| Hi Taylor:
How do I talk about (or avoid talking about) money with my in-laws?
My husband's parents have a lot of money and I come from a very working-class
family. I almost have anxiety attacks whenever we visit my in-laws
because I feel like such a fish out of water. Any advice? - Arden
Hi Arden: Sorry to hear about this situation. I come from humble
beginnings myself and definitely remember that fish-out-of-water sensation.
It's really hard to feel like you're of a different class than those
around you, especially when it's family.
Some people view money as an untouchable topic like politics
and think it should be avoided in discussion. I don't agree
that it should be off limits, but recognize the conversation takes
a certain amount of finesse. A few things to think about that might
overtly avoid it. Money can't be ignored, since everything
we look at cost someone, something, at some point. If you try
to pretend otherwise, people will notice and that anxiety attack
will start bubbling over. Don't be afraid to ask about the nice
things your in-laws own, or discuss your job where you hope to
get a raise. The issue is never talking about money, it's
the judgment people feel when the topic comes up. As much as possible,
be interested in what others have to say and confident in what
you have to offer. If your father-in-law makes a snide comment
about millennials and their work ethic, then you can skip to another
room and shift the conversation.
2. What's the fear? Do your in-laws talk about money in a
way that's uncomfortable, or do you just worry about saying something
that will make you look foolish? I ask because, in many cases,
we build up tension in our heads that doesn't really exist. Unless
you lied and said you were a wealthy heiress, I doubt anyone is
looking to debate you about your knowledge of wealth. Speak to
what you know and try not to get caught up worrying about what's
outside your control. You have no power over the previous generation's
money. Your focus is on your life, your marriage, and your wealth.
Whatever advice comes from another couple his parents,
your parents, me you get to take that with a grain of salt.
3. Talk to your husband. Hopefully the lines of communication
are strong between you two, because these are important concerns
for you to share. He might agree or disagree with your perception
of his parents, but you'll both benefit from him knowing how you
feel. Money has been a point of contention for pretty much every
couple throughout human history, and the only way to rise above
is to communicate, be supportive, and work through these issues
as a team.
| I feel for
you, Arden, but I'm sure this will get better with time. Just be confident
in who you are, where you came from, and where you're going. Your
in-laws can't ask for more than that.
© Taylor Kovar
May 4, 2022
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