Dear Margo: Multiple Choices

One young man with a slew of questions. Margo Howard’s advice

Multiple Choices

Dear Margo: I’m a 25-year-old male, and sometimes I cannot get an erection with my longtime significant other. What is the cause? Also, I have a hairy chest. I’ve tried waxing, but that’s too painful. Should I get laser hair removal? Shave? Live like a bear? I also use marijuana every day. Are there any side effects that I should be aware of? — Man with Questions

Dear Man: You’re kidding, right? On the off chance that you believe me to be the fount of all knowledge, I thank you for the compliment and suggest the following: For question No. 1, you should explore this with either a urologist or a therapist. These things can be physical or mental. Regarding No. 2, if you find an advice columnist who steers you toward laser, shaving, or continuing in a hirsute state, do let me know. As to No. 3, the answer is yes, and I suggest you research what they are. — Margo, variously

New Life, Different Country

Dear Margo: I’m 33 and met my husband three years ago in, of all things, an online game. He came to see me in New York, and when I visited him the next month in Winnipeg, we eloped. I’m close to my parents, who say they are happy for me. I went back to New York for a month to pack and give notice to my employer, tie up loose ends, etc., and then I moved to Canada.

My husband has a severely autistic child from a previous relationship who will be 9 next month. My stepson stays with us every weekend. I love this child as my own, but I miss my parents and siblings, who are 1,500 miles away. My husband knows I’m unhappy here (especially the winters), but I don’t know how to approach the possibly of moving back to the U.S. It’s come up, but the issue is with his son and our future kids. I realize it’s unfair to ask him to move or to ask for custody.

We would like a child of our own, but I hesitate because I’m so far from my family that they couldn’t see our baby grow up, or even visit. My mother has MS and is in poor health overall, and my parents are retiring this year to Florida. They’ve never been able to visit. We’ve gone to see them twice, but we were unable to bring my stepson (his mother was against it).

I feel unable to explain this rationally to anyone. Can I find a way to not feel guilty about starting our own family so far away from my folks? Skype and pictures just don’t seem the same for family moments. I really have no one else to run this by. — In a Bind

Dear In: I hope you can accept and get comfortable with the realities of your situation. Your stepson will not be able to move, and your folks are unable to come for visits. I see no reason for guilt about starting a family with your parents in the U.S. I would give Skype a try. I know many situations where it really is the next best thing to being there. You might also consider going alone (or with a future child) for a few weeks to visit your parents perhaps twice a year. Bag the guilt, and buy a parka. — Margo, independently

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Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via the online form at Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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44 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Kate Olsen says:

    LW! – Are you for real – the reason you can not get it up is the drugs you are smoking.  Quit the pot smoking and within a few months, you will be ready, willing and able – DUH. As far as the hair – ask your significant other.  I personally love hairy men but I dated a guy who shaved his chest and the prickly feeling when he rubbed up against me as the hair grew back was a deal breaker for me. 

    LW2 – Many people have families and are far from them. You do not need to be next door to your loved ones to have a family and I may be wrong but reading between the lines, I sense resentment towards the stepson.  It feels to me that you are blaming him for not asking the hubby to move to the US.  You really need to talk to the hubby and let him know exactly how you feel.  You sound like you want hubby to give up his entire life and move home with you.  You should have thought of all of this before you moved so far away.  To make him the bad ass now is not fair at all. 

    • avatar EmmaS says:

      “You sound like you want hubby to give up his entire life and move home with you. ”

      The LW did exactly that for him. If it is reasonable for one party, it is reasonable for either party.

      • avatar Kathleen Hein says:

        No, because she willingly gave up her life, from the beginning. She’s trying to change the game now. And I’m sorry, but his son *does* trump her homesickness. She knew all of these things before she married him.

      • avatar htimsr40 says:

        Their situations are not the same … she had no children and could pick up and move. He, in case you missed it, has a 9-year old autistic son who lives with him every weekend. For him to move would require a DRAMATIC change in the relationship with his autistic son.

        She made an impulsive decision to elope on only the second time she and her husband spent time together. Now she is regretting some of the implications of that decision. It doesn’t inherently follow that he should physically abandon his son to move with her so she can be closer to her parents. She can travel more easily to see her parents than an autistic son can travel internationally to see his father.

    • avatar Koka Miri says:

      Bad ass…I do not think this means what you think it means 🙂

  2. avatar Violet says:

    I can’t believe LW2 ran off and married a guy who lives in a place she doesn’t like and she didn’t stop to think of all of the day to day problems. She is unhappy with her living situation and her distance from her parents. Hopefully, this is a great guy and worth it, but to me, she doesn’t seem very happy. I am always perplexed when people write in and say they married their spouse, and now have some unfixable problem that should have been apparent before they got married.

    • avatar D says:

      Violet for the win!

      • avatar John Lee says:

        This is the typical case of immature girl marries for Love, thinking it solves everything.

        The male equivalent is, of course, immature boy marries for sex, thinking it is everything.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Violet, yep. I knew a guy who met Ms. Right, they got married, and within a year they were divorced. The problem? Her parents lived on the opposite coast, and her military hubby could expect to be stationed even farther away in the future. She missed her parents and quit the marriage to move back to her home state. I asked – were they elderly, fragile, needing help? No, they were still relatively young and healthy. She just missed them.

      Another case was a friend who married a young mom while he was in the US for a military-related school; she thought he was a great catch, and he was a great stepdad to her tween son. But then school ended and he was assigned overseas. Same thing: she had never even been out of state before, much less out of the country, and missed her parents. Next thing we knew, that marriage was over, too, and wife and stepson – and now, his own baby son – were back in her home state. He was pretty devastated.

      I wonder about people like this. If the natural order prevails, most of us will one day outlive our parents. If we have not built our own lives by then, what will we have?

      The day I joined the Army was a big step into the unknown (scary, even), and I spent over two decades far outside “visiting distance” of my Dad. But I shared letters, photos, phone calls, and later, emails, and when I had leave to burn, Dad’s house was my destination. Sometimes a couple of years would pass between visits, but as he got older he told me again and again how glad he was that I have a good marriage and how proud he was of my accomplishments. It would have been warmer and fuzzier to just stay home, but he would not have considered that any kind of success, and would have worried about my future. A successfully “launched” child can give their parents a lot of satisfaction.

      • avatar Violet says:

        Thanks, everyone! People just have unrealistic dreams that everything will just work itself out. I almost stayed with someone by overlooking glaring problems, and am so glad that I took a step back and said, “This will be for the rest of your life. If it doesn’t change, can I live with it.” The answer was obvious to me, and I feel like I dodged a bullet. Of course, I’m still single, so maybe I’m not the best person to address the issue. Haha.

        • avatar Lym BO says:

          Ahh Violet. You are wise & you will find the right person for you. I dated quite a few men before I found one that meshed with my criteria. Dodged a few. Hub is the best. Don’t settle. Happy New Year!

        • avatar RL says:

          I don’t believe marriage is for the rest of your life. You can actually get a divorce. It’s an option, I kid you not. It’s annoying people don’t consider this option.

  3. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    LW#1 strikes me as a prank letter but the answer to all three questions is:  See a doctor. 

    LW#2:  People start families every day in cities and countries distant from their parents and siblings.  Margo is right.  Accept the reality you chose when you married this man who you evidently love knowing of his son’s existence and the limits it imposes on your husband’s  freedom (autistic or not, a child from a previous relationship is not going to make it possible for  a loving parent to move 1500 miles away with or without full custody of the child)  and consider your glass AT LEAST half full.  Unless you have some mental or physical limitations in your ability to care for a child you and your husband may bring into the world that require your parents and siblings daily  assistance…or unless you have other reasons for not adding to your family…consider that your parents and siblings would more than likely be thrilled to see you add to the family and love and enjoy your child from a distance and in person whenever they get the opportunity to do so.


    • avatar John Lee says:

      I don’t think Letter 1 is a prank letter. I think it’s a letter written by a guy half-baked on weed.

  4. avatar normadesmond says:

    i find it odd when a guy writes as lw-1 has regarding his hairiness. is it society that has made him uncomfortable with himself? or possibly a past partner? dude, you’re only going to get hairier as time goes on, so get a grip. if your present squeeze dislikes hair, you screwed up.

    • avatar Lucy Baty says:

      what is it with guys shaving their chest hair now??? I love hairy chested men, but they are becoming few and far between.. ok guys, STOP DOING IT.. k? thank you..

      • avatar KarrinCooper says:

        I used to like men with little body hair, and back hair…?! Yeah I was out. Then I met my hubs….*lol*. He’s not like ‘shave a nascar # in my back hair’ fuzzy, but he has his share believe me. Have to admit took some getting used to, ‘specially reaching to his back (yes I admit creeped me out for a bit), but now? He’s my bed heater and great to snuggle up to. Funny what you can change when it comes to love ;).


      • avatar KarrinCooper says:

        Oh Lucy?? Love your avatar!! *LOL*


  5. avatar Leslie says:

    LW2, I moved out of state from my longtime home in Michigan 4 years ago for my husband’s job. My parents and in-laws are still there, and their health is deteriorating which is really hard to deal with from a distance. Margo is right — Skype is very helpful. I have to tell you, STICK WITH IT and don’t give up. It will get better — it just takes time. Like you, I didn’t feel like I could tell anyone how I was feeling at first because I needed to put on a happy face, especially for my kids while they were adjusting as well. At the beginning I kept getting sick and finally went to the doctor. During the appointment, I mentioned that I had recently moved into town and was trying to make the adjustment. The doctor told me that when he moved from out of state, it took a full 12-18 months to feel truly comfortable and at home. Frankly, hearing that actually made me feel so much better, that I wasn’t crazy to feel so miserable, and there really would be an end in sight. The biggest help? Getting busy! Getting involved! I joined a gym, the local women’s club (doing charity work), a bunco group in my neighborhood, and volunteered at my kids’ schools. Eventually I got a part time job too. I now feel like I basically have as many friends and activities here as I did back in Michigan. Attitude is everything, and the knowledge that things will get better eventually is key.

  6. avatar lincer says:

    Hey Margo: or “fount of all knowledge”

    Man – was one of the funniest letters of all time.  The first line of your response had me laughing so much it took a couple of minutes for me to finish reading it.  Put this one in “the book”.  The book I’m hoping you write.

    Happy Holiday,

  7. avatar Dani Smith says:

    Of course letter #1 is a joke.  I don’t know why people in the comments section are even bothering to respond full of humorless self righteous indignation.   Come on people, get over yourselves. 

  8. avatar CatA says:

    LW2 was at least 30 when she chose to elope with her Canadian boyfriend.  Even if they eloped, one would think they would have at least discussed the obvious issues (where to live, future children, etc.) beforehand.  Maybe she couldn’t think rationally because her bio-clock was ticking too loudly, but she certainly went into this arrangement like a 22-year-old rather than someone who has a few more years’ experience.   It’s a shame that they didn’t agree to live together for a while first.  I hope she has read up on autism so she can be a competent as well as loving presence in her stepchild’s life.  She and her husband should also get genetic counseling to see what their risks are for future children.  At any rate, she should NOT rush into getting pregnant if she’s still working through the “new” issues (new husband and stepchild with special needs, new living location, newly distant from her own family, homesickness, etc.).   Lastly, this question does beg asking:  Where are her in-laws and what relationship do they have with their son and the writer?  If she can develop a good relationship with her husband’s family (parents and sibs), she can gain a support system that will afford her time away to visit her own aging/ ailing parents and will also help her adjust to her new life.  I wish her well – it’s not easy getting married and setting up life in a foreign country (and despite similarities and proximity, Canada is indeed a foreign country).  BTW, I speak from similar experience.  The homesickness fades, you make new connections, learn to love the alien (as David Bowie puts it) – and are the richer for it.

  9. avatar Paula M says:

    LW#2 – Please wait a while before having a child.  You need to adjust to the changes in your life and determine exactly what you want before bringing another person into the mix.  Missing your family is understandable, but if you have a child right away you may miss them even more.  This in turn may cause the problem to worsen, possibly leading to depression. 

    Establish a life in your new location and make new friends.  If you have a child you will need a support system for all the issues that come with raising that child (ie: childcare, pediatrician,sibling issues,  school system, money set aside for visits to your relatives, emotional and logistical support for yourself.)  Talk with your husband about this.  If you cannot be honest with him about your feelings, you really need to reconsider the decisions you made in choosing to marry him/relocate.  Good luck.

    • avatar christineb says:

      You are so right. I moved with my husband to North Carolina (we’d been married for several years but he accepted a job out of state) and had a baby within 13 months. It’s been 5 1/2 years later and I’m still regretting this decision. Of course my horrible job and the fact that he didn’t really ask my opinion about the move (he just accepted the job and left 2 days later- I stayed behind for 4 months to finish teaching and then joined him) doesn’t help. Anyway, she needs to get over the depression she’s in before she gets pregnant or the post-partum might be terrible. And the homesickness will definitely be worse. The one thing I wanted more than anything when we had our daughter was for my mom to be there like she was for my sister but we lived 14 hours away and they live 4 minutes apart.

  10. avatar ann penn says:

    Not having kids because the parents aren’t nearby???? I met someone at work and married him. Our parents were (at the time) 500 and 600 miles away from us (they were relatively close to each other). We had kids who saw their g-parents once or twice a year.

    Later hubby’s job took us to assignments in other countries – no web or Skype in those days, and phone calls were very expensive. Everyone dealt with the situation as it was. Kids were enriched by living abroad. I survived the culture shock but really missed friends, some of whom drifted away from me, but I also made new friends. Those moves were not easy for me – I had to learn to shop and manage the household in a new language several times.

    Even if you had not married and moved, your parents have chosen to move away from where they were. Chances are you would still be working and living far from them.

  11. avatar Karen Lauer says:

    RE: LW#2

    I could understand how Winnipeg would be slightly disappointing after living in New York.  It’s a fair haul from the US. 

    Maybe a move within Canada, closer to the US border would be a good comprimise.  A move to Ottawa or Montreal would keep the LW closer to the border of New York state (about 2 hours) and also keep her Canadian hubby happy.

    • avatar John Lee says:

      Eh, I suppose it could be disappointing, but I look on the bright side – she’s got great health care and don’t have to deal with crazy Tea Partiers!

  12. avatar Marty Lawson says:

    Why would anyone assume that letter write one is a prankster?  Twenty five year old men are not always particularly mature and/or confortable with asking these questions of people they associate with. Yes, a doctor could answer all of these questions, but a doctor also charges for his service.  I have a 28 year old son and I do not see the questions as outlandish at all. 

    LW1 – marijuana could be the cause of erectile dysfunction, physically, mentally and emotionally as ione of its functions is a mood alterer; if you drink alcohol in excess that can also cause erectile dysfunction. You may well need a physician if the condition persists once you are drug free.  As for hair – if it bothers you, laser hair removal is an option. Waxing is painful, but becomes less so with each time.  You could try a bottled hair remover product. No pain, no fuss, and you can do it in the privacy of your home.  Marijuana has innumerable side effects; you definitely need to learn all there is to know about any substance before you partake.

    LW2 – You felt strongly enough about marrying to make the move; give it some time. To possibly deprive yourself of having a child simply because your parents are not close is ludicrous.  I understand missing them and your siblings, but you can spend blocks of time with them and keep trying different things until you come up with a bridge that fills your personal needs.  My big question is this: Why is stepson’s Mom against him going to visit his new family? He would have the securtiy of you and his Dad the whole time and it would have been a wonderful opportunity to see how he would fare in a different atmosphere. The box might be really comfortable, but sometimes we have to get out of it.  Autism is a challenge, but it needn’t be an excuse to not live life to the very fullest extent.

    • avatar A R says:

      LW2: Well said, Paula–sound advice. I’m always amazed at two things: how folks who are unsure about complicated situations quickly tend to add a baby to the mix, and how folks who marry multiple times are quick to have a new baby with each new partner. Those two behaviors are ones I’m not sure I’ll ever understand.

  13. avatar JCF4612 says:

    Am thinking LW#1 and LW#2 somehow belong together. If they’d both quit blowing smoke out their patooties, their lives would be more extraordinary.

  14. avatar R Scott says:

    LW1 –
    Q1 – See Q3
    Q2 – Get really stoned and instead of sending letters to Margo you could pluck every one of your little chest hairs out one by one. It will be a good project for you and you might even get an erection.
    Q3 – Back to the top and see Q1. 

    LW2 – Margo was exactly right.

  15. avatar Kathleen Hein says:

    LW2: I moved from OH to CA 11 years ago, to be with my husband, after an online meeting. I was very close to my family, too- I still lived with my parents, at age 28! It was a decision I freely made- just as you made your decision. We make sure to see my parents at least once a year- either we fly there, or they fly here. Having MS and being in poor health is no excuse for your parents not having visited you. My grandparents-in-law are both wheelchair bound and she is legally blind and they have multiple health problems, and they still manage to travel some. We are meeting them in Las Vegas this winter, in fact. If your parents can move to FL, they can manage to visit you, occasionally. If money is the issue, offer to split the costs.

  16. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: You’re too young to be having troubles with impotence. Go see a doctor. As for your other questions, why ask Margo or anyone else? You’re a grown man, can make those decisions for yourself.

    L #2: I’m long-distance from family too. I know how tough it is. Fortunately, I live in a paradise zone as weather goes. Frankly you’re going to have to learn to deal with the distance. I don’t say that glibly; I know how it feels. If it’s any consolation, be grateful this isn’t 1981: You’d have to settle for expensive long-distance phone calls and snail mail as your most convenient means of keeping in touch with loved ones. :- You can’t hug over Skype, but it sure seems a wonderful option! And once you begin having a family of your own, that can help fill in time/loneliness.

  17. avatar MorbidMiss says:

    The thing to remember is being from NYC, 30 is more like 18 for the rest of the country. It is a helocopter parenting capital, so she is probably more freaked out by the distance from her parents than anything else.

  18. avatar wendykh says:

    LW2 as the mother of a severely autistic son I strongly suggest you and your husband get genetic counselling prior to procreating. I can tell you now if I knew then what I know now, there is no way on god’s green earth I would get pregnant by a man who already had one autistic son. No way. No how. The risks are astronomical. I love my son dearly but I wish I had brought his soul into a body that worked better for him and made his life a wee less difficult. My son’s father had a moderately autistic sister and tho I did not know it at the time his grandmother was mildly autistic. Those two factors alone should have bolted my legs shut. He says now if he knew the information we obtained through genetic counselling that no, he would never have procreated. Not because we don’t love our children (we also have a neurotypical daughter together) but it just seems cruel to willingly bring children into bodies that make life more difficult than it need be.

    • avatar wendykh says:

      I forgot my main point… your husband already has one severely autistic child. If you have a son that child has a very strong chance of being autistic as well, and slightly less for a girl. AND you are far from your family and support network. This does not bode well… but it also doesn’t bode badly. I had no family or friends here. Moved from Nebraska to Canada to be with my ex. But, there is no way I could afford the medical care and schooling my child needs in the US. Living in the US would have bankrupted us and been impossible to care for our children’s medical needs. Think long and hard, and consider making some friends.

  19. avatar wlaccma says:

    This marriage is doomed. They did not really know each other well or what their circumstances were before they married. Now her eyes are open. She should move back near her parents and live the rest of her life in sunny Florida by herself. She is too immature to be married and have a family.

  20. avatar impska says:

    LW2: Well, I’m a bit late to the column, but on the off chance the LW finds this, I will write anyway. I married my husband at twenty, after a whirlwind romance and moved from Canada to the United States for him.

    We had discussed returning to Canada when the time was right, but as the marriage progressed, I began to realize that the time was never going to be right for my husband. This was a big disappointment for me, at first, as I struggled with culture shock and missed Canada terribly.

    But when I accepted that the United States was my home, I was able to shift my mentality. I had to let go of the hope of returning to Canada before I could really settle in. Previously, everything felt temporary because soon I would be going home to Canada. Once I wrapped my head around the fact that I was already home and it was time to make the best of it – I was able to do just that and really embrace my life in another country with the love of my life.

    First, you need to decide which is more important: Your life with your husband, or your life with your parents. Because your husband can’t move. He doesn’t just have a son – he has an autistic son, and you knew this going in. Moving away would be cruel to his son. You can’t ask this man that you love to be cruel to the child that he loves (and if he were willing, who would want to start a family with him?).

    After you decide, you either move back to NY alone, and move on – or you stay in Winnipeg and embrace your new home with open arms and the understanding that as an adult, you don’t need your parents near you anymore and you can hop on a plane to see them. Part of your problem may be that you need to get out there and make friends: maybe once you develop some social connections in Winnipeg, you will feel more secure without your parents.