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Volume 21, No. 3, #147 - click here

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June 2008 • Tammuz 5768 Volume 21, No. 3, #147
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Dear Bubby,
I realize that with all the hardships in this world my issue probably sounds trivial. But I find that more and more it is affecting my marriage negatively. You see, my wealthy in-laws have once again offered us money to finish another part of our unfinished house. I truly appreciate their offer and their generosity, but somehow it always makes me feel inadequate as an adult. I feel that my husband and I should be able to manage without their help and to financially support ourselves and our two children. My husband, on the other hand, has grown up with their extravagance and quite simply is spoiled. He expects them to pay for a variety of things that he wants and he depends on them to bail him out of financial situations. This is an area where my husband and I strongly disagree. I grew up in a home where my parents worked very hard, and we watched every dollar. I would rather not accept their money for non-necessities. Obviously in times of crisis, their generosity would be accepted. My husband and I constantly argue over this matter. He feels I am being stubborn and foolish to turn down money when we don’t have much of it. I on the other hand wish he’d have more self respect and stop accepting handouts. Am I just being stubborn? Should I graciously accept their offer and let it go? Or should I stick to my guns and encourage my husband to be a responsible, independent adult?

Dearest M.L,
It is a wonderful blessing when a parent is able to help their child. Even once a child is grown and living on his/her own, a parent always has the desire to help out in any way they can. Financial assistance in today’s day and age is commonplace. It is not a secret that making ends meet can be challenging to say the least. That your in-laws are wealthy and generous is a double blessing, one which you should be quite grateful for. I can completely understand your sentiment that your husband has perhaps gotten too comfortable being on the receiving end of things. It certainly isn’t the most noble of character to have your hand out all the time. The occasional gracious financial gift from parents to their struggling adult children is just fine. Patterns of dependence, however, running deep into a marriage tend to undermine the solidarity, intimacy and cooperative work needed by a husband and wife to sustain a healthy family life. Because of the dependence, in some ways your in-laws are in the middle of your marriage.
On the other hand, you are involved with a man who has a long-standing dependence on his parents, something that you may have ignored or thought would change over time. This issue is a core value difference. It may lead to your family living beyond its means or having expectations that do not line up with the reality of your earned income. A major factor in this problem is that your husband apparently sees no problem with this dependence. You have a family. You are going to need to negotiate a place of comfort for yourself with respect to your husband’s dependence on his parents, a place that meets both of your needs instead of you alternately giving up or getting mad. Graciously accepting gifts from your in-laws, but also living within a budget may be an acceptable negotiation as well as good modeling for your children.

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