Ask Amy: Sharing households means sharing expenses

November 22, 2012

DEAR AMY: I have been living with a guy for almost two years. Even though he owns his own house and continues to pay the bills on his own house, he lives with me (including eating all of his meals here). He has never offered to share the expense of living at my house, though I’ve brought it up.

I have children at home, and his response has always been that his living in my house doesn’t add any additional expenses. I disagree with this and feel that I am being taken advantage of and that he should offer to pay his own way; at the very least pay for his own food.

Am I blowing things out of proportion, or is this guy basically living off of me?

When he and I go out alone, he pays for my meals and any date-related expenses, but when we planned a recent trip together, he didn’t hesitate to tell me exactly what my share would be. What’s your take? -- Disadvantaged

DEAR DISADVANTAGED: After two years of living together, you should not gingerly bring up a topic as important as money in the hopes that your guy “offers” to pay a share of the household living expenses. Nor should you necessarily characterize him as “living off” of you if he does pay for some things.

If you share a household, then it is completely reasonable to put all of your shared expenses on the table. Include rent, utilities, food, etc., and negotiate what expenses you each will assume. Fortunately, if you can’t work things out, he already has a house he can go home to.

DEAR AMY: “Hopelessly Confused” asked what he should do about a workplace crush.

If he is a happily married man, all he need do is include references to his wife and their happy life together in his conversations with his work friend and suggest that she and her husband join him and his wife for a social occasion.

I was in a similar situation nearly four decades ago. My new boss and I had lots in common, truly enjoyed each other’s company and worked very well together. I quickly came to the same realization as Confused. “Hey, if we weren’t each already married, this is a guy I would want to date!” I’m quite confident that he had the same realization.

What did we do about this realization? Absolutely nothing. We never acknowledged it. We simply continued to enjoy our friendship and our work. He and his wife included me and my husband when they hosted a party for former colleagues. As things have turned out, the four of us grew to be good friends. This long-standing friendship is a treasure to us all.

The key is quite simple: If you value what you have in a good marriage to a good person, you simply do not jeopardize it. You draw a line in your relationships, especially when you realize there is some mutual chemistry involved.

If the other person is someone who shares your values, that line will be respected. If not, you know this is not a person you want for a friend. -- Not Confused at All

DEAR NOT CONFUSED: Your behavior in this situation is exactly what other people should emulate. I hope it inspires others to behave in a similarly mature fashion.

DEAR AMY: I’m responding to a question in your column about whether it is wise to have a parent officiate at a wedding. As the father of three daughters and a pastor serving a parish, I declined to officiate at their weddings.

I officiate at the weddings of members of my parish (and baptize their children). It is an important part of ministry. I am not my daughters’ pastor. I am dad. On their wedding days I filled the role of dad and walked them down the aisle — a far more fulfilling role than to stand in for their pastor.

They need to build their own relationship with their pastor. They already have one with me. -- Pastor Mark

DEAR PASTOR: Wise. Very wise.

Write to Amy Dickinson at askamy@tribune.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.

2012 by the Chicago Tribune

Distributed by Tribune Media Services

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