Ask Amy: Inheritance leads to tension and guilt
Dear Amy: My elderly parent passed away earlier this year, and I inherited a nice nest egg. Most of the funds were designated to my husband’s and my retirement accounts and to our child’s college fund, but I set aside some funds to purchase a luxury item for myself that I had been wanting for 25 years.
I anticipate the item will be used daily and will last me for the rest of my life.
I am, and always have been, the primary earner in our household. My salary is significantly more than my husband’s, and almost all our money is pooled (my entire paycheck goes to our shared accounts). My husband has a separate business account but does not share the details of that account with me. Although he would never dictate how I use the inheritance, he clearly disapproves of my spending money on what he thinks is a completely nonessential item. This is making me feel incredibly guilty.
I am quite frugal. We live well within our means and the cost of the inheritance item is less than 3 percent of my inheritance.
Amy, is it reasonable for me to spend this money on myself? Is this a purchase I should defer or return, to be sensitive to my husband’s opinions? — Inherited Problems
Dear Inherited: This is your money. You inherited it. It is kind, generous, and practical for you to use this money for the greater good and benefit of your entire family, but it is yours.
Yes, it is reasonable for you to spend 3 percent of this inherited money on a gift to yourself. You should assume that this item — whatever it is — will be left to your child when you are gone, thus creating a legacy.
Your husband disapproves. So what? You quite obviously disapprove of his choice to squirrel away his money into a separate and private account, but he doesn’t seem to feel overly guilty about that.
One note of caution: You seem to have locked yourself into something of a guilt-trap. If you can’t free yourself from this feeling, you will never enjoy your inheritance.
Dear Amy: I’ve been dating a lovely guy.
We’ve never had “the talk” about what we are, but I know that we’re exclusive romantically/sexually with each other.
Lately I’ve become really frustrated and jealous of the amount of attention and time he gives to his friends.
He will spend days and evenings with his friend group several times a week and over the entire weekend, where I typically see him only once or twice per week.
His group of friends all work at the same company, so I don’t feel like I belong among them, and because I’m not his “girlfriend,” I can’t raise the issue to be more demanding of his time and attention.
I want him to love his friends, to do fun things, and have personal enrichment in the people he surrounds himself with.
But I feel like I’ll never be brought into the fold if my time with him is so limited because he’s always busy elsewhere.
I am more than willing to be patient, but I need help overcoming the unwanted resentment I have building toward his friends.
What is your unbiased opinion? — Not a Girlfriend
Dear Not: He’s just not that into you. He likes you, and he likes spending time with you, but he likes his friends more. You don’t need to dig deeply into his psyche, just do the math: He likes spending more time with his friends than with you, and so he does. If he wanted to fold you into this friend group and spend time with all of his favorite people at once, he would make the effort.
Your jealousy and resentment toward his friends is unwarranted. They aren’t forcing him to spend fun weekends with them.
Perhaps your patience will be rewarded with him drifting into the relationship you want.
Just remember this: People do what they want to do. It’s that simple. Every time you find yourself drifting into that hazy territory of wondering what your guy really wants, remember that.
Dear Amy: Thank you so much for your response to “Don’t Know What To Do,” and your meditation on midlife crises.
I love that you quoted Peggy Lee and “Moonstruck” in one response! — Big Fan
Dear Fan: Making cultural references can be dicey, but books, music and movies all inform my worldview, and are so helpful when they lead to insight.