Dear Ellie: I’m the eldest of four sons. We all work in the family business our father started, all partners regarding finances (though my salary’s higher due to time spent on meetings, travel, negotiations, etc.).
At 33, I’ve finally met the love of my life. I’d previously divorced when I discovered my ex’es greater interest in my family’s income than in me. She fought greedily in divorce court and came away with a share of my income that she didn’t deserve. (She never attended a meeting, did no work for the business, indulged herself with expensive clothing and jewellery).
Now, my love wants us to marry. She’s 30, works in her own small clothing design business, and has been modestly successful.
But my brothers are alarmed at the possibility of my having to split off more of our father’s financial legacy, if the union doesn’t last… or she insists on a “share” as my life partner. Their wives are also agitated about these future possibilities. They’ve always been told that I’ll take care of them. Our father made those wishes clear before he died.
I’ve tried to talk her into our being common-law partners, without her having a stake in my family’s wealth. I’ve assured her that I’ll always take care of her privately, we don’t need to go to court to settle anything.
I know she loves me as deeply as I love her. Your thoughts?
Either you’re committed to a life partnership with someone, which comes with financial/legal obligations which a lawyer informs you of regarding the divorce laws in your jurisdiction… or you’re more committed to your brothers than this woman, period.
In today’s world, a woman who at 30 has created her own business with some success, is unlikely to simply accept your offer to “always take care of her.” Since she wants marriage, she also wants assurance of your equal status as relationship partners.
I strongly suggest that you each get legal advice - you, regarding your father’s will and for both, the obligations of financial sharing in the case of divorce. There is the possibility of having a “pre-nuptial agreement” regarding marriage, but you must both then accept and follow it.
Besides the legals involved, I strongly suggest you get marital counselling together, regarding the meaning of “sharing” the many aspects of a life together.
Regarding the sibling/in-law arguments (Oct. 24):
Reader – “Everything is about respect. If it all comes from one side then there’s trouble. Why doesn’t the brother just contact the sister when HE can, and keep the wife and sister happy?
“I have not spoken with MY brother or his wife and I’m happier for it.”
Reader No. 2 – “What I gather from the letter is that his sister-in-law has some form of a personality disorder resulting in behaviour that offends people in a way that is not considerate of other people. I believe the letter writer needs to be honest with his brother face to face and they can decide where to go from there. Clearly, he’s been patient and not combative for decades and to suggest minor conversational tweaks and false apologies (when not required) is not productive.
“Obviously, the sister-in-law has a pattern of unacceptable behaviour and what you are suggesting is that he continue to enable her selfish behaviours. The problem is not his sudden outburst, but her behaviour. At least, you should have suggested that he seek some guidance from a professional before making any efforts to resolve the issue.”
Regarding the man questioning his new marriage (Oct. 15):
Reader – “There’s more here than the issue of the men his wife slept with before they were together.
“They were engaged for three years, presumably dated for some time before the engagement, and there’s no mention she cheated during those years before marriage. Based on their ages when they met, she would have been in her late teens/early 20s when in her sexual experimentation phase. Hardly abnormal in the hookup culture of today’s youth.
“The bigger red flag is her controlling nature. She reportedly is jealous, has insisted he drop female friends, and won’t allow him and his male friends to discuss their pasts. She has made him constantly choose her over his lifelong pals.
“Regarding her sexual history, she has nothing to apologize for if it all occurred before she met him. Her effort to isolate him from his friends is the issue.”
Ellie’s Tip of the day
Mixing family, love and finance can stir up a spicy stew.
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