns reading it to each other and trying different things. Otherwise, forget the books and start reading your wife's moods and desires if you really want to save this marriage, which is already in crisis.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is about your response to Nuts. Would you have suggested she go for full STI testing if she found her ex with another woman? Just because someone has tried out a straight lifestyle that may or not be for them, or is bisexual and chosen a partner of a different sex than last time around, does not mean they were cheating or not using proper protection. Just because he didn't divulge his sexuality fully to a girlfriend doesn't mean he is sexually irresponsible. Getting checked for STIs after a relationship ends (or on some kind of regular basis with new partners) is a good move, but the choice shouldn't be based on finding out an ex-partner's sexuality. This feeds into damaging stereotypes and shouldn't be tolerated. -- Bisexual Doesn't Mean Irresponsible, Winnipeg
Dear Not Irresponsible: Do you really think that not divulging one's sexuality fully is responsible behaviour? At what point do you tell? Never, if you're only thinking about yourself. In this case, the woman found out there was cheating after the relationship ended, and discovered it was with a member of the opposite sex. You might argue it makes no difference, but it was a double shock. And if the cheater is augmenting a relationship with a woman by seeing a number of men on the down-low, it's risky. One person? Not so risky, unless the hidden partner has been dating around himself. In a situation where a woman is secretly cheating on a man with a woman, statistics tell us there's a lot less risk for spreading sexually transmitted infections, but if a woman is experimenting with multiple women, it's riskier again. Bottom line: Everybody should go for the blood test when they find out their partner has been out experimenting and people should disclose their sexual situations to each other when they are negotiating a sexual and emotional romance. The point is, you should take all your clothes off when you take your clothes off. Intimacy and truth need to go hand in hand.
Please send your questions or comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org or mail letters to Miss Lonelyhearts c/o Winnipeg Free Press, 1355 Mountain Ave., Winnipeg, MB, R2X 3B6