Penny-pinching friend makes things awkward



Dear Nicole,

A friend and I went on a short (100 miles) overnight trip recently and she drove. That night I picked up the check for dinner. When we got to the hotel room she ripped into me about how embarrassed she was that I’d picked up the check.

I’d done a mental accounting and figured dinner would be about equal to the cost of gas and that would be an equitable way of sharing costs. Apparently she wanted to split every expense 50/50. That seems like splitting hairs to me. I like this person most of the time but there have been a couple of other “money” situations that were awkward, although not like this. How would you handle a situation like this?

Nickel and dimed

You ever notice that, when you have a fight, it’s typically because there wasn’t a conversation about how something was going to work? I think back to my last three arguments and, yeah, all it was mismatched expectations on both sides.

I’m a little like your friend in that I hate owing people money (even $10). So I like splitting things for the reason that, three years down the road, someone won’t look at me and say ‘You didn’t contribute your fair share.’

So rather than being frustrated that this friend is like this, you need to agree to disagree. Before a road trip (or money situation), a quick “So I was thinking if you covered gas, I could cover a hotel room. Do you think that’s fair?” If she would rather split 50/50 that’s fine.

You can even compromise like a friend and I did on a three week trip together: We both took turns paying for stuff and ‘settled up’ at the end with our collected receipts. Whatever way you want to do it, talk about it ahead and be willing to compromise. Communication and understanding: what friendship is all about.

Dear Nicole,

My wife of eight months has started to buy me clothes. I wouldn’t say I was a fashion hound but I do like my style, and I have received compliments on my look.

While what she buys me isn’t hideous or anything I just don’t like them and I really don’t like that she just decided to shop for me. Does she not like my clothes? Or, does she think I don’t shop in the right places?

Because this is really the first annoyance in my new marriage I’d like to handle it diplomatically. And in case you think my look is weird I tend to fitted, straight leg dark colored pants and conservative shirts for going out and clean t-shirts without logos for hanging out.

Clothes confused

My mom loves shopping for my husband. First of all, he’s a pretty snappy and relatively adventurous dresser for Downeast Maine (he will rock colored pants for example).

She also once said offhandedly “I miss dressing a man.” (My dad passed away in 2007.) It was an interesting idea.

It’s been the unsaid role of wifehood that you get to dress your man. You also need to because all the other women figure you are. If he looks shabby, you get the blame.

Maybe that’s why your wife waited until after you were married to do this. It’s old fashioned but, like many old fashioned ideas, still kicks around in some circles.

First of all, I don’t think this isn’t coming from a bad place. I bet it’s her way of trying to take care of you, not trying to change your look. That said, my husband and I know that, having each a personal distinct style, clothes are not the kind of gifts we like to get from each other. We’re much more likely to do an experience gift like a nice dinner or a ski trip.

If you reframe it as a you’d rather get electronics/collectible knives/insert-desired-gift-here, that may get you less style and more substance. I bet your wife has no idea your look is your look but once you tell her, she’ll respect your viewpoint. She did like it enough to marry you after all.

Nicole Ouellette

Nicole Ouellette

When Nicole isn't giving advice she's completely unqualified to give, she runs an Internet marketing company in Bar Harbor, where she lives with her husband Derrick and their short dog Gidget. She loves young adult novels, cooking and talking French to anyone who'll talk back. [email protected]
Nicole Ouellette

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