My wife refuses to take care of my parents

By Hung Hoa   July 3, 2024 | 03:34 pm PT
My wife contends that since my second sister has resided in my parents’ home for the past years, she, not my wife, should be responsible for their care.

Both my wife and I are 44 years old. We have two children, and we own a house and a car, both primarily financed by my wife’s earnings.

When we got married, my wife was employed at a bank. After we had children, as I didn’t own a home and we faced financial challenges, my wife decided to leave her job and start her own business. Over the years, she built a successful enterprise, and our assets and business connections have flourished thanks to her efforts, leading to a prosperous life for us.

My in-laws are also financially better off than my family. My wife’s parents receive a pension, and her elder brother runs a successful business that enables him to support them financially.

In contrast, my family members are farmers who merely get by, and in the past, our financial situation was even more challenging. I work far from home, earning a decent salary, but I’m often tied up with social obligations and networking events. My father, a hired laborer, used to earn VND5 million (US$196) per month, and we received an additional VND4-6 million from our garden. This income was divided equally among my mother and my two sisters. My mother decided not to give me a share because I was earning my own salary. I suggested that my sisters give their entire share to our mother, but they disagreed.

After my marriage, my parents offered me their house to carry on the ancestral worship rituals. The house was old, so my wife and I sold our wedding gold gifts and managed to collect VND150 million to renovate it.

My second sister, who is unemployed and relies on the VND5-7 million her husband earns as a hired laborer, moved in with my parents after marrying, due to issues with her in-laws. They continued to live in my parents’ house alongside my parents, my wife, and me after my marriage. When my father suggested that my sister and her husband borrow money to build their own house and start earning, my mother insisted that it’s the husband’s duty to provide for his wife and children, so she remains there.

We managed to live together for about three years, but then my wife and I moved out to rent a place due to the messy and unhygienic conditions caused by my sister and mother, along with unequal financial contributions.

My mother has insisted that since my wife and I are employed and financially stable, we should handle the annual death anniversary ceremonies for my family, as well as pay for electricity, water, and groceries. When I inquired about the allocation of funds, she explained that it goes to my unemployed second sister.

Upon learning about that, my wife’s family gave us a small plot of land. Her brother also contributed VND50 million as a fund for us to build a house on the land given by my in-laws. We requested to borrow the ownership certificate for my parents’ house from my mother to secure a loan to build the house, but my mother refused. My wife’s brother then provided an additional VND200 million to help us build a complete house, which we plan to repay later.

Since my mother denied our request for the house ownership certificate, my wife has grown indifferent towards my family. She declared that I could decide how much to contribute to my parents each month, as long as it doesn’t affect our children’s expenses, stating she wouldn’t contribute any of her hard-earned money to those who didn’t support us in tough times.

For ancestral ceremonies, she would visit, give a small sum to my parents, and leave promptly. Our children are also not permitted to stay at my parents’ house for more than a day because my wife finds it unsanitary.

Recently, my parents called us to discuss some matters, but only I went as my wife claimed it was not her concern. My mother expressed her desire to transfer the ownership of their house and land to me and entrust the handling of the three ancestral rituals to us. My retired father, needing funds, also requested financial assistance from me, as my sisters are unable to help.

Upon learning this, my wife stated that I could handle it as I see fit, but she refuses to participate in the three ancestral rituals or financially support my parents, arguing that it is my responsibility. She reminded me that while I was often away for work, she managed everything from raising our children to building our house and buying our car with her own money, and thus, she should not be burdened further. She also suggested that I let my sisters inherit the house and land, and they should handle the ancestral rituals and care for my parents.

Honestly speaking, my salary alone is insufficient to support both our children and my parents simultaneously. But I am keen on retaining the house and land as they are part of my heritage and something I wish to pass on to our children, leaving me truly conflicted about this situation.

What would you do if you were in my situation?

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