DEAR ABBY: I have been dating a woman in Phoenix -- where we both lived -- for the past three years. We were in an exclusive relationship, but not living together because I was going through a divorce when we met. Throughout our time together I have helped "Jackie" with rent and cash gifts.
I have since moved to California, and Jackie would like to come and live with me. I thought it would be nice, but a cohabitation agreement would be necessary because I have a lot of assets and she has very few.
After some discussion, she came up with an agreement, but I feel the benefits package she's asking for is too high. She's asking me to pay all living expenses, housing, food, health insurance, a new car with auto insurance and an allowance of $3,000 a month.
I balked on this "deal" because it seems more like a rental agreement rather than a loving relationship. She maintains that she needs a "cushion" in case the relationship doesn't work out because she'll be leaving her job and friends behind.
My friends laugh when I tell them the terms of the arrangement. What are your thoughts? -- WAITING IN CAPISTRANO
DEAR WAITING: If Jackie expects you to pay for everything, including health insurance and an allowance, it is plain that she won't be seeking employment and will be taking an early retirement when she goes to Capistrano. If the relationship does not work out, the consequences would affect her financially for the rest of her life.
Nowhere in your letter did you mention the word "marriage." While both of you may have reasons for wanting to remain single, if you love Jackie, wouldn't you want her to be taken care of if something should happen to you? Rather than gathering advice from friends, ask your lawyer what a fair and appropriate agreement would be under the circumstances.
P.S. It does seem that the guaranteed benefit package Jackie has in mind for herself is a bit "rich."
DEAR ABBY: My husband has four siblings, all adults with families of their own. A little more than a year ago, my father-in-law, "Carl," asked Mom for a divorce. That's when we learned that their relationship had been going downhill for several years.
All of the "kids," especially my husband, have embraced Mom and shunned Carl. They say terrible things about him and his new girlfriend, "Angie," whom they refuse to meet. We hardly see Carl anymore, and the few times he has come to our home for dinner, my husband has made it clear that Angie is not welcome.
I don't pretend to know how it feels to have your parents split up after 40 years. I try to be understanding and supportive to my husband and his family. I have kept my opinions to myself, but I am frustrated with all of them. I'm certain Carl waited to end his marriage until after all his children were old enough to understand. I feel they need to make some kind of move to get past this. Is there anything I can do? -- KEEPING IT TO MYSELF IN PENNSYLVANIA
DEAR KEEPING IT: No, there isn't. Your husband and his siblings are reacting emotionally to the breakup of their parents' marriage. Perhaps at a later date -- after more time passes -- they will come to accept it. That is, unless they perceive Angie as having caused the divorce.
I see nothing positive to be gained by putting yourself in the middle of this. Sometimes silence is golden.
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