Dear Amy: I met my wife online right before I had a serious accident, followed by cancer in 2013. She stayed with me during my treatment and recovery, but it was not “cookies and cream” during that time. We fought a lot. She left a few times, but always came back.
I was grateful to her for her financial and emotional support for a little over a year, and ended up marrying her when I was finished with my treatments.
She works in a public school and has a low salary.
Since I returned to work, I have financially supported our household (95 percent, she pays her own gas) and have used up my accident settlement to pay for our daily expenses.
Two years ago, her father died and she received a sizable inheritance, as well as his house.
Since then, she has kept her finances hidden from me. She filed taxes separately, without telling me. She has spent extravagantly on herself.
She has made no effort to help with our daily finances.
She won’t let us move into her Dad’s house because her “deadbeat” 30-year-old son is living there by himself, having dropped out of college to become a gambler. In the meantime, I am still paying $3,300 monthly in rent.
I granted her power of attorney in case of my incapacitation and made her my beneficiary, as she requested, several years ago. Now, I find out, she never did that in return!
She has hidden all of her inherited assets in a living trust. In the meantime, I cannot save enough for our retirement and I am constantly worried about our finances. I wake up at least once a week in the middle of the night worrying about finances.
I don’t know how much longer I can keep going like this! What can I do?
— Tired and Taxed
Dear Tired: Given the lack of financial trust between you two, it would be a good idea to immediately remove your wife as your power of attorney.
You should then be honest with her that you can no longer afford the $3,300 rent, and so she will need to pay half of the rental expense and share other household expenses.
The money and the property she inherited from her father rightfully belong to her. She might be deliberately keeping these assets separate in order to prevent them from being considered “community property.”
But just as you put your accident award toward living expenses, she should now dip into her kitty to help support the household.
I assume she will refuse.
Her refusal to contribute to her own housing and living expenses, to follow through on verbal agreements, or to share financial information with you are real red flags. Staying married to her could potentially sink you.
You should research less expensive rental housing to move into at the end of your lease. Sadly, this downsizing might include losing her.
Dear Amy: My sister and I are planning a surprise 70th birthday dinner party at a nice restaurant for my parents.
It will be mostly family and a couple of friends.
We decided to foot the entire bill before sending out the invites.
A couple of family members have asked if they can contribute some money toward the bill, and we don’t know how to respond!
My sister and I chatted about it and feel pretty weird taking anything from anybody.
What should we do?
Dear Unsure: A couple of family members politely asked in advance if they could help with the bill. This is a thoughtful and generous response to your invitation.
All you have to do is to acknowledge their thoughtfulness when you decline.
You respond: “It is so kind of you to offer, but we’ve got this, and it will be our pleasure to host you on this special night. Looking forward to seeing you!”
Dear Amy: I am a middle-school teacher.
My students and I would like to thank you for devoting your advice column entirely to the stories of Vietnam veterans this past Veterans Day.
It can be challenging to describe this period to very young people whose parents don’t even remember Vietnam.
The words of these veterans and their loved ones really helped to put this conflict — and our country’s response to those who served — into context.
Dear Teacher: I am so gratified that my columns are so often used as teaching tools in classrooms. In this case, we all owe a debt to the Veterans who provided their own testimony.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)
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