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Ask Amy: Retired officer should rejoin the family unit

Dear Amy: I’m a retired Army officer and since 2008 have deferred all decisions about my finances to my wife, who has an MBA.

For the past five years, she did our taxes and I never even had the chance to review them.

One year we owed $40k, and this year, $16k.

I asked to see our return tonight and suggested that we may want a professional to review the return.

The response was “We don’t need a [expletive] accountant!”

I earn $215k and she earns $150k annually, and I really don’t know where the money goes.

I hope to retire in five years, but feel I need a neutral third-party professional to advise.


— Not Informed

Dear Not Informed: You say you are retired from the military, but you are obviously working in another field, now, and looking toward your second retirement. You and your wife are high-earners.

This ignorance is on you. You are sharing your life with someone who has expertise in finance, and yet you have surrendered all of your personal fiscal responsibility to her, when you could have spent these last years learning from her.

Most of us would be happy to turn over the responsibility to file taxes to another competent person, and yet you still have a duty to know and understand where your earnings are going, how they’re being spent, and how well you are set up for your retirement.

Your wife is obviously responding very defensively to your suggestion. This is something of a red flag, but I suggest that before going def-con on this topic, you should ask her to review all of your finances, retirement funds, and tax issues with you.

You should have full access to all joint accounts and those that bear your name, including passwords and the ability to review statements regularly. You should then keep up with these accounts by checking them regularly.

You two should be full partners in your household finances. If your wife refuses to participate in this effort, then you have a serious problem, which a forensic accountant might help you to sort out.

Dear Amy: I am a 26-year-old stay-at-home-mom.

I absolutely love it.

My issue is that living in the country (15 minutes from any town) makes it hard for me to make friends.

The only friends I have any more are my husband’s friends.

I haven’t worked in four years now.

I don’t have Facebook or any social media at all.

I love my husband’s friends, but it would also be nice to have my own friends that have kids for my kids to play with.

Almost everywhere I go I have one or both of my kids with me.

That’s only if I go anywhere! When my kids had RSV, I didn’t leave our acreage for a month!

Do you have any tips for me to make my own friends and to find other stay-at-home parents around for friends so that my kids can get to know other children?

— Wanting Some Friends

Dear Wanting Some Friend: My first suggestion is that you take your kids to the library! Most public libraries host regular story-times for children, and this is a great way to meet other families with young kids.

While at the library, check out other resources for families in town (the librarian can help). These might include swimming lessons at the YWCA, art classes, and various scheduled playgroups.

It might feel awkward for you to be so intentional about making friends, but in adulthood, this is often the only way to do it. The good news is that you have your children to pave the way. Kids (and dogs) are wonderful social connectors, and parenting children at the same stage of life is a significant commonality.

Dear Amy: I found myself in a situation similar to “Stuck,” who was with a widowed man whose daughter would not accept her.

When I was dating the woman who became my wife, her 13-year-old would act up.

His parents were divorced.

I sat down with him and explained that I wasn’t trying to replace his dad, and that I couldn’t. His dad was his dad!

I also explained that there was nothing he could do to drive me away. I was going to stay as long as his mom would have me.

It worked! Forty-six years later she passed away, and he and I are still on good terms.

— Charlie

Dear Charlie: What a perfect response to a hurting adolescent!

Charlie, you’re a keeper.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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