"He's Always Obsessing About Money"

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His Turn

"I never really liked how impulsive Lisa was with financial decisions," said Drew, 47. "But I never felt entitled to challenge her on it. She has always been the main breadwinner in our family, so I figured she had the right to spend whatever she wanted. But the fact is that we've been hurt by the current recession: We just don't have as much money now as we used to and Lisa doesn't seem to get it. Even when I was unemployed she kept buying furniture, clothes, gifts -- even a car.

"Lisa worked hard to get new clients and bring home more money while I was job hunting so we could maintain our lifestyle for a while. But then the weak economy hurt her business. Now she can't make up for my lower salary, so we're living on considerably less. She's right. I am a nervous wreck -- losing a good job will do that to you. I'm afraid that her company could go bust, but she rolls her eyes and says I'm being ridiculous.

"I questioned Lisa for buying take-out meals and the new suit because we'd agreed to cut back on stuff that wasn't absolutely essential. And I dropped the cleaning service to save $3,600 a year -- not to get back at her for the condo. Look, I miss our old lifestyle, too. It kills me that we can't do what we'd planned for our kids. Ellen will have to get a loan to help pay her tuition, and Ryan will have to go to a public university instead of the private college he had his heart set on.

"I'm from a blue-collar family where money was always tight. My dad was an electrician and my mom cleaned office buildings. Things were so bad in our house that our phone service got cut off a few times a year because my parents couldn't pay the bill. When I was 14 I started working part-time as a house painter to save money for college. When I met Lisa she was supporting herself, too, and I liked the fact that she was such a hard worker.

"She's been quite successful and over the years I've gone along with a lot of her expensive ideas. They're either fun, like when we took a cruise for our anniversary, or they're practical, like when we renovated the kitchen. But buying the condo was just plain crazy. I'd just started a new job after having been unemployed for eight months, and Lisa had just lost a major client. It didn't make sense to take on another mortgage, especially when the housing market was in trouble. But Lisa wouldn't budge.

"Eventually I backed down because I knew she'd do it anyway, and if she used her retirement savings we'd end up paying big penalties. But now that condo is worth less than what we paid for it. If the real-estate market doesn't bounce back after Ellen graduates, we won't be able to rent or sell it. I'm glad Lisa suggested counseling because I'm tired of fighting, too."

Continued on page 3:  The Counselor's Turn


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