Dear Annie: I have been married for 23 years to my husband. I was a stay-at-home mom for 12 of those years and took care of our three sons (one who had special needs). Things have always been rocky in our marriage.
When my youngest was in kindergarten, I returned to work, and I have worked ever since. My husband took out a second mortgage for $70,000 when we first moved in to our home 11 years ago. I signed the paperwork and thought it was all just part of our mortgage. Well, he handled all the bills — and now I come to find out he has paid only the minimum all this time. The loan is now due in full. The company keeps trying to get him to refinance it, and we have even had a friend try to help him get it rolling, but he just ignores the problem.
We have been to counseling, and he says he will do something or hand over the bill-paying responsibilities to me — but then he comes up with an excuse for why I cannot do it. I am embarrassed and tired of collections calls. I have asked him to see a doctor to find out whether anything else is wrong with him, and he calls me a controlling you-know-what and gives me the silent treatment. I have offered to use my salary to pay the loan while we go back to living on his, but he refuses. He says the loan company can collect the money when we sell the house. Unfortunately, the interest on the loan is growing, and there won't be anything left from the sale of the house for us if he keeps this up. — Worried
Dear Worried: Your husband can call you controlling all he wants, but the truth of the matter is that he has lost total control over your finances. As a couple, you should not be needlessly paying interest on a loan that you are capable of paying back. Be firm with him, and assure him that you are just trying to protect your finances in both the short term and the long term. Also, there seems to be more to the story here than he's letting on, so stay in therapy and try to get down to the root of it.
Dear Annie: I just read the letter from "Peacemaker in Pittsburgh," who refuses to discuss politics or religion with friends. Annie, why do mature adults have such difficulty talking to other adults about subjects that might be contrary to their opinions? I absolutely love to discuss politics. I absolutely love to discuss religion. I absolutely love to hear others' opinions that are not mine. Friends and family should be able to have conversations about any subject without confrontations. Adults can have different opinions and still be friendly. I relish anyone's differing with me; let's talk about it. It's possible my opinion could be changed. Just because I have a differing opinion doesn't mean I'm wrong, stupid or stubborn; it just means I have a different opinion. Come on, people, grow up! — Chuck
Dear Chuck: Though you enjoy a good back-and-forth, others might see this as combative and take offense, and you can't shout them into not being offended. Instead, channel your passion for lively discussion in a constructive way. Start or join a political discussion and civil debate group in your town. The website Meetup is a great resource for this.
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