My husband and I have been married for seven years. He is 76 and I am 68. It is a second marriage for us both and we each have grown-up children and grandchildren. He is generous in some ways: we have nice holidays and he pays all household expenses. But we are becoming more and more separate. We have separate bedrooms, separate bathrooms – even on holiday – and separate finances.
My problem is property-related. I have a small flat, bought after my divorce, in which I lived for 10 years. We agreed to live in my husband’s house from the outset of our relationship, and rent out my flat.
Initially we made identical wills, leaving the proceeds of our respective properties to our respective children. The proviso was that whichever of us survived would have a year’s grace before our respective properties could be sold or passed on. I later persuaded my husband, with some difficulty, to extend the period on his house to five years; the notice period on my flat remains at one.
I have become increasingly depressed about the future. If my husband lives another 10 years, I shall be 76. Add on the five years I am “allowed” to stay on in our home and I shall be 81. I will then have to uproot myself. Do you think this is fair?
Jane, via email
Is this really about money? It strikes me that if your husband dies you will be no worse off than you were. You will still have your flat and while he is still alive you are paying no household expenses and enjoying lovely holidays. Even if your projected timeline is accurate, I’m sure that at 81 you might be very glad to downsize to your flat.
Isn’t this far more to do with your separate bedrooms and bathrooms? I’m sure you might have been lonely after being divorced for 10 years, but surely you and your husband discussed how things were going to be when you remarried. Did your husband just want a tax-efficient companion? I understand that he wants his children to inherit his wealth, but it does seem a little odd not to make more provision for his wife in his will.
You felt strongly enough to marry this man, so talk to him. Don’t make the conversation about money but discuss your feelings. Maybe on the next holiday try sharing a bedroom – he might even like it. Be clear that you don’t care about the will but explain that it has made you feel like he is pushing you away. Stop worrying about what happens after your husband dies and start focusing on your marriage while he is still alive!
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