Help a Reader: Support the Mother In-Law?

by TTMK on February 24, 2014 · 5 comments

support mother in-lawThe following is a story submitted by an anonymous reader.

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I need your opinion

I and wife come from India and have lived in US for 10 years. We had an arranged marriage and we met first time, 10 days before we got married. We have had a good life. My wife started working when we went through some rough patches. We saved enough, to buy a good house with hefty down payment, get upgrades etc. As soon as we moved in, she got pregnant and we got our 2nd and 3rd child. I had reluctantly agreed to 2nd child the third just came along which both of us did not want. She has stopped working since then. Our kids are 2 1/2 now. She has been thinking doing “something else” at least last 6 months, while I continue to moonlight on weekends . This ensures we continue to contribute to IRAs and HSAs every year

In traditional Indian households, guys parents live with the couple till they die. Girl’s parents are considered responsibility of their son. I have however broken this tradition and always supported my widowed mother-in-law who has no income and no savings. Me and my wife have paid for her 3 US trips. She has stayed with us a net total of 2 years all expenses paid. We have also supported her otherwise during her stay with her other daughters in India. Her traditional supporter, her son refuses to support her.

My wife who does not have any income on her own, now wants me to sponsor my mother-in-law for US permanent residency. I am all for the idea of supporting her in India, but having her stay with us permanently is a different question

While I know we can sponsor mother-in-law financially in US even with my wife not working, I do not want to offer my wife life-long financial support for her mother on a silver platter. The reason is my wife has refused to be engaged in family’s finances. She refuses to do budgets, review savings or do any financial planning. While I have sleepless nights thinking about our money.  Do not get me wrong, I have a good job, no debts and a good retirement saving

Besides finances, there are social issues keeping my mother-in-law in the household. My parents live in US either with me or my brother’s household. My wife does not want my parents and her mother in our house at the same time. I feel , if we were to sponsor my mother-in-law’s permanent residency in US, my wife would have to accept that her mom and my mom /dad will have to co-exist. I am all for such a solution, if it can be achieved

My wife has threatened me many times that I am a male chauvanist PIG and she would leave me. Needless to stay she threatens she will leave me . I seem to be losing the love once I had for her. More than anything else, I feel my wife is naive about finances

But I do not want to lose my children.  Please give me your opinion

Editor’s Question:  Readers, do you have any suggestions for this gentleman who submitted his story?

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

SavvyFinancialLatina February 24, 2014 at 2:41 pm

That’s really hard. I get why she wants to sponsor her mom, but I don’t get why doesn’t want to be involved in the finances. I love our finances. Can you work with her to get her engaged in the finances? Both set of parentals must live in one house. How about she goes back to work and part of her income goes to supporting her mom?


SavvyFinancialLatina February 24, 2014 at 2:41 pm

Her mom could be the caretaker of the children. Happens in many households in developing countries.


Joe @FFA February 24, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Wow! What a question….

First, if you’d been my client and had come to me confidentially back when I was practicing, I’d say that I prefer love as a verb, not as a noun. Loving is something you do, not a state.

Clearly, there’s need for an open discussion about money and it appears you two may be past that point. I’d recommend finding a mediator (marriage counselor) to discuss this with. Hopefully they’ll be able to help you two open communication again so that you can have this very difficult discussion.

There are certainly other factors at play: her brother certainly should have some part in this, your parents are of concern…..and the lack of any financial discussions. Those are all huge issues.

You and your wife need to be able to work together toward your financial goals. Your wife “asking permission” and then getting angry when you don’t grant it creates a horrible situation that is layers deep.


Michelle February 24, 2014 at 4:15 pm

As a mom, I know young children can be a challenge on a mom and on a marriage. She may feel that caring for the children is her “job” and she doesn’t feel she needs to worry about the finances. I agree that the wife’s mom should care for the children to ‘earn her keep’ if she is able. We enclosed the garage to make a cozy apartment for my parents 11 years ago. It has its own kitchen and entrance. It has distance but they have been nearby when needed.
The sleepless nights and weekend work sound like signs of potential burnout down the road. The children need Dad’s time (and health) too.
The wife’s name calling and threats show ongoing frustrations. It sounds like time to talk to someone outside the family and there is no shame in that. One never knows how a marriage will evolve so it is good to evaluate from time to time.
Lastly, please don’t say you “didn’t want” the third child. It may be that child who takes care of you in your old age.


Little House February 26, 2014 at 8:59 am

I think this is a very hard question to answer. For one, it’s a completely different culture from myself – though my brother married into an Indian family and they have lived with his wife’s parents off and on. And two, I think this boils down more to emotions and social pressure than finances. I think this couple needs marriage counseling.


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