Dear Annie: My husband, “Chuck,” and my best friend, “Lorna,” partnered to purchase and remodel old houses for rental. At first, it worked well. Chuck did the physical work, and Lorna did the aesthetic stuff. But they had too many clashes and decided to call it quits.
Chuck suggested they split the four properties evenly. He thought Lorna had agreed, but she apparently changed her mind. She has completely discounted all the hard work he put into the houses and is being totally unreasonable. Chuck thinks she wants to take him for everything.
Chuck suggested different ways to split up the properties and has asked Lorna what, exactly, she wants, but she ignores him. Lorna is focused only on the money. She is not struggling financially. I never would have dreamed she would be so ruthless. I feel betrayed by her determination to get every penny, yet she still expects us to be friends.
They finally agreed to see a mediator, which will cost us a ton of money when all they needed to do was talk it out reasonably. But I'm depressed and physically ill over Lorna's need to control this. We've been friends for 30 years. Now I don't know this person and want nothing to do with her. How do I deal with this?
Don't Do Business with Friends
Dear Don't: You have learned something about Lorna's character that surprised and disappointed you. Part of why it hurts so much is that you feel she doesn't value your friendship as much as you thought. A mediator will help resolve the business side of this mess, so let your husband handle that. But you will have to tell Lorna that the friendship has suffered too much to recover. Unlike some friendships that can drift apart naturally, Lorna will need to understand why it's over.
Dear Annie: Last year my son “borrowed” several thousand dollars from me. He said he was getting a tax refund and would be able to pay it back within two or three months. The three months came and went along with the tax refund, but he never repaid the loan.
My son got married a few months ago, and as a wedding gift, I forgave the loan. I thought I was being generous, but it made him angry. I am not wealthy, and it was obvious that my son had no intention of repaying me. Maybe I'm a cheapskate, but I believe a promise is a promise. What do you think?
No Money Bags
Dear No: We're on your side. Forgiving a loan of “several thousand dollars” seems quite generous to us. It's too bad your son isn't more appreciative.
Dear Annie: I had to respond to “Feeling Unloved in Kansas,” whose parents are paying for his sister to attend graduate school, but not him.
This happened to me. My brother didn't want to continue his education, but my parents allowed him to make lavish purchases with investments our grandfather had set up for us. When I graduated, I was informed that my investments were needed to pay back my student loans. I was upset and knew that going to graduate school would be impossible with so much debt. But I don't think my parents love my brother more. It was just horrible timing and a bad economy.
My solution was to find a job at a university. I am scheduled to graduate in May with no additional loans. It is difficult working full time and taking night classes, but it feels great knowing it hasn't cost me anything and that I am not a burden on my retired parents. I would suggest “Feeling” start thinking about this now. Getting a university job is competitive but not impossible, and it's totally worth it.
Dear Annie: This is for “Wondering,” who wanted to know how to ask his parents about his inheritance so he could plan his retirement.
My mom passed away suddenly at the age of 64. Dad was devastated. A few years ago, he married a lovely lady and, at the age of 80, has rediscovered the joy of living. His obligation was to provide for me, teach me right from wrong and allow me the opportunity to acquire the skills to be employable. It is my job to raise my kids with the same love and values and provide for my own retirement. Dad has earned the right to enjoy the fruits of his labors, and I am delighted that he and my new stepmother are spending our inheritance.
Glad To Be Dad's Daughter
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