Don’t forget to sign up for tonight’s (Wednesday, September 17th) free live streaming event, 7:30pm to 9:00 ET with my guest, family law attorney Maryann Modesti. She and I will be discussing how to be more informed of your legal rights and responsibilities if you are considering separating from a destructive spouse. There will be time to ask your most pressing questions.
Todays question: My husband and I have been married for 12 years and he is a good man and loves God. There has been conflict between us regarding my parent’s care. Two years ago my parents decided to move to North Carolina to live with my sister since they were struggling financially and without a car.
My sister bought a large house w a 3rd floor where my parents would have their own space (it has everything except a kitchen.) Three months later my mother was diagnosed with brain cancer. Although she is stable she has been very affected by the removal of the tumor and radiation. She needs 24 hour supervision and care which my father provides. Needless to say it has been difficult on my sister and her family.
I live in Philadelphia so can do little to ease the burden. We live in a very small home not suited for 2 families and my husband does not like my father. My father came into our lives much later and never was a father to us. He has been a taker and manipulator all his life and my husband has very little tolerance for him. Last year they came for a visit (supposed to be 2 months) it turned into 4 months. This was very hard on my husband and our marriage and also caused a lot of conflict in my family between my sister and me.
My sister feels we are not doing enough and my husband's attitude is “this was all her idea” and now she feels we are better suited to have them live with us. My husband wants no part of this since the thought of living with my father makes him get anxiety. But even when it comes to a visit my husband is difficult. I tried to plan a visit for them to come for a month or so and he was not very happy about it stating they need to bring their own television (they watch television 24/7).
When my father suggested staying 2 months my husband had a fit. I told my father I would need to talk to my husband and get back to him. Now my father is saying they are not coming for a visit since they feel my husband does not want them here and why do I have to ask permission from my husband for my parents to come.
I am so hurt by my husband's attitude and feel bad that my parents realize he does not want them here. I would love to help my father take care of my mother but my husband says she needs to go in a nursing home or I can get an apartment with them. He is so ugly about this. I am praying for God to help me. I don't want to walk around mad or hurt. I realize this is a difficult situation. My parents are in a bad way since they cannot afford to live on their own (mostly due to my father's bad life decisions.)
If my mother lives a short time I was hoping to have her here so I can spend some time with her but my husband is not making it easy. Any input from you would be appreciated. Thanks
Answer: There are no easy answers here. It is tough for you and your sister (and your families) to have to bear the weight of your father’s fiscal irresponsibility. Yet, God does call us to honor our father and mother (Ephesians 6:2), and to provide for our family when they are in need (1 Timothy 5:8).
Your parents have two main needs. The first is financial; the other is for support and care of your mother. So far, your father has been willing to bear most of that load as you say she needs 24/7 supervision.
Your dilemma however, is not with those realities, but rather with your husband who feels that this burden should not be thrust on him. But in a healthy marriage, what hurts and troubles you, likewise should hurt and trouble him. Paul tells husbands to love their wives as Christ loved the Church and gave (or sacrificed) himself for it. (Ephesians 5:25).
In addition, it seems like your husband has lost sight of God in this hardship. Does he even ask the question what God would want him to do? How would God want him to handle this dilemma? For example, Jesus said, “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be the children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful” (Luke 35,36).
Right now it sounds like your husband is only thinking about his own feelings. He’s angry with your father and sees him as a taker and manipulator. But when he gets caught in this negative emotion, he leaves no space to think wisely or care about your mother and you. Your father is not the main person in this story. It’s your mother, your sister and you. These are the people he needs to show care for (Philippians 2:4). He’s refusing to have any compassion on the three of you because he’s stuck being mad at your father.
You said your husband is a good man who loves God. If that’s true, then he will need to be encouraged to rise above his negative feelings towards your father for the good of the family and the welfare of you, your mother and your sister. The Bible says that we are to love our enemies and to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). Your sister is telling you she cannot bear the full load of your mother and father without a break. Your mother cannot care for herself.
I’m not sure you’re going to get through to your husband without some pastoral or other Christian help. What I fear will happen if you both don’t talk this out with a trusted and wise person is that one of you will feel pressured to give in, but totally resent the other. If your husband relents, he will resent your parents from the moment they enter your home. Thus making it more stressful for everyone than it already will be. He will also miss what God might have wanted him to learn through this season of sacrifice.
Or, if he refuses to budge and you give in, you will resent him for his insensitivity and lack of love for you. If either of you just cave in without really talking this through, praying about it and knowing what God wants, trust me, it will take a huge negative toll on the future of your marriage.
I would encourage you to appeal to his good and godly self rather than his selfish and emotional self. You might say something like this, (hopefully in front of a wise third party):
“I know my dad has not been a good father or provider. He gets under your skin and he’s hard to tolerate. I’m not asking you to like him, I’m asking you to love me. I’m asking you to care about the terrible dilemma I’m in with wanting to help my sister and my mother. I’m asking you to dig deep and be the good and godly man I know you can be and put your negative feelings to the side for the sake of love and for the sake of your Christian witness.
I believe God would not have us turn our backs on my parents. The Bible is clear we are to help our relatives and love our enemies. My parents are not going to live with us permanently, but I do want to help my sister by giving her regular breaks. My dad watches television because it’s boring to sit with my mother all day. It gives him something to do to keep his mind occupied. You may not like it but you’re not going to change it. I agree they can bring their own television so they can stay in their room and watch it if they want.
This issue has the potential to destroy our family and I don’t want Satan to get the best of us. I know it won’t be easy, I understand my dad is tough to take. But I want to do it for my mom and sister and I want you to do it for me – without resentment. Are you willing to do that?”
Friends: What would you do or say if you were this woman?