The Washington Post Sunday

Husband insists that first wife will get his pension


Dear Amy: I am nearing 70 years old.

My friends and family consider me a very smart woman whom they frequently seek out for advice. Now I need some advice.

I married in my teens, was divorced in my 30s and remained single for more than 20 years.

I dedicated those years to my children, and they are fine, family-oriented, responsibl­e adults.

In my late 50s I met a man whose company and conversati­on I enjoyed. He’s tall, dark, handsome, financiall­y responsibl­e and passionate.

Five years later, in our 60s, we got married. We’ve enjoyed our life together.

Unfortunat­ely, recently I found out that my husband’s first wife is the beneficiar­y on his pension. He says that because of government interventi­on in their pension plan, this can’t be changed!

Amy, I am hurt and distraught.

I don’t want to live my golden years worrying that I won’t be able to take care of myself financiall­y if my husband dies first.

He has no life insurance, and he gets my pension if I die first.

What bothers me the most is that he acts like he doesn’t care!

I want to leave him, but I don’t want to make such a big change at this age.

I don’t look at my husband the same way anymore. I can’t think clearly about this. Any suggestion­s? Upset

Upset: Your husband might have agreed to this beneficiar­y arrangemen­t as part of his divorce settlement with his former wife. You should confirm whatever legal obligation he has made to her.

Because of your ages, you two should see a lawyer and/or accountant with expertise in estate planning. You should have full knowledge of all of your mutual assets.

I am not a lawyer, but I simply do not believe that your husband cannot change beneficiar­ies. With my own retirement account and company pension, it is very easy to do. And as your husband’s legal spouse, you might automatica­lly be considered his beneficiar­y. You need to find out.

Dear Amy: Do dinner hosts have an obligation to warn guests that they are sick and contagious?

My dear, very close friend, “Sandra,” hosts a dozen or so family and friends for Thanksgivi­ng dinner each year.

We have an adult daughter at home who is bedridden with a severe, debilitati­ng chronic illness that makes her very fragile. My husband and I care for her, with help from hired caregivers.

Sandra knows how fragile my daughter’s health is and what lengths I have to go to every day to avoid bringing home germs that could make her gravely ill. Even a cold would probably require her to be hospitaliz­ed.

This Thanksgivi­ng, when we arrived at Sandra’s house, she greeted us by saying, “Don’t get too close, I have a cold.”

Shortly thereafter, her husband entered and announced how sick he was. Everyone glanced around uncomforta­bly.

I said, “Wouldn’t you feel more comfortabl­e in bed?” He responded that he didn’t want to miss Thanksgivi­ng dinner.

We stayed about an hour, socializin­g but trying to avoid contact with the hosts. When I saw the chairs crowded around the dining table, I realized that there was no way to avoid being in close contact with Sandra and her husband.

I knew in my gut that the risk was too high, so I quietly, politely and apologetic­ally told Sandra that we had to leave, and why.

My husband says I should’ve made up a fake excuse, but, upon reflection, I wonder whether Sandra should’ve called me that morning to let me know that she and her husband were contagious, giving us a chance to bow out in advance.

Cold Carrier Cold Carrier: You did the right thing by exiting politely and by telling the truth regarding your reasons. Given the severity of what you are coping with, why should you make up a fake excuse?

Yes, “Sandra” should have called you in advance, giving you the option of making an informed choice about whether to attend. But understand that as the hosts of a large dinner, “Sandra” and her husband were probably distracted that morning and might have simply forgotten the impact of their health on your family.

Dear Amy: I want to weigh in on whether friends and family should disclose knowledge of an affair to the affected spouse.

I went through this. After years of being cheated on, I discovered my husband’s infidelity and we divorced. I felt quite betrayed that others knew and didn’t tell me. Recovered

Recovered: I agree with disclosure, handled gently.

Amy’s column appears seven days a week at washington­ Write to askamy@amydickins­ or Amy Dickinson, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068.  You can also follow her @askingamy. ©2018 by Amy Dickinson distribute­d by Tribune Content Agency

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