Dear Amy: I hope you can help me with a response for when people ask me why I don’t go on trips with my husband.
A few years back, my 57-year-old husband of 33 years told me that he was retiring.
I had no say in it, and it didn’t matter to him that his choice would make things financially difficult.
He said he wanted to travel before he got too old, and if I didn’t understand that, then I don’t care about him, and he would go without me.
I have always been the primary breadwinner, so he didn’t think it would be a big deal for me to be the ONLY breadwinner.
This has been very hard on our marriage, and I’m working on what to do about that. Meanwhile, at this time of year when we see family and they ask what we’re up to, my husband gushes about his upcoming trips.
Inevitably, they turn to me and ask why I don’t join him.
Some sit me down and try to convince me that I should join him. My husband just says that I’m no fun.
Nobody seems to realize that someone has to pay for his excursions, not to mention the mortgage, food, etc.
Can you help me to come up with a response to: “Why don’t you have some fun and travel with your husband?' — Grounded
Dear Grounded: I respect your perspective on this, but would first ask that you do a little work to determine whether, in fact, you would choose to go on any of these trips, even if you could. Some people don’t like to travel. Some — like me — enjoy traveling but (basically) hate to leave home.
In your case, because there seems to be such a lack of balance in your relationship — and so much tension — you might not choose to travel because you don’t enjoy being dominated by your husband, who expresses such a lack of respect for you. Your very long marriage might continue on its current track precisely because you don’t spend all of your time together.
You should not be forced to finance your husband’s trips. If he is racking up debt (or depleting savings) to travel, you should consult with a family law attorney to see whether you as an individual are responsible for your spouse’s debts (the answer seems to be: “It depends”).
You should also research the idea of negotiating a “postnuptial agreement,” where you mutually agree how to divide your assets and income during your marriage.
But your question is really about what to say to people when they grill you about your own choices. You can respond with your version of the truth: “I’m working hard to pay for my husband’s trips.” Or something less specific: “I’m tied down with work and obligations at home.” If people call you a “stick in the mud” over this, then that’s on them. Own your individual choice, and don’t apologize for it.
Dear Amy: It’s the holiday season and I’m lucky enough to go to a few catered holiday parties.
This is probably a goofy question, but when I am at these events, should I tip the catering staff? — Grateful Guest
Dear Grateful: Many hosts tip their catering staff independently — or the catering company will add on a service charge to be distributed to the catering staff. If there is a tip jar at the bar, then put $1 or $2 in per drink. If there is no jar, then ask the bartender if they are permitted to take tips.
If you are seated at a table and one or two individuals take care of your table — filling water glasses, bussing your plates, and bringing dessert to you, it would be thoughtful to slip $5 under your plate before you leave, but it is neither expected nor required.
Dear Amy: My heart broke when I read the letter from “Loving Husband,” whose wife demanded secrecy for her cancer diagnosis.
I had a family member who made a similar demand, and the pressure it placed on the rest of us was almost unbearable. We all struggled to provide support, while maintaining extreme secrecy about the diagnosis.
I am glad you suggested that this loving husband should receive support for his own struggle. I hope that his wife is able to let him off the hook, so he has the freedom to describe the challenges in his own life. — Grieving
Dear Grieving: I felt enormous compassion for both spouses.
You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.