DEAR AMY: My husband and I got married five months ago. We’ve been together for over seven years. He’s in his mid-40s and I’m in my late 30s. We’ve been discussing whether or not to have a baby. I really want to. He wants to make me happy, but has reservations. We both have stable, well-paying jobs but own a home and are in a little bit of debt. He has concerns with money, the health of the baby at our age, and just being a dad in general. He feels he’s too old and is already tired when he gets home from work. He’s not totally against the idea but is not as excited as I had hoped. We had discussed this prior to getting married, but his opinion hasn’t really changed. I think he worries too much, and he thinks I’m too carefree. He also has some friends with kids, and they told him that he should just enjoy his freedom. I’m not sure where to go from here. I don’t want to have any regrets.
DEAR CONFUSED: Your husband might never match your level of enthusiasm over having a baby. His reservations are normal and natural — and smart. But is he willing to do this with you anyway?
If he is willing to take this leap, then you should take it with your eyes wide open.
Understand that this reluctant father may never come around. You might always be the primary parent, and he might perform the bulk of his parenting from his perch on the couch.
The thing about having children is that it never works out the way you thought it would. But one important lesson parenthood teaches people is the power of surrendering to the possibilities.
I would love to hear from men who have faced this question.
DEAR AMY: Our neighbor of 15 years has never bought any of the equipment required to maintain his property. He doesn’t own a lawnmower, snow blower, ladder, etc. Nor will he hire any help. He feels entitled to borrow neighbors’ equipment. Over the years some neighbors have stopped lending to him. When he moved in he asked whether he could count on using our snow blower. I told him no, since it was an overworked lightweight unit that was already being shared with two other neighbors. After the first snow, he rang our bell early in the morning and asked for the blower. I told him again that he couldn’t use it, and he responded by asking to speak to my husband. He doesn’t reciprocate and is an inconsiderate neighbor. He has been rude and has watched me struggle to clear our driveway when my husband is at work. He has enough money for nice cars, the latest gadgets for the kids, and expensive vacations. The last time we hired a plumber, he staked out the plumber’s truck to get free advice for a plumbing problem. When we hired a tree service, he dragged branches over to the chopper and told the operator that he needed a favor. I have had enough. I have no problem with just saying “no.” My husband is reluctant to refuse a neighbor. Your advice?
DEAR FED UP: You are justified in not wanting to lend your equipment to this neighbor, but don’t then complain when he won’t help you to clear your own driveway.
On the other hand, if he was a better neighbor, he might inspire your generosity.
It is not your business whether he attempts to scam the plumber or the landscaper — unless his doing so costs you money.
You seem to have an easier time saying no than your husband does. Because of this, your husband can use you as his favor-shield: “Sorry, man, the wife says ‘no.’ ”
If your husband undermines you by lending out this equipment, then the burden of retrieving, replacing, repairing it should also fall to him.
DEAR AMY: “Distressed” wasn’t sure how to split costs for their vacation gift to their parents. All costs should be determined up front. My sister-in-law nailed me several times with this trick. We’d agree to chip in on a gift, and then she’d come up with an “irresistible” add-on. It was usually about another 50 percent of the original share!
Lesson Finally Learned
DEAR LEARNED: It is best to anticipate and agree on all costs beforehand. And — not to share the cost of alcohol. Drinkers should pick up their own tab.