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Issues between my fiancee and my parents and extended family


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My fiancee and I have been together for 4 years and 3 months. I am 28 and she is 26. My fiancee thinks that my parents are going to try to take advantage by asking me for financial assistance in the future when we are married. My parents owe over $30K in debt from owning a car and having a failed business venture from 4 years ago. This is credit card debt and a bank loan they borrowed from. Parents history is that they were always financially irresponsible whether by spending on things they couldn't really pay for or my dad taking months off of work every year. They never owed this much before buying a new car and opening a restaurant. I'm close with my family. I believe in helping them out if they ever need me.


She thinks that I won't be able to take care of her and children in the future when we are married if I'm giving some money on the side to my parents. She is so worried that it will end up her paying 75% and me 25%. She says she doesn't want to suffer. I already explained it to her that my parents will take care of the massive amount of debt they have. They will not come asking for a whole lot of money. I made it known that we will have separate bank accounts and a joint account. My father is callous, controlling, emotionally abusive and just plain uncomfortable to be around. He smokes and drinks. She doesn't ever want to live in the same roof as him. She thought that I would have my parents move in with us when we get married, but that is not the case. What I told her was that I'm going to take care of them when they can't take care of themselves, and that means them moving in with us. She is really firm with not living under the same roof as my dad; she doesn't even want him near our children when we have children. No matter how abusive and irresponsible he was, he is my father. My parents did raise me and sister.


In regards to my extended family, she feels that they disrespect her. And she blames me for not sticking up for her in front of them. I'm close with my extended family and know how they are. They never disrespected her except maybe once and that was at camp. When we first were going out, she pointed out things about how my extended family were so dependent on me and how demeaning they are to me. I have always had some issues with them but chose to never really bring it up. One day I confronted my close cousin about how they always help me and my family and expect me to help them in return. It was a big argument right before we were to go camping together with the whole family and my girlfriend. Because I never confronted them about whatever I was feeling about what they did wrong, they believed that my girlfriend was manipulating me against my family. We all went on the camping trip and there was a lot of tension. My extended family ignored us when we were trying to find the campground(they got there first with a separate car). They gave her the silent treatment. That is why she felt they were being rude to her and they never apologized. Just recently, she was having a conversation about a big barbeque event in the city and my cousin just offered her opinion about the bbq and she said it is boring. My fiancee was upset that I didn't defend her. Thing is, my cousin did not say anything about her at all. I grew up with her and I know how she is.



She also has an issue of my mother being clingy to me. I'm close to my mom. She will playfully lean against me or rub my shoulder at times but not anywhere to the point of inappropriateness. When my fiancee and I went with our parents to look at some wedding venues, she noticed that my mom was leaning on me in the car on the way there. Same thing with her parents about what they observed and they wondered what was wrong with her. She is wondering when my mom is going to let me grow up and if she will be doing that when at the wedding and when we get married.


I feel as though my fiancee wants me to detach from my family. I try explaining to her my side but she doesn't listen. She is sensitive to what people say in front of her. My whole family doesn't even want to offend her in any way. They are afraid to say or do anything to offend her. She is always pointing out what my family does wrong, but I never do that because I respect her and her family. When I tell her it is disrespectful, she says that these things affect our relationship. If her family ever said anything disrespectful to me, I would just suck it up and just smile because I love her. She can't even do the same thing for me. She wears her emotions on her sleeves. *sighs* We just keep fighting over this. Everyone has a family who is not perfect. We all come with baggage. Why isn't she so accepting of my family? Anyone share anything somewhat or similar to whatever situation I'm in? I hate that we fight about these issues a lot. She says she loves me but she doesn't know if she wants to be involved with my family. Last week when I told her that my cousin was taking me out for dinner for my birthday, she wasn't happy; she asked if she will be doing that when I'm married? She says that I'm 28 and my cousin is treating me like a kid. I love her too but man does this relationship drain energy out of me.

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I think it's thoughtful you want to take care of them but since your fiance has different opinions and wishes for the future you need to either find a middle ground so that you're both happy or find someone else - if you are firm in having your parents live with you later on and supporting them financially. It was their decision to get into debt and since they are irresponsible with finances they really should pay their loans of themselves and not rely on you - I think your fiance is right to be worried and I think you're potentially a liability.

Another option is if you earn more than she does and use your extra money on your family but don't expect her money or your joint finances to go towards your family - I think that is unfair.


As far as respect - I think both sides of the family need to be respectful and if they aren't the person who is related to the family needs to stand up for their partner and put the family in their place. I do think expecting her to 'suck it up' is unfair just because that's what you would do. It seems like you're afraid of confronting your family or extended family - you need to create boundaries but your fiance also needs to grow some thicker skin.


Is your cousin taking your fiance out to dinner also?


I have similar opinions about taking care of family such as yourself and my fiance does too. We agreed if at any point his parents or mine got really sick and couldn't take care of themselves physically we would have them live with us, but in a guest-house or in-law suite with their own living space, kitchen, bathroom etc. As far as finances go, I would not want to pay off any debts for anyone if they are financially irresponsible - if they genuinely were careful with money and had a rough time then I would, but not because they want a new car or are just careless with money. There is such as thing as enabling people and that includes family.

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Personally, I couldn't be with someone like your fiancee. People have different views on family and to me - family is forever.


It's fine and healthy that she has boundaries. It's ok if she doesn't ever want them to live with you. There are alternatives, IF it comes to that. But it's not even a problem right now and she's already setting her boundaries. It sounds extremely defensive.


And why be upset because your cousin wants to take you for dinner? Why would he/she have to bring HER? That's a whole lot of entitlement right there... it's not being a "child" to hang out with your cousin one-on-one and letting him/her buy you a meal.


And the mother thing? Really? She is threatened by affection from your mother?


Yikes! No way... Understand, OP, that this problem is only going to get worse if you get married.


PS: All of this "are you going to do this when we are married?" business is a great big red flag. That means that she expects things to change and that she expects you to act a certain (different) way. You better find out what all those ways are... this is a HUGE problem. Marriage is not supposed to change a relationship - it's supposed to solidify the existing perfect relationship. If she's looking for changes... are you even OK with these changes? These are bad, bad expectations on her part.

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I have been thinking about that lately; that she wants me to change, act a certain way, and has high expectations. I just can't stand it. I am contemplating whether or not I can go through with it. I feel like the relationship exhausts me. I have worry about what I say or do in front of her; worry about what my family is doing or saying inappropiately. In our arguments, I let her know that we have not moved in together yet and we are not married so she should stop looking so far into the future.


As for the dinner with my cousin, the conflict isn't about her being invited. It is the fact that my cousin took me out for dinner for my birthday because she was on vacation during my b-day, and she wanted to make up for that. My fiancee with a judgemental tone asked if she is going to do that when we get married. Some of the things she questions me about, I just go "huh"? I just can't believe some of the things that comes out of her mouth.

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