Dear Amy:

My husband and I have been married for more than 15 years and have four children. Our marriage has not always been smooth sailing, but we have tried to work things out for the sake of our children. Recently, I noticed my husband stepping out of the house when his cell phone rings, so this weekend I confronted him by asking him who was calling.

At first, he wouldn't answer, but he eventually told me he was talking to a woman he played coed softball with this summer. I could maybe understand this if the season was still going on, but the season ended three months ago.

Later that morning, I picked up his cell phone and found that this woman has called more than 20 times these past few weeks -- sometimes twice a day. My husband has also called her.

He has a very flexible job and makes his own daily schedule.

This woman has never called our house number and also calls him at the times when I am usually at work.

My husband insists that she is just an easy person to talk to and that there is nothing going on.

Even if this is on the up-and-up, I feel this is disrespectful and dishonest because it is not in the open. I am also hurt because we both work and it is a struggle to make time for each other as it is. What do you think?

Doubting in Connecticut

When it comes to opposite-sex friendships with married couples, a basic guideline is that these friendships are all well and good as long as the opposite-sex friend is invited and welcome to come to the house for dinner with the spouse and the kids.

I don't know what is going on here, but it almost doesn't matter because the sneakiness is the most important thing.

I hate to heap something more onto your plate because it sounds as if you are stretched very thin, but you really must try to get to the bottom of this.

Your husband will deny, deny, deny. So use this incident (you can even call it a "misunderstanding") as a reason to urge your husband to join you for marriage counseling.

Marriage counseling isn't fun. It can be hard work to bring up these painful issues to try to stitch your relationship back together. But counseling has saved many relationships -- and can lead to great insight, even when the marriage doesn't survive. I hope that you will give it a try and that you will go even if your husband refuses.

Dear Amy:

We have four children -- three teens. I have learned through a friend that my 16-year-old daughter and her 16-year-old boyfriend of seven months are going to become sexually active.

I have been open and specific with all four of my children about sex. My daughter is aware that she should just say no, that 16 is too young, that pregnancy can happen even with birth control, and that STDs are rampant.

My question is, now that they have made the decision and are planning to get birth control, what can I do? Even if my daughter tells me and asks for my help in getting birth control, then what?

How does a parent provide birth control for their child without giving "permission" to have sex? I have talked and talked and talked. I have warned and discussed and shown videos, given her books and discussed those books. I've done my part, but I know that hormones, lust and 16-year-old-ness have won out. Help!


I understand the two sides to this argument. However, there is evidence that when young people are educated about sex and its consequences, and when they have access to reproductive health care, the teen pregnancy rate goes down. It may surprise you that teens report that their relationship with their parents is paramount in their decisions about sex.

You've done your best to educate your daughter, and now she should be given a thorough gynecological exam and receive birth control counseling by a professional. Planned Parenthood provides reproductive health services, education and counseling. Education about sex and access to birth control don't promote sex half as much as MTV, Paris Hilton and "American Pie" movies do.

Your daughter should understand that young women have to take responsibility for their reproductive health. You and your husband also should clearly articulate your "no sex" point of view to her boyfriend. Please continue to talk to your daughter, educate her, respect, trust and love her. You should include her boyfriend in your family's life, too. Your daughter will become sexually active -- eventually. But your goal should be to delay this decision until she is older, more mature and better able to handle the consequences.

Write to Amy Dickinson at or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.