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?
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.