Happy Thanksgiving, including our Canadian and international friends. I am thankful for all of you. This is such a warm and generous community and I am so blessed to have you here. I hope to meet all you someday.
Put it on your calendar now. We are having our second CONQUER Conference in October 2018. Be Brave: Grow Strong. The dates are October 12, 13 in Lincoln, Nebraska. Details to follow in the new year.
I thought we’d switch topics this week. I have a few more questions that are begging to be answered on narcissism but I thought we’d put our collective wisdom together for this sister on another topic.
Today’s Question: I need your help. My dad is currently unemployed and only mom works and this has caused a lot of financial strain, as she is over-committed financially.
I am married and recently just got laid off so my husband is the only one working for now. We both come from God-fearing homes and we are both Christians. My parents have indicated that their finances are not going so well but mainly now that my younger sister has to further her studies at a college.
They didn't ask us to pay her fees or specified where we should help but I figured we can assist with anything we can afford to. I have saved up some money and my husband has a very good job that pays him well. But over the years we've been married I’ve learned that he loves his money so much and doesn't want to inherit burdens from my family as he puts it.
This is a man who loves God and says he loves me but is okay with letting people I love/closer to my heart struggle. We previously had situations where my family needed money so much and he just seems to not be interested.
When I was still working I used to help where I could. I didn't make a habit of it but when I feel that it’s important they have assistance, then I would help.
I struggle to get past the word that says, “Husbands love your wives as Christ loves His Church.” Is this how love suppose to be? I am beginning to question his love for me and I don't know what to do.
Answer: You question your husband’s love for you because he seems indifferent to the financial struggles of the people you love. I can understand that. Let me ask you a few more questions about your situation.
If your parents needed money for food or shelter or medical care for themselves would he still be indifferent and not care about their needs? If so you have every right to challenge his love for you and even his relationship with God.
And that we are to love with actions, not just with our words (1 John 3:18).
However, I wonder if there is another issue going on that your husband is struggling with. And that is your father. How long has he been unemployed? What has he done to seek employment and to work part-time jobs even doing menial work if necessary to provide for his own family? I’m wondering if your husband feels that your dad needs to step it up and do more to provide for his daughter (your sister’s) college and his family debts instead of relying on your mom and your family to help.
Or perhaps your husband has observed over the years your parents being irresponsible with their spending habits. He’s watched them live beyond their means, accumulating debt and not saving for their daughter’s college needs. You mentioned that you’ve helped them out before. How chronic has that been?
I remember talking with a girlfriend recently who was battling resentment towards her own parents because of their poor money management. She feared to compromise her own family retirement by helping them because they did not wisely prepare for their own. She was torn between wanting to be loving and resenting that they depended on her instead of taking responsibility for themselves. I wonder if your husband fears the same thing and that’s what he means by not wanting to inherit their problems.
You don’t give me enough details to comment, but sometimes through our compassionate generosity, we actually enable people to stay irresponsible and/or lazy and not own or take responsibility for their own financial needs/problems.
So what is your next step? Here are a few options. First, I think you need to have a heart to heart talk with your husband about why he doesn’t want to help your parents. Listen to what he says. Perhaps his concerns have some merit and he isn’t being a cold-hearted, uncompassionate man but he doesn’t want to enable more irresponsibility on the part of your dad by regularly bailing them out. However, his lack of concern for your sister troubles me.
One suggestion you might make is that you both forgo Christmas presents to each other this year and give the money you would ordinarily spend to help your sister with her college expenses. His response will give you a better indicator where his heart is.
If your parents are in this place through no fault of their own and they are also working hard themselves to resolve the situation, I think it’s time for you to be more assertive in communicating how important it is to you and to God that you help your parents. You said you are financially able to do so without a lot of personal sacrifices. If he continues to resist or refuse, then you may need to find employment yourself so that you can help them.
But even if they are in this place because of their own mistakes, you will probably still want to help them because you love them, especially if they start to need financial help with the basics of food, shelter and medical care. But you may also have to enlist the help of a social worker to get the state aid, low-income housing and other things to lessen the financial burden on you. Don’t feel that you need to keep them in the standard of living that they are used to. They too may have to make sacrifices, not just you.
Second, I think you need to have a tough talk with your parents, especially if the root cause of this problem is their own poor money management and chronic underemployment. If they don’t change their own habits and patterns and they depend on you to fill in their financial gaps, you will inherit a huge problem. That will only continue to drain your own financial stability as well as put a strain on your marriage. You need to stop that from happening as best as you are able.
I know this is going to be a question that others who have lived through this will want to help you with as well.
Friend, what would you do if you were in her position? Those who have been faced with this very thing, what gave you clarity on what your responsibility should be to your parents? Towards a younger sibling?