Q: My husband is constantly lending money to his step daughter, I have tried to talk to him about it but he won’t hear a word against her. He paid for her wedding – over £17000 – I let it go because we reasoned that her husband worked so she wouldn’t need more money. Whenever she borrows money from him, it puts him in a bad mood and I am at the sharp end of it. I’ve thought of hiding his money when she comes round, but I know I’ll only be able to do this once. I don’t want to upset her as we both love the grandchildren. What should I do?
Get your husband to read Setting Boundaries® with Your Adult Children: Six Steps to Hope and Healing for Struggling Parents — it’s possible he needs to learn how to set boundaries with his step daughter.
Or, it’s possible that you’re trying to control him and you need to let go…
Hiding Your Husband’s Money Isn’t the Answer
As you already realized, hiding his money won’t solve the problem. You’re trying to control the symptom of a problem (your husband loaning money to his step daughter), instead of getting to the root of the problem.
If your husband is loaning his step daughter money that belongs to him (as opposed to the two of you together), then it’s his right. You can’t hide his money not because you can only hide it once, but because you’re not supposed to try to control him. He’s not a child. He may not be making good financial or parenting decisions, but he is an adult who has earned his own money. He needs to be free to make his own decisions.
What is the actual problem? Here are some questions to help you isolate it:
- Why are you opposed to your husband lending your step daughter money? Write down three reasons it bothers you.
- Why is your husband in a bad mood after he lends her money? (Maybe it’s not the financial loan itself – maybe he’s reflecting your disapproval of the loan. Maybe he’s in a bad mood because he doesn’t like to fight with you about the money).
- Whose money is it – do you have separate financial accounts?
- Is your step daughter directly asking your husband for money?
- What is she spending the money on?
- Is she taking advantage of him, or is he trying to show his love by giving her money?
- Does he want to stop giving his step daughter money, or is he comfortable supporting her financially?
Remember that you can’t change his or your step daughter’s behavior. Your overriding goal is to have a happy, healthy marriage. You may not be able to prevent your husband from giving his money away, but you can adjust your attitude and let go of trying to control his actions. Taking a deep breath and letting him do as he wishes will bring you peace, and may even catch your husband’s attention. Maybe if you back off, he’ll step up and make a decision that pleases you.
Is your husband acting out of guilt or a misplaced sense of financial obligation? You may find When Your Husband Has Money Problems From His Previous Marriage helpful.
In the meantime, encourage your husband keeps a record of how much he’s loaning, when she will pay him back, and how much she’s already paid. You may not stop him from loaning her money, but you can try to protect him.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with your husband lending money to his step daughter, but he has to proceed with caution. He needs to make sure he has a promissory note or contract, and treat every financial transaction with her as a business deal.
Hiding his money won’t get to the root of the problem – it’ll just create more problems in your marriage. If you really want your husband to stop giving his step daughter money, you need to appeal to something that makes sense to him. I don’t know what that is – it depends on his personality, financial situation, and past relationship with his step daughter.
For specific tips on money and family, read Should You Loan Money to Family Members? Tips and Warnings.