Relationship Connection: We need financial help, my husband won’t allow it

Question:  

We are financially struggling and aren’t making ends meet month-to-month. My husband’s family has said that they would help us in years past when he lost his job, but he wouldn’t accept their help then and he won’t accept it now. Back then, I was working a little and we had some savings that held us over until he started working again. Now, we’re both working, but we have medical bills, more kids, and other financial obligations that put us behind each month. I’ve pleaded with him to ask his family for help, but his pride gets in the way and he won’t ask them for help. How do I get him to see the reality of the situation and get help from people who are willing to assist?

Answer:  

Sounds like your husband is the kind of guy that takes pride in doing everything he can to take care of his family on his own. This is an admirable trait and you’re fortunate to be with someone who takes seriously his responsibility to care for his own. I also recognize a sinking ship when I see one, so let’s talk about where to go from here.

I’d like to throw out a few possibilities that may help you see a different way out of this situation. These may be things you’ve done or are doing, but it’s important to start here.

Has your husband suggested ways that you guys can cut expenses in your own family? Perhaps he is trying to manage the resources you guys have. Are you working with him on that, or just trying to maintain the same lifestyle without cutting anything out? Sometimes an offer to “give up” something that you have traditionally spent money on as a matter of course lets your partner know that you are in the trenches with him. It’s important for him to know he does not have to shoulder the burden alone; it is important he not be isolated in this very common struggle.

Are there reasons he won’t go to his family for money? Sometimes people avoid getting family and money tangled up because it makes things challenging or even worse between them, often money received comes with certain expectations; has there been a problem in the past? Is your husband’s family the best resource to start with?

Maybe your husband prefers to borrow money with a plan to pay it back instead of just receiving a handout? Perhaps he feels like having a way to pay it back in some form will help him preserve his dignity and self-respect and make the asking more honorable. Helping him shoulder the burden might come in sitting down and coming up with a proposal and a pay-back plan that is doable.

The most important thing you can do is to continue to talk with him about it until you guys can find a solution you both feel good about. Going behind his back and borrowing money will undermine your marriage and family – all the more so if going behind his back is to his family of origin. No matter how reasonable and generous your in-laws may seem to you, remember that there are dynamics between your husband and his parents and siblings that developed long before you were around – they can be complex and a wise wife will not presume those dynamics away.

If you have cut out all unnecessary expenses, downsized, and made all efforts to make ends meet, chances are your husband will eventually realize that you guys aren’t making it and look for other ways to get help.

There is no shame in asking for help to get out of a bad situation. Find out from him if he has a plan that you might not be aware of. He may have a way out of this situation that you haven’t discussed. Recognize that he’s probably battling his own sense of defeat and may take some time to admit that he’s stuck and needs help. Let him know you’re on the same team with him and you want to work together to solve this problem.

Stay connected!

 

Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.

Have a relationship question for Geoff to answer? Submit to:

Email: geoff@lovingmarriage.com

Twitter: @geoffsteurer

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • Christine April 16, 2013 at 5:07 pm

    It’s hard to admit you need financial help and even harder to accept other people’s money. I’ve almost been in the same situation and the only people we could borrow money from, I would not want to be in debt to, or “owe them one” if it was a gift. What does he say when you ask him why he won’t borrow from them? Have you talked with the dr.’s offices and hospitals about going on a payment plan? I had 2 surgeries in 2011 and I only pay $70 a month to them. You’d be surprised how many places are willing to negotiate and do payment plans with you. We also refinanced our car so we extended the loan and lowered the payment. Do you have a budget? I created an 8 year budget with all our loans and loan payments and interest, etc, to determine what money goes where and when things will be paid off. I think that’s the only thing that has kept us from going under. There are also money management firms that will help you reorganize your finances or consolidate your bills and just take one low monthly payment and divvy it up between your lenders. That would be our next step if it gets that bad….. I really hope it all works out with you guys, but remember, communication is key 😉

  • My Evil Twin April 16, 2013 at 7:20 pm

    Going to relatives for money. Never a good idea, no matter what the situation is. Ever, for any reason. Nothing wrong with needing help. Nothing wrong with seeking assistance. But not from relatives.
    Even bankruptcy is preferable to becoming known as “The Family Leech.” Way too many families have them.
    Also, remember that nothing is free. And when it is from relatives, Absolutely Nothing is free. There are always strings attached.
    The adult way to deal with this, is to deal with it on your own. Cut your budget. Can’t cut it any more than it already is? Sure you can. Give up your cell phones, your internet connection and your TV cable or satellite.
    Car payments too high? Trade down. House payments to high? Check into a refinance.
    Look at borrowing money, only as a very last resort, and then only from legitimate vendors. Remember, if you borrow it, you will have to pay it back, with interest.
    Did you know that credit counseling is likely to be as detrimental to your credit score as repossessions and bankruptcy are? You can work these things out on your own, without spending the money on “professional credit counselors” or taking the hit on your credit score.
    Money problems are common to almost all of us. What you have to do, is to learn to live within your income, no matter how little it is.

    • Opal April 17, 2013 at 5:55 am

      Touche. Solid arguments. Keep up the great spirit.

  • Observation April 17, 2013 at 10:52 am

    Sounds like a common story in St George. Kids get married out of high school, have kids and get in debt. She is starry-eyed about being a stay-at-home mom, and he wants to still play. Neither had any financial education or financial planning before they started playing house, except in the real world, playing house involves money, paying debts, bills. I bet these scenarios often end up in divorce with the kids ultimately depending on welfare to survive.

    Seems a common story that when they kids start playing house with no concept of the financial responsibilities they will be faced with, they expect the government to bail them out with welfare and other social programs. Don’t forget they live in an area where everyone claims to be against socialism, yet heavily dependent upon those welfare programs (socialism).

    Parents would do their kids a lot of good teaching them the difference between playing house as toddlers and pre-teens is a lot different then playing house as an adult. Welcome to the real world.

    • Christine April 19, 2013 at 10:45 am

      Wow, that is a scathing comment filled with unconfirmed facts and rude insinuations. You don’t know how old she and her family is. She and her husband are both working and struggling to make ends meet and the article says nothing about being on welfare. Apparently you are the only smart person in the world? I got married at 18, after living by myself for a year and can say you don’t have to be middle-aged and not married to learn how to manage your finances and everybody needs help once in awhile. Some people should think about what they say before they say things,.

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