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?
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.
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.
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