Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Money problems could be sign of larger issue in marriage
Frustrationville: My husband shuts me out of financial decisions. For example, we renovated our kitchen last year and have been making payments on it. I suggested we use our tax refund to pay off the debt. He said, "Uh, no." And would not discuss further.
I've asked him why he shuts me out like this, and he says it is because he pays the bills. By that, he means he is the one who writes the checks. I have a full-time job and certainly contribute 50 percent toward our household expenses.
It is very frustrating. He is controlling in other ways, too.
Carolyn: That is flat-out unacceptable. Marriage is a partnership between equals, so even if you didn't have an income you'd still be entitled to a full vote in household decisions (as if this needs spelling out).
Please consult a reputable therapist, solo, and make sure you take precautions to protect yourself financially before you make any other moves, even if it's just to suggest marriage counseling. Your husband sounds punitive.
I hope this protect-yourself-first approach turns out to be alarmist and unnecessary, but I'd rather be wrong in that direction than in the under-alarmed one.
Woman, friends and new boyfriend just don't mix
D.C.: Met a wonderful man recently with whom I have a loving, supportive relationship. Definitely on a serious track. The problem: Some of my friends aren't crazy about him because, although he has a heart of gold, he can bit of a chatterbox when he's nervous and is, well, nerdy. Do I really have to choose between friends and boyfriend?
Carolyn: If you end up having to choose, then something's wrong with your friends, your boyfriend, you, or some combination of the three.
That's because if you're all good people, and if certain combinations of them don't work so well, then everyone will shift a little here and there to accommodate. For example, let's say your boyfriend doesn't do well in groups, or your group of friends doesn't mix well when new people are introduced, or you don't do so well mixing various aspects of your life. To adapt, maybe your friends will make an extra effort with your boyfriend when he's there, or he'll pass on a few invitations and encourage you to go without him, or you'll go out of your way to keep your friends in your life on terms that work.
It's when people refuse to defer — when they're concerned more with their own agendas than with the collective well-being — that you get backed into corners.
A boyfriend might push his agenda by resenting your time with friends because he doesn't like them, or feels threatened by them, or because he wants you to himself. Friends with agendas might try to run off someone's mate because they just don't like him (vs. think he's a bad or dangerous guy, which is a different story), and they want things back the way they used to be.
You'd be guilty of having an agenda yourself if you used the disagreeing parties to generate drama, starring you. The more objective you can be, the more clearly you'll see who, if anyone, is forcing you to make unwelcome choices — essentially making the choice for you.