From the forums:
We did not combine finances until we married so I did not feel it was my place to tell him what to do with his money when we were dating, but, now that we’re married and all of our money is combined, I feel like my husband is asking me to enable his (seemingly functional) alcoholic, addict father. Since our marriage is newish, we are now establishing a precedent of loaning his father money and letting him know that, if he wastes all of his money on drugs, etc., we will be his safety net. I explained this to my husband, who insists that his relationship with his father is extremely complicated, that his dad always pays him back, and that he loves him and cannot just “abandon” him when he’s in need, since he only asks for loans when he’s really, really stuck. For example, the last time was when he was traveling and ran out of money. He couldn’t do anything until we sent him $200.
For background: He and and my mother-in-law, who is, ironically, an extremely motivated and self-sufficient person, divorced when my husband was a teenager. My husband is the eldest of three siblings, and he is closer to his dad than his siblings are. His siblings are both very together people like their mom, and they have confided in me that they cut their dad off long ago. The mom found out that my husband was still lending the father money and she was really upset with their father. I explained to my husband how worrisome it is that his rational family whom he loves has cut their dad off, and that they did so for a reason, yet he insists that his relationship with his dad is different and that, until the dad fails to pay him back specifically, he owes him the benefit of the doubt. I disagree. Also, as more background: There has been some emotional abuse perpetuated by the dad, and, being from a very stable, docile family myself, just hearing some of the things I’ve heard have made me want to jump out of my skin.
A few weeks ago my FIL stayed with us for a couple of days, which I thought was just to visit. Turned out he was broke and wanted to extend the trip. I told my husband I was really uncomfortable that he had come under the guise of a visit, that I felt manipulated, and that he could stay one more night but had to be gone by the time I got home from work. He was. Now this morning my husband has let me know that he’s loaning him another $100.
Maybe I partially just need to vent, but I’m also unsure how to proceed. I don’t understand how to deal with people like this, but I’m pretty sure that enabling their drug habits is not the way to go. I like his dad personally, and we have the money to spare, but I do not want to be manipulated or taken advantage of. At the same time, I understand that my husband’s relationship with his dad is highly complicated. My husband is an extremely sensitive, rational person. I think he just feels like he is his dad’s only remaining savior and he cannot let go of that role, and I cannot force him to do so. For the record, not that I believe it matters since we are married, my husband and I both make a good income, though I make slightly more.
I know the answer to issues with in-laws is that the child should be the buffer and deal with their parents and that communication with your spouse is key, etc. But we have communicated, and my husband just seems to have a weird blind spot when it comes to his dad. We have a fundamental disagreement about the difference between supporting and enabling in this case. — Uncomfortable with Enabling