When Your Spouse Earns More: Navigating Financial Responsibilities and Family Care

Patrick is feeling extremely distressed about the state of his family affairs.

Laura and I have been happily married for over five years. She earns significantly more than I do, thanks to her high-paying job in the private sector. We’ve always shared our finances, with her contributing 70% and me 30%.

Laura’s parents migrated to our country to provide a better life for their daughters. Both Laura and her sister, Margaret, have successful careers; Laura is an architect, and Margaret is a surgeon. In contrast, my parents have lower-income jobs, and I’m their only child. This creates a notable disparity in our family financial situations.

Laura provides financial assistance to her parents every month.

Laura has always had a special bond with her parents. Recently, they retired, and Laura and her sister, Margaret, provide them with financial assistance amounting to $3,000 each month. I find this excessive considering they already have pensions, and I can’t comprehend why they need $6,000 in total.

Laura assured me that this money doesn’t come from our joint account. However, when I proposed supporting my retired parents similarly, Laura’s response was unexpected. She suggested that if I could afford to help them from my own earnings, I should do so. This left me feeling shocked and frustrated. My parents only have me to rely on, whereas Laura and her sister are financially stable, making her parents comfortable regardless.

Patrick firmly believes that this situation is unfair.

My dad suffers from Parkinson’s disease, and his health is deteriorating rapidly. Doctors have warned us that his condition will only worsen over time. Additionally, my mom is also facing health issues and lacks the physical strength to care for my dad’s needs. Unfortunately, we cannot afford a live-in caregiver, so the only viable option is to place my dad in a care facility, which means separating him from my mom. It’s frustrating because Laura knows about their situation, and her parents are currently in good health.

Laura offering financial assistance wouldn’t significantly impact her finances but would greatly benefit my parents. I can’t help but feel she’s being selfish because if our positions were reversed, I would unquestionably support her and her parents.

Feeling stuck, Patrick decided to seek his parents’ perspective.

I recently called my parents to vent about this unfair situation because I needed someone to talk to. While they listened, they sided with Laura, saying she wasn’t obligated to assist them financially and that our family should handle all our challenges independently. I expected this response, but I believe they need to change their mindset.

Now, I’m unsure who’s right. Is it wrong for me to ask my wife to support my parents? It still feels like a reasonable request to me.

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