Dear Annie: Two months ago, I married "Aiden" after more than a year of dating. He's a loving husband, and I am happy. The problem is, Aiden's financial life is a mess. He owes back taxes, has credit card debt and forgets to pay his bills.
I'm extremely organized with my money, pay all my bills promptly and have money saved. I don't owe anybody a dime. How can I protect myself from Aiden's messy financial life? Will this affect my ability to get a loan? As a married couple, is our financial life now "one"? Please help me.
- Worried in Hawaii
Dear Hawaii: If you have combined accounts, you may be legally responsible for all of Aiden's debts. It might be wise for you to keep separate accounts until Aiden's credit cards are paid off and his taxes are straightened out. His credit rating also can affect your ability to buy a house or get a loan in the future. Until Aiden can learn to be more financially responsible, it would be a good idea for you to handle the money. The two of you also should get some credit counseling so you can set up a budget while pulling Aiden out of debt. Contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (nfcc.org) at 1-800-388-2227.
Dear Annie: Last August, I met the man of my dreams. I thought I finally had found someone to spend the rest of my life with. "Boyd" works alternate 12-hour shifts. Right now, he is working nights. I know he is tired when he comes home, but lately he has been distant. When I question him, he says he is exhausted. Annie, I know in my heart that something is wrong, but he won't talk to me.
It is really hard for me to sleep alone, so I don't fall asleep until a few hours before he gets home. I thought returning to bed when Boyd does would be a way for us to share time together, but lately, he doesn't seem to care if I join him or not. I have noticed the same attitude with other things that used to be special between us.
We no longer hold hands or share looks the way two people in love do. Is he trying in his own way to tell me it is over, or am I just paranoid because of my past lousy experiences?
Dear Lost: It's possible Boyd is simply exhausted, and when you wait up for him, he feels pressured to "perform," which makes him resentful. (Some men misinterpret cuddling as a sexual advance.) We recommend you give him some space, while making your home a relaxing refuge for him. If something else is going on, you will find out soon enough.
Dear Annie: This is in response to "Desperate Alcoholic," the still-suffering 48-year-old woman who can't stay sober. Having grown up in an AA family, I realized at age 35 that my social drinking had progressed to alcoholism. As high-functioning alcoholics, my late husband and I tried quitting a few times but mostly just continued on in our merry way. After he died five years ago, I finally decided to get treatment, because there was a nearby facility that would accept Medicare. Tearfully, I asked the counselor whether I was too old to get well. She replied: "I just have one question: 'Is your heart still beating?'"
I have had numerous relapses, but they are less frequent and of much shorter duration (the last one was barely 24 hours), and I gain a little something with each sober period. I count my blessings and always remind myself that as long as my heart is beating, there is hope. God bless you.
- Grateful Recovering Alcoholic
Dear Grateful: A tremendous number of readers wrote to support "Desperate's" efforts to stay sober. We hope it will help to know so many people are on her side.