Dear Neil: I am a 46-year-old married man with a 14-year-old wonderful son. My wife and I have always shared everything. But recently my wife inherited a large sum of both money and property. We discussed our good fortune and decided we would set aside some money for our son’s college, invest in our retirement and possibly build our dream house. Our lawyer recommended that we redo our wills, since our financial situation had changed so drastically. But when we were at the lawyer’s office to sign our wills, I was shocked to see that my wife had changed her mind about what to do with her inheritance. She put approximately 10% in our name, and the other 90% is in her name only—or is in joint name with her twin brother.
I was so shocked that she’d put her brother ahead of her son and husband that I didn’t pursue the issue at all. However, this is really nagging at me. Should I pursue this issue with her?
Hurt In Kentucky
Dear Hurt: Legally your wife’s inheritance is hers and hers alone, and she is entitled to do whatever she pleases with it. But legalities are not the only things that count in a marriage.
I’d recommend you pursue a conversation with your wife telling her of your hurt at how she is choosing to deal with her inheritance. Ask her if she has trust issues with you, or whether she is thinking that your marriage may not last. Ask her what she is now thinking about retirement funds and the dream house the two of you had talked about, and what is the implication for your son’s college education.
Sometimes twins have loyalties to each other that are so strong there is little room for other people. You might ask her whom she sees her primary loyalty as being with.
Inheritances can change the power dynamics in a marriage, because the person with the newly acquired money may now feel entitled to additional power, control and unilateral decision making that heretofore didn’t exist or wasn’t an issue. Address these issues with your wife.
Dear Neil: I am 28 and have been married four years, but we’ve been separated since May, and in July we filed for divorce. One time early on in our marriage, I was unfaithful to my wife. After that incident, she didn’t want me to see my friends, and she always wanted me to be at home—which I was—but she still accused me of seeing other women. Later on, she started to get violent, scratching me on my face and arms, until one day I got tired of it and I hit her. This happened a couple of times.
I was incarcerated for one month. When I got out, she told me she wanted a divorce with full custody of our son, and that she was moving to Las Vegas. But she said she wanted us to live together after our divorce. How are we supposed to stay together after our divorce?
Confused In Colorado
Dear Confused: It sounds to me as if your wife wants a divorce and has no intention—regardless of her words—of being with you afterwards. I think you’re being duped about her intentions, so you’ll go along with her now.