Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

Advice on morals and manners.

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Advice on manners and morals.
Dec. 30 2004 10:30 AM

Starting Up a Mistrust Fund

What happens when mom dips into your checking account without asking.


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Dear Prudie,

My mother has a prominent position at the small bank where my husband and I keep our accounts. Even before I was married, my mother was listed on my account simply because it allowed her to do me small favors, like depositing checks or transferring funds. We decided to keep that arrangement when my husband and I married. The problem now, however, is that my parents recently divorced, and living on her own has proved financially challenging for my mother. My husband and I make a decent living and have quite a bit of money saved in our account. A couple months ago, my mother asked to borrow some money (a couple thousand dollars). After talking it over with my husband, we agreed to give her the loan. She withdrew the money herself. I know she'll pay us back eventually, but now it seems that our account has become a "fall-back" resource for her. Since we now live in the era of Internet banking, I can log on and see that she regularly withdraws a few hundred dollars on Thursday and pays us back on Friday (her payday). I feel terrible bringing this up, but I don't feel she should be using our money without asking. I don't want to hurt her by asking to take her name off our account, or worse, have the IRS after her because she can't pay her bills. Help!!

—Just Want To Help

Dear Just,

Disaster awaits you if you leave things the way they are. Something will happen to damage the loving relationship you now have if this three-signature account is allowed to continue. Your mother being able to use your account as a float almost encourages her to wing it. To soften the blow, you and your husband might offer her another loan with the "suggestion" that she pull her finances together, make a budget, whatever. Living without the "favors" will be a small price to pay to have clear lines drawn regarding family financial matters. Your being there for her in a pinch is much preferable to her helping herself. Money can be a killer for otherwise good relationships.


—Prudie, sensibly

Dear Prudie,

I know people mean well when they say, "I'll pray for you" when they hear of a serious difficulty in your life. But it makes me really uncomfortable, and it's all I can do not to shout out, "No thank you!" I was brought up without religion yet with a deep sense of compassion for others. So I understand the inclination of others to offer comfort, but when the effort to be supportive is couched in religious terms, it has the exact opposite effect on me. For now, I usually just force a smile or say, "That's nice of you." It's especially hard to take from people who know a bit about me and my nonreligious background. Any thoughts on how I either can keep this situation from bugging me or let people know that it would be more comforting for me to hear, "I'll be thinking of you"?

—Piqued by Prayer

Dear Pique,

The people who say, "I'll pray for you" are saying, in the way that's meaningful to them, that they ARE thinking of you, and a prayer is their way of being supportive. It seems petty, no matter your feelings about religion, not to value any expression of concern. There have actually been studies, by the way, that prayer—even on behalf of strangers—can have a salutary effect, though that is not what we are talking about here. Make an effort to accept this kindness in the spirit in which it is meant, appreciate the thought behind the words, and stop being annoyed.


—Prudie, appreciatively


I recently met a man who is seven years younger than me. He's a wanna-be musician with a minimal job, long hair, body piercings, the works. I, myself, am a professional woman with not even one little tattoo. I find him very attractive, smart, supersweet, and totally awesome in bed. My friends, on the other hand, look at him like he's from another planet and don't approve, telling me that I'm just lonely and I should wait for "Mr. Right" to come along. Although we are opposites, I really like this guy and find myself thinking about him all the time. He makes me happy, but I worry about what others think and don't want to lose any of my friends. Should I keep him or let him go?

—Opposites Attract

Dear Op,

If this man makes you happy, and you have no problem with the "minimal job, long hair, body piercings, the works," you'd be crazy to let your friends decide he doesn't live up to their expectations. And any friend who would write you off because of your music man would not fit into Prudie's definition of a "friend." And in time, who knows? The career might build, the hair could get shorter, the piercings may well phase out ... though barring a painful and expensive process, the tattoos are probably here to stay. Prudie votes for not letting him go.


—Prudie, unwaveringly

Dear Prudence,

I have been with my boyfriend for over four years, and we have 2-year-old twins. We've discussed marriage, but the more time goes on, the more I feel as though he's putting me off. I've recently been applying for employment in a major city, which would require us to move. I want to move closer to my family because the help would be tremendous with the kids, the commute to work is more logical, and the houses for sale are much cheaper. He keeps head-butting me the whole way. He first told me he didn't want to leave where we are because it's close to the ocean, which supports his obsession with fishing. Two months later, when my job prospect seemed more realistic, he said that he doesn't mind moving but he might not be able to find employment. So I did some online searching and found a job for him, but he didn't like the suburb where the company was based. I feel he doesn't want to get married, and I'm suffocating here. I make one-third of what I should be making, and he doesn't make much either. We're arguing so much that sex is almost nonexistent. I need to do right by my children and myself, and I would never make it hard for him to see his kids. How do I get him to admit that he doesn't want to get married? I can't stay here unmarried, underpaid, and underappreciated. Please help!

—Miserable by the Sea

Dear Miz,

The obsessive angler has pretty much let you know that he doesn't want to get married, so forget about extracting an admission. He is finding all kinds of reasons to stay where you are—in all senses. It seems like a no-brainer to go where the grapes grow, not to mention the added bonus of having your family to pitch in with the babies. Prudie can see no reason for you to coast along with things as they are. Since this man loves fishing, he will no doubt understand when you tell him to fish or cut bait, that you are moving with the children and he is welcome to accept a job and join you. (And whether or not marriage is a condition is up to you.) Good luck.

—Prudie, manifestly