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Dear Abby: My wife and I were discussing our sons-in-law, and young men in their 20s and 30s in general. We were wondering where the attitude of “any money I earn is mine” in a marriage or live-in situation got started.

For the first few years of my daughter and her husband “Joe’s” marriage, Joe resented giving her any of the money he earned. My other daughter’s husband thinks nothing of spending money on himself and his friends without consulting her.

We have seen this attitude reflected in their friends as well. They don’t seem to discuss with each other how each is spending their “joint” income. There seems to be an element of selfishness, too.

My wife and I have been married 40 years and have always considered what each of us earned was OURS. We always discuss any significant purchases, and I have always believed it was my responsibility to support my family. I realize the current economic situation has made that difficult, but the attitude should still be there.

– Wondering in Washington

Dear Wondering: You have raised an interesting subject. There is a difference between living together and being married because of our legal system. Because people who co-habit without benefit of marriage are considered individuals in the eyes of the law, it is probably prudent to keep their financial affairs separate. However, each person should contribute to the expenses they share.

In a marriage, the situation is different: The law assumes that the man and wife are one unit. This is the mindset you adopted when you and your wife were married.

There is a tendency among young couples, not only because of the high divorce rate, but also what they have been exposed to in the media from the time they were born, to view marriage as something that might not last. We have become a society in which disposability has spread from material possessions to relationships.

I would LOVE to hear what my readers’ – particularly my younger readers’ – views are regarding this. Click on the link “Write to Dear Abby” at www.DearAbby.com or write to P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

Napkin etiquette

Dear Abby: I hope you can help with this etiquette question. My son and his wife believe that when you finish a good meal, you toss your napkin on the now-empty plate. They say this sends a message that the food was great.

I do not agree. Is placing a grubby napkin on the plate inappropriate behavior or is this legit?

– Not A Napkin-Tossing Dad

Dear Dad: When a meal is finished and the plate is empty, diners should place their used napkins on the table BESIDE their dessert plate. It should not be placed on top of a dirty plate.