Dear Jeanne & Leonard: I’m troubled by the way some of my husband’s friends treat him. “Bill” and I have been married for three years.
It’s a second marriage for both of us, and it’s a good one. But here’s the problem: After college, Bill worked as a stockbroker before quitting to pursue his passion, furniture-making. While he now earns a good living building custom-made pieces, he doesn’t make nearly as much as some of his old buddies from the brokerage industry.
They remain friends, though, and he allows them to regularly treat him to things like golf trips to North Carolina and premium seats to Yankees and Rangers games, often with a night at a New York City hotel thrown in. Bill happily accepts their generosity and feels no obligation to reciprocate.
He says these are old friends who enjoy the pleasure of his company, who know that the only way he can join them at these events is if they pick up the tab and who can easily afford to do so.
I think, however, that they’re treating him as if he were a charity, and that that’s not very flattering.
What do you think?
– Uncomfortable in New England
Dear Uncomfortable: No wonder you feel uncomfortable. Not only are Bill’s friends treating him as if he were a charity, he’s acting like one.
But that said, if your husband is comfortable accepting expensive freebies from his old friends, and if you’re not expected to be a participant in the outings they bankroll – if you’re not, that is, put in the position of accepting their charity yourself – we suggest you let this go.
While so uninhibitedly accepting his friends’ largesse does not reflect well on your earning-a-good-living husband, the fondness his friends must feel for him certainly does.
Dear Jeanne & Leonard: When I recently went with friends to hear a band we like, I took along one of the band’s old CDs and had a couple of the members sign it after the show. My friends disapproved.
They said that the band had come out into the lobby to sell and sign their latest release and that if I wanted their autographs, I should have bought the new CD.
Can they be right?
They called me a cheapskate.
– A.B., Berkeley, California
Dear A.B.: Unless you took up so much of the band’s time that you interfered with their CD sales, you did nothing wrong.
After all, the fact that you didn’t buy your CD that night doesn’t mean the band failed to receive a royalty on the CD they signed for you.
Where and when you bought it makes no difference. In short, you paid to see them play, and you paid for a CD, hence you did nothing wrong in asking for autographs.
P.S. to your companions: Bands who sell and sign merchandise in club lobbies love fans who like them enough to want to get old CDs signed.
Their name for these folks isn’t “cheapskate,” it’s “paying customer.”
P.S. to you: Bands love fans who buy their latest CD even more.
Your questions about money and relationships can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.