John D. Spooner is an investment adviser, author and novelist. His most recent book is No One Ever Told Us That: Money and Life Lessons for Young Adults. Here, he responds to queries from advice seekers of all ages. Send your conundrums to email@example.com.
My fiance and I are about the same height. I want to wear pumps at our wedding, but he says it’ll ruin the pictures because I’ll be taller than him. Honestly, who cares? I know they make some cute flats these days, but I feel like even if I find a pair, I won’t really be dressed up. If it means that much to him, I’ll wear flats, but I’m hoping this isn’t the start of some masculinity issue. Should it really bother you if your wife is taller than you? I think this could be more of an ego thing than worrying about how the wedding photos will look. What do you think? Well, I’m immature and slightly old-fashioned. I was happy that I was taller than my wife. And she was fond of saying, “Never marry anyone more beautiful than you.” So, as usual, women are more secure in their own skin. They know themselves. Your fiance basically knows that the traditional male role was to, “Go out, kill the brontosaurus, and bring home the steaks.” It’s tough to break the habits of thousands of years. But he has to.
Many of the great male movie stars had to stand on boxes to be taller than their female co-stars. He should allow you to stand tall in your wedding heels; he can stand tall in his ability to prosper in his life and in his understanding of your shared responsibilities. And he can stand tall in his love for you, regardless of height.
There was a fire in my parents’ home that did extensive damage. I suspect it was caused by my brother, who has a drug-filled past and an obsession with matches and lighting fires. I doubt my parents will share my suspicion. Should I tell them anyway, or go to the authorities? All families are challenging. This situation you describe, if true, is far from unique. I’ll guarantee you that your parents are aware of your brother’s problems, because they’ve probably been dealing with his issues for a long time. First thing: Do not call the authorities. It will complicate your life way more than you ever imagined. But do talk to your parents about your concerns. Ask if you can help in any way. This situation will play itself out, but you want to preserve your own sanity and keep your distance.
My husband and I each have a 401(k), and President Trump scares the hell out of me. I’m afraid he’ll scare the hell out of my retirement money. Am I overreacting? Our savings are precious to us. Often, in watching over other people’s money, I try to determine the worst-case scenario while preparing for the inevitable bumps in markets. If you and your husband are young, then your money has many years to grow, many presidents to watch and fear—or watch and cheer. And, if you believe in the long-term prosperity of America, you should always be a buyer of great companies’ stock in times of distress. This is how you can build wealth. Try to separate your emotions from investment decisions.
I’m applying for my first job. In the past, I’ve posted some regrettable things on social media. I’ve already made it through extensive vetting, but I’m wondering if I should tell my interviewer. If your first job is with the government in any way, perhaps your indiscretions will catch up with you. The paranoid side of me thinks that the government will turn over any rock to find what secrets you’re storing. But if you’re talking about employment in almost any other area, you should take your chances and say nothing about private social networks. In my conversations with many non-government employers, they say they do not check your personal sites looking for bad behavior. But a few say that management might Google you for a sampling of your Facebook action.
A smart young woman I know told me, “To avoid most people or potential employers, some of my girlfriends set up private accounts using their first and middle names. Like ‘Margaret Ballou Cohen’ would use ‘Margaret Ballou.’ ” If it were me, and—after being overserved one night—I posted selfies of my inappropriate tattoos, I would “show no weakness” to my new employer and concentrate on how I could add value to their business. ◆