Life Advice

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Health & Spirit

Husband shoulders family's financial worries

By Amy Dickinson, Tribune Content Agency on

Dear Amy: My wife and I are in our mid-60s, married for 14 years. We have two teenage children, and I have three adult children by previous partners. Our marriage is totally committed, wonderful and fun.

I worry about money all the time. We both have secure jobs that pay well; we're comfortably middle class in a university town. We face car payments, mortgage, repairs to an older house, upcoming college expenses and elderly parental support.

My wife has costly cosmetic procedures done, frequent massages and alternative therapies, and is liberal with donations to good causes. I hold in my anxiety over the expenditures.

I went through a bankruptcy before we were married. My wife grew up in a family that was often stressed about money, and now doesn't want to live that way. I would describe her as a "free-spender."

We are not in financial trouble. We pay off credit cards, we're healthy and things look good for retirement. I do my best to track income and expenses from piles of receipts.

I am grateful for what we have, but need suggestions for how to be at peace with our cash flow, and fend off marital conflict.

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-- Why Should I Worry?

Dear Worry: You should worry because it is every responsible, sentient parent's job to worry. You've been to the edge of solvency, and you don't want to go back. This is both logical and mature.

The path to not worrying quite so much is paved with realistic information, communication, proactive behavior and transparency between partners.

The way you describe your situation, your wife does the spending, and you total up the receipts and shoulder the worry. This is not balanced or responsible, and she is neglecting her responsibility to be a full partner to you.

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