My husband and I have been married for 23 years. “Steve” is a wonderful man, but he has a blind spot. He seems to think that the only reason to have a career is for the money, and the more money the better.
Our son is a talented jazz musician, but my husband has refused to let him take music courses in college, let alone major in music, because he says “Alex” can’t possibly make any money as a musician. It’s gotten to the point where he won’t even attend Alex’s band’s concerts. My son is a finance major and is on antidepressants.
Last year I was feeling burned out in my own job, so I started looking into a career change. Steve said there was no sense spending money to upgrade my skills when I was making perfectly good money where I was, even though he knew I was unhappy.
In the last three years, this man has bought a boat, a motorcycle and an expensive set of golf clubs because he says life is too short not to buy what you want. Well, I say life is too short not to be what you want.
What do you think?
A in Indiana
My view is that life is too short to spend it acquiring stuff when you could spend it acquiring experiences.
Sure, we all love toys, and we all need to think of our own solvency when planning a career, but to deny your son the opportunity to pursue his true passion in favor of a degree in finance is to deny who your son is at his very core. You are right to connect this denial with your son’s depression.
Your husband is creating a wedge between himself and his son that he may never be able to repair. A parent’s job is to guide a child, not to dictate from on high what course his life should take. Your son should know that the career he follows is his own responsibility. Evidently, your husband doesn’t trust his son to make good choices. That will impede his ability to do so.
I don’t quite understand how your husband can dictate your career choices. He has made his view clear. You should thank him for sharing his opinion, then do what you need to do to be solvent and happy. Dear Amy:
In response to your inquiry about how married couples handle splitting finances, I thought I’d offer my experience.
As a child, it always hurt to hear my parents fighting over money. When I got married, my husband and I could summarize our financial plan in one phrase: We never want to fight about money.
Some women grow up independent, and then as soon as they meet “Mr. Right” all that independence goes right out the window. Some justify their dependence on a husband’s earnings by maintaining that they are mothers who have value.
Dependent women also often fail to acknowledge the realities of divorce, widowhood or empty-nest syndrome.
My husband and I have similar jobs and incomes (which, admittedly, makes our arrangement easier). We split expenses down the middle. We keep separate checking accounts and retirement accounts, and we usually don’t discuss them.
We also deposit a predetermined amount quarterly into two joint accounts: savings (for a home) and for expenses for our daughter.
This arrangement initially took some working out, but the benefits are tremendous.
We rarely, if ever, argue over money, and we’re setting a good example for our daughter.
Living the Dream
I agree that working couples should maintain separate and joint accounts, based on their needs and temperaments (whether they’re natural “spenders” or “savers”). Speaking as a working woman and then stay-at-home mother who had no individual financial assets prior to divorce, I learned this lesson the hard way. Write to Amy Dickinson at email@example.com or Ask Amy, Chicago Tribune, TT500, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago, Ill. 60611.
2007 by the Chicago Tribune Distributed by Tribune Media Services Inc.