I'm engaged to a wonderful woman who earns far more than I do. She's a senior banking executive, with bonuses and a high salary. I'm a psychologist in private practice.
Also, she's never married and has accumulated a big investment portfolio, while I'm divorced and putting two kids through college. As well, half of the money from selling our home went to my ex.
My fiancee currently lives in a house she once co-owned with a banker boyfriend. I don't want to live in that house because it was "theirs," and also I can't afford to buy into it.
Whenever I raise the house issue, she says we can buy a new house together. But I can't afford the level of home that she's used to. How can we handle this without me feeling like the poor partner?
You just made many readers happy to know that it's so normal and common for people to need help handling their problems; it even happens to psychologists. Since you already have solution-oriented skills, put them into practice personally:
If you can accept her choice of home, let her buy it (and keep it in her name), while obtaining a mortgage, which you can afford to pay.
In time, re-assess. Discuss whether she'll leave the house to you in her will, or mortgage, which years (usually 3-to-5) in which you can remain in it after she passes, before it goes to her estate.
OR, work out what you can afford to buy, on a semi-shared basis - say, you pay a third, she pays two-thirds - and she agrees to accept that level of dwelling. Later, you may or may not buy in more.
OR, you discover that money issues and inequalities are a problem for you. In that case, see a fellow therapist to discover why, and hopefully get past this hang-up. If you can't, you lose the house and the wonderful fiancée.
Two years ago, my boyfriend confessed that he has sexual thoughts about guys, stemming from an incident with his neighbour when they were children.
He said they fooled around and he still fantasizes about it and the idea of being with men. I was blown away but I really wanted to accept him.
He assured me that he still loved me and was sexually attracted to women, but also has sexual fantasies about men.
I suggested counselling but we still haven't gone. Whenever he wants me to do something sexual that I'm not comfortable with, or he talks about a male fantasy, I suggest counselling again.
I love him but how can we both have a happy sexual relationship if we're so different? I'm not as adventurous as he is. I'm scared he's cheating or will cheat on me with another man or another woman who's more sexually curious, because he's not satisfied. I feel like I'm not good enough.
Dazed & Confused
This isn't about you or any failings on your part. It's about the old incident, and the aftermath in his mind.
Talk to him. If he wants to stay together, but asks for more than you can give, going to counselling together is a must.
Talk to yourself. If he's making you uncomfortable, and you're blaming yourself and losing self-confidence, this relationship is unhealthy for you. Some differences are harder to bear than others.
Think about what you want and what you can live with, not just about pleasing him.
FEEDBACK Regarding the writer who misses his former brother-in-law, following his sister's divorce (January 31):
Reader - "He should definitely have his sister's permission before continuing contact with the ex.
"Just because the couple had split amicably, doesn't mean that she'll approve of the two men staying chummy.
"When my parents split, it was initially amicable, but for various reasons, the relationship soured. My mother's sister wanted to continue contact with my father, and did so against my mother's wishes. My mother felt so betrayed by her sister's actions that they didn't speak for almost ten years. A buddy is a buddy, but your sibling is your sibling for life."
Note to readers: Many of you assumed that the writer was a female wanting to stay "buddies" with her ex-brother-in-law. My editing of a much longer letter, plus keeping the sender's identity confidential, didn't leave the gender clear.
Tip of the day:
When income levels differ, it's the compromises that matter more than the amounts.