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Woman Balks After Spouse Expects Her To Financially Support Their Elderly Parents As Well

Infuriated woman
Ekaterina Goncharova/Getty Images

There’s an old saying, “What’s mine is yours, and what’s yours is mine,” and couples sometimes still apply this to their finances in marriage.

When couples start separating their money in a way that feels unfair to one of them, resentment can grow pretty quickly, agreed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.

Redditor AngleComfortable1917 looked on while his elderly parents needed healthcare assistance, which he was financially unable to provide.

Knowing that his wife made significantly more money annually than he did, the Original Poster (OP) could not understand why his wife was unwilling to help his parents.

He asked the sub:

“AITA for expecting my wife to support my elderly parents?”

The OP made significantly less money in a year than his wife.

“My wife has a high-paying job and earns significantly more than I do.”

“I work as a teacher and make around 40,000 annually, while she works in the private sector and makes £300-400k after tax.”

“We split our finances equitably, with her paying 70% to my 30%.”

His parents’ history was significantly different than his wife’s parents’ history, as well.

“A little background: Her parents both immigrated to this country so she and her sisters could succeed in life and now all have very high-paying jobs, one working in tech and the other being a surgeon.”

“Meanwhile, my parents worked government jobs, and my sister lives on benefits, so we are a relatively low-income family.”

“My wife did help my younger sister when she became a single mother at a young age by offering her a secretary job at her office, but my sister quit after a month as she found it too difficult to juggle (which I can understand as she was raising a baby on her own).”

“Recently, her parents retired, and she and her sister give them around £2000 every month, which I find ridiculous, because they also have pensions; why do they need £6k?”

“She assured me this money does not come out of our joint account.”

The OP’s wife wasn’t open to providing his parents with the same setup.

“However, I brought up that my parents were also retired and could use the help.”

“She told me that if I could afford to send it from my own salary, I should.”

“I was shocked and angry; my parents only had me to depend on while her sisters made a lot of money, so her parents would be fine either way.”

“My wife told me that her parents sacrificed a lot by moving to this country; it is her responsibility, and my parents should be my responsibility.”

“She says I am being an a**hole for asking her to support my parents when she has never put pressure on me for not contributing more to our household.”

“We had a similar argument before about loaning my sister some money to put a down payment on her house, but my wife said she would not use her money as she thinks my sister is unreliable and won’t pay her back.”

“I just don’t understand how she can be so cheap because she earns so much more than me.”

“AITA for asking my wife to support my family?”

After the first wave of comments came in, the OP clarified his parents’ living situation.

“A lot of you are asking why parents need help when they have pensions.”

“My Dad has Parkinson’s Disease, and his condition is only going to get worse. My mum isn’t strong enough to help with his diaper, etc.”

“The only option is to put him in a care home and separate the two of them because we can’t afford a live-in carer.”

“This is frustrating to me as my wife knows all this and her parents are in great health currently.”

“Her offering money would in no way break her bank but would help my parents a lot.”

“I just think she is being selfish because if the roles were reversed, I would help her.”

“AITA?”

Fellow Redditors weighed in:

  • NTA: Not the A**hole
  • YTA: You’re the A**hole
  • ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
  • NAH: No A**holes Here

Some empathized with the OP and insisted they’d help if they were in the wife’s position.

“My family is almost the exact inverse of this with me making around 10 times more than my wife, and I don’t hesitate to help her family with anything financial. H**l, half the time, I offer because she doesn’t like to ask.”

“I feel like a lot of these responses have no perspective on what that kind of money is like. I very much doubt his wife would even notice.”

“Sure, maybe OP is being a bit pushy with it, but also… it shouldn’t have even really come to that. I’d probably go ESH on this one for the pushing, but his wife should absolutely help.” – LiquidAngel12

“I’d lean ESH. He is being entitled and it’s her money, and it sounds like her contribution to their lives is far beyond his (including cleaning/parenting).”

“However, if I’m sat there with multiple rental properties and close to half a million each year, I’m helping my spouse’s failing parents. They’re my family. What the f**k.” – gftz124nso

“I couldn’t imagine leaving my wife, who I adore, high and dry to suffer while I sat atop a massive discretionary budget. If I had that kind of income, my wife would have anything she needed, NOT because I feel obligated, but because I love her and want her to be happy!”

“That said, it’s an ESH because OP seems like a pretty s**tty husband in general.” – Draw_Rude

“ESH. My grandfather had Parkinson’s Disease. It’s a degenerative disease no one expects and is really hard to see your parent lose speech, balance, and ability to perform self-care.”

“Depending on his disease progression, I could see how it would be difficult for them to have planned for their retirement; it could have taken them completely by surprise, and I’m not exaggerating that point.”

“I don’t know if I could see my husband’s parents suffer like that and not want to help, knowing it’s (financially) really no skin off my back.” – Cat_n_Mouse13

“ESH. Both sets of parents are both of y’all’s responsibility. Her parents are your responsibility as they get to old age or need help. Your parents are her responsibility, as well. Anyone claiming otherwise is just wrong. You’re all family.”

“This is because marriage is a union of two people becoming one. You both should agree on what financial assistance is reasonable for both of your parents. And, yes, that means some of the money will come from your wife’s far larger salary.”

“You know why? YOU’RE A MARRIED UNIT. Stop acting like two people in some situationship where her money is hers and yours is yours; its all of both of yours and you both should act like it.”

“I don’t see why you both have separate accounts to use for this, rather than act as one unit, and agree as a couple. I understand for some limited spending, but the majority of both incomes should go in that joint account.”

“Also, clearly your wife has experienced lifestyle creep. She ‘enjoys the finer things.’ You don’t have much in savings because despite your wife out-earning you by 10x, you are expected to contribute 30% of it.”

“Y’all need counseling.” – Schaefer_Isaac

But others argued the OP’s parents were not his wife’s responsibility and called him entitled.

“YTA, I’m kind of getting the impression your family is a bit entitled. Your wife helps your sister get a job, she quits it. You demand your wife lend your sister money, your sister who lives on benefits, who isn’t working, who most likely won’t pay it back?”

“Your wife and her sisters do well because they worked hard and their parents sacrificed. You, your parents, and your sister made your own life and career (or lack of) choices. You are all not entitled to your wife supporting you all.” – PleaseCoffeeMe

“Why is your wife doing the majority of the housework and childcare? She’s also paying the majority of the bills. What exactly do you bring to the table? You seem very entitled for someone who appears to have little to offer.”

“Regardless of your answers, YTA.” – pixie-anne

“Paying for dates and buying flowers during Uni is a FAR cry from paying 70% of household expenses.”

“Setting your sister up with a job when she needed one, only to see her abandon it within weeks; expecting to hand over thousands for a house deposit to that same unreliable sister; being expected to financially support your parents just because you can’t or won’t…”

“Get real, dude. YTA.” – GeekyStitcher

“YTA. Your entitlement is absolutely incredible. And yes I would feel the same way if the genders were reversed. It sounds like your sister especially is an irresponsible freeloader. She should move in with your parents. That will get them the care they need, assuming she doesn’t quit that job like the last one.” – Dry-Structure-6231

“YTA. If she earns enough to help provide for her parents and still be able to provide for your joint household, you don’t get to dictate what she does with her earnings.”

“It’s not her fault or responsibility to provide for your family. If you want to help out your parents or sister, you need to do it from your own income.” – circe1818

After receiving feedback, the OP shared his thoughts on how to move forward.

“Wow, I didn’t expect this post to blow up. Just to address the elephant in the room, I can see that I am being an a**hole, and I love and appreciate my wife a lot.”

“I will speak to my sister about moving in with my parents like many of you suggested. However, there is not much I can do about my job. I am almost 48 and work for the P.E. department at a s**tty secondary school. I can’t just quit and make similar amounts to my wife, who works in private equity and has multiple rental properties under her name.”

“This post has been kind of a slap in the face, and I fully expected everyone to tell me I’m NTA, but it turns out I am the a**hole instead.”

“I guess it’s been an emotional situation with my father; his health has been declining, and I’ve felt helpless; and when I found my wife can comfortably help her parents, I felt a bit betrayed and hurt. I agree that it’s not her responsibility to help, but I’ve had sleepless nights imagining my dad at a care home, reading horror stories, and I guess I just expected my wife to be a bit more empathetic.”

“But I agree that they are my parents and are my responsibility. I’ve listened to the replies and will start looking for remote tutor jobs so I can pick up the slack and bond more with my daughter. A part of me wants to delete this post so my wife never finds this, but I think it will keep as a good reminder for the future.”

“I would also like to say my wife has very expensive taste. We live in a house that I can by no means afford with my salary. We go on multiple holidays, which I also chip in on. And my wife likes expensive presents, which I have to save up for. Even with my salary, I don’t have much in my savings, and that’s something I will need to talk to my wife about.”

While the OP expected this post to earn him an easy NTA rating, the subReddit argued that it wasn’t that simple. It might be kind of his wife to assist him in funding his parents’ healthcare needs, but his parents technically weren’t her financial obligation since he wasn’t providing funds for her family.

But when a person sees their parents struggling and knows they can’t help while their financially well-off partner refuses to help, it’s easy to see where the resentment could come from.

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.