DEAR AMY: My husband and I have been married for seven years. We still have separate bank accounts. I opened one joint account to which I deposit money monthly for our bills and expenses. My husband owns the house we live in and he pays the mortgage. He is more free-spending than I am and this is causing us problems. I have my own accounts, I feel I have the right to do as I wish with my funds, whether to lend to family or pay for my own expenses. He spends his own funds for whatever he needs; sometimes he shares this information with me but I hardly ever question what he spends on. He, on the other hand, feels I should include him in the decisions I make with my finances. Does this seem fair to you? Am I out of line?
Not Seeing Eye to Eye
DEAR NOT SEEING: I don't think you are out of line, but there are also valid reasons for both of you to be more transparent.
You two would both benefit from meeting with an accountant and/or financial planner, who could review your income and investment/retirement accounts, in order to start the all-important process of retirement planning. Part of this process should be for both of you to build in separate savings and the privacy to spend or save (as you can afford). You should also review the laws in your state regarding community property.
One reason to be more transparent is so you can each have some awareness of loans/gifts. This protects you from having family members approach each of you for money -- counting on your secrecy to double-dip. I like the approach of building a "family fund" together and making these loans/gifts as a couple.
A book you and your husband should read together is, " 'Til Money Do Us Part: Financial Planning for Couples," by Maureen Richardson (2013, Motivational Press).
DEAR AMY: I disagree with your answer to "Obsessed," who wanted to see his "first love" from high school. As an eight-decade gay person who has been closeted and married with children for six of those decades, I can empathize with Obsessed very well. While I have had many close friends and extramarital lovers over the years, I still remember that very special feeling I had for my first real love, who was completely straight but understood my feelings. When I met him 10 or 15 years after high school, we got along beautifully (and still do). However, seeing him with his wife and kids completely erased the image I recalled (and still do). I remain "in love" with my first love, but that experience clarified the feelings so that I was able to see that the man I first loved was no longer that person, and I was free to go on.
DEAR C: I don't know if I would describe staying in the closet and embarking on extramarital affairs as being truly "free," but I do understand you are from another generation and your options were very limited. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I still don't think it is wise for "Obsessed" to feed his romantic obsession, but I'm happy that your solution worked for you.
DEAR AMY: Responding to the letter from "A House Divided by Noise," I think the parents who are bothered by the noise generated by their daughter's friends should add a "mini" kitchen to the basement rec room -- a counter for a microwave and prep space, with a dorm-sized refrigerator below and cabinets for snacks and supplies. Or the parents and kids could swap rooms -- kids in the den and parents in the basement. The parents could join the teens in the kitchen briefly to say hello when snacks are being served there.
DEAR BEEN THERE: The parents who wrote to me had already created a recreational palace for their teen kids (and their friends) in their basement. I was advocating more interaction between these parents and teens -- not less. This way, the parents can tell the kids to pipe down, without relying on their daughter to do it.