Post # 1
I got engaged 6 months ago. I knew since fairly on in the relationship that FH “helps out” his mother financially. Lately, since the engagement, we’ve been having frank and open conversations about how finances will be handled once we’re married, debt, buying a home, saving for retirement, etc, and so I asked for specifics about how much he gives his mother. I was surprised to find out the amount. It was way more than what I had imagined. He is 36 and I am 31, we both work full time, however he earns approximately twice what I do. When I expressed my concern about how much he gives her, considering we talk about getting married and buying a house in the next year and starting a family soon after, he simply said she was a single mom and raised him and spent very little on herself so that he could have the things he needed and so now he wants to “return the favor”.
I don’t see how we will be able to continue contributing to his mother to the extent that he has been and still achieve our goals of buying a house/raising children/saving for retirement, however when I said that he seemed pretty insistent that he continue supporting his mother to the same degree indefinitely. I don’t think I’m comfortable with that and yet since he makes twice what I do, I feel like maybe I have no right to push the issue? Or do I, since once we’re married it will be “our” money?
Post # 2
I make about twice as much as D.H. and I couldn’t imagine giving away/spending a large sum without us deciding together that that was what we both wanted. Does your Mother-In-Law work? Can she support herself? Does he pay her essential bills or extras? This would be a really important thing to agree on IMO and I would make sure you’re both on the same page before getting married. I would be very unhappy if we were supporting my in-laws at the expense of our own financial goals. It seems like you and your F.H. need to have a more in depth conversation about how you expect to handle your finances once you’re married.
Post # 3
It’s only “our” money if you both agree to that. Some couples keep things completely separate and contribute to shared expenses at an agreed upon rate, some pool everything, some agree to something in between.
This could be a deal-breaker for him. Is it a deal-breaker for you? Is she dependent upon his contribution to live independently? Perhaps meet with a financial planner to discuss your individual and shared goals, what it will take to get there and if there is some compromise possible. For example, will she receive any retirement benefits at some point and his contribution could be reduced by that amount?
Post # 4
I don’t think you are wrong to be upset. Single mom or not she decided to have kids. He doesn’t owe her for the privilege of existing. If she had him despite not being able to to fiancially provide for him that’s not his fault. There is a line between being grateful on a normal level and being tricked into thinking that you are responsible for your parents. I’m sure you wouldn’t ever want your future kids to feel it was their job to be your retirement plan. It’s an awful way to treat your child. How well do you know your future mil? Why is she accepting so much money from her son when she should want him to be building his own life and needs that money for his new family with you? Is he giving her money and it was his idea? Or did she at some point expect him or ask him to support her? That’s a good thing to know. Because then at least you know if mil is manipulative or if your fiancé just started doing it and didn’t know how to stop.
Also how many years has your fiancé been an adult out of the house and paying for his own things? If mil hasn’t been paying for anything for her son for a while than she has no need of his money. I assume she has a job and isn’t “going without” to buy her son stuff. Treating his mom for living on a tight budget would look like a nice gift for Christmas or her birthday. Not giving her a monthly check. I think it would be important to reach out to a pre- marital counselor and do some sessions before you get married. Finances should be one topic you review. People get divorced because of financial disagreements so you should take this seriously. And like my question above, I’m wondering if this is the tip of the ice burg with mil. Is she pushy and manipulative in other ways too? In my experience it’s just not normal for a parent to be taking money from their child like this. My parents try to give me money not the other way around.
Post # 5
Important issues like this should be sorted out before an engagement. In this case it would be a huge turn off and perhaps a dealbreaker, especially because he waited until he thought he had you locked down to tell you the full extent of it. What else hasn’t he told you?
I’d also want to know more about his mother’s finances. Is Fiance funding her entire lifestyle or would she be out on the street without his support? What is the likelihood that she’ll eventually need to move in with you? How does this expense affect your own financial future?
In any case, you are absolutely entitled to any and all of your feelings, including determining that the relationship won’t work for you under these conditions. Your salary is irrelevant.
Post # 6
You definitely need to come to an agreement. I gave my mom money every month because she needed it and I wanted her to be comfortable. I was married at the time and my husband didn’t care at all.
You have a right to discuss the issue, but IMO you don’t have the right to tell him he can’t send her money anymore.
Post # 7
I was a single mother and often did without for myself so that I could probide for him. That was my job as a parent.
My son is now grown and I can’t imagine ever letting him support me. It’s not his job.
Post # 8
It’s tricky because this is already been established as ‘the norm’ for both him and your Mother-In-Law and I would assume MIL’s lifestyle is now dependent on these contributions.
I think you need to build out some scenarios:
– How long does it take to reach your financial goals if no change to his Mother-In-Law contributions?
– How long if he decreases by ~10%? 25%? 50%?
Then take those scenarios and discuss with him. You need to know where your ‘deal breaker’ line is, and you need to be prepared to actually call off the deal at that line. Similarly he needs to time to review those scenarios and decide how long he’s willing to push off your life goals in order to continue to provide for his Mother-In-Law.
While we don’t provide financially for my IL’s right now, we’re setting up our finances to be able to do so because they are constantly on the edge of financial cliffs and we know that there will come the day that they go over it. DH and I have had discussions between the two of us on what type of contribution we’d be willing to make (e.g. straight cash or picking up direct bills/expenses), max amount, etc so that we’re on the same page with what that means for our own fiancial planning in the mean time and for when the inevitable day comes that we have to step in and offer support.
Currently we give ad hoc small amounts to patch things up when they need (couple k here, couple k there) but we foresee a time where they need us to help with a big chunk of their living costs. We wouldn’t be able to do that this minute wihtout huge sacrifices on our own lifestyle, but we’re setting ourselves up to be able to do it in a couple years in case that day comes.
So I’d go into it not as “Don’t support your mother” (not saying you are) but instead “How can we balance her needs with our own family goals, and are there decisions we can make today to set us all up so that we can give greater support to her in the future when she may really need it”.
e.g. what if a time comes where she needs assisted care / medical interventions that are above and beyond what he’s giving now – best to be able to prepare for necessary worst-case potential futures vs nice-to-have current realities.
Post # 9
You need to come to an agreement about the definition of “our” money.
FH and I keep a small joint account for joint expenses. Everything else is separate. As long as he’s able to keep up with his end of the joint expenditures, and he’s not dumping money on illegal or immoral things, I don’t care how he uses his separate funds.
If your FH gives his mother money to a degree that if it SIGNIFICANTLY affects your mutual ability to save up for a house, kids, etc, that is absolutely an “us” problem and it is “your” business. It’s not ok that he’s prioritizing his mother at the expense of his marriage, future kids, and future home. He also shouldn’t be leaving her out to dry.
Everyone has a different tolerance level for spending. His is higher than yours because he has more disposable income.
There is an inherent opportunity cost to spending money on A rather than spending money on B. The question is how do you find that happy balance that is acceptable to everyone.
I’d see a financial advisor together to get a concrete idea of how much your FH’s contributions to his mother are setting you back, what percentage of his disposable income is going to his mother, etc. For ex, if he’s giving away 5% of his take home pay, then that should be more tolerable. If it’s closer to 50%, I would not be ok with that.
Post # 10
His money only becomes “our” money if that’s something he agrees on. My husband and I have shared budgets and conversations about finances but MY money is very definitely MINE, not ours. I’m clear about that and if he had a problem with me helping to support my mother (she lives with us and contributes a ton in a variety of ways beyond financial), the one to go is more likely to be the person I met in my 20s. Fortunately, we have harmonious understandings of the importance of family and how we manage finances.
You are right to have concerns about what you will be able to do as a married couple, though. And you and your husband will have a shared household budget and will need to have agreements about how you look out for family and what your boundaries are (together as well as individuals).
Right now, though, OP, you sound a bit like you’re saying “My FH makes double what I make and gives a bunch to his mom and that’s not okay because I have plans for that money.” and you are no more entitled to his earnings than you feel his mother is, at this point.
I would lay out the financials together and say- here are our goals, here are our expenses, here’s what we need to get there. Let’s talk all of this through and figure something out together. Sometimes, seeing numbers on paper helps to clarify things on both sides.
Post # 11
You’re right. OP can’t tell her fiance how to spend his money. Likewise, her fiance can’t control how she chooses to react to having been kept in the dark or realizing that this puts their own financial future in a much different light.
Post # 12
Prefacing this to say I am a my money-your money-our money person. Getting married does not automatically mean it’s “our money” unless both of you decide that.
If all of our monetary needs as a couple were met including savings etc. then my extra money left over and his extra money left over are ours to do with as we please.
I think the first thing I would do is have a follow up conversation and sit down together to visualize what finances will look like after your marriage. Will you co-mingle or keep things separate? Will he be able to contribute to all of your base needs (bills, groceries, living expenses) plus things like putting money towards a house, the cost of children in the future, retirement savings etc while still maintaining what he is giving his mother. Really actually sit down and lay out the numbers as if you were already married and trying to figure out your budget. How much are you expecting he put towards these things? How much is he expecting that he will put forward?
It sounds like you haven’t had a detailed financial discussion and that needs to happen first and foremost. You may have envisioned something and he may have entirely different ideas – actually it seems pretty sure that’s the case. Sit down and lay out each of your intentions and then see if you can get on the same page about those then once you have come to an agreement on your basic financial set up as a married couple then you can look at other areas of spending and start negotiating whether or not you will be able to meet your agreed upon strategy with these additional areas of spending.
I would also be prepared to justify anything extra you spend money on that he might throw up in your face in his own defense.
Post # 13
I think it absolutely is a wife’s right and husbands right to know how each other spends their money and work together to use it to reach their goals. Marriage makes you a team. Mil is not entitled to jack shit but as his wife, Op is. Not sure why people think a wife wouldn’t be entitled to know how her husband spends his money. Bizzare.
Here would be my line in the sand. If mil is doing all she can to work, pay into her retirement fund, be a responsible adult who is trying her best to provide for herself, then fine I can see helping out to a certain degree. But if mil isn’t working, is being irresponsible with money and just expecting someone to do the work for her then hell no should anyone help her. She needs to help herself before I step in.
Post # 14
Thank you all for your responses! It really helps to be able to get some impartial input on this!
Future Mother-In-Law retired almost two years ago at 62, right around the time we started dating. There’s no physical reason she can’t work, she just was ready to retire. Her SS isn’t enough to pay her all of her expenses, so FH agreed to supplement so that she could retire. So, I would be okay with him “giving her a check every month” since that was their arrangement before I was in the picture, however I would like to compromise and lessen the amount since I know Future Mother-In-Law enjoys things such as pedicures and massages and I paint my own nails and go to super cuts to save money lol
I definitely agree that he and I need to come to an agreement BEFORE marriage.
Post # 15
There is no right answer here, just whatever the right answer is for YOUR relationship.
Hubs and I keep our finances 100% separate. No sharing. Minimal discussion about what either of us spends, unless we’re doing something large together, like travelling overseas or doing a big project at the house. That works for us. I don’t question when he write massive checks to his kids moms, for whatever reason, and he doesn’t question when I donate excessive amounts. That works for us.
Ya’ll need to determine what works for you. Just because you’re married doesn’t automatically make his funds yours or “ours.”
I like what PP said. If you are going to share funds or do have an issue with this, you have valid points, but does he know those valid points and can you put the numbers on paper and visually show the delay in reaching certain goals if he continues to contribute to his mom at this level. Also, what you may think is a lot, he may not.
I will say I shared finances with my ex. And it was the 2nd biggest problem in our marriage. I vowed I would never ever ever do it again.
His money is his. My money is mine. We discuss as needed. And because we’re sane and love each other, our marriage and our life… we adjust… together, but only if needed. This works for us because we view money in the same way. Let’s get serious, people view money way differently, across the board. From our history, our careers, our experiences… Money can be viewed in 1000 different ways. It’s best to hash out how you each view and use money, now. And determine how you’re going to carry that into the future.
But is he wrong? No. Are you? No. Find a compromise… But mostly, make sure you can discuss, reasonably, together, what your future with money looks like.