Dear Annie: For the past several years, my husband has taken out a new credit card each January and maxed it out over the next 12 months. This has resulted in major debt, which I fear will devastate our family and possibly affect our children and grandchildren.
My husband is a good and caring person who often picks up the restaurant tabs for our friends and family and buys them gifts they could buy for themselves. As a result, he is extremely popular. If I try to limit these unnecessary expenses, everyone thinks I’m a spoilsport.
We are approaching the time where he will apply for another new credit card. Should I prohibit this until we reach some agreement on budget cuts? Should I let him go ahead and get the new card and then try to negotiate budget cuts? Or do I keep on trucking as usual and hope for the best?
-- Concerned Spouse
Dear Spouse: If you are going into debt, please don’t shove this under the carpet until you are living on the street. Your husband seems to be a compulsive buyer, and it can be similar to other addictions that require effort to overcome. Is he willing to recognize and address the problem? (Therapy can help.) Would he be willing to let you handle the family finances while he is put on a cash allowance? You also can contact Debtors Anonymous and the International OCD Foundation for information and referrals.
Dear Annie: Fifteen years ago, our daughter married a truly nice guy, and they made it clear right away that they didn’t want “drop-in” visitors. I understood this, as they both work full time.
Three years ago, they bought a large home close to us, but in all the years they’ve been married, we can count on one hand the number of times we’ve been invited over for anything, including the kids’ birthdays, cookouts, etc. Yet I know my daughter’s in-laws are often invited.
Our grandchildren ask why we never come to their house, and I simply say it’s because we’re never invited. What should I say?
-- Confused in Indiana
Dear Indiana: Please stop manipulating the children to get to the parents, which is exactly what you are doing when you tell them you’re “never invited.” Instead, talk to your daughter. Ask whether there is a problem and what you can do about it. She may have reasons for keeping you at a distance, so please make her understand that you cannot fix things if you don’t know what the issues are. If she still doesn’t invite you to her place, ask whether the children can visit at your house. As long as you can see your family, it really doesn’t matter where.
Dear Annie: “Too Late to Try Again” said she was cut off by a relative with no explanation. This happened in my family. Tell her it might help if she can laugh about the situation.
I am from an Italian family and married into another Italian family. My new mother-in-law was angry with her cousin “Angela.” They had been close for a long time, but then they didn’t speak for years.
When Angela died, my mother-in-law cried buckets but refused to go to the funeral. She said, “We didn’t talk when she was alive, and I’m not going to talk to her now that she’s dead.” So I asked my mother-in-law what the argument was about, because it was obviously so terrible that good friends stopped speaking. She replied, with tears in her eyes, “I don’t remember!” But true to her word, she did not go to the funeral.
-- New York