DEAR AMY: The company I worked for offered an early retirement package. Since I am not old enough to draw on my pension I would have to roll it all over. I discussed this with my wife, and we came to the conclusion that this would be OK. She said if I took this early retirement I could help her with her home-based business. I agreed and retired two years ago. The problem is that I have yet to receive any compensation for the help I give every day to her business. Did I miss something here? All I ask for is a little spending money each week. She has control of all the income, and treats it as hers and hers only. What should I do? If I leave this arrangement it would greatly reduce the income coming in from the business. Should I just suck it up and keep begging my wife for gas money until retirement age? I told her I was going to get a part-time job. She said if I do I will have to pay her rent or move out. Please give me some direction.
Angry and Hurt in Iowa
DEAR ANGRY: Controlling the family's money and making you "beg" for every dollar of gas money is one hallmark of an abuser. Furthermore, your wife's threat to force you to pay rent or move out shows how desperate she is to control you.
The way you describe it, this does not sound like a marital spat. This sounds like a way of life for her -- and you should consider calling her bluff. Please see a lawyer to research your rights.
Her threats may be very shortsighted and ultimately quite expensive for her. If you do move out, you could end up with half the home and a stake in the home-based business (depending on how long you've been married and how aggressive your lawyer is).
If your name is on the deed, she cannot force you to pay rent in your own home.
DEAR AMY: Recently I have identified myself as a bisexual. I have been very confused about my sexuality all my life, but I feel happier now that I have come to this realization. I can now be honest with myself before I go off to college and start a new life. While admitting that I am bisexual has taken a huge weight off my shoulders, a fresh weight has been placed back on when I think about telling my mother. Although my mother is a wonderful, loving woman, I'm afraid she wouldn't take me seriously if I told her about my bisexuality. I have only brought home guys to meet the family, so I don't know if she'd believe me if I said I also like women. I have several gay male and female friends, and she is comfortable with them, but we have never explicitly discussed bisexuality. I don't know if she would react positively if I told her, which makes me incredibly nervous. I don't want to hide from my mother, but I'm scared of what she'll say. Should I come out to her or never disclose this information?
Should My Mama Know?
DEAR SHOULD: You present this as a choice between extremes: Tell your mother about your bisexuality now, or never tell her.
I vote for the answer squarely in between: Tell her -- later. Go to college, continue figuring things out and tell your mother about your sexual orientation after your life is stable (and/or if you meet someone you want to have a serious relationship with). This is your life. You get to do things according to your own timetable.
DEAR AMY: "Nervous in Washington" had PTSD caused by an abusive parent and triggered by the smell of pot smoke. I can't believe you suggested Nervous should lie about his PTSD! What happens when people ask, "What does pot smoke do to you?" The truth is always better than a lie.
Appalled in Oklahoma
DEAR APPALLED: I filed this man's PTSD under "Nobody's Business," because sometimes explaining a painful situation leads to more painful explanations.