Title Writing Prompt Challenge Round 8 — E. J. D’Alise Submission

This is the eighth round of the Title Writing Prompt Challenge. For them not familiar with the challenge, a quick summary: three writers offer the fruit of their labor and inspiration based on a given title.

The Round 8 Title — Dear John — was chosen by Gary. Perry will choose the title for the next round.

The writing challenge has no restrictions and the stories span a wide gamut of genres. The majority of the stories fall in the G and PG rating range with a few perhaps pushing into the soft R-rating. Those ratings are guidelines but they are subjective. If you find a story disturbing because of the topics, language, and/or plot points, stop reading and move on to the next one. The same goes if you are not interested in finishing a story. It may seem like obvious advice, but these days many people go out of their way to experience outrage (and then complain about it).

This, then, is my submission written with a day to spare, for a change.

And, here’s the blurb for this story:
Ladies! Does your man mystify you? Is his behavior leaving you confused? Let me mansplain men for you! Send your questions, and I’ll answer them! Just write to Dear John and get manly advice for women about men!

Dear John — manly advice for women about men

Copyright 2022 — E. J. D’Alise

(2,650 words – approx. reading time: about 10 minutes based on 265 WPM)

Ladies! Does your man mystify you? Is his behavior leaving you confused? Let me mansplain men for you! Send your questions, and I’ll answer them!* Just write to Dear John and get manly advice for women about men!

*No sex-related questions, please.


Dear John:

I love my husband, and we have a decent life, but he never asks how I’m doing. He seems attentive and concerned enough if I mention anything, but otherwise, it’s like he doesn’t care. What can I do?




Dear Marcia,

Please don’t feel like you’re alone in this, and don’t think he doesn’t care. It’s just that men look at marriage as a job. And, like in a job, they don’t walk up to the boss every day and ask, “How are you doing?” If anything, when the boss looks preoccupied, men avoid making eye contact lest they be dragged into a meeting and assigned a difficult project.

My advice is to do what companies do . . . Schedule a retreat (a weekend away) for team-building (rediscovering yourselves). Basically, you want to reestablish the relationship you had while dating. Dating corresponds to looking for a job. When looking for a job, men strive to provide the employer with at least the perception that they care about the job. Therefore, they ask questions and are more sensitive to what their potential bosses want to hear.

Of course, if you’ve waited too long, a single date might have the opposite effect. Something akin to a performance review of a long-time but essential employer; they no longer give a crap about impressing anyone, and the best you can do is hope they don’t stop working.

In that case, companies look for younger and more engaged employees. Unfortunately, that might not be an option for many married women because the supply of younger men interested in older women is limited . . . unless the older woman has a lot of money.

If that’s not you, there’s another approach, but it’s risky and requires having married friends. You start by innocently asking your husband what he thinks of Bill (or whatever husband makes a suitable candidate for the process). He will dismiss this with “He’s alright, I suppose,” but the question will sit in his mind and nag at him. If not the first time, definitely the second time, when you say, “Wow, Bill sure dotes on Janet!

At that point, the seed is planted, and this is where you change tactics. Rather than say anything directly, you now switch to the indirect approach, “Janet complained to me today that sometimes Bill is too doting, but she said that’s better than him ignoring her.

Unless your husband is emotionally arid, that seed you planted will grow. Here’s where you have to hope for the right outcome. He may start to pay more attention to your emotional needs, but he could also begin hating Bill. In extreme cases, it could be he’ll decide it’s more expedient to try and kill Bill than to be more attentive.

In either case, your problem would be solved because if he does try to kill Bill, you can divorce him while he’s in jail and then work on getting Bill to divorce Janet and marry you.

I hope this helps,



Dear John:

I married my husband when we were both young, but while I grew up, he seemed to have gotten stuck. Basically, he’s like an overgrown kid, and I have to handle everything. I love parts of him because he’s fun and spontaneous, but I would like him to be more mature and shoulder some responsibility occasionally. What can I do?




Dear Linda,

Please don’t feel like you’re alone in this. Many men get stuck in what’s called the dating mode. In part, it’s your fault. Now, before you angrily close this email, hear me out.

During dating, many women want someone who is both fun and fun to be with. Admit it; it’s part of what first attracted you to him, right?

I blame society for this, and specifically, the advertising agencies. Most ads show dating and/or married couples having fun, smiling, and holding a glass of presumed social lubricant. However, they rarely show the reality of doing bills, cleaning the house, taking care of kids (if you have any), or any other aspect of married life.

Some men take this to heart, thinking what their wives want is fun, fun, fun! On the other hand, you assumed that once the dating fun was over and you got married, you’d settle down and get on with the drudgery of life. You did, and he didn’t.

This isn’t a problem for people with lots of money because they hire people to do the stuff that regular (non-wealthy) people do, and they live the life you see in TV ads.

But, if you’re one of the regular people (doing stuff for wealthy people), and one of you gets stuck in the dating mode, it’s a problem.

What can you do? Well, there are options.

If the husband truly is an overgrown kid, then he has to be treated like a kid . . . Except that doesn’t even work on kids, let alone overgrown kid husbands.

My suggestion is more nuanced, but it takes patience and work. You do the same thing you do with a child, but be careful not to insult him. Meaning, no gold stars or cheap trophies. 

You want him both engaged and to feel useful. So, don’t ask him to help you clean the house by giving him a toy vacuum cleaner . . . give him a duster and say you need help so you can get it done quicker, and then you can both go out and play (or whatever). For more serious chores, like balancing the checkbook or credit card statement, feign difficulty and ask him to read you the numbers from the statements as you cross off the charges in the ledger.

These methods have the advantage of getting him used to doing something and learning how to do it. In the case of bills, it also cements the direct relationship between the money he spent on stupid stuff and the effect that has on your savings (or earnings).

As for rewards, some think the promise of sex might work . . . I strongly suggest against it. Aside from the potential for chafing, it sends the wrong message: getting something for what he should be doing on his own accord. You’d condition him to expect sex whenever he does anything. True, that’s most men’s default setting, but you don’t want to encourage him unnecessarily… or, maybe you do, I don’t know.

Instead, I suggest the reward be praise. Don’t overdo it; most men are egotistical and blind to ironic praise, but not all. Start with something like “I couldn’t have done it without your help,” and slowly graduate to “Wow! You’re much better at this than I am!

Male ego being what it is (that of a child), in no time at all, he’ll be wanting more and more responsibility.

One word of caution; two, actually. One, pushing too much will turn your husband into someone who wants to take care of everything and think he knows everything and knows it better than anyone. Many women don’t like that (I, for instance, learned this and had to suppress that side of me … even though I do know everything better than anyone).

Two, pushing too much will make your husband independent and self-sufficient. There’s the chance he’ll then come to resent the fact he has to do everything — even though that’s his choice — and then he’ll be writing me about you.

Good luck,



Dear John:

My husband has become addicted to looking at his phone. When not on his phone, he’s on his PC. He forgets appointments, is always late, and it takes him a long time to do even the most basic chores because he keeps stopping and looking at his phone or saying he has to go answer an email. It’s the first thing he does in the morning and the last thing he does at night. Even when we’re talking or doing stuff, he’s paying attention to the phone, picking it up every few minutes and looking at it. What can I do?




Dear Beatrice,

Boy, if I had an answer for that one, I’d make millions, no, billions, selling it to employers. In a way, it’s easier if you’re an employer willing to lose half your workforce; you ban phones and personal Internet time at work.

Unfortunately, that wouldn’t work for you because I presume you only have one husband; there’s no option of losing half of your husband.

You could fight fire with fire, but it’s dangerous.

For instance, if you’re in charge of cooking, you could always be late with preparing meals, serve them half-cooked, or even ‘forget’ to prepare them. Unfortunately, that will probably increase the take-out budget and the consumption of junk food.

There are more subtle ways, but it could get costly.

You could hire a kid to hack your husband’s phone and PC — or even provide them with passwords — and make the devices frustrating to use. Software manufacturers already do their best to make their products frustratingly unstable. Over the years, users have gotten accustomed to a certain level of frustration, which is why you need a hacker to ratchet things up.

By the way, it’s not the cost of the hacker that makes that approach expensive; it’s that the hacker will get access to all your financial information. So, if you go that route, get someone you trust.

Another approach is to enlist the help of spammers. Not directly, of course. Instead, use your husband’s email and subscribe him to sites he doesn’t like.

For example, if he leans Liberal, subscribe him to sites raising money for Trump’s re-election and the ‘alternate’ news sites cropping up. Then, add a few climate denial sites and sites advocating open gun carry for good measure.

If he leans Conservative, subscribe him to anything to do with LGBTQIA+ advocacy, climate change hysteria, and sites advocating abolishing guns. Also, sign him up with ‘AOC For President’ sites. I’m not sure if there are any, but if not, you can start one.

Be aware that, these days, most sites send an email confirmation when you subscribe. That means you must be logged on to his account and intercept the confirmation email before he sees it.

If you work it right, you’ll make his phone and PC something frustrating to use, and he’ll gradually wean himself of all but the most basic interactions.

Of course, if it doesn’t work right, one of two things might happen. First, he might spend even more time on the devices as he argues with people who disagree with him.

That might be bad in itself, but worse, if you’re basically on the same page on political and social issues, be aware that exposure to opposite views might eventually have him switch to the other side of the arguments.

Of course, that won’t be all bad as you’ll then at least spend some face time yelling at debating with each other.

Good luck,



Dear John:

I love my husband, but he habitually noisily burps and passes gas. It never used to be bad, but, over the years, he’s convinced himself that it’s funny. Sometimes I think he believes it’s endearing and a sign of our comfortable and honest relationship. What can I do?




Dear Candice,

Don’t feel like you’re alone in this. While it’s widely known and accepted that women don’t burp or pass gas (I hear some women don’t even defecate; it’s not lady-like, I’m told), it’s also widely known and accepted men amply make up for women’s shortage of gaseous output.

You’re, unfortunately, in a relationship with a type of man who takes pride in his gaseous outflow. A substantial number of men grew up having contests with their peers; contests about who could burp the loudest or have the foulest gas. You might be tempted to assume this behavior is restricted to the lower rungs of social and financial ladders, but no; it spans the width and breadth of the male population. Thankfully, not all men, or we’d all be in dire straits, indeed.

As for what might be done, that’s a little tricky because we’d likely have to go back in time, and that’s proved difficult when dealing with problem issues. Indeed, any issue. To date, we can only move forward in time and only at the current pace. But I digress.

The reason I mention time is that it’s likely you were unwittingly complicit in the formation of this nasty habit. Unless you married him after the pattern was firmly entrenched, in which case, what were you thinking? That you would change him? Please!

What I mean by complicit is that he was probably embarrassed the first few times it happened and said something like, “OH! I’m so sorry! Please excuse me,” to which you promptly made the mistake of replying, “It’s OK. It’s kind of funny, actually.

And thus, the die was cast.

Again, we can’t go back in time, so we must deal with the situation at hand. A drastic solution is as follows . . . Fight fire with fire. Or, in this case, gas with gas.

Let me explain. I know you’re a woman, but trust me on this; you too can generate gas and simultaneously expel it at opposite ends of the alimentary canal. For burps, I advise radishes and onions, lightly chewed. For farts, a casserole that involves lightly-cooked beans, broccoli, and onions. Yes, onions are good for this sort of thing, at least for most people. If you’re lucky enough to be lactose intolerant, I suggest ice cream and half-and-half.

Note: These are general guidelines, and I suggest experimentation to arrive at the best combination of foods, but once you have it, it’s time to move on to the next step.

Many women make the mistake of trying to outdo the husband at home . . . Wrong! Remember what I said about competitions; men love burping and farting competitions! You might end up encouraging him to try harder!

I know it’s difficult, but remember the aim is to break the habit entirely, and to do so, you must endure a bit of embarrassment. Yes, in public is where you display your new skills, preferably around his friends. In short order, this should prompt a discussion during which you can leverage your newly-acquired ability toward the agreement of a mutual cessation of gaseous ejections in both public and private.

Mind you, there’s a danger that you’ll suddenly become ‘one of the boys’ and thus have the opposite effect that you intended. You might even make other wives jealous and lose some female friends. But, hey, perhaps it will be fun doing something new with your husband and new-found best buds!

Best of luck,



Dear John:

First-time reader and writer here. I’ve been happily married for over twenty years, but all that has been put in danger by recent events.

For some inexplicable reason, the husband of my friend Marcia recently tried to kill my husband, Bill. Thankfully, he failed, and he’s in jail.

Now, however, after divorcing her husband, my friend Marcia is making a move on my husband. It started innocently enough with her wanting to make it up to him, but it’s now progressed to where he seems genuinely interested in her, and I’m afraid he might eventually divorce me and marry Marcia. What can I do?




Dear Janet,

Why, that’s terrible, Janet, but look at the time! That’s all the letters I can answer this week.

Best of luck,



If you’ve already read the other two stories and are ready to vote, click HERE<<<Link, and you’ll be taken to the voting poll.

If you’ve not read the other two stories, they can be found at the following links:

R. G. Broxson submission<<link

Perry Broxson submission<<link

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