Money Dilemmas

Meg Green: Second marriage and husband is now asking for support


Special to The Miami Herald

The dilemma: I married my second husband (I was a widow) eight years ago, when our children were grown and out of the house and we could have fun traveling, etc. He asked me to live with him and be his love. He’s been retired for many years with a good pension and investments. We live in his house. I’ve never worked.

My husband left me only his social security and a piece of land from our hometown. It’s just been sold for a lot of money.

My husband has been supporting us, but now he wants my money. He demands I start paying for half of some of our expenses and has handed me a budget.

I’ve always paid for my own clothes, dentist and kids, of which I have two who could use help from time to time. His daughter, who never liked me, knows how to “work him” and drains him constantly, to the point where he says he cannot afford our life style anymore. Suddenly, due to this greedy child, our set up has changed. This is not making me feel good. It’s a turn off.

I’m 66, in good health, but not looking to get back in the dating game. And I don’t want to start supporting myself now. I’m already worried what will happen to me if he dies first, because our house will go to his daughter. That was the deal. We have no agreement otherwise.

Meg’s solution: You didn’t mention love in the mix, and that’s something to think about. Do you love the man? Do you want to grow old with him? If so, it’s worth fighting for … and perhaps chipping in. But let’s look at your options.

Needy and greedy children can wreak havoc on the best of relationships, and it would seem she’s in there taking care of her own interests, which are compromising yours. It’s probably not going to change, so you’d have to find a way to swallow that in order to stay with him. And she gets the house you’re living in, should he predecease you? That’s uncomfortable, to say the least.

Your husband is showing aggressive behavior, which means he’s not happy or he’s frightened because his income isn’t stretching to meet all his needs. You need to find out the truth, along with your own truths. The way he handed you a budget and made a demand is off putting — and telling.

You didn’t mention how much the land sold for. That too is a big deal. If it was enough to catapult your net worth above his, then maybe there’s a point here, and a compromise. As uncomfortable as this is for you, remember, it can’t be “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is mine”. It doesn’t work that way these days.

Obviously, therapy is in order, perhaps for you first, so you can explore your feelings of hurt, fear and anger. And to be fair, you must actually take a look at your joint expenses and incomes. This may take a financial advisor to help take a cold hard look at reality. This way, you’re addressing the things you can wrap your arms around, like your feelings and your living expenses.

You also must have clarity in knowing what happens to you when he goes, should he move on first. His daughter may want you out immediately. I’d put some estate planning on the table for this new compromise; or a post nuptial. Fair is fair. You should be able to stay in the house for a period of time so you don’t find yourself on the street or embroiled in a tug of war. Maybe there’s a solution that can help you feel loved and protected and will help him pull the wagon a bit. (Wish you had done this eight years ago, when love was in bloom and passion abounded.)

After you get your feelings and facts down, the two of you need to sit with an impartial third party, therapist and/or financial advisor, and flush this out together. Get the issues on the table and work them out, if possible.

If you don’t, your life will be miserable as you’ll both harbor resentments and bad feelings. In that case, the party’s surely over.

Got a dilemma? Email askmeg@ meg green .com. Meg Green, CFP, is a wealth manager with offices in Aventura. Her Money Dilemmas column runs monthly in The Miami Herald.

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