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Wife enabling financial, emotional difficulties

Staff report

Dear Annie: I've been married for 20 years. My husband had a great job that allowed him to support me while I completed my education. Our financial situation diminished, but as long as we could share responsibilities, it was OK with me.

When I entered the job force, there was a radical shift. I became responsible for every single bill. There were periods when my husband didn't work because no job paid as well as his old one, but mostly it was because he couldn't make the job last. Twelve years ago, we decided that a real estate career would suit his personality, but we have yet to see even modest returns.

I have been patient, but when times get tough, I expect my husband to take a side job to help make ends meet. This enrages him. He'll get the job, but he's extremely unpleasant to me. He has pushed our lifestyle beyond our means, saying that a real estate agent must own a nice home and drive an expensive car. He refuses to look at a budget and tells me I am always talking about money. When I offer advice, he accuses me of implying he's an idiot and then claims it's verbal abuse.

We are so heavily in debt, I see no way out unless he takes a steady job and sticks to a budget. But he insists that real estate is our best option and blames me for allocating money to pay bills instead of reinvesting it in marketing himself.

I worry incessantly. Every dime goes toward our debt or his real estate fees. I buy nothing for myself. But worse is how awful he makes me feel. I have lost friends, and my self-esteem is gone. But I love him, and I know he loves and needs me. I am the only one who has not given up on him. What can I do to restore balance in our lives without making him feel that I'm the aggressor? - Wife

Dear Wife: There is some subtle emotional abuse and definite manipulation going on, but not from you. And because you are convinced that your husband can't manage without you, you keep bucking him up even though he takes advantage and belittles you. This is called enabling.

Speak to a financial adviser at your bank, and then consider some low-cost counseling, with or without your husband, and figure out how to break this dysfunctional pattern.

Dear Annie: When you receive an email stating you've inherited a large sum of money, do you believe it's legit? I recently received an email from an attorney stating that I have inherited money. Could it be a scam? - Could Use the Cash

Dear Could: Yes. If you actually had inherited money, you likely would receive notification from the executor by regular mail. If you are familiar with the bank, call them directly and find out whether there is any substance to this. And while sometimes inheritance money is left unclaimed, you'd have to search for it through your state treasurer's office.

Dear Annie: I can't believe the advice you gave to "Lynn in Sunny Florida," who isn't interested in the old friends who moved nearby and constantly call and email. You told her to allow limited contact until they find new friends. Why? There's absolutely no reason for her to have any contact with them if she chooses not to. - Wouldn't Do It

Dear Wouldn't: Ignoring the calls and emails isn't working. When "Lynn" told us she didn't want to create hurt feelings, and there was a chance she would run into these people in public places, we recommended letting them down easy. We see no reason to be harsh.

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