DEAR AMY: A dozen years ago I married a very intelligent, kind and highly educated man. We were both in our 50s. I had more money than he did, but I felt that, with his good job, he could certainly pay his share of our living expenses. We set up a joint bank account to do so, but after several months I found that I was the only one putting any money into it. We live in my home and I now pay for all of the expenses, including food. His money goes to pay for his house, where his 40-year-old daughter and her husband, a lawyer, live rent free. I feel used, to the point that I want to end our marriage. When I bring up the subject of money, he says that he pays, in kind, by taking care of certain household chores. Frankly, so do I. He will soon come into a substantial amount of money. Ours has become only a marriage of convenience. Should I charge him rent or throw him out?
Tired of Paying
DEAR TIRED: This does not seem like a marriage of convenience, except, perhaps, for him. I can see how it would be quite convenient for your husband to let you pay for your shared housing, food and household expenses.
First, you should let him know that your marriage is on the line. If you two want to salvage what is left of it, you should both be prepared to be totally transparent regarding income, savings, assets and debts, divvy up your expenses and then abide by whatever agreement you draft. You could seek the services of a marital mediator who would work with a counselor to help you find an equitable solution.
You should see a lawyer, regardless of whether you intend to stay in the marriage. Keep detailed records of everything and work toward preserving your own assets. Depending on what state you live in, the double-whammy for you would be if your home was considered community property, but his windfall was not (if it comes to him by way of inheritance or legal settlement).
That’s the worst-case scenario, which is why you should get legal advice.
DEAR AMY: I’m a straight male in my late 50s and getting back into the dating world. I’m relatively attractive, but a little awkward around women I am interested in romantically. I can overcome that, but what would probably be a deal breaker at the beginning of a relationship is that I’ve been a cross-dresser since an early age. I don’t want to keep it a secret, but I am sure a woman will bid me adieu if I tell her this when we are first getting to know each other; however, I don’t want to wait too long to tell her. Amy, at what point in a relationship should I share my secret?
DEAR CLOSETED: It would help if you started to see your cross-dressing not as a secret, but as something elemental that is simply part of you.
Your preference doesn’t present a health risk to a partner, so you don’t have to disclose this before sexual intimacy. You should not lead with it too early, mainly because if a potential partner has no other information about you, she won’t be able to put this into context.
You should disclose this intimate aspect of you when you find yourself falling for someone. Don’t present it as a deal breaker, but as a piece of intimate information you want a partner to know. Some women will be turned off by it, but others will be open to it.
DEAR AMY: “Two Decades of Guilt” described being sexually assaulted by two men when she was a teenager. This happened to me. I was assaulted by a state worker while taking my driver’s test when I was a teenager. He instructed me to drive to a fairly secluded place, where he assaulted me. I was so shaken; I told my boyfriend immediately and he reported it to the director. No one believed us, because this man was a “family man.” I later heard that he had done this to other teenagers. This was 50 years ago. I wish I had gone to the police. I saw his obituary in the newspaper and it turned my stomach.
DEAR GUILTY: This is an appalling abuse of power. Fifty years ago, turning him in might have damaged you further, as victims were sometimes blamed for their own assault.