Ask Natalie by Natalie Bencivenga

Husband got ripped off by friends but won’t stop talking to them and now it’s impacting you financially? Broke up with partner but miss your dog?

DEAR NATALIE: I feel blessed (as does my spouse) to have met and married after many years of dating duds. We are both mature and established in our careers. My spouse had a tendency to allow his few friends to take advantage of him, financially, however. He discusses it often but only with me. So fast forward to me using his friends for their expertise (only once for each), and they do the same to me. The friends are attorneys and one is in finance. I am in the health care profession. To give you an example: The accountant offered to handle a financial issue for me but would not discuss his fee. I had a quote from another accountant, but my husband’s friend said that he would do the work for less due to my husband’s and his friendship. However, he billed me at the end for more than twice what the other accountant quoted me, and he threatened to affect my credit if I did not pay. My husband agrees that he was wrong but seems powerless to confront any of them when these types of things happen. So now I look like the nut job wife that this poor guy married because I was upset.I am not going to leave him; this does not define us. But it has cost me financially, and I want to put my foot down. I am aware that he had these friends for years, and no friendship is perfect. But I am really struggling with how they disrespect both myself and my husband. Do I make amends and sweep all of their blatant infractions under the proverbial rug for him or stand on my own? — DON’T MESS WITH MY MONEY

DEAR DON’T MESS WITH MY MONEY: I can’t help but think of the phrase: ‘Fool me once shame on you, fool me twice shame on me,’ which seems to ring true here. You know now that these guys can’t be trusted. It’s one thing for your husband to want to be friends with these shady guys, but that doesn’t mean that you have to go along with this nonsense. Clearly, your husband is a follower, not a leader. So, you need to be the alpha here and take control of this situation. I would tell your husband under no circumstances are you ever doing business with any of these guys again. You aren’t offering any of your professional support or services to any of them, and frankly, you want nothing to do with them. If he wants to go out with them once in a while, that’s his choice, but make it very clear that you think these guys are bad news. You cannot control who your husband is hanging out with, but you can step in when it comes to the finances. I would make it clear that doing any business with them is a terrible idea, and you won’t support any of those decisions in the future. At the end of the day, you are his wife. These guys are just his friends. He needs to recognize that. Don’t back down if you see him making bad decisions. Remind him that you are only concerned for him and love him. You want what is in his best interest and someone better because these guys definitely do not.

DEAR NATALIE: My longtime partner and I have just split up, and we share a dog. Technically, he bought the dog before we met, but I have basically taken on all the responsibilities with the dog and take care of it much more than he does. In fact, he doesn’t even really seem to care much about her. It’s just now that we have broken up, he wants to keep her just to hurt me. I offered to take her with me when I moved out, but he said no. I worry that he neglects her and doesn’t care for her like I do. I asked him if I could come and visit the dog, and he just rolled his eyes at me. He said, “You are so weak, and this is why everyone walks all over you. It’s just a dog. Get your own.” My heart is broken. Not over the loss of our relationship but over losing Daisy. She is so sweet and deserves better than him ignoring her all day. How can I get her back? — DUTIFUL DOG DAD MISSES DAISY

DEAR DUTIFUL DOG DAD MISSES DAISY: I’m so sorry that your ex is being selfish. He clearly is doing this to hurt you, and unfortunately, he is also hurting an innocent animal in the process. But, I wouldn’t continue to push. Let it die down for a while. He may realize that he actually doesn’t want to take care of the dog and may be willing to give her to you in a few months once emotions have settled. In the meantime, you should think about fostering another dog that could use a safe and loving home. All that love has to go somewhere. You might as well honor Daisy by sharing your space with another sweet pup!

Natalie's Networking Tip of the Week: “Don’t talk with your mouth full,” your mom probably said. She was right. Especially at networking events, don’t eat the appetizers until you are done networking. No one wants to talk to people with their mouths full or with garlic breath.

Please send your questions to Natalie Bencivenga to her email, nbencivenga@post-gazette.com; or through postal mail to Natalie Bencivenga, 358 North Shore Dr., Pittsburgh, PA 15212. Follow her on Twitter at @NBSeen and on Instagram @NatalieBenci

(This column was originally published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.)