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My parents are more generous

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  June 18, 2012 08:45 AM

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Q: I am getting married to a wonderful man. My complaint is not about him but rather his family. My family is extremely generous. My parents are paying for the majority of the wedding. They also gave my fiance a very nice birthday present and have given us things in general, including frequent flier miles for our honeymoon so we don't have to pay for airfare.

His parents are contributing, but not much. They are giving us what they gave his brother and really have no idea how much this wedding will cost (mind you, his parents split the cost of his brother's wedding with the bride's family ... in our case they are paying around 1/6th of the total bill). It makes me uncomfortable that my family is so generous and his family does very little (we had to ask if they were going to contribute to the wedding as they never offered, and we knew how much they contributed for his brother's wedding). His parents can afford to do more but they don't even offer. I am not having an engagement party, bridal shower, or bachelorette party, which saves everyone money (especially his parents, who live far away) but yet my fiance's brother did.

I don't know how to discuss this with my fiance but it really bothers me because I feel like his parents should do more for us. I don't expect them to be as generous/even as my family but I just feel like it's unfair. What do you think?

– Uneven/Unfair, Boston


A: It's not unfair, U/U. It's just the way it is.

You can't go into a marriage assuming that you'll get stuff from parents. Anything you get from them is a bonus.

You also can't expect two very different families to share the same philosophies about money. You decided to have a certain kind of wedding. Your parents offered to pay for it. His parents are helping with the expenses. That's awesome. The end.

If your fiance brought this up as a problem, that would be one thing. They're his parents. But he's not freaking out about this, is he? It makes me wonder about your fiance's financial priorities. Do they line up with yours?

You might want to use this as a get-to-know-you moment. After the wedding is over and you guys have been showered in cash, have a talk about what to do with the money and how you feel about giving and receiving gifts.

Also know this: You never know how much money people have. You say that his parents "can afford to do more," but are you sure about that? Do you understand their expenses and what they have in the bank? Are you basing your statement on how they keep their home? Because having a nice house doesn't always mean that there's extra cash to throw around. Having a good job doesn't mean that there's always extra in the bank. Don't make any assumptions.

When it comes to financial philosophies and generosity, worry about yourself and your soon-to-be husband. That's the only couple that matters in this scenario.

As long as your parents and in-laws are respectful, involved, and show you love, you're in great shape.

Readers? Is this unfair? How do you balance families that have different philosophies about money? Should she bring this up with her fiance? Help.


– Meredith


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ABOUT LOVE LETTERS: Welcome to Love Letters, the place for love advice (giving and getting). Globe relationship columnist Meredith Goldstein and Boston.com readers are ready to take your letters and tell you what's what. Have a question? Click here to submit or email us at loveletters@boston.com.
Blogger Meredith Goldstein

Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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