My wife and I have been married four months after dating a year. She’s 40; I’m 34. Before we married, we agreed (because of our values) that the man pays the daily living expenses (rent/mortgage, bills, taxes, groceries). She said I should never rely on her for money, but said she’d help me if I needed it. I’m buying us a home, and I’m overwhelmed by bills. She wants a $3,000 mattress and a high-end bedroom set, and I asked her to help pay for them. She said she would, but I’d have to pay her back. What? Aren’t a husband and wife supposed to support each other? She works full time as a manager and banks her earnings or spends money on herself. Before we married, we could compromise. Now she cuts me down and wants everything her way. And she could ask me how my day was once in a while. When I mentioned that, she said I was acting like a girl. She’s very beautiful — a former model — but I’ve always told her I love her for who she is, not her beauty. I still love her and don’t want to end our marriage.

— Strapped

Here’s a woman who always has your best interest at heart. In fact, she’s willing to offer you several percentage points less than you’d get at Payday Loans.

Four months into wedded bills, uh, bliss, you’re walking around muttering, “Aren’t a husband and wife supposed to support each other?” Well, yes, unless they start their marriage by making other arrangements. Absurdly, you agreed to the family values financial plan — the husband takes care of all the expenses. Typically, the husband does this because the wife is taking care of their home, their dogs, their ferrets, and their three overscheduled children. But, hey, at least your wife’s got your back. Your back pocket, that is — the one where you keep your wallet.

What spouses put into a marriage doesn’t always work out to 50/50, but there should at least be the spirit of 50/50. If you saw that in any way from your wife, you might have hope for a loving marriage. What you have instead seems like a marriage made in pragmatism. Chances are, she saw age 40 on final approach and figured she’d better lock in a funding source (you were conveniently located). Chances are, you realized she was out of your league, but figured you could bribe her into marrying you. You perhaps assumed that marriage would inspire her to act wifelike; as in, like a partner not a prostitute with a decorating budget.

You claim you don’t want to end your marriage. You’re probably making a common error in rationality — deciding to continue investing based on how much you’ve already invested instead of on what the future payoffs will be (or, in your case, payouts). You also claim to love your wife — not for her stunning exterior, but for who she is on the inside (um, greedy, selfish, narcissistic, and snippy?). Come on. Surely what you love is preserving your ego — telling yourself whatever it takes to avoid admitting, “Gee, was I ever gullible.” Hey, whatever makes you happy, but it won’t change who you’re with — a woman who sees you as her $chmoopie, her moneybunny, her blank checkiepoo. That aside, you can’t help but admire the lady for being a go-getter (why wait for the divorce to take a guy for all he’s worth?).

One surprise fits all
I’ve been with my boyfriend five months, and want to make him a romantic dinner. What should I serve? What should I wear? What would make it romantic, fun and special for him? How can I surprise, excite and charm him?

— Clueless

I find that nothing says “I love you” like a case of anaphylactic shock — when the dinner meant to take a guy’s breath away becomes the dinner that causes him to stop breathing. A severe allergic reaction is the sort of thing that can happen when you ask a total stranger what your boyfriend of five months would find tasty, romantic and sexy. (Don’t bother making dessert. The hospital will give him a fruit cup after he’s deintubated.)

What’s actually romantic and special is getting the sense that the person you’re dating gets you — that they’ve been paying attention to what you’re into and even remarks you’ve made in passing. This evening should reflect that, and you should have fun figuring out what, exactly, would surprise, excite and charm the guy. If you’re totally at a loss, pay attention to what he says and does in the future, and for now, do as I do: Come to the door naked with a chicken on a spear. (My UPS man really seems to like that.)

(c)2010, Amy Alkon, all rights reserved. Got a problem? Write Amy Alkon, 171 Pier Ave., #280, Santa Monica, CA  90405, or e-mail (

Read Amy Alkon’s book: “I See Rude People: One woman’s battle to beat some manners into impolite society” (McGraw-Hill, $16.95).