Ask Fiona: My husband can't handle our friends' new wealth

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A FEW months back, our really good friends of 18 years had an enormous windfall from an unexpected inheritance. It’s not lottery jackpot size but it’s huge, and big enough that neither of them needs ever work again if they choose. They’ve tried to keep it quiet but told us, of course.

Despite showing this trust in us, my husband has done all he can to avoid seeing them. He says he doesn’t want us to be seen as the poor relations. I have tried to explain that this is silly. They have been our closest friends forever. My husband went to university with him and was best man at their wedding, and they’ve spent a lot of their free time together. His wife was the matron of honour at our wedding and since then, she has become the first person I turn to when I want to talk about a problem. They’re even godparents to our daughter.

My husband can’t see past the money though. It’s getting really difficult now because they keep calling me to arrange things with us. I’ve used every excuse I can think of to put them off and I hate having to do it. Sooner or later, they are going to be offended and we will lose them as friends. I don’t want that to happen. They are good friends, and I am not going to let this money spoil that. How do I get my husband to understand this?

SY

FIONA SAYS: I suspect your husband’s behaviour stems from a mix of embarrassment, jealousy and feelings of inferiority. He needs to break out of this, or else as you say, risk losing these good friends. Talk with him again and explain just how unhappy this is making you. Then point out that friendship should not be about competition or who has the most money. It’s about finding people you can trust and rely on to have your back when problems arise. It’s about being with people who make you happy. And that may be exactly why they are keen to keep the friendship, because they need the support of good friends.

They know that you are friends with them because of who they are, not how much money they have. For them, that’s priceless.

Hopefully, this will encourage your husband to rethink his attitude before it’s too late. If not, you may have to resort to stronger tactics. The next time they get in touch, don’t put them off. Arrange a get-together or perhaps see them on your own. And if your husband doesn’t like this or doesn’t want to go, let him tell his friends why.

Should I try and

stop my son’s new

relationship?

MY SON is 37, single and lives alone. He has always been a kind and gentle person, willing to help anyone. He has just started seeing a woman who seems to have a terrible reputation locally.

I think she’s been married twice before and has three children. My friend thinks that not all of these are from her two ex-husbands either. I am sure she is just using him to get his money – and once that’s gone, she’ll be gone too, leaving him to pick up the pieces.

I want to talk to her and tell her to leave my son alone, but my husband thinks this would be a bad idea. He’s our son though, and I can’t bear the thought of him getting hurt if there’s something I could have done to prevent it. If I can’t speak to her, perhaps I should warn my son off this woman instead.

AP

FIONA SAYS: Your husband is right, I think you need to tread very carefully here. Gossip is a very poor source of information to use when forming an opinion about someone. It’s often wrong, nearly always exaggerated, and it’s all you really have here. For example, you have no way of knowing that she is after his money, or even that you son intends to help her financially. Telling you that he is worried about money might have nothing to do with her debts. It might even be his roundabout way of preparing you for the news that they are going to be living together, because it’s cheaper.

Nor do you know anything about her children. In short, you know very little about this woman’s character and family, nor her relationship with your son. And interfering in it might just backfire, even were you to have absolute proof of what you are saying.

If you still feel you must do something, though, I suggest you speak with your son. I know you’re worried about him, but please don’t say anything negative about his new partner. Your son might resent this, and it could cause some ill-feeling between you. Instead, try to find out how he feels about her and whether he is sure that she is right for him. If he says she is, or that he loves her, then you must accept that that is his decision.

Then, whether you think it’s right or wrong, continue to love and support him as best you can. And that will include picking up the pieces if his decision turns out to be a poor one.

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