A few weeks ago, I published a letter expressing Josh’s resentment over the way that his in-laws allocated their money to their children. Josh was upset that his in-laws provide credit cards and full financial support to their son’s family, while he and his wife work hard to support their own family. In my reply to Josh, I validated his frustration and offered him positive and constructive ways to handle his situation and improve his relationship with his wife’s family. The emotionally charged issues that Josh described resonated with many people who sent me letters to offer their own perspectives to Josh.
Here are responses from people that felt Josh could benefit from looking at his situation from another perspective. I am publishing these responses to Josh anonymously at the authors’ request:
“I am a grandfather with two daughters and six grandchildren. I look at it as my pleasure to help them all in many ways including providing financial help. I have learned over the years that this is a gift to be able to help out and that I expect no thank you cards or the like.
I was rather surprised that Josh appears to be upset that he was not getting his “fair share” and that he somehow had earned a right to assets he did nothing to earn.
Perhaps he should be more appreciative to those who raised his wife and are asking for nothing in return. Simply put, get over it Josh and ask yourself why you have something coming and how you can be a better husband and son-in-law.”
“I cannot fathom anyone being consumed by so much resentment over something this incredibly petty. Josh’s wife’s parents owe him nothing; it is their money and they can do whatever they want with it.
God has blessed him with parnasa and the ability to provide for his own family, which is really HIS job. He is a MAN and this is what a man does….and he has the gall to complain that his wife’s parents don’t give him money?! That they take he and his wife for granted?! Are you kidding me?! This is absurd!.
Whatever the reasons they chose to help out his wife’s brother are not his concern whatsoever. I am sure there is way more at play here that he does not know nor understand.
But regardless, he can still complain that it is ‘not fair’ and perhaps maybe it is, at face-value, but it still does not matter – it is not his money and they do not ‘owe’ him (or his wife, their daughter) anything.
He should just worry about his dalet amos – that he is able to provide, and baruch Hashem, he is. He was able to provide while he was in school and his wife had to work. But is this not expected? Does he want a prize for the default? For what normal people just do every day? Truth is, no one told him to get married or have kids when he did. You sleep in the bed you make.
Too often nowadays, people feel as if things are coming to them. Parents build their children extravagant homes, enable them to live beyond their means, take them on luxurious vacations, etc. Well that is wonderful and nice…if you have parents who do that.
Expecting that everyone gets everything equally is just not life. It is also not Judaism. The Torah acknowledges the reality of societal classes; there is a mitzvah of tzedaka, of giving to those who are less fortunate than you. Korach wanted what was simply not his – ki kol ha-eidah kulanu kedoshim; but unfortunately, it does not work that way.
Josh needs to grow up and put his juvenile, shortsighted and pathetic feelings behind him; harboring resentment is unwarranted and will certainly not bring mashiach any closer. He will do himself (and his wife) and huge favor by just letting this go and being ma’avir al midosav.”
These responses encourage Josh to relinquish the resentment that he harbors towards his in-laws. One common theme that emerges from the letters is that Josh should appreciate what his in-laws have given to him, instead of being upset that they do not offer more. He should appreciate that they have raised and provided him with his wonderful wife, and they occasionally bestow gifts to his family.
Josh is also asked to focus on his own direct relationship with his in-laws, rather than compare his relationship to their relationship with his brother-in-law. There are several reasons why he is asked to avoid this social comparison: Firstly, it is his in-laws’ hard earned money, so they can allocate it as they choose. Secondly, he should not compare since he does not know his in-laws’ reasons for why they support his brother-in-law.
There are many perspectives from which one can examine Josh’s situation. It can be enlightening for Josh to read alternative points of view that challenge his assumptions. There are many sound, logical, and spiritual arguments here that can motivate Josh to re-think his resentment.
At the same time, when addressing someone’s resentment, it is first and foremost essential to understand where the hurt comes from. Even if Josh may be interpreting his circumstance incorrectly, his confusion and pain need to be validated. Keep this in mind when someone expresses something that is bothering them to you.
All the best,
What’s Your Opinion? Share your thoughts about this issue. Feel free to comment below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org