DEAR AMY: My wife and I have been together for 12 years. We started dating in high school and moved in together during college. After college she moved back into a hostile home environment of her parents' dysfunctional marriage, adultery, alcoholism, constant fighting and blatant lying. I was on the fence about staying together, but I couldn't leave her to deal with all of that without my emotional support and comfort. This went on for a few years until her grandfather started buying homes for his grandchildren and offered one of the homes for us, if/when we got married. I thought this would be a great way to start fresh with a home that was paid for already, and that we could build on our relationship. I knew it wasn't the best way to start a marriage with the feelings I had about leaving her, but I couldn't resist the urge to remove her from her terrible situation. Things were good for a while, but as we spent more time together it became apparent that our futures look very different. Mainly, she wants to start a family, while I'm unsure about having children, especially with her. She has made it clear that if I don't come around, this could be a reason to end the relationship. Should I tell her the truth of how and why we got to where we are? Should I just let the "not wanting children" thing be the less hurtful of the two scenarios as the reason to end things?
DEAR WONDERING: Even though you maintain that your relationship has not been satisfying for you, you cast yourself as your wife's rescuer from her abusive home life. However, really it was her grandfather's legacy of a house that seems to have liberated her from that household. You married her in order to help that along, but surely you saw some benefit, too.
Marriages start — and then fail — for all sorts of reasons. No matter what you tell your wife as you are leaving, it will only be partly true for her because, if she is deeply hurt, she will assign reasons on her own accord. Just don't blame her for your choice to leave.
You can tell her, "It's not you, it's me." "I'm conflicted about having children and I know you want them." "I haven't been happy for a long time, and I don't think you are, either." "We started our lives together when we were so young. We grew up together, but now we've grown apart."
Just don't tell her, "I don't believe I ever loved you."
DEAR AMY: My husband just retired under medical disability. He has had no income for four weeks. I am working and we have savings and retirement accounts. I just found out that he contacted our financial adviser to supply documents to borrow against one of our retirement accounts. I am outraged that he spoke to a third-party and took steps toward this goal without discussing it with me. He states that because it was a preliminary discussion and nothing had been signed, it is a moot point and that I am being unreasonable. Am I unreasonable?
DEAR RESPONSIBLE: You are not being unreasonable. Your husband's work status has changed. This is the ideal time for you two to review your finances, including your household income, expenses, savings and retirement accounts. Even if the accounts he was interested in accessing are in your husband's name alone, his choices now will affect your shared future later.
Obviously, this is an opportunity for you two to discuss what his thinking is. Does he have debt that you don't know about? Is he hoping to make a large purchase that he hasn't discussed with you?
A book you two should read together is: "How to Make Your Money Last — Completely Updated for Planning Today: The Indispensable Retirement Guide Paperback," by financial writer Jane Bryant Quinn (2020, Simon & Schuster). Despite its unwieldy title, the advice is practical and manageable.
DEAR AMY: I think all of you have missed a logical and simple response to "Anxious Wife," whose husband is a dangerous driver due to his speeding and tailgating. I have experienced the same. I finally asked myself, " Why am I subjecting myself to this anxiety? I know how to drive." The solution is: don't get in the car with him. She should do the driving.
Less Anxious Wife in Ohio
DEAR LESS ANXIOUS: Yes! Any person with that option should definitely take it.