I’m A Retired Widow Living On Savings, But My DIL Wants Me To Buy Her $500 Shoes

Life is full of complicated problems, and sometimes, we can all use a little bit of advice! That’s why we release the Ask Becca advice column every week.

I’m here to tackle all sorts of problems when an outside opinion helps. If you need a new set of eyes, a little confidence boost, or just some old-fashioned tough love, I’m your girl.

If you have a question or worry that just won’t quit, email me at AskBecca@LittleThings.com.

In the meantime, keep checking the column to see what we’re discussing. Last week, I talked out a whole range of issues, from an unrequited crush on a close friend to a boyfriend who just doesn’t understand personal space.

If something has got you down, I’m always here to offer my very best advice. Even better, our whole audience is invited to add their own words of wisdom in the comment section!

This week, Ask Becca will be discussing the end of a toxic mother–daughter relationship, a choice between career and boyfriend, marital money troubles, and a daughter-in-law with elevated expectations.

Photo Credit: Flickr / Flickr

Hi, I’m not sure if you can help me or not, but it’s worth a shot right?

I am the youngest child of three. All our life our mother has been addicted to one substance or another.

Growing up, she stole all my birthday money and school fundraiser money and returned any gift I got worth cash. She never was a “mom” to talk to or ask questions about puberty. My older brother and sister left home young.

Later, she continued her pattern of stealing to feed her addiction. I was paid more than $20,000 in settlement money as a teenager, and she stole it all.

Most recently, my brother came home for a week and due to my mother’s addiction there was a fight and my brother left angry. Three days later he passed away.

Now, I find myself growing more bitter toward my mother. I thought I had made peace with it all, but as each day passes I find myself blaming her more and more. We haven’t spoken in about three months.

I have never been a spiteful or hateful person, this is so not like me. But is the way I have been feeling wrong?

-Devastated Daughter

Dear Devastated,

The short answer? You are absolutely within your rights to be angry at your mother.

If you’re being really, really honest with yourself, you’re probably not looking for a solution for your anger, just validation that you’re in the right to be so upset. Well, I’m here to give you that validation.

We are all raised to love and respect our parents and it can be hard to let that go. But when a parent gives you so little reason to respect them, over the course of many, many years, you are absolutely justified in ending that toxic relationship.

However, there is a caveat. You said you aren’t a hateful or bitter person, so don’t let your anger toward your mother stew. That is just as toxic as maintaining an unhealthy relationship with her.

My best advice? Make a clean break from her, then try to forgive and forget. Hating someone takes a lot of energy and it can take over your whole life if you aren’t careful. You don’t want her to have that kind of influence over you.

I say take the high road and move on. The world is full of mentors and healthy relationships that will give you the support and emotional sustenance you need.

To a happier, healthier future,

Becca

Not An Easy Choice

I feel so torn, I have to choose between two men. One is my father and the other is my boyfriend. Let’s just say they do not get along. At all.

My father wants me to break up with the boyfriend, sell my house, move six hours away, and work for him.

My boyfriend wants me to ignore my father and stay with him in my house and get a boring, low-paying job.

The job my father offered me is interesting and pays well. It’s in a nice environment, working eight months a year, and has some time off in winter.

My boyfriend says he does not want to be separated from me for eight months a year and he will not wait for me, even though it means we would be together every day for four months.

If I do not take the job my dad is offering, my other option is to look for any job that will hire me and then just slave away for years on end. That’s how I’ve been living for the past 15 years and I’m sick of it. The perk is that I keep my house and boyfriend and everything else I love.

How can I make this choice?

Sincerely,

Torn

Dear Torn,

You say you’re choosing between your father and your boyfriend, but it sounds like the real choice here is between your boyfriend and your career.

You are sick of working dead-end jobs that don’t fulfill your interests and don’t give you what you want in life. I say, girl, go for the job that will make you happy!

As far as I can tell, there’s no reason your boyfriend can’t come with you. Is there any way his job could transfer him to a location near your new opportunity?

Alternatively, could he find a job nearby, or join you in a few months once he has secured a job in the area?

He and your dad may not get along, but there’s no reason they have to see each other. Besides, the men in your life shouldn’t be dictating what’s best for you.

If you really can’t bear the idea of leaving your current situation, don’t. But it sounds like, in your heart, you want to take the plunge and make the career switch.

If that’s the case, tell your dad you want the job, put your house on the market, and tell your boyfriend that you are the one who won’t wait.

You have places to be and an awesome new job to take on!

With love and girl power,

Becca

My Husband The Hypocrite

I am 26 and I have been married for three years now, but sometimes I do not understand my husband at all.

When we first got married, my husband said he would support my education, but he recently told me he can’t afford to help anymore. Now I am working and saving for my further studies.

He also makes me talk to his parents every week on the phone. I thought it was my responsibility, but now I realize that they are doing that to keep track of us and make sure I don’t spend my husband’s money.

Recently he asked me for some money to buy a car, even though he makes more than me, and I am saving for school. He wants me to put in my share since I’ll ride in the car.

I told him no, because I can’t afford the expense right now. He says that I am money-minded and a selfish person. I’m furious and I don’t know how to respond.

I stopped speaking with him, and don’t respond to his texts or other messages. We live in the same room but I avoid any conversation. I know he loves me but he is manipulated by his family who think I’m selfish. I’ve tried my best to impress his family all these years but they are never satisfied.

What should I do?

Sincerely,

Not Such A Good Wife

Dear Good Wife,

Money makes the world go round, but it also causes roughly 80 percent of marital conflicts.

Every married couple handles their finances differently, but I’m a big advocate of having at least one shared bank account that you both contribute to, and that you can both draw on for household purchases, like groceries and the electric bill.

However, for a major purchase like a car, I think you both need to sit down and methodically discuss why you need a car, and do a cost-benefit analysis.

Is the expense of a car really worth it for you right now? Will you both have equal access to the car, or will it primarily be your husband’s vehicle? Will you be able to afford car payments, insurance, and gas in the long term?

If you answered “no” to any of those questions, then you are well within your rights to tell your husband you aren’t interested in contributing to the cost of a car right now.

A car is an investment, just like your education is. You are making the very wise choice to invest in your own future, rather than in a car that (it sounds like) you won’t really own.

While I fully support your decision to put your money toward your own education, I do think you need to have a conversation with your husband. Without communication, this problem will only fester and erupt again later.

Tell him exactly why you aren’t comfortable with contributing to the expense of a car right now. You can also use the opportunity to tell him that you aren’t comfortable with his parents monitoring your spending like you’re a child.

Further, make sure he knows it’s not “selfish” for you to invest in your own future. It’s actually very practical, and might make for a much more financially stable future down the road.

Best of luck, and don’t let him bully you!

Becca

Hi Becca,

My daughter-in-law’s birthday is coming up next month, and I just don’t know what to do! I asked her for some gift suggestions, but I didn’t specify a budget (I didn’t think I needed to!)

She replied with a few suggestions, most of which are over $200, and one pair of shoes that costs $500! All shoes or clothes.

She seems to think that I’m made of money, even though I’m a retired widow and I live off my savings and my late husband’s pension.

She’s my son’s wife and I want to make him happy, but this is ridiculous. How do I tell him that I can’t finance this kind of gift for his wife?

Best,

Monster-In-Law
Dear MIL,

Oh boy, I don’t like to speak ill of daughters-in-law, but yours sounds like she could use a little lecture in manners.

I wouldn’t confront her directly about her champagne taste. Instead, talk to your son.

Say: “Johnny, you know how much I love you and Jane. I really, really want to be able to get her one of these gifts, but you know I’m struggling to make ends meet, and I really can’t afford to buy any of these presents for her. Is there anything more affordable that she might like instead?”

It’s quite possible that your son doesn’t know what kind of gifts she’s requesting, or that both = your daughter-in-law and your son don’t realize that your income isn’t as robust as they think.

I usually am a big fan of honest communication and confrontation, but the best way to handle this so everyone saves face is to talk to your son, and make sure he knows that your fixed income is not his wife’s piggy bank.

Love and best wishes,

Becca

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