Dear Abby: Man’s spending habits hurt family, frustrate his wife

A veteran living with a mental illness, he lays out hundreds each month on coffee, fast food and marijuana while his four children go without.

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DEAR ABBY: My husband is retired from the military and living with a mental illness caused by a traumatic brain injury. As a result, he’s disabled. We have four children. Over the years, he has developed an extreme sense of financial entitlement. Although I’m responsible for our finances, I cannot control his spending.

His compulsions include luxury coffee, fast food and “medical” marijuana, which cost hundreds every month, yet he complains when money is tight. Last week he lashed out, saying, “I hate that everything has to go through you,” as if I am the reason we don’t have more spending money.

Money is scarce and our children are going without things they need. I’m always fighting for his respect, decency and self-control. I feel frustrated, exhausted and lost. Advice, please? — ANGERED IN ARKANSAS

DEAR ANGERED: I wish I could wave a magic wand and make your very real problem disappear. Because I can’t, you are going to have to step up yet again and impress upon your husband that while you are sad that he regards what you are doing for your family as “controlling,” your children’s needs MUST come before his own. By that I mean, he should treat “luxury coffee” as a luxury and buy it no more than X times a week, ditto for fast food and his “medical” marijuana.

If he needs more pharmaceutical support for his stress, he should address it to his doctor (at the VA, I assume). Make clear that you cannot carry more of the load, and that you are not the cause of the financial stress. Circumstances are to blame for that, and he cannot continue to kick his golden goose or he will kill it.

DEAR ABBY: My mother, who lives with me, insists on keeping her window open several inches year-round. While I don’t mind so much in the winter because I know she tends to run hot, we clash in the summer because I need the windows and doors closed so I can run the air conditioning to optimal efficiency. She thinks keeping her window open is cooling her bedroom off and doesn’t understand what the problem is if she keeps her door to the rest of the house shut.

This issue has caused major arguments because it’s making my AC unit work harder than it needs to, not to mention I have allergies and my doctor has told me to keep the air on all summer long. This is a ranch-style home, and the temperature is kept at 70 degrees.

I don’t want to fight with her, but I feel disrespected since this is my house and she blatantly disregards my requests. Am I overreacting? Or does she need to be respectful of my home? — TEMPERATURE RISING IN OHIO

DEAR T.R.I.O.: You aren’t overreacting. Let’s get down to basics. Whose house is it? It is yours. When you lived in your mother’s home, she made the rules and you had to abide by them. If keeping her bedroom windows ajar is “making your air conditioner work harder,” then it’s likely adding to your electric bill, which is disrespectful, inconsiderate and bad manners. If she can’t adjust, she should contribute toward the extra cost of air conditioning.

Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Contact Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069.

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