Updated: April 13, 2014 10:25PM
Dear Abby: My wife and I were discussing our sons-in-law, and young men in their 20s and 30s in general. We were wondering where the attitude of “any money I earn is mine” in a marriage or live-in situation got started.
For the first few years of my daughter and her husband “Joe’s” marriage, Joe resented giving her any of the money he earned. My other daughter’s husband thinks nothing of spending money on himself and his friends without consulting her.
We have seen this attitude reflected in their friends as well. They don’t seem to discuss with each other how each is spending their “joint” income. There seems to be an element of selfishness, too.
My wife and I have been married 40 years and from the beginning I have always considered what each of us earned was ours, not mine or hers (when she worked). We always discuss any significant purchases, and I have always believed it was my responsibility to support my family. I realize the current economic situation has made that difficult, but the attitude should still be there.
— Wondering in Washington
Dear Wondering: You have raised an interesting subject. There is a difference between living together and being married because of our legal system. Because people who co-habit without benefit of marriage are considered individuals in the eyes of the law, it is probably prudent to keep their financial affairs separate. However, each person should contribute to the expenses they share.
In a marriage, the situation is different: The law assumes that the man and wife are one unit. This is the mindset you adopted when you and your wife were married.
There is a tendency among young couples, not only because of the high divorce rate, but also what they have been exposed to in the media from the time they were born, to view marriage as something that might not last. There is also a sense of entitlement among many — not all — that makes them centered on themselves. We have become a society in which disposability has spread from material possessions to relationships.
I would love to hear what my readers’ — particularly my younger readers’ — views are regarding this. Click on the link “Write to Dear Abby” at www.DearAbby.com or write to P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.
Dear Abby: We are fortunate to have great friends and relatives who invite us to their homes for parties, celebrations, overnight stays, etc. often. The problem is, their houses are cluttered and dirty. We see spilled food in the refrigerator, showers caked with grime and years of stains on upholstery.
Money and time are not issues for these folks. If this was a hotel or restaurant, we would leave immediately. My husband and I have been unnerved by the conditions in these houses. We would like to spend time with these people and don’t wish to offend. Subtle hints don’t help. We try our best to enjoy their company and ignore the rest, but it can be difficult. What can we do, Abby?
— Neat in New York
Dear Neat: When you go to visit, stay in a nearby hotel or motel. If you know food will be served, fortify yourself beforehand and eat as little as possible without being rude. If you’re afraid you might soil your clothing sitting on their furniture, leave anything that isn’t washable at home.