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Dear Abby: Couple battles over who handles bill-paying

Dear Abby
Jeanne Phillips

Dear Abby: My newly retired husband and I lead a nice life and are in good health. Our two girls are grown and established. Our battle is over my husband “taking back” some of the duties I have performed for years, like paying and mailing out our monthly bills, some of which I pay in person.

This task is easy for me and never a hardship. We have excellent credit. He now wants all the bills to come to him online, and he’ll pay them online, leaving me out of the process. He knows I enjoyed doing it and considered it my purview.

I want to continue to handle bill paying as I always have, occasionally taking a statement to a department store or whatever. Paying for checks is not a problem for us. I use a debit card for regular shopping and a credit card in certain stores. I am not a spend-a-holic.

My husband paying bills online cuts me out of the process, and I don’t like it. I prefer the method I have used for decades. Is this more of a control issue than anything else? Any ideas?

— Stifled in Washington

Dear Stifled: Yes, it is a control issue. It is also an indication that your husband doesn’t have enough to do. Because the bill paying is partly a social outlet for you, you should not allow the task to be taken over. Tell your husband he needs to find something else to do — mow the lawn, paint the garage, volunteer his time — but not the bill paying because it makes you uncomfortable.

A compromise might be for him to pay some of the bills online and you pay the rest. However, if something unexpected happens to your husband (illness, death, murder?), you absolutely must know how the online system works so you can assume the task seamlessly.

Dear Abby: I met my husband 22 years ago and decided to move in with him. I was 21. My mother has never approved of him. He is a blue-collar, hardworking, huge-hearted man. We fell hard for each other, and I didn’t care that he wasn’t rich. I know Mom was disappointed that I didn’t marry a doctor or a lawyer. Instead, I married the man I fell in love with.

The last 22 years haven’t been easy. She acts like she accepts him, but then she says horrible things about him. We both have helped my parents during some difficult times, but she still says things that hurt like, “I’m glad you two never had kids.”

Well, lo and behold, I ended up getting pregnant at 40, and we have an amazing son together. I keep trying to start over with Mom, especially since my son was born, but she has continued her evil ways.

I’m finally done with her, and my husband and I have decided to move to another state where my husband’s family lives so our son can grow up surrounded by loving people. I feel sad, but my mother is not willing to accept us. Am I doing the right thing by moving? (My father passed away, and we hung in through her verbal abuse just to make sure Dad was well-taken care of.)

— Anxious in Arizona

Dear Anxious: I’m sorry for what you and your husband have been put through. You have clearly tried to make the relationship with your mother work. Because YOU are a mother now, focus on creating a happy life for your son, your husband and yourself. You are doing the right thing for the right reasons. Your mother is toxic. Bon voyage!

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