- 5 years ago
- Wedding: November 2013
Background: I’m having a tough time with my fiance and his parents. I don’t like his parents because I find them controlling and manipulative, especially his dad. I’m going to try to be fair in representing everyone’s different opinions, in hope that you can give me some advice, or tell me how things are done in your family.
Specific topic: FIL’s approach to my fiance’s money. I know money is a sensitive subject in America, that different families handle it differently, and the fact that his dad is from a different cultural background than me (Russian Israeli who wants to be back in perfect Israel instead of horrible America) all play into this.
The argument: I specifically told fiance to stop telling his father how much he makes during a phone conversation. His father got super mad, yelling, “when was the last time my son has ever told YOU not to tell something to YOUR parents?” I replied, “Never, your son has never told me to not tell my parents something, BECAUSE HE HAS NEVER HAD TO TELL NOT TO TELL ME SOMETHING. My parents do not ask inappropriate questions. My parents respect me, and your son, as adults capable of making decisions on our own.”
The issue: His dad thinks he has a right to know how much money his son makes, how large his bonuses are, how much he takes home after taxes and I think this is none of the father’s business. By “his dad thinks he has a right to know” I mean the father will ask occassionally – like once every other month – questions that I find inappropriate about those aforementioned figures. Parents and fiance talk 5 or 6 nights a week by phone and see each other in person over 4 to 5 day long weekends 5 or so times a year.
My stance: I say that given that my fiance is 30 years old, lives two states away, has been out of the house for at least two years now (fiance lived at home during college), is responsible with his money, isn’t asking for a loan, and isn’t entering into a business arrangement with his father, that his father should butt out of his finances. It bothers me that his father asks to know about his son, my fiance’s finances, even though we are engaged and have not combined finances at this point.
His father’s stance: His father is not the kind of man to come out and say specifically, “I love you.” or “I’m worried about you. Are you doing okay? Have enough food in the cupboard? No money problems?” or anything like that. That’s fine, I know a lot of men prefer to “show” their love instead of “say” their love. So by asking his son how much he makes or takes home, he is really getting at, “is my son, two states away, doing okay?”
My fiance’s take: Fiance has figured out that it is his father’s way of making sure he is okay, and is more or less okay with answering the question. He doesn’t love answering it, but doesn’t see what harm it does either. I think that’s a rationalization/justification that enables his father to continue asking what I consider to be intruding questions; I don’t know what harm it would do to tell his father we had sex last night either, but we don’t share that “harmless” information either. Fiance “defends” his father by saying that he has never asked about how much money I make.
My future concerns: But, once we are married, I consider asking even for his son’s salary to be revealing (by implication) some indicator of my salary. I look at it this way: we make joint financial decisions looking at the options offered by both of our employers. Fiance/future husband MAY decide to take more tax deductions while I take fewer, or to put more in his retirement account due to better matching than what I get in mine, maybe he puts more pre-tax into his medical reimbursement card because he has better fees than mine etc.
Or, if he feels it is his right to know his son’s salary, will he also feel it is his right to know how much we paid for our house? How much the new roof cost? How much the new car payment is?
So. I guess I’m just trying to figure out: am I really weird by thinking an adult child’s finances is a private and personal topic not discussed with parents? Am I out of line? Be honest please.