“…being his mom’s support in ways his sisters were not…. He borrowed money off me to pay for his mom’s car.”

Sharing an email. Do you think these questions would have been raised if the couple was Indian, and in a traditional arranged marriage? Why or why not?

Hello IHM

I read your blog and have found it interesting. I thought it might be a good idea to write to you to ask your opinion.

I am currently in a relationship with an Indian man with whom I do not share a common background with – different religious, cultural, familial and even economic backgrounds (at least in terms of expectations). We share racial and educational backgrounds, however.

It has, at times, been a bit of a “is love enough” and “have I chewed more than I can bite” relationship for me. But given the fact that we are generally happy, I have ploughed through the intermittent drama. I am not particularly popular in his family and he in mine.

What this email has to do with is his money behaviour with regards to his family.

His parents had split when he was a kid (around 10). He has a couple of sisters. And he had to man up when his dad left – being his mom’s support in ways his sisters were not. His mom brought up her three children on welfare. He is very protective of his mother in ways I am not of mine. I am also surprised by how un-independent his mom and sisters are given their family situation.

So, the thing is, my partner does not live in the same city as his mother and sisters, the elder of whom is married with a child. His mom and younger sister live together. The house they live in is paid off. However, he still pays bills at his mom’s place. He sends money home. He is about to buy his mom a car (which his younger sister will use as well). [The reason they need a new car at all is because his elder sister swapped her crappier car with his mom’s citing “it will be economical for mom to run a smaller car” after her marriage, which is fine, however, she has not fronted up with any money for the new car].

Both his sisters work. His mom does not work. His mom babysits his elder sister’s child while she works. [I sometimes feel like his mom is being slightly exploited by his elder sister.]

We currently do not live in the city where both our families live because we both find our families very overbearing and we believe that this is for the best.

My partner is not currently working as he decided to take time off to start a business. While not over the moon, I decided, well, you are young, we currently have no responsibility and I make enough to pay the bills, so go live you dream. However, I had not realised that his birth family was his responsibility. [When he was working, he paid his share of the bills and I really did not keep tabs on what he did with his money].

So, for the past six months, I have been paying all our bills. He used all his savings for the business. I transfer spending money into his account (part of which he uses to pay his mom’s bills, etc.) He borrowed money off me to pay for his mom’s car. He has started looking for work again however, it has not quite worked out yet.

He has not told his mom or his sisters his current financial situation – they have what my other friend described to be close but superficial relationships. However, his mom/sisters, I do not really believe, care where the money to get them stuff comes from. [I.e., while my parents love me visiting them / taking care of them, they also tell me I have to look after my own interests and save a bit of money and put it away because who knows what would happen. However, his mom never asks him to take care of his interests. No one ever demands, however it is there subtly, like in the case of the car being un-usable and no one making a move to do anything about it. ]

I am beginning to find myself getting quite uncomfortable. I find my partner’s behaviours very irresponsible. While I love him, I am beginning to ask myself, what do I gain from this relationship? I feel like I am more likely to actually achieve some of my personal goals (or on a grander scale) on my own than with him.

And I find myself uncomfortable with the situation even if my partner found work tomorrow. While I have no problems with my my partner looking after his mom, I would like for it to be reasonable [I.e., actually figure out how much her cost of living is (I do not think my partner actually even knows if she is able to meet her needs without his help) and make sure that is met (and maybe a bit more) versus giving her large sums of money randomly. Also, if his mom decides to give her stuff away, then he not feeling responsible for replacing them. [Also, I also feel his sisters need to take responsibility for her too]. But they are not a straight talking family and everything is read between the lines.

I have brought these issues up with my partner, however, not very effectively, I believe. I tend to come off as being petty.

Am I being petty? I think I would be pretty peeved off if my partner got upset with me wanting to buy my parents a present or something. But I do not maintain my parents’ living standard. So, it is not all that difficult to treat them every so often without breaking the bank. And I would never get them gifts if I was broke. Am I just generally not a nice person?

I sometimes get a feeling that he feels I am able to look after myself and his mom/sisters need looking after. I find the scale and the lack of thought for my needs and wants quite challenging. It is not, like, him and I are loaded. Or my parents are so well off that this is a non-issue.

I would like your and your readers’ opinion on my situation.

Related Posts:

An email. Aren’t the sons supposed to have their own family lives?

An email from a Mother in law.

Some basic questions on joint family finances and daughters in law.

An email: Can a woman be married off with a promise to the in laws, that her father would find a job for her?

The traditional arrangement is equal in distributing the responsibilities?

So why don’t Indian women fight for their own ancestral property rights?

Instead of eyeing their husbands’ ancestral property, why don’t Indian daughters in law make their own homes?

An email: I cannot bend to my FIL’s greed … but I don’t want to break up a family (mine) …

“My wife often rakes up property issues, or rues the expenses on my father’s ill-health.”

“What if I let go the gold and money, not that I am rich, but they won’t give me a divorce easily…”


86 thoughts on ““…being his mom’s support in ways his sisters were not…. He borrowed money off me to pay for his mom’s car.”

  1. I think you absolutely should not be paying his mom’s bills and you should forget about paying his sisters bill. Its good to help but its high time they learned to live within their means rather than living off the welfare they get from others – be it DIL’s, sons or anybody else. You having a problem with your partner spending money on them is justified, they seem to have enough for a living and can definitely are not in “need”, only “want”. You should put your foot down and stand up for yourself. Good luck 🙂



  2. FUNNY…is not it 😦

    we want a great deal of independence when it comes to the money that we women earn with no questions from husband/partner. However, when it comes to the partners, we always expect him to follow our standards? our interests?

    Honey, clearly you are intriguing too much into his personal finance, which you have no right in first case.

    1. Agreed, you have supported him when he decided to take a break from work. But that was your call and i dont think he can & should have forced you if you decided not to support him.

    2. Just imagine a case, where you were overly spending on your side of family without burdening your earning partner. And your worth to be judged based on the spendings you do on your family? Is not is shameful in general, even if you are doing the same?

    3. Im glad my husband never judged me nor controlled me when i decided to take care of my younger sisters marriage expenses, when my father expired within months after my marriage.

    Lastly “While I love him, I am beginning to ask myself, what do I gain from this relationship? I feel like I am more likely to actually achieve some of my personal goals (or on a grander scale) on my own than with him”

    4. If you feel you are better off him, go ahead and dump him. But i suggest money should not be a lame excuse to dump one’s partner. If you think better off him, may be even he may think the same way after you split.



    • IHM, thanks for putting this email up.

      Thanks for your comment, Anila.
      1. He has not forced me to support him.
      2. I did not quite understand what you meant here.
      3. I am happy for you. I am. And I am not claiming to be an ideal partner. Or even a particularly good one.
      4. Money may not be a good enough relationship breaker for you. But it may be for someone else.
      5. Perhaps, I desire financial stability in my relationship. You may not. To each their own, hey


      • never mind dear, since you already said you are not satisfied with your current partner’s financial capability, probably you can just call this relationship quits, and then find out someone who has sound financial background. And yes i agree, to each their own…

        All the best 🙂


    • “However, when it comes to the partners, we always expect him to follow our standards? our interests?”

      I absolutely agree! The letter writer here has stated that she wants her partner to support her mother who is fully capable of working and her two sisters, all the while trying to start a business…oh, OOPS–it’s the other way around.

      The letter writer hasn’t asked her partner to follow any standards or interest, it’s the partner who’s suddenly decided that it’s up to the letter writer to support his mother and two sisters without any question.


      • Kay, hope we can agree to disagree, or atleast try to understand what the letter writer actually said 😦

        //The letter writer hasn’t asked her partner to follow any standards or interest, it’s the partner who’s suddenly decided that it’s up to the letter writer to support his mother and two sisters without any question//

        needless to say, it was generous of the letter writer to have supported her partner who is off from the work. But how sure are you her partner IMPOSED letter writer to support him/his family while he is setting up business? lets not make onesided conclusions which LW never said…

        The discretion lies here, today LW who is supporting her partner, might call off the financial backup tomorrow. Do you think the LW partner will have any moral right to ask her why she isnt supporting him today…when she actually supported him till yesterday?

        My intention is clear, LW supporting her partner is her personal choice. At the same time, its her partner choice whether to support his family or not, or to what extent.

        The only difference is, LW should not allow others to exploit her financially, & she should make her partner accountable for “COMBINED EXPENSES”., including any investments etc. If she does it, good,

        Else its best for her to get out of this relationship and find someone who is financially more stable and who doesnt have to take any family responsibility


        • “I transfer spending money into his account (part of which he uses to pay his mom’s bills, etc.)”–so yes, I do think she’s partially supporting his family for a decision that he made. That, combined with the fact that he calls her concerns petty is very troubling to me.

          I also think the fact that he borrowed money from his partner (instead of the bank like everyone else in that side of the world) to pay for a car for his mother to be red flag worthy. Or better yet, why couldn’t the mother and sister get a loan themselves. It’s really weird and intrusive to involve the brother’s girlfriend in such an issue.

          In all of this, I wonder why the mother doesn’t work at all? If she’s lived in that side of the world to have raised her kids, then she’s not a new immigrant who can’t speak the language. Surely she can do something…even if it is working the cash register at a grocery store.


        • I think that if the LW’s partner was earning his own money and spent a portion of it on his folks , it would be somewhat fair.Obviously, expectations vary widely, but differing expectations in a healthy relationship should be resolvable.

          This arrangement though, of hitching your own dependents to a person you are dependant on, when they clearly resent it, is wrong IMHO.
          It would be a different ball game if the LW didn’t mind (and I know it’s true in India a lot of the times when a non-working woman can expect her husband to sometimes financially help out her siblings etc)- but when she clearly minds the arrangement, her partner should respect that and either find another way to support his mom or enlist the contributions of his sisters to do so.


  3. I believe that there are no hard and fast rules as to how much one should support one’s families. I know plenty of marriages where one spouse supports their family more, and the other less, because of differences in situation. So, IMO, the problem isn’t that your partner gives his family X and you give your family Y. The problem also isn’t that your partner’s sisters are selfish – sure, that isn’t a great thing, but it isn’t YOUR problem to solve.

    Your problem, acco to me, is that you and your partner are not able to discuss your financial goals and habits freely and frankly, without fears of sounding petty. I think this is a serious problem, and money causes big issues in many relationships, even if we’d like to think that love is enough. So, I’d say that if you can get your partner to talk about this freely, i.e. what your (joint) financial goals are, how much monies you need for them, how you will (both) decide what is a fair amount for yourselves and what is to be given to others – if you can have that discussion openly, everything else can be sorted out. I do believe that the ‘I do what I want with my money’ attitude doesn’t work for any couple with long-term plans.

    If you can’t have that discussion with being accused of being petty, or if your partner feels that as a man, his expenditure on his family cannot be discussed at all, then perhaps you need to rethink if this relationship is viable…..


      • I am curious as to why you both cant talk this through? In that case his irresponsible attitude and inability to handle money matters is not the only problem. You certainly have communication issues. If one partner cannot discuss what bothers him/her without being labeled by the other as petty(when he himself is careless and takes her for granted) it just brings out his selfishness to the surface. Please don’t ignore this. Even if you make peace with his reckless behavior, it is the communication issues that will always be a problem.


        • Hey. Thanks.

          Reading all the comments, I realise, the issue for us is not so much we could not communicate. Though we are not as effective as we could be


        • I have to point out, this is seriously the most sensible comment on this post. The other comments aren’t leading anywhere.


      • Families have different needs. To me, this sounds like a good idea would be to pool a certain percentage of money every month for your own (both of you) financial needs and savings and leave the rest to the partners to decide what they want to do with it. The percentage is something that you guys need to sit together and discuss. Financial saving is important. Supporting families may also be required, depending on the circumstances, but you should ensure that it doesn’t bleed you dry. Then it would be a painful time for everyone involved.


  4. This is an interesting situation. Let me first talk about your comment IHM,
    //Do you think these questions would have been raised if the couple was Indian, and in a traditional arranged marriage? Why or why not?//
    I do not think it would have come this far in an Indian arrange marriage in a million years.

    Moving on, there are some serious issues the writer has to deal with (and I would say the same thing irrespective of the gender)

    1. Did the partner inform his mother and sisters about his decision to give up his job to pursue his dream? He should have.
    2. If he did inform, did he make them realize that he would not be able to support them like he did before?
    3. Like the reader above, I think the family should have supported the dream of their child in pursuing his dreams. If they did not, it is bad on their part.
    4. Having all that, I think the decision to leave a job and pursue business was a impulsive one and not a proactive one. Do not care if the person was indian or no. If he had a responsibility he should have made arrangements to take of those BEFORE leaving the job.

    Having said that answering few questions raised in email above in the way I seemed fit.
    //Am I being petty? // No don’t think so.

    I come from a similar family and even though my own family does not respect my opinions or views or like me as human in general but I do support them financially. I think this is a pretty personal issue of what the person has to do. While my wife is comfortable in lifting off the medical expenses of her family, I choose to share my income to them. Someone might be comfortable in getting them gifts and stuff.

    These things are fine as long as there is transparency in doing them. Did he mention the expenses before he choose to pursue his dreams? You can’t pursue your dreams and then hope to maintain responsibility like that before, there has to be a golden middle.

    My 2 ₹


    • 1. He did not inform his mom/sisters.
      2. They do not know.
      3. I struggle to understand the reasoning behind his decision especially now that I know the extent of his responsibility. It baffles me. I expected him to have made a more informed decision.


      • Maybe print out this thread and show it to him? That should atleast provide a starting point for the conversation (or fight) that should naturally follow-either way, things will come to a head and there will some sort of *outcome* to the issue-good,bad or ugly?

        I agree with the other commentators who say that the issue is primarily one of communication (and secondarily of differing value systems) and less to do with actual finances.


  5. From your mail, I’d say your heart and mind are telling you to move out of this relationship, but you’re not a quitter and you dont want to walk out of a relationship over such “petty” issues. You’re looking to justify what your heart already knows.

    Some questions for you – is it really petty?

    Given that your partner has a superficial relationship with his birth family, that he hasnt really “pushed” or “enabled” them to be independent, that he likes being “the apple of their eye”, a “good son” and “good brother” – does it seem that he will likely be able to be part of or raise a family of the kind you’re likely to desire?

    He seems to really like the provider/protector image he’s built with his birth family. On the other hand, he doesnt seem to want that role with you, given that he’s ok with not paying his share of the bills, or using your money to buy his mom a car.

    Are you ok with being the provider/nurture/more mature person in this relationship, over the long run?

    Would he be able to be a long term partner? Is he likely to be able to support you – financially or emotionally – to achieve your life goals? Or in general, to live the kind of life you desire? Or raise the kind of family you want?

    If he hasnt been able to stand up for himself, infront of his mom n sisters – in the long run, is he likely to stand up for you? With his birth family, or in general.

    Does he have a spine?


    • While I do not totally agree with what you have said, what you have said is not particularly new to me either. I will mull over it a bit more. Thank you


  6. “Am I being petty?”

    No, you are not. Financial issues are the number one cause of divorce in the US and Canada, so it’s always good to hash out and work through these things early on in the relationship. I would suggest you guys talk to a couple’s therapist and sort this out immediately.

    My opinion: quitting his job and starting a business are choices *HE* made all the while being acutely aware that his sisters and mother depended on him financially–not just for basic living expenses but also gifts and other perks. He made the decision to quit his job knowing very well that you would be paying for his mother’s and sisters’ living expenses + additional requirements.

    Furthermore, he seems to be gas lighting your very real issues about money by calling you petty and therefore, trying to shout over your concerns. To me, this doesn’t sound like a good person–in the worst case scenario, it sounds like someone who’s using someone else to their own gain. Of course, only you know the dude, so I think, if you want to give this relationship a shot then take a couple’s therapy session where you can bring all of these issues up with a neutral third party.


    • Hey.

      Thanks for your comment. I think I might have been feeling hurt and insecure amongst other things when I wrote that.

      I agree I am not being petty and even if I was, I realise it is irrelevant. He really should not be avoiding the discussion either way


  7. All I can say from first-hand experience of some of the issues here is that we the I CAN LOOK AFTER MYSELF kind of women often find ourselves in situations where the men in our lives think that it is okay for them to leave us alone to pull financial burdens or even emotional issues BECAUSE we are strong whereas other people who are COMPARATIVELY weaker emotionally or financially keep getting all assistance and pampering. Not fair really.
    Also the common argument given is that women think the male partner’s money is OUR money whereas what she earns is HER money. IN fact as it is clear from your story as well most of us are opposed to the fact that we have no say in where and how the funds are being directed, and independent women have no issues contributing equally towards responsibilities provided they are a part of the decision making.


    • Hey.

      I actually think you have articulated quite well part of my problem.

      The fact he wants an equal relationship with me. However not with other people (women) in his family. I could almost ignore if it was just his mom. But his sisters are my peers. So, it has left me with a bit of a “I want to be looked after, dammit” complex. And I feel burdened by having to deal with his family’s burdens. On top my own stuff.


  8. Well….I am for Indian kids supporting their parents because unlike in western countries where most of the kids fend for their college fees and everything themselves, in India the most of the times parents do a share of their help, the same is true about other adult expenditures like marriage.So our society structure is different and I myself love to support my parents if need arises.
    But being that said, if a person has no enough income and has to borrow from an unwilling partner, then it is not quite done.The family has to be made aware of his current financial condition and hopefully that should be enough to make them refuse any help!


  9. Indian people tend to merge their identities with their families. If I were you, I would tell him politely but firmly “I don’t mind supporting you. But I’m not comfortable paying for your family”. I think this distinction should be made absolutely clear. And no, it probably won’t be easy given the pre existing mind set. But in my opinion, this guy has to understand that his family and he are two separate things – at least from your perspective.

    To me the disturbing part of all this is his asking you to fund their lifestyle. What he personally does with his family is up to him. If he chooses to live on bare essentials and keep his sisters and mother in luxury is his choice. It is wrong however to force that choice on you.

    So I think the main fundamental point needs to be gotten across. You’re in love with him. His family is not in the picture.

    And if that doesn’t sink it, I would leave. It may sound harsh but you’re only setting yourself up for further headaches.


    • Yes. I am concerned about what this may lead to. And if it worth my time and energy. And I think it has to do with both values and boundaries.


  10. Its nice to see you are helping him pursue his dreams, it’s also nice that you are helping him out with his families financial situation, however since money supply isnt unending you should ask him for a fixed amount of expenditures his mom needs ( not wants , needs) every month and set that aside, this is not because it’s his mom and not your mom etc., this is good financial planning.
    It’s also good money mgmt skiils that his mom needs , she should total her expenses an dthat of the daughter and see what they can meet and the rest you guys can pay ( or pay half) or whatever.
    The bigger issue in this that i see is there are 3 kids and 1 dependent mom, of them one kid probably provides emotional support nad is there for the mom, then the other 2 could atleast need to share the financial support issue.

    You can support his mom or not, it’s your money but do not enable poor money mgmt skills.


  11. May be off the track, but couldn’t contain asking after reading above…How many women here would actually support a man’s decision to quit the relationship over financial inefficiency of his lady?

    That too in a country where most women are housewives and dont earn direct paycheck, will it be ok if the man feels his woman is incapable of handling money matters and then dump her out of the home for same reason 😦


    • plenty I’m sure, I personally know a lot of couples where the man broke it off since he thought his partner/girlfriend was a spendthrift…spending her own money 🙂
      Also i dont know of many men who are ok with letting their wives invest all her savings in a business and try to keep it going, while they work, support her mom and sister however she pleases and not talk to her about it.
      I’m not saying they wont’ support her family, I’m just saying not many will do it without talking about it or discussing a amount ro some such thing,
      of course there are always exceptions.
      But when 2 people are on a budget money needs to be planned whomever spends it, it doesn’t make the one asking for accountability mean or petty.


    • Fair point.

      As you noted, most women in India don’t earn.
      A lot of relationships in India seem to based on the concept of a man earning and providing for a woman in return for her services in taking care of the house and his children. Therefore men feel justified in quitting a relationship when a woman does not “do her job” – cook & clean 24X7.
      And those ridiculous matrimonial ads where women are looking for grooms who “make XXX amount and own an independent flat”

      Having said that, I think many women(in India) would not support a man dumping a partner over financial issues because in most setups
      1. The money which he earns remains “HIS” while the house and the children that she takes care of become “THEIRS”
      2. In most cases women do not choose to, but are GROOMED to function only as caregivers and are seldom allowed to develop educational/professional skills.
      When they end up with no money to support themselves because of a broken marriage, they are often seen (and in some cases,rightly so) as victims of an unfair system.


    • Jay,
      This is a strawman argument. Your dragging gender into the equation for no real reason. Nobody here is suggesting that she dump him because she’s the earning member and he’s not. In any given relationship, financial decisions must be taken JOINTLY. It does not matter who earns and who doesn’t because the unemployed person maybe working hard at home to enable the employed, to stay employed. The problem with this story is that her concerns are being brushed off as petty. I am not going to be more or less agitated if the concerns are that of the earning or the un-earning partner. The problem lies in one person making decisions affecting the both of them without due consultation.

      Also, I feel like you and I come from a different India. How many housewives in India do you know who have direct control over their money and can spend it freely on her own family while dismissing her husband/in laws’ concerns as petty? I couldn’t think of even one.


      • //Also, I feel like you and I come from a different India. How many housewives in India do you know who have direct control over their money and can spend it freely on her own family while dismissing her husband/in laws’ concerns as petty? I couldn’t think of even one//

        There are many, i would say reasonably good number. Im myself into construction business and have mid size ventures in 3 of tier2 cities in south india

        And in almost 90 percent of the cases, its the wife who majorly influences the factors of deciding the bank for loan, term etc

        In more than 90% of the cases, its the wife who does the hard negotiation for rates and additional amenities at as much low cost as possible

        And almost 99% when it comes to interiors, and pushing us to use particular material for interiors/shelves or cupboards etc

        And i can very well say that almost all of these women are housewives, AND MARRIED MORE THAN 10 YEARS in most of the cases. i think these women were successful in gaining their husbands confidence which is very important.

        If the lady of the house could not gain the confidence of the husband, then why only blame husband? And once the lady can gain the husband confidence, Yes there are many Housewives who spend husband money on her side of the family…as long as it doesnt go out of the track.


        • Err, so by your logic, since the LW is the earning member here and her partner (and his family) dependant on her, then HE should be gaining her confidence. And if hasn’t managed to, then it’s HIS fault. Right? In which case, what is your objection to the LW’s position? Or does your logic only apply to dependant women and not dependant men?

          Besides, this ‘gaining confidence’ business is nonsense. If only the dependant partner needs to gain the confidence of the earning partner then the marriage is not an equal partnership, as it should be.


      • carvaka,

        i totally support the LW decision if she wants to quit her partner becoz of his poor financial performance.

        At the same time i also expect same kind of option be available to MEN as well, so that they can quit their partners, if they dont feel better FINANCIAL STABILITY from their wives. Thats the least fair chance & maturity men expect from their partners.

        Hope you agree with my pov


        • You’re POV is correct in that financial irresponsibility is a deal breaker. However, this “gaining confidence” business is total BS, as carvaka pointed out. The dependent partner isn’t some imbecile that cannot earn. The dependent partner probably gave up his/her career to support the earning partner’s family(as is the case with most housewives in India). Confidence must be gained on both sides. Both partners need to be held equally responsible for financial stability.


        • “At the same time i also expect same kind of option be available to MEN as well”

          It is available to men. No one’s holding a gun to your head and asking you to get into a relationship with an individual who isn’t financially stable. I don’t get how this argument is relevant.

          Also–the LW’s problem isn’t with financial stability but financial responsibility (or lack thereof on the part of the boyfriend). Being financially responsible means keeping your dreams on hold if required, so you can take care of the responsibilities that you have taken upon yourself. Not dumping them on your partner’s head and calling her objections ‘petty.’


        • It is my relationship. I can leave when I want. He can leave when he wants. I would expect him to be somewhat courteous about how he does it – you know, not just up and leave me. But if he does, I will just have to suck up and move on. I am not even sure what the big deal is. And that was not really my point.

          If I am not happy and instead really stressed out, why the hell would anyone want us together?


    • On of the basic understandings between my wife and myself is that we each have to pull our own weight in the marriage. Barring something like accidents causing loss of limbs or paralysis, neither my wife nor me would be happy supporting the other.


      • See, the thing is, I realise I am actually not that uncomfortable with looking after the bills for a while. If there was a next time, I would set it up slightly differently, maybe. But not really.


  12. LW,

    To answer your question on being petty.

    Yes, it may look petty if situation is not presented in the way it should be. i.e. with all the facts and situations.

    Support for mother – All three off spring must share proportionately
    Support for sister – Your guys hold his nerve in place, I guess.

    Splurging on mother on your expanse – more important question is what is troubling you more

    1. he is doing it?
    2. he is doing it with your earned money?

    Overall in this looks like though you think a lot at your end, there is a need of effective communication in some matter like financial planning & expenditure.


    • Hey makk

      I may be petty. But I am beginning to think that is irrelevant.

      With a bit of reflection, I realise we called the money that he used to buy his mom a car a loan because I was not for it. So you know he could do what he wanted to without really having to even placate me – because you know he will pay it back.

      This is a guy I have discussed a life together with. I am not fussed about the money in a big way. It is this behaviour. To me this behaviour is irresponsible. In a major way.

      Also, the fact that he feels he has to look after his mom when we are not in a great place ourselves instead of looking for other viable options – ask him mom/younger sister if they can manage or just telling his elder sister, you know what, mom looking after your child has made your life easier, the least you can do is help her out.

      So it is not really about money, I guess. His or mine.


  13. LW,
    Do not let your fear of sounding petty prevent you from discussing these issues with your partner.
    Your partner’s expenditure on his family is not the occasional gift…it seems to be a substantial amount.
    If necessary, do all the math , and tell him that it is not possible for you to give away x amount while your total income is y.

    Also , the fact that this is making you have second thoughts about staying with him seems to indicate that your relationship is not based on firm foundations.
    If you do decide that this issue is unresolvable and a deal breaker , make your peace with it.
    At the end of the day, you deserve to be happy.
    Best of luck


  14. I think if his family knew that you were the one financially supporting them – they would look at you differently. And I think they would look at him differently, he who has “the provider syndrome” for the mom/sisters – the fact that he is depending on you to fund himself and his family – they would definitely look at him differently. Maybe that is why he is keeping it secret – because he is ashamed.
    I think everything needs to be laid out in the open here, no more secrets and lies. You guys need to have an open line of communication about finances, and what’s going to be the arrangement with the mom/sisters after you get married. I’m sure he will continue to support the mom, who I agree the sisters will probably exploit as free labor for the grand kids. But his sisters need to take care of their finances themselves. They are adults. And once the sisters are married, do not let him give them a single penny except for a gift on Christmas or Diwali. And not an expensive one!!! Sometimes people who are dependent on others – it starts with a favor, and then it becomes easy for them and they just take advantage.
    He shouldn’t have taken off work to start his own business. Too irresponsible at this time. But that is a lesson learned for him, and you both.
    It’s sort of like you guys are married, without actually being married….all these financial things with family; one spouse out of work etc – all are the types of things you’d deal with after marriage with the tricky financial stuff. Ideally, you’d both have jobs and both deal with your respective families, but it doesn’t always happen like that, in reality.
    To be honest, if the mom/sisters are all healthy – no serious health problems like stroke, heart attack, etc – there is no reason why they can’t work to at least bring in some personal spending money.
    I think it is quite shameful of him to exploit your finances, depend on you, and bring along his family to depend on you….Does he intend to marry you? What are his intentions with you? If he does not intend to marry you, then get rid of him…fast. And if you intend to stay with him, set some serious boundaries.


    • Gah, I think that is part of the thing. It is a difficult situation. So maybe if we were married or had children, I would consider being rather pushy about changing his behaviour. Or feeling like I can have a say. Right now, I feel like, is it really my place?

      I am not particularly fussed about his intentions. We are not married. We have talked about it. I have never questioned his intentions, to be honest.


      • I think you do get to have a say – because it is your money – and you are not married yet, no matter how long you have been together – it is absolutely not your responsibility to help his family (especially if you have no relationship with them). Set the boundaries now, early on, it’s never too late. It is difficult to change a person per say – but you do get to set limits of what you will tolerate & not tolerate – and financial irresponsibility is one of those important boundaries.
        The fact that it is your hard-earned money – you do get a say.
        If you let your partner know that something really bothers you and you cannot tolerate it, the other partner needs to respect your wishes. That is how you know if that person really values your feelings. If my husband asked me to stop doing XYZ, then I would absolutely stop because I would never want to risk losing him.

        Un-spammed by indianhomemaker Submitted on 2013/10/20 at 6:36 am


        • Hey Alexandra

          Now that I am over my initial hurt/shock, I think I will have to somewhat heed your advice. It makes me uncomfortable but I will have to stand in the sidelines and prod and call out on odd behaviours in his family and make available options for him, other than how they do things in their family. In a non threatening sort of way.
          I have not brought up the nitty gritty yet – it seems like quite a bad time when he is unemployed (I am quite the avoider). But recent, peripheral conversation on the issue have been heartening from my point of view.


      • I would like to say that it is better to be pushy now before marriage to see if it actually works. Once you are married or / and have kids, the situation is likely to get more complicated. Also, how it works out now will give you an indication of how things might be in the future and help you decide how to take this forward.

        I remember lending cash to my ex, never asked what is was needed for. However, when things didnt work out between us, though I never brought it up I was a bit peeved about the money lent and not returned – like in your case, it was meant to be a ‘loan’. So, while you are not fussed about his intentions, do be clear in your head on how this will be tackled if you choose not to get married

        Hoping you manage to resolve this soon!


        • Hey S
          I considered the money “sunk” when I let him borrow it – though I actually believe he will pay me back.
          I think I am concerned for what his behaviour may foreshadow. And I have been fairly clear on what my ex


  15. I don’t think you are being petty at all. I think what you are facing is actually a common issue with relationships involving men from an Indian background being responsible for their families. I’ve faced similar problems in my marriage and yes have also been accused of being petty because any discussion of money or questioning the usage of money is seen as putting finances above family. It’s a common mindset and very hard to work around. I’ll list what has worked for us and maybe you can evaluate whether you think it will work for you:
    – Complete separation of finances. We have joint accounts and separate accounts. We fund the joint accounts in the same amount. and use it to pay for all living expenses. Our personal accounts we are free to use as required.
    – If one person cannot fund the joint account for some reason the money owed is tracked and is paid back. All major expenses from the joint account are tracked.
    – Our families are our responsibility. So for example if I want to buy my parents an expensive gift I use my personal account. My husband does support his family on a smaller scale then you describe but he uses his own accounts to do so. If we were in a situation similar to what you describe we would figure out how he was going to continue to do this before he stopped working. We’d also have a frank discussion on how the joint account would be funded during this time. It might involve me supporting him but it would be discussed before and we’d have a plan in place that both agreed to.
    – After a lot of discussions around the unfairness of him being the sole provider for his parents while his siblings seemed to get off free we’ve come to the agreement that it’s really between him and his family and if he doesn’t mind supporting them he is free to as long as our finances are taken care of.
    The caveats with our approach. We both earn relatively similar amounts so it’s easy to split everything down the middle, might not be as easy otherwise. We also have no kids yet and I foresee problems with this approach down the line when we do. But I think we will be able to overcome these problems with frank discussions.
    But so far what has helped at every stage is a completely frank discussion about money. We try to keep emotions out of it which is extremely hard and needs a lot of practice. It comes across as cold hearted and we have had friends comment that is seems strange for a couple to have finances separate. But what it gives us is peace of mind.


  16. Red flags were popping up with practically every sentence in your story.
    Be a friend to him if you feel you must, because of his other virtues/qualities.
    Don’t be his wife.

    Help him financially, without hurting yourself.
    You are under no obligation to help his mother and sisters.
    Frankly, a man who is not able to stand on his own feet, has no business getting married.
    He simply doesn’t deserve you, not as yet.
    If you still want to marry him, at least postpone the marriage.
    Till ?
    I fear the right time to marry this person may never come.
    All the best.


    • I agree with a lot of things you have said, but I don’t understand the reference to marriage. A live in relationship can be as committed as a marriage, so marriage is not always the end goal of a relationship. She would be no worse off if she married him than she is now.


      • Fem,
        Thanks for responding, but I feel differently about this.
        A live-in relationship cannot be as “committed” as a marriage.
        A live-in relationship can be discontinued easily, without legal formalities.
        Dissolving a marriage is a long complicated process.
        In a live -in relationship, usually, there are no children and the trauma of separation is much less.
        Marriages usually involve children too and that complicates matters.
        In a live in relationship, you don’t have in laws, as you do in the case of marriage.
        In a live in relationship you don’t stand to inherit from your partner’s side, as you do in case of a marriage and neither do you have any social responsibilities which you will probably have if you marry.
        While the modern urban young population, are okay with live in relationships, in India, traditional society still frowns on live-in relationships and they don’t get the same support of society which married couples get (example: try renting a house as a live in couple, try admitting your child to a school)

        The letter writer is fortunate she has not yet married this man.
        If she had, she would have been in deeper trouble.
        Right now, she has an easy solution and that is to simply walk out of the relationship.
        Once she is married to this man, she is stuck with him for as long as it takes to get a divorce.
        (Busy in California these days, baby sitting my one year old grandson. How are you doing these days? Don’t find much time these days to read blogs and post comments. The little fellow keeps us on our toes all day. I still remember your fiery responses to issues discussed in IHM’s blog)


  17. I can relate to your significant other, in terms of feeling the weight of responsibility for our families. It’s just me and my sister, and when we start working or get our feet on solid ground, they will become our responsibility. But that’s the thing here–they are OUR responsibility. Mine and my sister’s. They are our parents, nobody else’s, and if we are to support them, we will do so only using money that we have earned on our own. Not our husband’s money. Not anybody else’s money. Just us.

    So yes, you are right in feeling uncomfortable about him using your earnings to support his mother and sister. The spirit in which he does this is not wrong–I see this a lot in single-parent families, with sons or daughters. However, the fact that he is using your money for this doesn’t strike me as correct. It’s not petty or miserly to want to have a say in where your money is being spent. And like you yourself said, you’re not uncomfortable that he is using this money for supporting them. It just bothers you that he is spending it willy-nilly because of some slightly misplace sense of responsibility. And that is not wrong at all. Support is all well and good, but nobody is ever loaded, and this comes close to spending recklessly.

    “Am I being petty? I think I would be pretty peeved off if my partner got upset with me wanting to buy my parents a present or something. But I do not maintain my parents’ living standard.”

    And again, here, you stated the distinction between the two situations and why one makes you uncomfortable pretty clearly. It is one thing to buy them gifts or give them the occasional helping hand. It is another thing entirely to pay their bills for them on a regular basis.

    My advice to you would be to be straightforward. It’s a straightforward situation, and your feelings are perfectly clear. Let him know that you do not mind him spending your money for such things, but that he needs to spend responsibly.


  18. You are a nice person and you are not being petty! Most people will be peeved if a spouse is using their hard earned income to support his/her family on a regular basis, especially when they don’t not get any gratitude for it! Looks like this situation is there to stay. Is this relationship worth making the financial compromise?

    If your spouse is far more caring and sweeter towards other people than he is to you, it means he is taking you for granted. That is quite hurtful, and it is not OK. Tell him how you feel. See if he is willing to make the effort/changes to make you happy. If it works out, good, otherwise, you know you tried.

    In a relationship we have to get at least some of the things we want in order to stay. And if a relationship is giving you more stress and grief than happiness, it is probably time to leave.


  19. Before I married my husband, we were both individually financially independent. We kept our money/spending separate. After we got married, we consider our combined earnings “our money”. We make financial decisions together, taking both of our and our kids’ best interests into account. For instance, we send money to his parents because they could use some support. We don’t send money regularly to my parents because they are fine without support. However if I wanted to spend on something else, I can. We discuss the pros and cons and agree before we spend money.
    Since you are not married to him, it would make sense to keep your money/spending separate. If you must combine finances, it must be somewhat fair, balanced, mutually agreeable, and transparent. It sounds like (in your case), the spending is one-sided with no responsibility from his side. Nor is there a clear understanding on what the money should be spent on.
    I would certainly not spend my hard-earned money funding someone else’s dreams and their family car, when I don’t even know if we will end up with a long term commitment or not.
    My advice would be – keep your finances separate. You can continue to date him if you like him/he’s a good person/etc.


    • It seems to me that they ARE in a long term committed relationship, which is the basic reason why she has agreed to support him. Marriage is not the only definition of a long term committed relationship.


      • Marriage has many more legal implications, depend on where you live, however I partially agree with you Fern, if indeed they have a long term relationship (marriage or not). However, the following thoughts expressed by the LW made me think this relationship hadn’t yet reached the long term commitment phase –
        “I am beginning to ask myself, what do I gain from this relationship? I feel like I am more likely to actually achieve some of my personal goals (or on a grander scale) on my own than with him.”


    • Yeah. I am not sure I want to be in a relationship where I have to keep money separate because I cannot trust him. What happens if we want to get a place or have children? Plus, even by law, our finances are meshed anyway.i


      • Trust with money is something that must be earned through responsibility, clarity, involvement and consistency. This concept applies to a marriage as well. An irresponsible/non-communicative/inconsistent husband shouldn’t be trusted with money any more than a similarly inclined partner.


  20. Dear LW, you are the best judge of your relationship. Having said that, none of us has the right to judge anyone else’s relationship. We can never fully grasp the dynamics and we can never fully do justice to either side. I think you are feeling insecure about 1) your money 2) your being used as a support 3) the intention/attitude of your guy (if he’s ashamed to tell his family about his situation, what others attitudes he might have that may pose trouble).
    If I were you, I would not continue having a relationship with a guy who is not forthcoming with his family about where the bacon comes from. Something about that attitude stinks. It’s about moral/personal cowardice – you are dependent on me, you have no qualms about leaning on me for support, but you have not the courage to tell your dependents so, the same ones who were not supportive of your dreams. And that you push forward to take on liabilities you can’t yourself afford. My question: even if such a guy starts making big money tomorrow, what attitude will he have towards money? Can you live with that attitude?
    If I were you, I would support my partner completely if I could, even if he wanted to extend support to his family, so long as 1) he was forthcoming about it with his family 2) he kept an account of the money he has taken out so far 3) sought my permission to indulge in liabilities like buying a car – aint no small thing that! 4) has a solid plan how he will pay you back to some extent – on mutually agreed terms and is ready to put in writing if our relationship is not legally covered. what if tomorrow his purpose served, he breaks up with me and claims all the money he took to be a gift from me!? 5) if his family treated me somewhat nicely.
    The only thing I don’t agree with is the question: What am I getting from this? I personally believe that when you come to something like this in an intimate relationship, it’s over. You may drag this on, you may even find a way to be happy, but it will never attain that momentum. For, in my opinion, you are dealing with at best a teen right now, not an adult.
    In a healthy relationship, I would not mind being the only one to bring home the bacon despite being a woman, even if my man just wanted to do something productive but not monetarily rewarding. Subject to 2 conditions: Of course, I would be able to respect this only if he were to be working on some important goal – not be with his playstation all day while I go to work! I should enjoy bringing home the bacon.
    The larger question here is not that of money, but values, attitude, and expectations.


    • Hey

      You are bang on about all three points.

      Yeah I am not concerned about money necessarily in terms of what he is making or not or using. Just concerned his money values and mine do not line up. And perhaps you are right. He is not mature enough for what I need of him.


  21. How many women on this forum have supported their partners financially for a long term? The same way a lot of men are still doing in modern relationships without requiring their wives for taking care of in laws etc. and with complete say in financial decisions? I have asked here before but never got a straightforward answer. All I got were claims of being willing to do so with no real examples. Surely, many feminist women are still choosing to leave the financial responsibility with men for extended periods. However, shouldn’t there be opposite examples around if these people believe in gender equality and not sticking to gender stereotypes?


    • You’ve got your panties in a bunch here. For starters, feminism is not about who’s the earning member. As Cheris Kramarae would say, “Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings”. That is all it really is. We wanted to be treated like we’re human being worthy of respect. That we can, as adults actually decide things for ourselves. Why does it matter if a feminist supports her male partner financially or not? It is upto each family to decide what is good for them. However, that ability for the women to actually have a say in that decision making process is what we’re all sitting here and talking about. You see, now?

      If you want an example, I know of at least 2 couples who went to grad school with me where the husband decided to go on and do his doctorate while the wife picked up a job and supported the family. Now, if you’re going to ask me to prove that I actually know these people, then we aren’t having an adult discussion anymore.


    • Me,
      Had a baby, took up a sr position immedietly ( 3months after birth) , continued to slog for over 10 hrs a day ( of coure i loved it) , put our baby in day care for 8 hrs, hubby quit work for 2 yrs adn did a full -time MBA. in between he also took a 6 month sabbatical to try out a book. — so thats 2.5 yrs full support without expecting hubby to cook / clean /childcare ( unlike the many housewives who do it all)
      then supported for anther 2 more yrs while he tried setting up a consulting firmon his own, yes he earned but spent it all on mktg, travel , yada yada yada…
      then after a sum total of 5.5 , actualyy 5 yrs and 9 months. decided to take up a job with a mgmt consulting firm, which meant he was gone M to F travel…
      yes then he started making the big bucks but i’d already been making the big bucks and taking care of the kid and house , so after 2 more yrs he decided it wasnt worth the travel angst and came back to a regular 9 to 5 job ….
      and thru the tumultous 7+ yrs i supported him, our baby ( then in 2nd grade), his mom ( within limit).
      you know what held it together — communication, trust and treating each other as equals.. no master no slave…


      • Yeah.
        I do not see my relationship with my partner as master slave. I am not sure how I have given you that impression.

        It is great you chose to support your partner, your child and his mom.

        I am not sure if I want that level of responsibility. It seems stressful.


      • I have been fully supporting my huband financially for 3 years now, since he left India to come and live with me and he is learning the language and doing various trainings in order to find a job over here.

        As his unemployment is dragging on, I see he is getting depressed and starting to drink more. Then yesterday he told me I am owner and he is beggar and he can’t decide anything in the house.

        So really I am impressed by a couple like yours, Snighda.


    • I know someone who financed her husband’s education and managed the household expenses while he studied. But you have a valid point. Men are automatically expected to earn SOMETHING while women have a ‘choice’. If a man says he wants to be a SAHD, no one would marry him at all but SAHMs are all supposed to have choices. This is how most people look at it including some feminists, though some feminists are more clear headed.

      The point is also not whether someone is supporting their partner financially, but why? Looking after the children is not really a valid excuse, because it merely perpetrates the vicious cycle of keeping women at home, by choice or otherwise. I personally think everyone must be financially independent and not depend on their partners as far as possible. But if it is about an illness, a new birth, studying for an exam, etc., it’s completely different. I really don’t think that women not working should ever be a choice. Oh, and please don’t let’s get on to the trope of talking about how women work at HOME. Men must be made to share in that glorified housework.


      • Yes true, but even if women have this so-called choice between being home- makers and working full-time, men still benefit much more from the arrangement than do women.
        I have a friend, a practising gynaecologist, who followed her husband to the US for HIS career growth.

        The understanding was that he would earn while she focused on clearing the USMLE and getting a good residency, mandatory for all physicians with foreign training in the US.

        Three years down the line, the husband bailed out of the marriage and my friend had to return to India because of her visa status and family issues.

        So yes, while women MUST earn in theory, many women put their careers on hold to support their husbands or shoulder other family responsibilities while the husband focuses on HIS career.

        I wouldn’t minimise the contributions that SAHMs make even if they do not earn.

        Marriage contributions cannot solely be judged by who makes how much money.


        • My point exactly. The thing is that women must not make these sacrifices, otherwise we will get nowhere. We will be stuck with forever saying ‘Behind every successful man, there is a woman’, with absolutely no regard for women’s successes.


  22. So, as I understand you both decided jointly that he will quit his job and you will pay the bills and maintain his spending account. Does he send money to his mom only from this previously agreed spending amount? If yes, I do not find him at fault at all, even if he “borrowed” some money from you for the car. If he is asking for extra spending money to send to her mom, he really should have clarified his needs ( never mind if it included sending money to mom) in an accurate dollar figure and that should have been fine. Remember, it was a joint decision regarding his job. If there was no such discussion, you can have it now. In any case, he is looking for job now as he realises that his responsibilities do not allow him to go like this anymore. Even then if you feel handed a raw deal I would say such relationships are not for you where you have to take financial burden. I would not call it petty but will not blame your partner either for the current situation. I think the gist of your thinking towards the relationship is summed up in your concern that he will not help in getting you to your financial goals but would rather be a drag. Just concentrate on this fact and decide what is more important for you; your financial goals or relationship with this guy.


    • Hey B

      I have an issue with him not being clear with me from the start that he had been/would have to send his mom money. I might have told him I would be unable to support him knowing that even if the level of support he required remained the same.

      Sure, he is borrowing money. And technically, it is fine. But it makes me uncomfortable for reasons I have touched on earlier.

      Reading your comment, I realise I have not potrayed my concerns adequately. But thank you for your comment


  23. Hi letterwriter,

    I think this is less about the money and more about the fact that it was (a) never very clear, and (b) it’s sort of taken for granted that his mother and sisters cannot fend for themselves, and therefore need constant support.

    If I were you, I would also be more than happy to help if, as I said before, money wasn’t the issue here. But I would be uncomfortable with the fact that I was expected to essentially provide for my boyfriend’s sisters, when they’re in my age group.

    Your boyfriend’s problem here is that he hasn’t figured it out with his family. Perhaps his mother isn’t well-off and needs some help, but that would make sense if it were a monthly amount that he always sent. And that would definitely not include his sisters.

    I would also feel very very put upon and injured, perhaps unfairly, but I think it’s reasonable to feel taken for granted here. Also I would be exceedingly apprehensive since I would wonder why my boyfriend quit his job without worrying about these financial issues, and why he can’t just come clean with his family so WE can all work it out together.

    This is fairly incoherent but I guess my point is: no, I don’t think it’s petty. Sure, he wants to support his mum but you aren’t really questioning that. You’re questioning the stuff built around it, and I think you totally should. You need to have that long, highly uncomfortable conversation where it all comes out. If he still thinks you’re being petty, he’s being blind and he has the problem.


  24. Pingback: An update: ‘I am told that I am very wrong since I think of money, but is it not an important factor here?’ | The Life and Times of an Indian Homemaker

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