Steve and Mia | Sworn to secrecy, she's feeling awkward

Man's marriage proposal at issue

Posted: September 21, 2007

Steve is a 50-something married man who's been around the block. Mia is a 20-something single immersed in the Center City dating scene. They may not agree, but they have plenty of answers. If you'd like an answer to your romantic troubles, e-mail them at S&M@phillynews.com or write: S&M c/o Daily News, Box 7788, Philadelphia, PA 19101.

Q: I'm good friends with both halves of a couple. The guy recently confided in me that he plans to propose to her soon and swore me to secrecy. Now I feel awkward all the time around his girlfriend. What should I do?

Mia:Just try to put your poker face on. You certainly can't tell her anything - it would be like ruining Santa Claus for a little kid. Can you avoid spending a lot of time with the female half without it being noticeable? It's easier to lie if you're not face to face. Maybe stick to talking on the phone or over e-mail. Ultimately they'll both thank you for keeping your mouth shut.

Steve: Your best bet is to lie low. Think of excuses about why you can't talk long on the phone. If she wants to get together, tell her you don't feel well.

And don't forget to tell the guy that it was very unfair of him to put this burden on you.

Q: My wife says she wants an open relationship. What does this mean? We've been arguing a lot and rarely have sex. Could this save our marriage?

Mia: I don't think having sex with other people is the best way to fix a marriage. Personally, I'd stick to watching "The Ice Storm" if she's interested in swinging.

But it does sound like your marriage is in trouble. Seek counseling to try and get back on track.

Steve: I suppose so-called "open marriages" work for some people, but most of us want the security of exclusivity. Mia's right, try counseling first.

Q: My husband and I never agree on movies or TV shows. I like foreign films and art-house stuff, while he enjoys action movies and mainstream comedies. At home, I like to watch police dramas, and he wants to watch competitive reality TV. I know that this sounds silly, but it makes it hard to spend time together because one of us is always bored. What should we do?

Steve: Presumably you have some things in common, or you never would've married. TV and movies aren't the answer, so find an activity that you both like. A sport perhaps, or musical performance. And you can always go out to a restaurant together.

Mia: Maybe you should designate non-TV date nights. On those days, cook dinner together, listen to music, play cards or go out with friends.

On other nights you can retreat to your corners and watch separate shows.

Q: I can't stop obsessing about my husband's mortality. Every time he leaves for work, I worry he'll have a car accident. If he goes away for a weekend, I'm convinced he won't come back alive. He tells me I'm being ridiculous, but I can't stop worrying. What should I do?

Steve: See a psychologist. We all worry, but when it gets to the point of obsession, you're ruining your own life worrying over his.

Mia: I'd say get some anti-anxiety medication (from an appropriate doctor, of course), and talk to a therapist. You are way too fixated on these fears.

No one can guarantee how long your husband will live, but you should enjoy him while you're together, not push him away. *

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