DEAR AMY: My wife and I have been married for more than 25 years. During that time we have had our share of marital issues, mostly related to our finances.
Although we are very comfortable, my wife makes more money than I do, and it has always been a point of contention. I try to compensate by doing household and outside chores and projects, as well as helping our children, but it is never enough.
The other day I had a private conversation with my wife explaining that I was concerned that our poor relationship was affecting our children. Furthermore, I am concerned that it would affect their current and future relationships.
A day or two later we were having a birthday dinner for me, and I sent a text to our daughters asking if they would be coming to the house.
I got an angry text reply from one daughter, saying that my wife had told her that I said “she was ruined” and that I blamed her mother. Neither of which was true.
I have also overheard my wife making very derogatory and inappropriate comments to my other daughter.
I immediately suggested that we go to family counseling to discuss and resolve the situation. However, my wife refused and denied her statements. My daughter will not return my calls.
I just don’t understand why my wife doesn’t realize how damaging this is to our daughters and how it could affect their marriages down the road. -- Distraught
DEAR DISTRAUGHT: This interfamily bad-mouthing diminishes your stature with your daughters, and from your description, diminishing you is your wife’s specialty. You are correct that this negative family dynamic will affect your daughters’ relationships down the road.
In order to be effective partners, you and your wife should pool your money to use for the benefit of the family — and not keep score. Some couples are able to peacefully run their households by keeping income and expenses separate, but this can create a serious power imbalance when the person who makes more money uses this to dominate the other.
You should definitely pursue counseling and invite your daughters to join you. If you can’t repair this situation within your family, your wife might end up parting with some of her precious income through spousal support.
DEAR AMY: Last year we bought a piece of property and will soon begin building a house on it. One of the things we love about the area is that it’s secluded, quiet and peaceful. However, the construction process is anything but peaceful, and even though we don’t have many neighbors, I’m afraid they will be impacted by our build.
I thought of baking some cookies and taking some to each of them, introducing ourselves, apologizing in advance for the hassle and giving them our phone numbers in case there are any problems (we won’t be able to be up there daily).
Is this appropriate? With the prevalence of food allergies, have cookies become passe? I’m not good with this sort of thing, but we plan on staying in this house for a long time and want to start off on the right foot. -- New Neighbor
DEAR NEIGHBOR: I think cookies or brownies are a sweet idea (you could disclose the ingredients). I would only caution you that this exposes you somewhat to your neighbors’ curiosity and point of view about what you’re up to. In advance of this mission you should be prepared for the possibility of very detailed questions about your project.
My advice is to be somewhat vague about your plans and extremely vague about your whereabouts. The last thing you want to do is telegraph “We’re not around” to people you don’t know.
DEAR AMY: Whoa, that letter from “Stressed Out” really hit home. Her husband had gutted their house years before and was not accepting help to finish the project. He also sometimes physically abused their son, who has ADHD.
I thought your suggestion that the husband might also have ADHD was insightful. My experience with an adult who was finally tested and diagnosed was life-changing. -- Reader and Fan
DEAR FAN: Thank you for sharing your experience.