My wages as a manual laborer are very unstable…. My sister-in-law moved to another country, gave my wife power of attorney over her possessions, and left her in charge of their mother and her house. In return, she helps us financially….

This has caused my wife to complain, letting me know that, if my economic situation were better, she wouldn’t have to shoulder that responsibility….

My wife’s health has deteriorated due to the stress of taking care of her mother…. All of that has led to arguments between us, and each time she runs me out of her sister’s house, where we live…. I feel like I don’t have a wife because she has to sleep with her mother, leaving me by myself or with our eleven-year-old son.

Dear Friend,

We can understand why you are frustrated. Your dilemma does not have any easy answers. We can only guess about certain details, so we hope we are able to give advice that can help you.

You believe that your wife blames your economic situation for her having to take care of her mother. If other family members of hers are willing to take care of her mother, then your wife might be right that your financial situation is forcing her to take this “job.” However, if no one else is willing to do it, then your wife would need to even if you had plenty of income, and she would be blaming you because she is frustrated and not because it is your fault at all.

Whichever is the case, your goal should be to get along better with your wife. Your son needs the security that both of you can provide for him by repairing your relationship.

In our experience, a wife (or it could be a husband) complains about her spouses’ income either because she thinks he is not putting in enough effort to work, or because she sees him behaving as if he has nothing important to do. In your case, we will assume that she is working hard and under a lot of stress, but she sees you taking an inadequate amount of responsibility in the home, even though you have time.

When you don’t have a job to go to, how do you spend your time? Do you do grocery shopping, cooking, cleaning, and childcare? Do you show your wife by your actions that you are concerned about her stress and her health? Your words mean very little if your actions don’t verify that you mean what you say.

Obviously, it is a problem that your wife is spending the night with her mother instead of with you. It is important that married couples have time to themselves, so if there are other family members who live near, maybe they could take turns with your wife in caring for her mother during the night.

Scripture teaches that we are to honor our parents and take care of them. But it also teaches that an adult child should leave their parents and make a new home with their spouse. We advise that you seek professional counseling to figure out a way to do both.

We wish you well,