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Author Topic: Wife is the breadwinner  (Read 26716 times)

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Wife is the breadwinner
« on: August 25, 2013, 06:14:42 AM »
The modern conundrum? My Mum can't stand it and doesn't think much of my BIL. I really don't know him that well but I must admit I don't have a very high opinion of him. Not because he's not earning, but because he spends my sister's money like there are no problems.

My sister got married a year ago. She is 29, a fairly senior hospital doctor and earning a very decent wage. He is also 29 and was an engineer and also earning a decent wage. They had been in a long distance relationship for 2 years (due to work commitments) and shortly before proposing to her he decided he wanted a career change and applied to medical school to be a doctor like her. She didn't know he was about to propose but did see a future with him and tried to advise him against it because she knew how hard it would be and how long it would take and that it would affect their family plans with him not earning and studying long hours and her working crazy shifts to support them. She also didn't want to be so much more senior to him and have the possibility he may do placements in her department and she'd have to be his boss.

He applied anyway and was accepted to a medical school near my sister so they would no longer be long distance. I don't have a problem with this if it's his vocation. What I do have a problem with is that he proposed shortly after, knowing that he had no job, and wouldn't have one for 5 years.

My sister accepted and they were engaged for a year. During this time he started medical school and lived in a student house near my sis because they do not believe in living together before marriage and he 'wanted to get to know his fellow students and experience student life'.

During the year they were engaged my sister was in the process of buying a house, which my parents were helping her with. He got very involved in the process, even emailing my parents directly with more expensive properties suggesting they help a bit more and go over their budget. Eventually a smaller house was settled on and my sister and my parents put down a large deposit. They then started to shop for furniture. My sis obviously wanted him to be involved as he would soon be moving in, but he pressed her to spend more and more money. She would have got everything from IKEA if she had a choice but he pushed for 'proper' furniture because it was their marital home and he wanted it to be nice. She paid for everything and to came to much much more than she wanted to pay. She would rather have built up their possessions but he wanted everything now.

The wedding - my parents paid for the majority, as the parents of the bride. His parents gave the couple 5000 towards it, but they used it for things on the house and their honeymoon, my parents didn't see a penny. He then asked my parents if they would pay for his and the groomsmen's suits, transport to the church and a nice car for him to hire to drive my sister away in. My parents put their foot down and I strongly agree. Maybe I'm old fashioned but he wasn't bringing anything to the marriage, the least he could do is get himself to the church and buy his own suit. If you can't afford 6 groomsmen then don't have them!

It's now been a year since the wedding. While he has enough money of his own to pay his tuition for medical school, my sister is supporting him for everything else. Essentially her salary has been halved. Now, I think in marriage you have agreed that you are a team and that 'what's mine is yours, what's your's is mine' kind of thing. But I still think he's taking it too far.

He wants them to live a lifestyle they just can't afford until he is working as well. He kept on about skiing holidays but my sis put her foot down. Then he wanted them to travel around the USA, again, she said no, they could holiday in europe much cheaper. He also pushes her to hang out with his student friends, but they are nearly 10 years younger than him and she finds it tiring and boring because they are all medical students and so far behind her in the job that she gets frustrated and has nothing in common with them.

They have just been in India for a wedding of his cousin who works out there and is marrying a local girl. My sister has paid for the flights and their accomodation at a 5 star hotel where all his family were staying. The family were all staying there for 10 days for a relaxing holiday, which is what my sis wanted to do as well, despite the cost (she dipped into savings), as she works such long hours she just wanted a break. however he wanted to see more of India and booked them onto a 5 day tour of the main cities and sights in the region. However he got the dates wrong, so they arrived in Delhi for the tour 24 hours early. My sister burst into tears because she was so tired and they'd left the lovely hotel and arrived at the budget tour one with no rooms! Luckily they found somewhere else to stay for the night and joined the tour the next day.

However, the other part of his arrangement was that she flew home alone yesterday as she could only get 2 weeks off work, while he stayed behind, flying to Nepal to do some trekking. Again at her expense. I, and my family, really think that if your wife has to return home for work after two weeks, then you return with her, you don't go off on a jolly by yourself and say 'see ya'.

My sister is very loyal and believes in marriage so she would never say anything to us. But I do know she is very frustrated sometimes and she's keen to have a family but can't until he has graduated and found a job.

She also drives a car that's a bit of an old banger but she loves it. However he is pushing her to get something new because he says it doesn't look good or fit her persona as a doctor! He has a little Golf that his parents helped him buy.

I feel like he just doesn't understand his role as a husband? He doesn't feel the need to provide or support her. He treats her like a housewife, not helping with any chores, while she also works long hours. 

For 6 months of this first year of marriage she also had to work in a hospital 4 hours away, living in doctor's accommodation. She travelled home whenever she could, but it was often every 10 to 14 days. He only visited her once, preferring to spend time with his friends, saying she only had a single bed there and it wasn't comfortable. She would arrive home late in the evening for a 2 day visit and find no food in the fridge and him out with friends.  The one time he did go and visit her, he said to my Mum - "I had forgotten how much fun Emily is" we had a really nice weekend. She is HIS WIFE!!!!!!

My Mum gets really angry an my Dad thinks he doesn't treat her right and sometimes I have to play the peacemaker when my Mum goes on a rant to me on the phone.

I couldn't be married to him, I wouldn't respect him enough, but my sister seems happy aside from the financial and spending time together issues. They do seem very in love. I just think he doesn't understand what it means to be a husband. He never makes her his priority. If she's coming home for the weekend she has to fit in with his plans - e.g. go to the pub with his friends, go to a bbq or the cinema with his friends, go to lunch. She's very social but it seems odd he never wants her to himself? Mind you, their relationship has always been like that.

Addition: I'm not married myself, but I feel very strongly that I would want to still be independent in my finances to an extent. I wouldn't feel comfortable relying completely on someone else or spending someone else's money. Most of my friends have joint bank accounts for household expensesnand then retain a portion in their own accounts for whatever they want to buy themselves.

I'd be interested in other people's opinions, especially anyone who's been in this position?

« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 06:23:52 AM by Samgirl2 »


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2013, 06:25:07 AM »
Why is this any of your business? Your approval is entirely immaterial.


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2013, 06:28:01 AM »

Absolutely none of your business.

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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2013, 06:29:44 AM »
All of this is between the husband and the wife and absolutely none of your concern.
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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2013, 06:30:24 AM »
It's not my business. But I have to listen to my mother get very cross about it. Just wondered what other people's opinions were.


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2013, 06:31:33 AM »
As far as etiquette, your mom should not be mkaing you responsible for herfrusration overyour sister's marriage. You are certsinly allowed to have ypur private feelings but don't share them with others. If your sister comes to you upset, be supportive but at the same time dpn't nad mouth.him. "I'm sorry, tjat sounds very frustrating/upsetting"


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2013, 06:32:12 AM »
You don't have to listen to it.  Tell your mother, "It's absolutely none of my business" or "None of our business", and bean dip.


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2013, 06:38:02 AM »
It's not my business. But I have to listen to my mother get very cross about it. Just wondered what other people's opinions were.

It's none of your mother's business either. She sounds entirely too involved in her daughter's marriage. Just tell her you'd rather not hear it.


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2013, 06:40:05 AM »
You obviously care deeply about your sister. If this was my sister it would also frustrate me no end to see this. Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do about it. Hopefully when BIL graduates your sister can start a family and be a SAHM for a while, if she wants to, on BIL's financial backing.

However, I do wonder how upset your mother would be if this was your *brother* and it was his *wife* who was being financially supported, and not the other way round? Maybe it would be exactly the same, maybe it wouldn't? My SIL is a SAHM and is fully supported by my BIL while she is studying part time, taking overseas trips, generally having a pretty good lifestyle of her choosing. No one seems to bat an eye at this in DH's family.

PS > I don't agree that family members cannot take an interest in each other affairs!!! That is part of being part of a caring family unit IMHO. These are not strangers. So far no one has said anything to sister or BIL; there is no 'interfering' in the marriage or offering unsolicited advice as far as I can tell.


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2013, 06:40:58 AM »
Agreed. Tell them that it's not their business.

P.S.  how they used the money they got from their parents isn't their business either. Why would they expect to see a penny of it? Either they offered to help with the wedding or they didn't, but any additional monies weren't their concern.

Your sis married him knowing it was going to be tough financially and time wise. Why do you blame him for this?

He doesn't sound like he has the best financial know how, but that is between him and your sister. If your sister talks to you about, know you're only getting one side of the story and haven't participated in any of the conversations they've had. She's venting.

Also, the India thing was an honest mistake. Her flying home alone was prearranged (so why the heck is it a big deal).

In other words - I think you and your parents are determined to think ill of him when you don't have half the info. 

Tell your parents it's not their business. Their daughter is an adult in an adult relationship and they have to respect that.

Also, warn your sister that she might want to pull back on venting to her parents.


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2013, 06:41:46 AM »
They are both adults. Its their marriage, not the family marriage. If she expresses being unhappy then you could suggest she talk directly with her husband about what she wants, or that they see a counselor or she sees one on her own. If she complains about her husband to you, ask her what SHE wants to do, and don't take it as an opportunity to bash him.
The more critical someone is of her husband, the more your sister might feel she has to defend him.
They are now married, they have to figure out budgeting and the priorities in their marriage on their own.  I would advise that the family let your sister and her husband figure out finances on their own. No loans or large financial gifts ever.
I have a good friend who has been with her male partner over twenty years. They have always had a rocky relationship, with problems then would get along wonderfully them have problems again. Always very dramatic when things were not going well. About fifteen years ago I finally told her she was a lovely person, but I did not want to hear about the problems with her partner any more because all it did was make me think badly of him, and then when she would go thru yet another honeymoon phase I would still know all the things that he had done to make her feel badly.
So that's how I have handled things in the past. Told the person their marriage or relationship is something they need to figure out, and please don't tell me the problems or put me in the middle.
I think everyone needs to respect that they are adults and have the right to make their own decisions, even if that is not what you would do.


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2013, 06:49:13 AM »
I'm not sure what your etiquette question is with this?

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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2013, 06:51:15 AM »
How on earth do you know so much about their finances?  If, as you say, your sister doesn't talk about a lot of this, then it must be coming from somewhere, and it's probably not a completely accurate account.

Tell your mom to stop venting to you, since this shouldn't be the concern of either of you.  Neither of you are the guardians of your sister's money.  If you feel there's problems in the marriage, the most you can really do is just let your sister know that you're there for her no matter what.  Everything else should be dropped, as again, it's not your concern. 


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2013, 06:57:15 AM »
Wow, OK. To clarify:

My sister talks to my mum, my mum worries and she tells me, wanting to discuss it. She is also very traditional and believes in traditional marriage roles and can't get her head around a man willing to live off his wife. That's how I know everything I know.

I have never brought this up with my sister and have never discussed her relationship or talked badly about her husband. Because they live several hours from me and are very busy I don't see them that often which is why I don't know my BIL very well so my opinion is mostly on what I hear. I talk to my sis on the phone all the time, but we never discuss him.

I have tried telling my mum that they are adults, in an adult relationship and she should leave them to it, but it doesn't work. She is very overprotective of my sister as her youngest and she gets more cross if I say it's none of her business.

I posted everything here in the hope of getting an opinion from outside of my family. I guess that was clearly a bad move.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2013, 06:59:09 AM by Samgirl2 »


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Re: Wife is the breadwinner
« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2013, 07:03:51 AM »
I think you can point out that you didn't bring him in to yhe family.and you have no power to remove him from the family.

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