Hubby wants to outspend neighbors

Posted: April 06, 2012

Q: My husband has a bad case of "keeping up with the Joneses." Every time our neighbor buys a new car or fixes his house up, he feels the need to do it too.

We are already deeply in debt, and when I complain about it, he says I shouldn't worry, because we'll pay it off.

I get the sense that he's envious of what our neighbors have and somehow feels inferior if he can't match them. Any suggestions on how to break him of this habit?

STEVE: What's he gonna do if your neighbor divorces and gets a younger wife?

MIA: Your guy's self-esteem sounds lower than your neighbor's new swimming pool. It might be out of your power to fix; that has to come from him. I suggest counseling. It'll take a while, though.

Meanwhile, might I suggest he be allotted a small budget of play money to use each year when he gets the urge to upgrade?

Q: We've been invited to my brother-in-law's for the religious holidays. Every time we go, the visit ends up a big argument over politics.

Their family and ours are at complete opposite ends of the political spectrum.

Is there anything I can do to prevent a repeat? My stomach is in knots.

MIA: When the bickering starts, stand up and loudly announce, "Party's over." Then, get your keys and leave immediately. Do this each and every time those social morons start bickering. That'll teach them.

STEVE: Since democracy is the art of compromise, suggest a game: The first person to bring up politics has to embrace a political position endorsed by the other side of the political spectrum. Then that side must do the same.

Then announce that all political discussion has ended and, it being a religious holiday, you will now talk about religion. What could possibly go wrong? n

Steve is a 50-something married man who's been around the block. Mia is a younger, recently married woman with an altogether different attitude. They may not agree, but they have plenty of answers. For answers, email S&M@phillynews.com or write: S&M, c/o Daily News, 400 N. Broad St., Philadelphia, PA 19130.

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