DEAR AMY: I am on my second marriage. I am trying hard to stay “connected” because I felt disconnected in my last marriage. I moved almost 100 miles away from my family and into his world. This is fine, but sometimes I feel alone. My husband and I decided to keep our finances separate. We split everything. When we’re at the store, he pays half and I pay half, vacation trips are split — also phones, utilities, and insurance. I also give him “rent” for living in the house, because he makes the house payment. About a year after we got married, he inherited his father’s estate. He put some money into a savings account, and it was just sitting there, so I told him to invest it, and he did. This money has grown some pretty good interest in the past four years, and we decided to do some repairs on our home, so he took the funds out of the interest income and used it for the repair. Amy, he then asked me when I was going to pay him back my half of the cost of the remodel! I was floored! This was money he wouldn’t have had if I didn’t suggest that he invest it. Is it wrong for me to feel like we are more roommates than a married couple? I don’t think we’re very “connected,” do you? We’ve talked about consolidating our bank accounts, but I get scared that he’ll be controlling my money that I work hard for, like he controls everything else. Are my feelings wrong?
DEAR WORRIED: If your husband “controls everything” in your life, then pay attention to this red flag; it might be wisest not to be with him.
You two also seem to suffer from an overall simple lack of generosity toward each other.
One way to feel “connected” is to work together as a couple to make major financial decisions. I like the idea of couples pooling some of their income into a household account and for both parties to agree on mutual expenses and bill paying. Then each party can also have their own money for their personal use.
However, your husband’s inheritance is his alone to spend. Your suggestion that he invest it seems to have been a wise one, but he needn’t compensate you for following your good advice.
Unless your name is on the title, he also owns the house, although you may have some ownership claim because you have been helping to pay the mortgage.
If he expects you to pay for half of this remodel, then your name should be put on the title of the house. Co-owning this home would help you to feel (and be) more connected.
You two should meet with a mediator and financial adviser to work on ways to share your assets, without either party controlling the other. Also, do some research on your marital property rights in your state.
DEAR AMY: I recently received an invitation to a bridal shower from my (former) niece. I was married to her uncle for 22 years and was active in her life from the time she was born until my ex-husband and I split four years ago. I am uncomfortable going to the bridal shower, as I will have to spend time with my former in-laws and feel it will be awkward and uncomfortable, since I expect my ex-husband’s new wife to be at the shower. I’m still angry that everyone in his family thought it was OK for him to move in with this woman while he was still married to me. What do you think?
DEAR CONFUSED: It was very nice of your niece to honor your relationship by inviting you to her bridal shower, but you shouldn’t attend the shower if you don’t want to. You should send her a warmly worded card, congratulating and thanking her (and perhaps also including a gift, if you’re inclined), and go to the movies that day.
DEAR AMY: You asked for suggestions from readers for how “K” might heal after her husband left her. This happened to me, too. I also lost friendships in the process. Going to Meet Up gatherings (meetup.com) has been very helpful. I joined groups doing things that I” liked to do (hiking, dancing, kayaking, wine-tasting, etc.). This allowed me to meet friends of all kinds based on shared interests, rather than the social groupings of my past.
DEAR FEELING BETTER: Great suggestion. Thank you!