Choosing to live with my in-laws post-marriage is a mistake

By Thanh Trung   March 20, 2024 | 06:14 pm PT
Residing with my wife’s relatives after our wedding instead of opting for our own rental seems to have been an oversight on my part.

I am a 33-year-old male who transitioned from a modest village in Central Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City for my university education and have since made the southern region my permanent home. After my relocation, I have independently worked and earned my living expenses. Starting from scratch, I first attained stable employment, then assisted my elder brother in purchasing a house and acquired a modest home away from the city’s hustle for myself and my mother.

My initial acquaintance with my wife was two years ago. Aiming to simplify commute times for my wife’s employment, we initially decided to dwell with her family, which includes my parents-in-law, my wife’s younger sister, and her seven-year-old daughter. My sister-in-law, employed at a firm near my in-laws’ residence, had her husband previously living with us before he relocated to his native town, the reasons for which are unclear to me.

A few months after our wedding, my wife and I combined our finances to secure a bank loan, constituting over half the needed amount, for the purchase of another residence closer to the metropolitan area. We opted for the loan over familial borrowing to maintain a level of independence.

The house we just bought was in a state of disrepair, necessitating plans for renovation to accommodate my mother moving in with us. My parents-in-law proposed that we continue residing with them while leasing out our newly acquired property to better manage the mortgage and interest expenses. I am deeply appreciative of their assistance, ranging from the house search to the completion of paperwork and ceremonies post-purchase.

My wife and I are now expecting a child, adding to our financial responsibilities of loan repayment, house renovations, and obligations to both families, necessitating budgeting for the upcoming addition to our family. I have also thought of moving out of my in-laws’ house for convenience.

Upon discussing the possibility of us ceasing contributions to her family’s household expenses upon our departure from her parents’ house, my wife insisted on the necessity of continued financial support for her parents due to her sister and niece’s minimal contribution to household finances. She also mentioned the need to assist her parents in supporting her sister’s challenging circumstances.

Further inquiry revealed that in my in-laws’ past family vacations, the financial burden was primarily borne by my parents-in-law and my wife, with my sister-in-law and her spouse participating mainly for enjoyment. My wife also financially supported her sister through university and in securing her current employment.

Additionally, my parents-in-law are burdened with bank debts from earlier investments. In contrast, aware of our own indebtedness, my mother has refrained from requesting any support from me or my brother. She even found employment to occupy her time.

After I expressed my concerns, my wife remained adamant about her plan, leaving me feeling as though we are engulfed in debts. Honestly speaking, with a baby on the horizon, there are periods when my monthly disposable income dwindles to a few hundred thousand dong (VND100,000 equals US$4).

In stark contrast, my sister-in-law and her husband flaunt their new installment-purchased smartphones via my wife’s credit, alongside new motorcycles and holiday trips.

I contemplate asking my wife about the duration she intends to financially support her nearly 30-year-old sister, who has her own family, yet I withhold to preserve familial harmony. Had I not chosen to live with my in-laws, I would be spared from the current fatigue and worry.

I am at a loss on how to navigate this predicament. What should I do now?

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