Whenever we go out for a meal or for drinks with friends or family, my wife always insists that we pick up the tab. How can I get her to change this dynamic?

Elaine Varelas dives into some of the reasons why someone in a professional role where business development is a priority might want to be generous with both friends and family.

Q.  My wife is a partner at a law firm and as a couple, we are well off. My issue is that whenever we go out for a meal or social event with friends or family, my wife insists that we pick up the tab. I feel as though we should alternate who picks up the tab and take turns for the situation to be fairer. On many occasions, I feel like people take advantage of our generosity and take it for granted that we will pay. How can we change this pattern with our friends and family?

A. Congratulations to your wife on achieving the status of partner at a law firm, and you for contributing to the assessment of "well off". I'm not sure if your issue is with your wife or with your friends and family. Many people who are in business development roles, which a partner at a law firm is, will often be generous with their willingness to pick up a check for drinks or meals. Many of her friends might be in the position to refer business to her, to introduce her to potential clients, or invite her to events and activities that could lead to her being even more successful in her role as partner. Perhaps they already have helped her develop business.

Your wife may just want to be generous with family, recognizing that she's been fortunate to achieve a level of financial security that allows her (and you) to be generous. You clearly don’t agree. If you look at the two situations, friends might be more likely to provide professional and networking support. And family is a completely different situation.

If you have concerns about the financial impact of her always picking up the tab with family and friends, have a conversation with your wife about the reasons why she always feels inclined to pay. She may see the activities with friends as potential business expenses and your accountant might agree. If not, having a conversation with your wife in advance about changing the practice of who will be paying the tab in social situations might help you understand whether she wants to make a change or keep the status quo. You can offer alternative solutions such as taking turns picking up the tab or splitting the bill with your relatives and your friends. It is not uncommon for individuals in fields such as sales, the law, real estate, finance, entertainment, etc. to exhibit generosity and foster relationship building by picking up tabs or covering expenses for clients, potential customers, or colleagues. Picking up the tab for family has a host of different reasons.