Dear Amy:

My husband is 20 years older than I am. We have a child together.

The age difference has finally shown its ugly head, considering that he is 60. I am staying with him for the sake of my child, although I am meeting someone on the side. For my own happiness, I believe that I should do what I have to do.

What is your opinion on a person's personal happiness when she is bound in a marriage that cannot satisfy her?

Tired of the Old Man

It's such a shame that you weren't able to add the sum of 20 years onto your ages before you married your husband. Some very basic math skills might have saved your family a lot of heartbreak.

On the other hand, it is very crafty of you to blame your problems on your husband's age, because it is the one thing that he can't do anything about.

Here's my stand on a person's personal happiness: It isn't worth a whit if it comes at the expense of a person's soul. When you cheat on your husband, you also cheat on your child. I don't know how you can be "happy" doing that.

You should either throw your heart and soul into trying to save this marriage -- or find another way to attain "personal happiness." If you and your husband need marital counseling, then you should get it. If he needs to see a physician because of impotence or libido issues, then he should see one.

Dear Amy:

I work as an RN in a level-3 NICU where we take care of the sickest babies, some of whom stay for months.

The nursery is one large room where we have about 15 babies.

The parents of one of our babies have strong body odor. It is so strong that the smell permeates the entire unit. It is to the point of nauseating those of us who work there.

This baby is going to be with us for a while because he is quite premature.

How do we tell these parents in a culturally sensitive way that they need to take care of this?

As Americans, we are taught to be sensitive to other cultures we may encounter. However, shouldn't other cultures be sensitive to our norms as well?

Concerned Nurse

You are in a perfect position to introduce some hygiene practices and products to this family. As a nurse and caregiver to their dear baby, they are predisposed to pay close attention to you.

It would be thoughtful if you and the other nurses could collect some shampoo, bath products, deodorants and perhaps toothpaste, mouthwash, etc., to present to these parents in a nice basket.

Just be straightforward and explain to them that because of the precarious health of all of the babies, it is important that everybody who visits these babies bathe daily and be as clean as possible. Show them each product and demonstrate its use (for instance that you swirl mouthwash in your mouth and then spit it out. Be specific). Make eye contact and ask them if they have any questions.

When I've covered body-odor issues in this column, I've heard from many people who say that thoughtful strangers have helped them with matters of personal hygiene. They appreciate it.

Dear Amy:

A recent letter from a gentleman who had "rules" about how to treat a woman made me smile. He has it exactly right when he suggests saying "I love you" and "You're beautiful." His addition of cheerfully doing tasks soon after being asked is now on my list.

I say this as a woman who will overlook much when my husband is wise enough to do the above.


Let's not weigh the list down too much. You want your husband to be at least halfway sincere in his praise, right?

I'd love to hear from men about what women need to do to make them feel special.

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

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