In marriage, the topic of family finances is very emotive. We attach different meanings to money, based on a number of factors such as our past experiences, training, personalities etc. For some, money is to be spent and for others money is to be saved. For some, money is a secret topic to be discussed in hushed tones yet for others money is for show. Money sometimes makes us territorial and is a source of many conflicts in the home.
A few weeks ago, I was privileged to moderate a spirited online discussion about how couple can handle the issue of financially supporting their family of origin and their in-laws. It was apparent that when you combine the topic of money and in-laws in a marriage setting, it can be a recipe for disaster, unless handled well. Below are some of the ways that were proposed by members of the group, as to how couples can overcome the hurdle:
Talk About It
Before a couple gets married, this is a big issue that they need to discuss among other crucial matters, as it has the potential to cause a lot of strife later in marriage. It is important to know what one is ‘signing up for’. Do you or your spouse-to-be support any relatives? How many? What nature of support? Will we keep supporting them after we get married? We often make assumptions that the help being given by our partners will automatically cease once we tie the knot. Often it does not.
Supporting our families should be a shared responsibility once we are married. We stop viewing each other’s family as his/ her people. It even usually helps when the people being supported are aware that the decision is made jointly as a couple.
It is important to plan ahead on what portion of the family income goes into supporting family members. When we do not budget, we usually end up using up finances that were meant for other crucial bills that are due, in order to support our families of origin. Budgeting also helps a couple work together in allocating the funds, and that way both partners are able to own the decision and stick by it.
While allocating the finances, it is important to note that it is not a contest so it is not necessary to split the support 50:50 between the family of the lady and that of the man. The allocation should be need based with the greater share going to the family that needs it most.
It is not unusual to have one partner secretly sneaking a stash of cash to their side of the family without the knowledge of their partner. This erodes trust. Needs need to be tabled and then discussed. We should have the maturity to allow our partners to probe into the cash requests from our families. It can be difficult to remain objective when it is our relatives asking and swiftly spring into action to save them.
On the other hand, the probing spouse needs to be sensitive. Remember that these family members are people your spouse loves and their well-being gives him/ her peace.
Supporting family is divine. The Bible says in 1 Timothy 5:8 that “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” Therefore, we need to find ways to do it that does not bring about disagreements or resentment in our marriages. The above tips are important to ensure that there is harmony in how we make financial decisions as couples. As I mentioned earlier, these were insights given in a forum, out of the various experiences of the members of that group. We would like to also find out what else has worked for you and your spouse regarding offering support to your in-laws. Please let us know in the comments section below.
PS: This Article was originally posted on Arusi Guru Blog Page