Columns

Even Mozart Can Be Annoying & Friends Tell Her To Marry For Love, Not Money

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

DEAR CAT: My problem is not serious but it really affects my daily life. My work cubicle is next to a lady who’s been at the company for ten years (longer than anyone else at our level). I just started a couple months ago. We get along fine but she plays classical music on her computer all day. It’s not loud and I don’t mind the music itself under normal circumstances, but you can always hear it and it’s distracting. It bothers everyone but nobody will say anything to her because she has a short temper. I don’t want to complain to the manager because I’m the newest person here and she’ll probably assume I did it. I don’t want to say anything to her directly because I don’t want an enemy two feet from me every day. Any suggestions? — ENOUGH WITH THE MOZART ALREADY

DEAR ENOUGH: Who cares if she’s been there ten years – your work is no less important than hers. Classical music aside, being forced to work with a soundtrack is distracting and it’s the reason headphones were invented. First ask her nicely, and if she blows up at you, take it to the manager. Dealing with prickly personalities is tough but not impossible. If you do this politely and professionally…Cat’s Call: You just might end up being the hero of the office.

DEAR CAT: I’ve been dating a wonderful man for 8 months. He is 43 and divorced with two kids. I am 34, never married, no kids. He’s serious about marrying me and building a family together. Two months ago he suggested moving in together. I love him and marriage is a real possibility but I explained that (1) I don’t want to live with anyone unless I’m engaged and (2) we are just beginning to learn the ‘nitty gritty’ about each other and I’d prefer if we first tackle issues like money management and household organization. I’m a saver, he’s a spender. I meticulously plan while he flies by the seat of his pants. I’ve even prevented him from making significant financial mistakes in the last few months. He jokes that when we marry, he’ll just give me his check so I can manage the finances. Now the kicker: a few months before his ex wife filed for divorce (which was 6 years ago), she insisted they declare bankruptcy. I listened patiently to his story but inside I was screaming “head for hills!” He has a good career, a decent salary and takes good care of his kids, but his outstanding bankruptcy scares me. My friends tell me if I truly love him, I’ll accept him as he is, take the lead financially and deal with his bankruptcy. But is this fair to me? I know no one is perfect, but I brought no baggage or burden into this relationship. I just wish this felt more like teamwork as opposed to me carrying his burden. What do you think? – WANT TO KEEP MY FINANCIAL DUCKS IN A ROW

DEAR DUCK: You and Mr. Money Problems love each other and that’s wonderful, but it’s no surprise he’s looking for a wife – especially one nearly ten years younger with no baggage. Now your friends are encouraging you to take on your boyfriend’s heavy entanglements, but for what gain? I’m sure they want to see you happy but I strongly disagree with their advice. You may not realize it but you already ‘called’ this several times – 1: Head for the hills! 2: His outstanding bankruptcy scares me. 3: I wish this felt more like teamwork as opposed to you carrying his burden. Cat’s Call: Seeing your own words quoted back to you really makes you think, doesn’t it?

What’s YOUR call? Share it below! Submit questions to: questions@catscall.com or click here!.

  1. I can’t stand people who “force” their music on you. The woman has no right to do that in your office. Are you all a bunch of p***ies that you can’t speak up? About Ducks In A Row: YOU’RE not a p***y. You are right, Cat is right, your friends are wrong. Wait a little longer, see how you feel after a year or more. Your boyfriend already did the marriage/kids thing and you can take time to think about it—-he’s not going anywhere. Good luck.

    — Jamie - Oakland    09/27/11    Reply

  2. Duck,
    When i met my now husband, he was already in bankruptcy. I knew that from the get go. We worked things out and i take care of all the financials in our marriage. Things are fine and his bankruptcy hasnt hindered us in any way. He has gotten a car loan since then and has utilities in his name, He even is on our lease to our townhouse. I say if you truely love him, get past is financials and take charge. You may regret not taking him when you have the chance. Hope this helps.

    — Heather, Pittsburgh    09/27/11    Reply

    1. On your “lease” on your town house? Do let us know how the house purchase turns out…..

      — Ben - VA    09/27/11    Reply

  3. Mozart – I had the same issue as you and I voiced my opinion to the person. She acknowleged my concern, but didn’t comply with my request. I decided to bring in my own music and play it just as loudly as she played hers. She came to my area and complained about my music and I simply said when she listens to hers without causing distraction to others, I would do the same. She complied – and while we are not friends, she respects me.

    Duck – Maybe the two of you could sit down and figure out your bills. He may not be as financially responsible as you, but you could work together. My now husband bounced checks from her to WV and back until we lived together. When he did it before we combined our households, it was none of my business, but when we moved in together, it became my business. I handle all of the money and neither of us makes a purchase over $50 without clearing it with the other. Honestly, you sound a lot like me – a money control freak. You don’t want him to share the burden because he would never do it to your standards. Find something that only HE will do – such as take care of the vehicles – oil changes, tires rotations, inspections, etc. It will balance out. Just have faith :) Good luck!!

    — Jen, Pittsburgh    09/27/11    Reply

    1. To Financial Ducks: I would say head to the hills; trust your instinct. He didn’t get into debt overnight, and once your name and his are linked, you are just as responsible for his debt. He’s not going to change his stripes; he’ll always be a spender and you a saver. I think eventually you two will resent each other for each’s other’s monetary habits. And P.S., your friends’ advice stinks, in my humble opinion.

      — Donna, Greenwood Lake, NY    09/27/11    Reply

      1. I have to agree with Donna. I have a couple of close friends who took on their husbands’ financial problems. Now both are divorced with poor credit as a result of their husbands’ financial problem/issues. If you are seriously considering marrying him, make sure 1) keep your maiden name; 2) don’t put your name on anything with him; and 3) keep your own savings/checking accounts without his name on them.

        — Mary, Pittsburgh    09/27/11    Reply

  4. To Jen & Heather, it is great your situations worked out but I disagree that Duck is a money control freak. Not wanting to be bankrupt because of someone else’s laziness or irresponsibilty does not make you a control freak, and he is not only bankrupt, he is divorced and has kids too. That is a LOTTTT of baggage.

    — HardHatWoman    09/27/11    Reply

  5. Men of that age want one thing, a wife. Yeah yeah he’s a nice guy, they all are because they can’t afford not to be. What does a single no debt, no kids 34 year old want with a divorced bankrupt father who gets himself so deep in debt that he has to declare bankruptcy in the first place? This begs the question: why are women so desperate? Drop him like a hot potato before he drags you down.

    — TT in PGH    09/27/11    Reply

    1. Sorry Ducks, but I agree with TT, Cat & others who tell you to head for the hills!

      Bankrupt BF might say now that he’s happy to hand over the paycheck when you’re married, but what will happen when you put your foot down and say that no, the two of you can’t afford that expensive vacation he is dying to go on this year? Or that he’ll have to cut back on golf outings with his friends/ drop his Steelers season tickets/cut back on what he spends on his kids’ Christmas gifts?

      Drastically altering his spending- assuming this is necessary to avoid repeating his mistakes- is not going to be fun or easy for him. His willingness to just let you deal with his finances, instead of making his own plan to modify his behavior, speaks volumes!

      I smell trouble.

      — Isidora, Pittsburgh    09/27/11    Reply

  6. @MOZART,

    Here is an idea… the next time you go to work, make sure you get there before Ms. Amadeus, then place on her desk an inexpensive set of headphones. Make sure to include a note that reads: A gift for you from all of us!

    @DUCK,

    As Iron Maiden once proclaimed, “Run to the hills! Run for your life!” What are the odds that he will turn out like Heather’s man? I’d say, slim to none.

    The sad thing is there must be a cuckhold angle here, but I can’t see it yet.

    — LeBron from Pittsburgh    09/27/11    Reply

    1. The idea for Ms. Amadeus…brilliant!
      If you can find a cuckhold angle in the second question, I’ll give you a prize.

      — Cat    09/27/11    Reply

      1. Cat I agree with Lebron’s headphone/note advice, and yours too. I think he should follow your advice first (politely ask the coworker to turn off the music) and if she will not do it, get everyone in on Lebron’s suggestion. That will show her.

        In regard to the second question, do not marry him! It’s like Do not pass go! Do not collect his debt!

        — Holly in Pitt    09/27/11    Reply

      2. @Cat,

        right now, it would only be forced, liked forced rhyming in poetry, so no prize yet… hmmm, I wonder what the prize could be?

        I’ll come up with something, I hope.

        — LeBron from Pittsburgh    09/28/11    Reply

  7. This first one is too boring to comment on (sorry Cat), but on the second one, like several others posting here, I totally agree with Cat – RUN!!!!

    His history of financial responsibility will follow him (and you) for a long, long time. I’m curious why he waited so long to tell you about his bankruptcy – seemingly until you had a lot of emotional investment in the relationship – a puposeful tact, possibly?

    Another big issue is the age difference – I’ve always felt +/- five years max. There is almost twice that age difference here. There is a huge difference between 40 and 50, between 50 and 60, between 60 and 70, and on and on……

    — Ben - VA    09/27/11    Reply

    1. Ben: It’s funny how different people are. I felt the first question was more interesting and relatable because I have been made to feel ‘tiny’ in work situations before, and you do not know the best way to solve a simple problem. If you are the newest person in an office you can feel initimidated by the people who have been there a long time. They think you are out for their jobs and see the slightest comment/complaint as a threat, then they attack you. It’s possible the short-tempered woman is “in” with the bosses and uses that to lord over other workers. I have seen that more than once! I think Cat’s advice was the most professional. I really like LeBron’s suggestion but only if everyone in the office is involved.

      As to the 2nd question: her situation is the more boring one (to use Ben’s word) because all it does is make me agree with TT and ask “why are women so desperate?” What is this woman doing with him in the first place?

      — Audrey, SF,CA    09/27/11    Reply

  8. @Mozart: I got a kick out of LeBron’s idea for the headphones. I would include with the headphones a copy of Falco’s 1985 hit single “Rock Me Amadeus!”

    @Ducks: trust your instincts. Your heart may have led you into the relationship, but you’ve got to let your head have a say in it, too. Your head is saying that it won’t work. Nobody’s perfect with money or in anything, but things like excessive debt or bankruptcy can haunt you for quite a long time. If he has a lot of bill collectors after him, do you really want to be the one answering the phone and dealing with them? If you want to help him, maybe find him a good accountant at a reasonable price to help him keep his money straight, because an accountant is basically what you will be to him if you stick with him, and I’m sure you want more in a relationship than being a number cruncher.

    By the way, I don’t know if I’m allowed to suggest it on here, but I took and highly recommend Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. It helped me. Maybe it can help Duck’s BF.

    — ExBurgher Out West    09/27/11    Reply

  9. For Duck – there’s no need to make a yes/no decision now. Don’t move in together, combine finances, or anything else. Spend a LONG time deciding whether he is the right guy. You don’t know if it was really his wife who “insisted” on declaring bankruptcy. In addition to the financial issue, there’s the question of the kids. You don’t know his philosophy on raising kids, and whether it agrees with yours. You don’t mention your relationship with the kids. Lots of issues here.

    If he’s in a hurry – tell him goodbye and good luck.

    — PB from NY    09/27/11    Reply

  10. Bad advice from Cat on the first issue: Enough should take the problem directly to the supervisor and NOT approach the co-worker directly about it. Any manager with an ounce of common sense will handle it in a professional manner that won’t draw suspicion on who was responsible for reporting it.

    Cat’s advice to Duck is spot on – trust your instincts and remember that “love” alone is most definitely not enough.

    — Matt in Pittsburgh    09/28/11    Reply

    1. @Matt,

      Have you ever had leadership training? One should always try to handle situations like this one at the lowest level possible first before escalating it the next level.

      — LeBron from Pittsburgh    09/28/11    Reply

      1. Re: “Mozart”: Handling situations at the lowest level possible applies only to people within the company’s chain of command, not a co-worker in the next cubicle. You go to the first person above you in authority, your immediate boss. If that person is the manager she mentioned, then that is who she needs to speak with, and I agree that is the person who is trained to handle office problems in a professional manner.

        — Diane, Plum    10/04/11    Reply

      2. @LeBron: I have over 10 years experience as President of a large construction company. The knowledge and wisdom that I have acquired over the years is far more practical and useful than anything a “leadership training” course could provide.

        As Diane points out in her reply, in this particular situation “Mozart’s” immediate boss IS the “lowest level possible”.

        — Matt in Pittsburgh    10/07/11    Reply

        1. @ Diane,

          Applies to only within the company’s chain of command? Nonsense. Two adults bickering over how loud Mozart is playing should be first handled between the employees themselves. That is the lowest level possible.

          @ Matt,

          I could care less that you are a president of a construction company, as many “bosses” I have encountered don’t know what they are doing when it comes to leadership situations. Obviously, you don’t have a clue on how to handle this particular situation and similar ones too, as detected by your smirk of a comment.

          Since you brought professional backgrounds into this fray, I’ll have you know, Mr. President, that I am a 23+ year retired Navy Chief. I have seen and been around many instances like the one Cat posted about Mozart, and I know without a shadow of a doubt that the matter should first be handled between the two adults, and other co-workers, if applicable.

          Good day.

          — LeBron from Pittsburgh    10/10/11    Reply

  11. @ Duck …. he wants to move in before actually getting engaged? He may talk about “when you get married”, but he hasn’t proposed anything yet other than to live together. Does he have custody of the kids or just visitation? If he doesn’t have custody, where’s he living and could this be more about finding a “ready-made” home to move into with someone to take care of him and his finances? If he were genuinely serious about building a family together, he’d propose. There is a reason this man is an ‘EX’ of someone’s, and if his ex is moving along financially sound with her life despite the bankruptcy? that should also tell you something. You’re the jewel here; single never married, great financial scores and credit, ten years his junior …. you don’t have to settle for anything or be guilted into anything. Trust your instincts. They are your GPS in this situation. We women tend to be easily guilted into being “nice” … but first, PLEASE be nice to yourself above all and trust yourself to say “No!” when you need to!

    — Lacey, Pittsburgh    09/28/11    Reply

    1. I think your shot at the “ex” part is out of line. Many people carry the “ex” tag through no fault of their own. The fact that he’s a parent – clearly his fault. His bankruptcy = his mistake. His financial irresponsibility – also on him. All that baggage is definitely his, and his alone.

      Even though, based on the baggage above, you can guess at the cause of his divorce, we don’t know for sure. If it was a test question, the answer would be d) Not enough information given.

      Keep in mind, I’m certainly not defending this guy – from the description he sounds like a sleeze and a manipulater. I just don’t think everyone carrying the “ex” label needs thrown into the same basket of bad apples.

      — Ben - VA    09/28/11    Reply

      1. Ben – I don’t know that the bankruptcy is or is not his fault, I have a family member whose exwife spent them into oblivion, partially behind his back, partially with his knowledge; they did the same thing about divorcing and declaring bankruptcy at the same time. I do agree, he sounds very fiscally irrisponsible, but I also agree with a suggestion made above: have him prove he can and will change before you even get engaged. Don’t move in with him whatever you do. But set out a contract, or set of expectations, telling him exactly what you expect. And a time frame. Love is blind, but you cannot let it be stupid, too.

        — Wertzro in Pittsburgh    09/30/11    Reply

  12. Duck – head over heart at our age… no offense, but think of the financial burden between his overzealous spending, childcare, previous bankruptcy issues… your heart loves him, but have you learned anything from your past relationships that could guide you at all in this one? I dont know. But I’m learning that love, sometimes, MOST times, is not enough when you’re able to stand on your own.

    — Frenchy    09/30/11    Reply

  13. Lots of good advice here for both letters. Duck, good for you for laying it out to this guy. You have only been dating this man for 8 months, and he suggested moving in together after just 6 months of dating! That’s way too soon to be combining your worlds — oh wait -he didn’t suggest marriage, he suggested moving in together and you managing his money mess for him. No wonder you are not thrilled. Who could resist such an offer? Everybody! Sounds to me like there are many things he doesn’t take seriously, including commitments of all kinds. You are on the brink of a possible huge mistake. Since you say you love this man, continue to date him without combining your worlds, especially your finances. Time will tell you much more. If he continues to struggle with his finances and asks your advice, be direct and see how he does. It’s likely that his chaotic approach to life could be a continual source of extreme frustration for you – I have been there and it’s not pretty. For you to consider marrying this man, you will want to spend AT LEAST 18 months to 2 years dating him, and getting to know his kids and everything. If that seems like too much time to invest in a relationship that may not make it, you have your answer.

    — Nancy in Pittsburgh    10/04/11    Reply

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