• December 10, 2023

I’m 59. My wife is 33. We have 2-year-old twins. I pay for my mother-in-law’s rent. The time has come for me to cut the cord

Dear Quentin,

My wife and I have been together for 11 years. We have twins aged 2 and I have a 20 year old son in college. I have my own business and I am fine. I’m 59 and my wife is 33.

I paid the rent for her mother for 10 years. I also paid my mother-in-law $ 1,600 a month for a year helping our twins. In addition, my wife employed her in a salon for a year. Neither profession ended well because her mother wanted to diminish her daughter’s authority.

My wife has two siblings. One has very little, the other no children and a nice business – but he never contributed to his mother’s expenses. In addition, my mother-in-law is not looking for a job, but she breeds dogs, which provides some income.

When I turned 60, I explained that I wouldn’t sign a lease next year (January) and that I would contribute up to $ 500 in rent a month, but the rest will have to come from the mother and her brother.

Although everyone agrees, no one has done anything or made further efforts, and I am concerned that amnesia will set in in the fall and that I have a different lease and will be sticking to the rent again.

I also have three kids and a wife in college and have to cut the cord.

What do you suggest?

59 year old son-in-law

Dear son-in-law,

You don’t have to manage your mother-in-law’s expectations or her direct deposits. All you have to do is manage your own.

Sometimes the best way to get the result you want is to take the path of least resistance and do nothing. Perhaps your mother-in-law and children are busy making plans to sign a new lease and agree on how to pay the rent. Perhaps they are relying on the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” principle and benevolently waiting for the direct deposit to continue.

As Jane Austen wrote in Persuasion (1817), “Let us never underestimate the power of a well-written letter.” Remind your mother-in-law of the last rental date and tell her that you will keep her informed of the new arrangement in writing become. Let the landlord know that the payments will end on the last day of the rental and write your mother-in-law on the letter.

It can feel difficult to set a bar for your generosity and then adjust it after a few years. But it sounds like you’ve tried several ways to help your mother-in-law, and none of them worked through no fault of your own. She worked in your wife’s salon, she was compensated for helping with your twins, and then you took over her rent.

You are now flexing a new muscle. Once you draw a line in the sand and stick to it, it will be easier next time. And the next.

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