Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Wasn’t Invited My To My Father-In-Law’s 60th Birthday Party!”

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Last year my husband mentioned that his mom would be having a party for his dad who is turning 60 in May. We live on the east coast and they live in the midwest, where my husband is from, a few hours from Chicago, where I’m from. We went back to Chicago this past November and saw his family for Thanksgiving, and I’ve had conversations with his mom and sister since and they’ve never brought up this party. Don’t you think it’s weird they have not mentioned it? I talked to my MIL last month when she called for my birthday, but she never said anything….

So my husband has just told me that we cannot afford for both of us to go see his family and go to this party in May because he is the only one working. But then I saw through bank statements that he has been giving his mom money for this party plus he had to pay for his airline ticket on his own as well.

I think the situation with this party is weird and that it’s morally wrong of his mom to accept money from my husband when she knows he is the only one working and also that it is wrong for him for to be giving his mother money and even going to this party. Can you give me any advice about his family, the financial part, and our marriage? — Caught Up in Weird Party Situation

Nothing that you’ve shared here indicates that there’s an issue with your husband’s family at all. That they speak to you regularly and haven’t mentioned the party suggests that they assumed your husband had mentioned it, which he has. Are you expecting a personal invitation from them? To your own father-in-law’s party, which your husband has already told you about? That actually is weird. It’s also weird — and super passive — that, if it’s such a big deal to you that it be an open topic of conversation between you and your in-laws, you’ve never mentioned it during any of the conversations you’ve had with them in recent months. It would have been as easy as saying, “George mentioned you’re throwing a party for John for his 60th birthday. How’s the planning going? Is there anything we can do to help?” That’s what a normal, non-weird person who wants to be included in such a thing would do.

As for your mother-in-law accepting money from your husband, one would assume that someone wouldn’t offer money he couldn’t afford to part with. The onus of responsibility isn’t on her to make sure your husband isn’t parting with money he needs; it’s on him. If he couldn’t afford to help out financially, he shouldn’t have offered the money. Furthermore, it isn’t unusual for adult kids to contribute to milestone parties for their parents. Honestly, the only thing weird about your husband financially contributing to this party is not speaking to you about it first and making sure it wouldn’t be a financial hardship for you or require sacrifices you aren’t both prepared to make.

And that’s really the root of all your issues here. You and your husband don’t seem to communicate — or plan ahead, financially and otherwise. The birthday party is next month and you’re just now discussing whether you’re going to go? You’re surprised that your grown-ass adult husband is expected to pay for his own airline ticket? You don’t mention kids, so I assume there aren’t any, so why aren’t you working? It seems like financially contributing to the household, especially if you aren’t busy raising young children, would alleviate a lot of the financial strain you and your husband clearly feel.

Communicate better. Get your financial ducks in a row. Consider how and when you can start financially contributing to your household. If there’s a reason you aren’t able to work, figure out how you can cut costs so that you and your husband can sock some money away for an emergency fund as well as a miscellaneous fund for expenses like birthday gifts, airline tickets, and fun things you can enjoy together that will bring you closer and enrich your marriage.

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

21 comments… add one
  • bagge72

    bagge72 April 22, 2016, 8:18 am

    Yeah I agree with everything here, the only part of this that is weird is how your husband is acting. You place all this blame on your in-laws when the person to blame is laying right next to you in bed. I mean if I were throwing a 60th birthday party for one of my parents with the rest of my family, I would assume my wife would be involved and contributing as well, and I don’t think she would be expecting a formal invitation. It’s almost like your husband was hiding the fact that he was contributing money, and it seems like he made the choice to spend the extra money he had on the party instead of bring you along. Your husband seems like kind of a dick with the way he is treating this, it seems like he thinks that since he makes the money he gets to decide how you both live your lives. Also are there still married grown ups out there that expect their parents to pay for them to visit? I feel that is a college thing, like your parent’s miss you, and know you don’t have a real job yet so they will still help out.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom April 22, 2016, 8:32 am

      I think the financial aspect that troubles her here is that he spent so much money on the party that they can’t afford two plane tickets to attend the party. So she goes without whatever they could have spent the money on and also doesn’t get to attend the party and her husband made that decision entirely without her knowledge or input.

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  • lynn

    Lynn April 22, 2016, 8:22 am

    This letter really annoys me for some reason. Also, is there a reason you’re not working? There is zero mention of kids (and since you said y’all can’t afford for both of y’all to go instead of ‘all’ to go – I will assume no kids). You’re going to need to talk to your husband and communicate with him – but I wouldn’t bring up the “lack” of an invitation. That’s so juvenile, obviously it’s not some secret being hidden from you.

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    • avatar

      LW April 22, 2016, 11:50 am

      You annoy me

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      • lynn

        Lynn April 22, 2016, 1:29 pm

        Golly LW, you show so much maturity. 🙂

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      • kare

        kare April 22, 2016, 1:31 pm

        This. This is why no one wants you at the party.

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      • bagge72

        bagge72 April 22, 2016, 1:40 pm

        Thumbs up

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      • avatar

        for_cutie April 22, 2016, 1:56 pm

        The LW’s response made me laugh out loud. Maybe the LW is not working because she is actually a 10 year old child bride. Then this whole story would make perfect sense…

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom April 22, 2016, 8:29 am

    The odd thing is that your husband isn’t talking to you about how he is spending the money. Has he always been in control of the money? He was hiding what he was doing which indicates he knew you wouldn’t agree with what he was doing? Do you suspect more? Do you think that he is seeing or wants to see someone where he grew up and doesn’t want you along? You are telling us that he is being secretive but you don’t tell us what you suspect that it means. You feel that his mom and sister are also involved. What does that mean?

    Maybe your husband has told his mom and sister that you don’t want to go or can’t travel or some other excuse to leave you at home and so they aren’t mentioning anything to you. I’d look at your husband and his motives rather than your in-laws. Has your husband always been secretive or is this new behavior.

    We keep seeing issues on here where one partner makes unilateral decisions and then the other partner is left angry, hurt and/or confused and the relationship turns ugly. Ask your husband why he made decisions with no input from you. Tell him you expect to be an equal partner in this marriage and that you expect to be included in decisions.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros April 22, 2016, 9:02 am

    You’re being unnecessarily harsh on your in-laws. It’s not morally wrong to accept money from someone who offers it to you. I think it’s pretty standard for families to share expenses for a family event. If you two can’t afford it, it’s your husband’s responsibility to not give the money, not your mother-in-law’s. Also, why would she invite you separately when she knows that your husband is already helping to plan the party?
    .
    I think you’re trying to focus your energy on your in-laws to avoid being annoyed at your husband. For him to unilaterally decide to spend money on planning the party instead of you attending it is a problem. That should be a discussion. It’s probably time to talk about how you two make decisions and talk about how your finances are going.

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    • avatar

      Sketchee April 22, 2016, 6:26 pm

      Definitely how I would see it. It’s the husband’s job to invite his wife to his family’s party. In etiquette, it’s common to pass on information through the person closest. So the Mother In Law would most properly need to talk to the Husband, her son to talk to the Wife.

      Also the LW and the husband together are supposed to communicate about their spending. It’s not the Mother In Law’s job. Same as if he was spending it at Costco, it would be weird for Costco to ask if it’s okay because is he sure he can spend his money. Seems odd to expect the Mother In Law to play mom to an adult man?

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana April 22, 2016, 9:26 am

    I agree with everyone else. You only know your husband is contributing money because you monitor the bank statements? How are you married to someone you do not communicate with. This whole situation seems whack AF. Why do you need a personalized invite to a family event? Any birthday or event like that it should just be implied significant others/spouses are welcome. This just wreaks of dysfunction, and not necessarily on the part of your in-laws who you seem to have a nice relationship with. I agree with someone above, maybe because it is Friday and I am grumpy and stressed and super sad about Prince but the whole tone of this letter and your attitude is really grating on me. I think you may need an attitude adjustment. “Morally wrong” — idk why I just hate this phrase so much. Sorry, probably none of this is helpful. Good thing Wendy gave such great advice, listen to her!

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  • avatar

    K April 22, 2016, 9:41 am

    I just want to say that I love the deflated balloon image to accompany this letter.

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    • Addie Pray

      Addie Pray April 22, 2016, 10:12 am

      Ha, me too. Great advice, Wendy.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark April 22, 2016, 10:22 am

    Wendy nailed this one. I remain baffled that several of you think the husband is being shady here somehow. I think he has a very annoying wife…
    .
    The tone of this letter is just off. So NOT normal. So passive aggressive and woe is me while smacking of being overly controlling. They can’t both afford to go as somebody seemingly likes to eat bonbons while attempting to needlessly stir up drama with her in laws. Ick, LW. Just… ick.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom April 22, 2016, 11:10 am

      Spouses generally confer about how to spend money. He didn’t. He gave it away without talking to her so that is secretive. He managed to keep enough so that he could afford to go but gave away enough so that his wife couldn’t go. He specifically worked this so that his wife couldn’t go.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark April 22, 2016, 11:59 am

        Or she can’t go as she contributes nothing to the family bank. I’d love to know why she ISN’T working as its clearly an issue to him, but not to her…

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 April 22, 2016, 1:40 pm

      after the LW’s three word reply above, I’m starting to think you are right.

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      • bittergaymark

        bittergaymark April 22, 2016, 11:43 pm

        Heh heh heh. Nailed it!

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  • avatar

    saneinca April 22, 2016, 11:24 am

    LW, you have a right to be annoyed. But this all seems to be your husband’s doing rather than your in laws. ( unless he was told not to bring you in which case they suck) How about other children’s SOs?

    If he can shell out money for the party then he can shell out for your ticket too. Tell him clearly that both of you are going.

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  • avatar

    Sketchee April 22, 2016, 6:21 pm

    The headline should have been “My husband’s mom isn’t acting like my husband when I expect her to!”

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