Dear Annie: I have been married for 20 years. When my wife and I first married, I was the sole breadwinner. I had a very good job and made a pretty comfortable living. My wife stayed home and raised our children. In 2008, technological advances rendered my line of work obsolete. I had to start over, reinventing myself in another industry. We struggled financially for years; it was difficult and put a strain on our marriage. Today, I have a full-time gig and make decent money, as well as a side business that does OK. My wife has a full-time job and side gig as well, and she makes nearly double what I make.
My problem is this. All the years when I was the sole breadwinner, my salary was “our money.” Now that she makes the lion’s share, her salary is “her money.” She expects me to pay my expenses with my own salary. For instance, I recently had an expensive car repair done. She spotted me the cash, but she wants me to pay her back. Never mind the fact that for a long time my car was our only car, and she put half the miles and wear and tear on it herself.
I just feel like I was taken advantage of — like she has forgotten the sacrifices I made all those years ago. It really makes me resentful. I’ve mentioned this to her before, and she got better about it for a bit, but now her attitude has reverted back to how it was before I’d mentioned something.
Annie, I am not freeloading. I pay my share. Just sometimes, when a major unexpected expense comes, I need a little help. I don’t feel, after all I’ve done and all we’ve been through together, that I should have to feel uncomfortable asking for money. What should I do? — Husband to a Forgetful Wife
Dear HTAFW: Attitude adjustments require periodic tune-ups. Gently remind her of your previous conversation and let her know you’ve noticed the issue cropping up again. She was receptive to your feedback last time; she probably will be this time, too. That is one of the most valuable assets a couple can share: a willingness to hear each other out and try to change accordingly.
And to head off the responses I’ll get from people who think a married couple should always pool all their funds together: Yes, it can be difficult to merge lives without merging finances, but it is possible, and more and more couples are choosing to do so. Some have found a good balance with a “yours, mine, ours” approach — sharing one bank account for household expenses and utilities and things like car maintenance, while each maintaining a separate bank account for discretionary spending. You and your wife might consider trying that for greater harmony.
Dear Annie: After reading the letter about office workers who wanted to approach a co-worker with body odor, I wanted to let people know something that has worked for me after I struggled with embarrassing B.O. for decades. I shower daily, wash with Lever soap, shave my underarms every day, and apply witch hazel to my armpits once they’re dry. I also rotate through four different deodorants (three of which are meant for men, even though I’m a woman). It took several years of doing this every day before I no longer had a problem. — Stuck With It
Dear Stuck With It: Witch hazel, which can reduce the skin’s pH and make it difficult for bacteria to thrive, is a smart idea here, and it can be kept in a spray bottle for easy misting, no cotton balls or pads needed.
Send your questions for Annie Lane to [email protected].
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