Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Husband right to be honest about not wanting to adopt
Georgia: I'm 41, married and I want to adopt a baby. My husband does not. I love him very much, but I'm afraid that this will cause a divorce. My family tells me that if he "really" loved me, he would consider what I want. What do you think?
Carolyn: I think I'd like to throttle your family. (They aren't by any chance — ahem — large and vindictive, are they?)
A spouse who "really" loves you will consider something you want, vs. rejecting an idea out-of-hand. That's very different from saying "yes" just out of love. If your husband, after careful thought, feels he wouldn't/couldn't give a child the love that child would need and deserve, then he has to say no. I'm sorry he doesn't feel the same way you do about adopting a child, and I'm sorry you're faced with this horrible choice. But sometimes horrible choices are what you get when people act with integrity.
The solution isn't to sell out the integrity just because it's inconvenient, and because the grownups don't want to say no to themselves; the only solution is to make the best choice possible under the circumstances. One of the things you want will probably cost you the other. That means your only choice is to decide which of the two you can't imagine your life without. Awful, but there it is.
After grasshopper lifestyle, mother-in-law expects handout
Oh, Crud: So, how much money are you obligated to give to elderly parents? My husband and I are getting socked with both of our penniless mothers.
My mother lived by all the rules but was left with huge medical bills when my dad died. She is extremely frugal and worked until she was 75. Now she lives with my sister and we partly support her. We are all fine with this.
Now my much-younger mother-in-law has notified us that she is out of money. She took early retirement, traveled and bought a lot of fifth-rate art. Now she wants money, and is appalled that we might expect her to live in a small apartment and be frugal. She thinks we are loaded, but we have kids and other obligations.
What kind of lifestyle do we owe her? I am obviously not objective, because I have had to forcibly resist using the phrase "vicious drunken harpy." Guidelines, please.
Carolyn: Expect her to live in a small apartment and be frugal. There is nothing wrong with that.
You and your husband decide how much you are able and willing to spare, and then he sits down with his mom and explains the new reality, spelled out to the line item, if needed, in a budget. If she wants a grander lifestyle, she can get a job.
I'm not sure I can emphasize enough that this entire message needs to come from her son. And that, although you're biased, you need to resist comparing the two.
This is where I stand on the front stoop smiling and waving and saying "Good luck!" in an unnaturally cheery voice.