Dear Annie: My wife died five years ago. Two years ago, I met “Lorna,” and I recently asked her to marry me. I feel strongly that personal assets that are brought into a marriage should be protected. I made this clear to Lorna early in our relationship and got the impression that she would agree to a prenup.
I’ve been very successful financially. Lorna has few assets and a lot of debt. She says a prenuptial agreement makes her feel that our marriage is of a lesser quality than my first. I have tried to explain to her as gently as I can that this isn’t the case. It took my first wife and me 20 years to acquire what we had. It would kill me to risk that and have to start over when I’m 60.
Is it right for Lorna to expect to be considered a financial equal immediately after marriage? Am I wrong to think it should take a reasonable amount of time for her to enjoy equal ownership?
After my wife passed away, I set up trusts for my kids in case something happened to me. Lorna fears the financial agreement will make my kids think less of her because her daughter isn’t entitled to the same share.
I truly believe this isn’t about the money. I think Lorna is concerned about how others, especially my children, will view our marriage. If I live long enough, Lorna’s teenage daughter will be given the same inheritance as my kids, but Lorna says that isn’t fair because she’ll be treating my children the same as hers from the start. I’ve told her that her daughter will have as much of my heart as my children, but the money is something else.
Am I treating this too much like a business transaction?
-- Frazzled in Phoenix
Dear Frazzled: Absolutely not. Lorna’s fears are unfounded. A prenup is a sensible move when you are bringing considerable assets into a marriage, and there is no reason anyone other than your lawyer would know about it. Please take Lorna to see your attorney and set up an arrangement that she will agree to. Otherwise, we worry that it is indeed only about the money.
Dear Annie: Is there a polite way to refuse a friend’s request to share in the cost of a mutual friend’s gift?
Every time someone has a celebration where a gift is appropriate, “Ginny” always asks whether she can go in with me. Basically, she just wants to give me half of the cost so she doesn’t have to be inconvenienced by coming up with an idea, shopping for it, wrapping it, getting a card and then delivering it.
I enjoy selecting special gifts with personal meaning for my friends. How do I tell Ginny that I am not her personal shopper?
-- Getting Annoyed
Dear Annoyed: You could shop early and tell Ginny, “So sorry, but I already purchased my gift.” Or you could simply say, “I prefer to shop for something that has meaning for me, sorry.” If you can offer a suggestion of what she might purchase as a gift, that would be nice of you, but don’t allow her to talk you into shopping for it.
Dear Annie: I’ve been married for 32 years, and my wife has been both verbally and physically abusive to me all that time. She uses vulgar language, is sarcastic and likes to hit and punch me. I almost filed for divorce after five years, hoping it would make her change, but it didn’t work. She has anger, stress, weight, sleep and back problems and does nothing about them. She’s crabby all of the time.
How do I tell her in a nice way that we will never survive under the same roof unless she makes progress on these problems?
-- Lost in Wisconsin
Dear Lost: Your wife doesn’t believe you will leave her. You’ve tolerated 32 years of verbal and physical abuse, and quite logically, she expects you to stick around for more. Like many abused spouses, you believe you can make things better, but that requires her cooperation. Please contact the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women at 1-888-7HELPLINE.
Dear Annie: I read the letter from “I Have Feelings, Too,” the grandmother who complained about how poorly she is treated when she visits her grandchildren.
I, too, live far from my beautiful son, daughter-in-law and five amazing grandchildren, yet we do everything we can to be good guests, helpful grandparents and understanding of the huge amount of effort that goes into raising a family.
Yes, the sinks are clogged, there are no towels, my daughter-in-law often takes a night off, and sometimes the kids eat the pizza before we can get a bite. We don’t consider this abuse. We consider ourselves the luckiest people on Earth to be invited, and the sticky hugs we get are priceless.
-- Lucky Grandma
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