Paying mom

Joey Garcia

My husband received an unexpected inheritance from his estranged father, and my mother-in-law is demanding he use it to financially support her. She divorced my husband’s father 30 years ago but is guilt-tripping my husband because she was a single mother. We have three children in private school, a mortgage we can barely afford and a van that’s on its last legs. When we received notice of the inheritance, my husband and I felt lighthearted like back when we were first married. She’s stressing him out. I’ve been silent, feeling like this is my husband’s decision, but I’m fuming. Advice?

Find your voice and use it. If you and your husband have made financial decisions jointly, why change now? To think that the money belongs solely to your husband is to focus on the past, not the present. Have you noticed that your mother-in-law shares your preference for looking backward? She wants to be financially compensated for parenting her son, a task she completed decades ago. If you and your husband keep body, mind and spirit in the present moment, it’s easier to arrive at a smart decision about the inheritance. One solution is to divvy up the funds as needed for your family—six months or more of emergency savings, mortgage refinance, new vehicle, college funds for the kids, a vacation—and then set aside a one-time-only monetary gift for your mother-in-law. It’s unlikely that she will be pleased, but making her happy is not your job. Your work is to ease the tension around the inheritance so you and your man can feel lighthearted and carefree again.

My girlfriend and I hit a rough spot. We argue constantly but want to stay together, or that’s what I thought. Last night, I happened to read text messages between her and her ex. She told him all about our fights. He takes her side, and makes me out to be an ass. In the text, she said she missed him. How do I talk to her about this without her knowing that I saw the text messages?

If the situation were reversed, would you want your girlfriend to lie by omission, that is to withhold her act of spying on your text messages? It’s possible that telling her what you know about her and her ex might spark a breakup. But not telling her means secrets persist between the two of you. So while she’s secretly seeking solace from her ex, you are secretly witnessing their emotional affair. As long as she turns to him for insight and comfort, it will be difficult to heal the rift in your connection to her. Her ex gives her something she doesn’t get from you. She gets to be right. Would it be possible for her to be right in your disagreements and for you to also be right? In other words, find a way to talk together about problems without making one of you wrong. It’s an easy first step in shifting the energy of your arguments away from conflict and toward a healthy and loving resolution. 

Meditation of the week
“Conflict cannot survive without your participation,” said psychologist Wayne Dyer. Who are you in the story of a conflict: victim, rescuer or persecutor? Why not become a creator, challenger or coach instead?

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