DEAR AMY: My husband and I are prosperous senior citizens. We are friends with another couple also seniors and also prosperous. We four often socialize together. He no longer drives and my husband (who still drives) always offers our car and becomes the driver. Here is the problem: This other couple seems reluctant to share in the parking fees and my husband is forever opening his wallet — often footing the entire bill. I cannot count the times when he has paid it all with the other couple never offering to pay a cent. The bottom line is that they are extremely frugal and my husband is reluctant to ask for money. He says that he would prefer to pay it all rather than make waves. It seems to me that because we are using our car and our gas, it would be nice if this other couple would occasionally offer to pick up the tab — or at the very least, share in the expense of the parking. We can well afford the loss but, it is the principle of the thing. My husband and I have had words over it. I, being tired of being taken advantage of and he, not willing to upset the status quo. Our friends are otherwise wonderful people, whom we love. We would certainly hate to cause hard feelings and lose their friendship. What would you do?
DEAR UPSET: I will inflate this issue for effect, and suggest that you take a breath and ponder this: After your friends are gone, will you and your husband kick yourselves for being so generous? Will you think, “Ugh; we sure wish we’d gotten those parking fees from those cheapskates when we had the chance...”
Your choices are very simple: You either ask in a very respectful and neutral way, “Hey — can you pick up the parking fee tonight?” or you revel in your late-life freedom to drive, and decide to feel good about your choice to be generous toward people you love to spend time with.
DEAR AMY: Three years ago, I moved with my husband from the state I grew up in to a secluded city 4,000 miles away, so he could pursue a new career. He has been doing wonderfully in his new job, and he couldn’t be happier where we’re living. I, on the other hand, have taken a back seat. Despite trying to make it work here, I have become very unhappy. I want to have some hope that someday we can move back home. I miss my family and friends. Where we’re living it is not likely that I can pursue my career and personal aspirations. I have asked that he be willing to move back in two or three years, but he refuses. He says that since I am so unhappy, I should move back now. Basically, he would rather divorce me than move. I understand he’s happier than he’s ever been and doesn’t want to lose that, but isn’t marriage supposed to be about compromise? I am hurt and confused, and I can’t even begin to know how to make this decision. Either I stay and likely remain unhappy, or we divorce and I move back. I love my husband very much and would also be unhappy without him. I would greatly appreciate your impartial (always wise) advice.
No Good Choices
DEAR NO GOOD CHOICES: You are correct. Marriage is about compromise. The kindest response from your husband would have been to open up a discussion and offer to work with you to mitigate your unhappiness. On the one hand, if you have a definite plan to move back home, it might decrease your incentive to try to make things work where you are living. On the other hand, you have already made an investment of three years of your life.
If it’s possible, you might do better in your current circumstance if you plan a lengthy annual visit to your hometown. This might be a salve for your homesickness and enable you to cope better.
I hope you and your husband can work together to see this through. If not, a trial separation might help you to clarify your choices.
DEAR AMY: I know you’re getting criticism for your sarcastic response to “Curious Guy,” who wondered why women don’t shave their forearms. A better response might have been for you to ask why men don’t shave their own underarms? I’d love to find out.
DEAR CURIOUS: Great question. Guys?