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"My kids aren't being treated fairly in our marriage." "I made promises about money to my late wife"

By Deacon Tom Fogle and JoAnne Fogle

"My kids aren't being treated fairly in our marriage." "I made promises about money to my late wife"

"My kids aren’t being treated fairly in our marriage."

Sharon says: Jack’s children from his first marriage are lazy and refuse to work. Although my husband doesn’t give them money now, they stand to inherit everything he brought into the marriage. It didn’t seem so unfair at the time, but now that we’ve been married more than 10 years, it seems unjust that his children will get more than mine.

"I made promises about money to my late wife"

Jack says: Sharon knew that my late wife and I intended that the money we’d accumulated during our marriage should go to our children. I know she disapproves of them, but they are my children, and I do not want to renege on their inheritance.

What do they do?

It feels like there is more to this than just how to distribute money!

Unfortunately, both Jack and Sharon have what a rational person would consider legitimate positions, and that can be problematic in finding a solution. If this is an issue that is driving a wedge in Jack and Sharon’s relationship, then they might want to consider not passing along an inheritance to any of their children.

Our experience is that the quickest way for a marriage relationship to encounter problems is to introduce money issues.

Two key points should be given consideration by Jack and Sharon.

First, decisions/ideas/thoughts held prior to their marriage will need to be visited periodically during their marriage to ensure they are still appropriate and applicable. Most married couples know that decisions made during one phase of their relationship may not be appropriate or valid in a future phase. Relationships change, needs change, and each spouse should be willing to adjust as different situations present themselves no different than we need to adjust to life as our bodies change with age.

Second, Jack and Sharon should remember that their marriage is different from their prior marriage(s); consequently, decisions made by, or with, a former spouse should be tempered with the needs and desires of their new spouse. This is a new relationship and as such, should be viewed separate and distinct from prior unions. Jack should understand that it would be inappropriate and wrong to give priority to decisions made with his previous wife without regard for Sharon’s feelings. This is not reneging on a decision; it is failing to give adequate consideration to this new situation and relationship.

It would be beneficial for Jack and Sharon to discuss this issue with love and a gentle spirit toward each other to help them find an acceptable solution. It may be helpful if they would write, on paper, their thoughts and feelings on the situation; remembering that the spiritual fruit of goodness compels us to discuss with each other in a manner that is truthful, yet with kindness.

We are reminded of a proverb that says, “In his mind a man plans his course, but the Lord directs his steps.” (16:9) Jack and his late wife may have intended one action (based on their situation at that time), but with a new family, is that what Jesus would do given this new situation? Jack and Sharon have created a new family unit that requires new solutions and new decisions.

A big problem faced by families today is the process of merging two family units that were created previously into a new family unit. In order to achieve harmony between husband and wife, all children of the new unit should be treated equally and given the same considerations and opportunities. Children should not be viewed as “yours” or “mine” when it comes to equal treatment, but “ours.” Doing otherwise creates needless turmoil and division within the family unit.