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reaction by friends and family to our change in financial circumstance

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
About 8 years ago I met my DH. At that time, I already had a child of my own from a previous relationship, but was still young (20). I had gone back to school to finish a college degree, and met my DH while there. He was also 20. We had a child together while we were still in college, and were not married before we graduated. We lived on a part-time job and some student loans, and lived very modestly. We rented a small apartment, drove one 12-year-old beater and did not have any extras.
Around the time we met, DH's older brother was just getting married for the second time, at age 33. He and his wife were earning very good wages and were living well. We were definitely the "poor folk" of the family as everyone else in the family was doing quite well while we struggled to make ends meet trying to finish school and raise a young family.
Everyone was very nice to us and did not make us feel badly at all about our financial positioin, and they were actually helpful offering things to help such as baby equipment.
When we finished college, we began earning a high income both by luck and by career choice. Our income increased dramatically, from low-income to well beyond six figures. Since that time, we've had more kids (5 in total now) and have purchased a nice home and nice vehicles. We've taken international trips and our kids have the privilege of participating in music lessons, horseback riding, and other activities that we couldn't previously have afforded. I admit that the change in lifestyle was very drastic over the course of two years or so (at first we saved, saved, saved the extra).
It seems that since our income increased, DH's family has treated us differently, and not in a good way.
Perhaps this dramatic change changed the way they relate to us, or something?
I find they often question our purchases, either subtly or directly. One of DH's cousins outright asked "how can you afford that?!" when we bought a car. Another cousin exclaimed "you got granite countertops in your house? Aren't those expensive?" I suppose they were used to our previous low income lifestyle, but they knew we graduated and were both working in rather lucrative jobs, though they have never known our exact incomes. But, no one asks them how they afford their cars or homes, and they work regular jobs too. It's now been years and the questions are still saved for us. I suspect part of the "problem" is that we are so much younger than the rest of the siblings and cousins on DH's side. Perhaps they still think of DH as the young one, the student, etc. Perhaps they don't know what our income is and thinks we're being foolish with our money (though we do not have anything that many of them do not have). I also suspect that DH's brother who is 13 years older than him may be envious that our lifestyle is similar to his now, but at a much younger age. DH's brother has also mentioned that he cannot afford to have more children (he has 1) and we have 5.

Anyway, I don't know how to manage this situation. Should I just politely answer questions with "thanks for your concern, but we're okay"? How do I deal if it's envy-related? Just keep doing my best to be nice and relate to DH's family?

They are really otherwise quite nice and I like them, but things seemed to change when we suddenly had a lot more money, and could make choices to have things that some of them could not, or that they did not want to make. I have also noticed that DH's brother's wife started buying almost the exact same things we did for a few years when they had babies close in age to ours. I mean, the exact same style and colour of stroller, exact same obscure baby toys, exact same clothes from the same store...it's sort of eerie when I write it down actually. I still notice occasionally that their family seems to copy what we do, especially if it's something like home renovations or cars (they start renos or buy a newer car).

Any personal growth advice?

I'm really thinking I should just remember that I cannot control others, but can make sure that I am open, kind, genuine and foster positive relationships with them to the best of my ability.

I just can't help but wish they didn't treat us so oddly. I feel a sense of loss for the relationships that we had with them before.
post #2 of 4
That is odd. I can see why it bothers you.

You seem very thoughtful. I think what you wrote below is a great way to address it.
Quote:
I'm really thinking I should just remember that I cannot control others, but can make sure that I am open, kind, genuine and foster positive relationships with them to the best of my ability.
Does their style of relating bother your DH? What does he want to do about it?
Talk to him and see if he has any insight or desires into how you both should respond.

post #3 of 4
Quote:
Originally Posted by GatheringApples View Post
I'm really thinking I should just remember that I cannot control others, but can make sure that I am open, kind, genuine and foster positive relationships with them to the best of my ability.

I just can't help but wish they didn't treat us so oddly. I feel a sense of loss for the relationships that we had with them before.
Yeah, that's all you can do.
Its a shame, but it sounds like curiousity about how you can afford these things, envy, and competition.
Human nature is so strange. Just try to not sweat it and be happy with your Dh and kids.
As long as you are truly being the person you were before the lifestyle change, there really isnt anything you can do. Do you feel guilty about yhe change? That could be making things hard too.
post #4 of 4
Just a blue-sky thought, do you think they might think you were lying about your low income before? And then feeling like all this time you pretended to not have much but in fact were just being miserly?

Or, the opposite - are they worried that you are being financially irresponsible and far overspending your means?

Next time you get a comment - like "are those granite countertops??" - you might just directly clear the air. "Yes, they are! And I love them! I feel very blessed that after we graduated and moved into X career that we now have the means for details like this."

I know that's relationship advice and not personal growth, but clearing the air might just be the answer.

The other option is to just wait it out. Eventually they will get used to it and the comments will stop. It might take years, but eventually they will forget about it.
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