DEAR ABBY: My sister-in-law "Charlotte's" lifestyle is extravagant. She has an annual income of $500,000, plus "perks." She is in her 40s, divorced for 10 years, and lives in a Park Avenue condo with her live-in boyfriend. Everything Charlotte does is "first class" -- restaurants, vacations, clothing, entertainment, etc.
I earn $50,000 a year. My wife and I have a nice home with a pool. She drives a top-of-the-line car, has plenty of nice clothes, and we enjoy sailing on our small boat. I have never denied her anything.
Several times last year, my wife visited Charlotte in New York. While visiting, my wife charged things we can't afford. I suspect she's trying to keep up with Charlotte's lifestyle, which is impossible. When I point out to her that we can't afford all the expensive things she purchases, she becomes cool and annoyed with me.
Trying to keep up with her sister's lifestyle is causing a rift in our once happy marriage. We are moving apart, and I don't know what to do. I love my wife, and it hurts. -- HURT HUSBAND IN FLORIDA
DEAR HURT: If your wife's visits to her sister make her feel deprived to the point where she routinely busts the budget, you are overdue for a frank talk about it. Tell her how hurt you feel -- and give her this message from me: If you don't appreciate what you've got, you'll lose it. Perhaps it will wake her up to reality.