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Reality Check: Fixing a Flirty Neighbor

Q. The mom next door flirts with my husband too much for my comfort. He says I'm making a fuss out of nothing, but I want it to stop. What do I do?


A. And why would your husband have a problem with sideways glances from the Desperate Housewife next door? We all need someone to remind us that we've still got "it" every once in a while to help us out of the harried, sweatpantsed rut we fall into as we live our daily married life, start raising babies, and get blinkered by work and mortgages and laundry.

My friend Cecelia is still swooning over the time the supermarket butcher came on to her. She'd just given birth to her second child and had just enough time between breastfeedings to pull on an oversize T-shirt and stumble to the store, and here was this guy telling her how cute she was and giving her a 20-minute primer on, um, meat. After she finished blushing and grinning, she ran home and told her husband, who, to this day, is still looking for the meat guy. Not to beat him up but to thank him for confirming what he'd known all along  -- that his wife is a catch. He wasn't worried about her hooking up with the butcher, and you shouldn't be concerned about your husband and the neighbor, either.

Don't get me wrong: You have every right to be annoyed by her. But it's not like your neighbor's walking up to your husband and planting one on him. More important, he's not responding in kind. It sounds as if he isn't taking her flirting too seriously. That's the tack you should take, also.

Rather than saying something to her, you might try turning her forwardness into your own private running husband-wife joke  -- say, "Oh look, there she goes again," and take bets on what her next come-on might be. Then the two of you can laugh it off and go on about your business of appreciating each other  -- sweatpants and all.

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