My closest friend has steadily climbed the success ladder. He now just moves his money around. His lavish lifestyle includes cheating on his wife. I don’t want to be like him but I marvel at all the high-end “toys” he buys.
My wife of 14 years and I live on a far different level, doing okay. We both work, have a nice family home and two great kids, 10 and 12.
But my wife gets very uncomfortable whenever I go for a drink or dinner with him. She believes that I’ve been faithful but feels that my friend’s a bad influence.
I have a tendency to sometimes feel down because I can’t see that we’re ever going to rise another level to provide our kids and ourselves with more ease.
If either of us gets sick and/or have to stop working, it’ll make a huge dent in what we can do regarding the kids’ future education or family holidays.
This attitude makes my wife feel I should stop seeing my friend. She says that no matter what laughs/good times we have together, I come home unhappy.
She’s right that I get depressed. Should I stop seeing a long-time friend because I’m incapable of achieving even close to his success?
My Too-Successful Friend
The problem isn’t your friendship, despite that your friend’s an insensitive braggart and cheater.
It’s your lack of self-esteem that’s deflating you despite steady achievements over years as husband, father and mutual provider.
Your wife’s reaching out as your best friend. She rightly worries about your low moods. Unchecked, they can affect your physical and your mental health, interfere with your sexual drive and lessen your emotional connection to her.
Such moods can also affect children as they grow up with a father who sees life through a negative lens.
Contact your doctor and if you check out physically, get counselling. The insights from professional therapy can bring you a whole new self-concept if you’re open to it. You need this more than expensive toys.
Regarding your friend, change the scene. Instead of going out together, invite him to a backyard barbeque with your family (if pandemic restrictions allow).
Once you feel better about yourself, his bragging about high-end toys will seem like they’re filling a deep well of his own neediness.
Years ago, my aunt, now deceased, gave me a special gift. I’d like to pass it on to one of her two daughters, since it's not something they can share. However, choosing one cousin over the other may cause a problem between them, or hurt the other’s feelings and cause distancing from me.
Yet one cousin has recently asked about this item though she needs it far less than her sister does.
I've tried to have the item evaluated without success. If I could set a value, then the other could be compensated by the recipient. One woman can afford it, the other can’t.
How do I decide without causing a problem between them or with me? Should I just keep the item and leave it in my will to both of them?
The Problem Gift
You’ve been so thoughtful about doing the right thing for two cousins you care about equally, that you’ve already solved the problem.
Keep the item. It reflects a strong link between you, this aunt and her daughters. Will it to both cousins to divide the proceeds from sale, with a warm note about family connection.
FEEDBACK Regarding the man tired of fighting with his wife who by choice is home caring for their children (March 30):
Reader – “One reason they fight is the wife's lack of employment, which the husband resents, understandably.
But her choice to care for her own children is equally understandable.
“Yet it leaves her vulnerable. Even if she doesn't return to work for a few years, e.g., when the youngest child is in school, she should be planning for that return to work by pursuing education and training on a part-time basis.
“It’ll relieve her husband's fears that she may never return, give her more confidence about her future prospects, and interests beyond the children.
“She could even consider part-time work, e.g., on an afternoon when the grandmother could babysit. It’d signal to the husband that they’re equal partners with him contributing in smaller ways to hands-on child care and her contributing similarly to household income.”
Tip of the day:
If a friend’s hyper-affluent lifestyle deflates your mood, see him/her less and focus on lifting your own self-esteem.