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How to Handle Tough Family Topics

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Q. I'm married, but a long-term ex-boyfriend found me on Facebook. He wants to catch up and I'd love to see him, but my husband doesn't like the idea. Should I heed my mate's pleas or meet on the sly?

A. Are you happily married? If yes, wouldn't you like to stay that way? Then why on earth would you rendezvous with your old flame? Your husband said he's uncomfortable with it, so going behind his back may cause serious problems in your marriage. Catch up with your ex via e-mail or a phone call—you can be cordial without a face-to-face—and keep it moving. If you're not happily married, be careful of your meet-up intentions. Looking outside your relationship for satisfaction can create a slippery slope. And you might confuse the excitement of doing something new and covert with excitement for your ex. Either way, if you can't resist the curiosity of seeing your old spark, make a reservation for three and invite your husband.

Q. My cousin is always asking me for special favors: Can her daughter tour my office to learn about my industry, or can I use my connections to get her free tickets to special events? I don't mind helping out once in a while, but I'm starting to resent the pushy requests.

A. Today's economy has most of us working our resources (and that includes friends and family) for access to information, employment or experiences. And sometimes that can get out of hand. Before chatting with your cousin again, do a quick assessment of personal boundaries. Perhaps infringing on coworkers with an office tour makes you uncomfortable, but offering up some time after work hours or at home to talk to her daughter about careers is fine. Give your cousin concrete examples of what you can and can't do and you may find her future requests less intrusive. Also realize there's nothing wrong with saying no. Help out when you want and don't when you can't. It can really be that simple.

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