Which parents-in-law get what at Christmas?

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Husband and wife argued so violently and I feared they would end up fighting. It was a young couple that has a toddler under two years.

The little boy watched in amazement as his parents waged a war of words.

“Last year you bought your mum many groceries, but you left out my parents. Why? They also deserve something from me for their Christmas,” yelled the woman at the husband.

Such arguments are very common around this time of the year as Zimbabweans plan their Christmas travel to the rural homes where the majority of our elderly people live.

These parents expect something for Christmas every year and they look forward to receiving goodies and presents.

They also expect their children and in-laws to be part of the Christmas celebration as relatives and friends get together in merry-making.

“I sent my parents something every year before I married you, but now you are denying them the comfort that they had become accustomed to,” said the 29-year-old woman who immediately broke into tears.

When their tempers had cooled down they both started talking. The husband firmly believes that when a woman becomes a wife, she totally cuts ties with her own relatives including her parents.

“Why should I buy her parents Christmas stuff as if they do not have their own sons? That is not my responsibility.

“I am the only son and child so if I don’t give my mother, who will?” he said.

Another young woman refused to visit her in-laws this year and argued that her husband has not set foot at her parents’ home for the past three years.

“Why should I go to his family in the Eastern Highlands when he does not visit my parents in Highfield? Why should I?”

The woman claims she has always visited her in-laws who live in Masvingo with so many goodies, at least three times a year.

“But my parents get nothing and this time around I am going to shop like a crazy woman for my mother and father using my entire net salary. I am sick and tired of this selfishness.

“Christmas time is a period to make everybody happy. So why should my parents be miserable when their peers are being showered with gifts? I will not allow that to happen this time. He will go to his village alone and I go and visit my people. I mean it.”

I was also told of a classic one recently. A man decided to give his mother the old lounge suite when he bought a spanking brand new ivory leather lounge suite last week.

He decided to give the old lounge suite to his mother in Masvingo, but the wife protested. She wanted her mother to also benefit from these sofas and insisted the lounge suite should be shared equally between the two families.

He did exactly that, but went further and bought his mother a new kitchen unit, kitchen chairs and table, a double bed, expensive cutlery and groceries that can last six months. The wife was so infuriated and made a scene at a townhouse where they live in the Avenues.

The man told her that he would not abandon his mother because of her.

“My mother struggled so much when my father died and she fended for me and my five siblings single handedly. I am a chartered accountant who earns a lot of money, but I am now scared of buying a house although I have made a decision to appendage my old mother’s name to the title deeds.

“She doesn’t like my family so I will make sure she gets nothing from me. She must work for her parents.”
Rhonda Pritchard, author of How Money Comes Between Us says one-third of couples, both married and de facto, say money is the primary problem in their relationship.

“Money gives us security, autonomy, status, self-esteem, control, influence over others and choice.

“When we argue over money our psyches are dealing with fears of abandonment, the struggle for survival, values, power and control,” says Pritchard.
Pritchard gave advice about the many approaches that can work for couples. Here’s some food for thought:

Many couples have a joint account for bills and emergencies, contributing equally or according to ability, and separate personal spending money to keep some autonomy.

If your spending patterns are different with one person being a spender and the other a saver, you need to work together and budget, not accuse each other.

If you haven’t done so already, sit down and list your common goals as well as the differences in your approach to money.

And here are some big no-noes:

Don’t involve yourself in financial infidelity — keeping secrets about your spending.

Don’t lie to yourself about how much you’re spending.

Don’t hold grudges about how your partner spends money, and

Don’t assume they are the spender and you’re the saver. You have different patterns.

But how best can we solve these matters if one spouse earns an income for the family or if one spouse earns more than the other?

The Bible says when two get married they become one and do things together. This, however, is not exactly what is happening and it is a great challenge.
Spouses, and especially women, run private bank accounts that issue monies for their elderly parents. But we all know what happens when husbands find out.

Saviour Kasukwere, Youth, Indigenisation and Empowerment minister recently spoke at a meeting hosted by Musasa Project an non-governmental organisation that deals with domestic violence and said women should become economically empowered so that they become financially independent.

“A woman who has her own money and business will never be abused that way. Never,” he said.

Enjoy a quiet and peaceful Christmas tomorrow and please do not drink and drive. Speed kills.
Feedback:rmapimhidze@newsday.co.zw