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Ask Amy: Answering in-laws' plea for cash

Dear Amy: I am a 50-year-old husband and father of two girls, ages 13 and 11. I have been married for 16 years to my one and only wife.

Dear Amy:

I am a 50-year-old husband and father of two girls, ages 13 and 11. I have been married for 16 years to my one and only wife.

My parents-in-law contacted us recently, saying they need money from their offspring. They say they need each of their three children to contribute $300 per month.

My wife is willing to do anything they ask, but I feel uncomfortable with the whole deal.

My wife has not worked since I married her, and when she did work she spent beyond her pittance of a salary. She has a modest 401(k) that should not be touched.

My father-in-law inherited a successful business years ago, which he immediately sold. He declared himself retired at age 50 and has played golf ever since.

This strategy was, of course, deadly. His nest egg crashed, and he cashed out what remained and has been living off the proceeds.

He and his wife both get Social Security. They rent a two-bedroom apartment.

My wife just assumed I would go along with this current scheme. The in-laws didn't ask me directly.

Should I ask my wife to go get a job to help support her parents? This man has been golfing at the country club for 20 years, and now he is depending on his children and their spouses for financial support.

- Upset Son-in-Law

Dear Upset:

It is entirely reasonable for you to ask your wife to look for work.

Because this older couple has decided to involve family in their support in a substantial and sustained manner, they should invite you and other contributors to examine their finances and monthly budget.

There might be obvious ways for them to economize.

You and other family investors should focus on what changes they can make now to secure their future.

I agree with you that your in-laws were foolhardy and shortsighted. They also had some bad luck and are now expecting a personal bailout. They are family, however, and these are extraordinary times. You should be willing to offer reasonable financial support to the extent that you are able.

Dear Amy:

I got married a few months ago. I was told that to have happy marriages, people should not try to change their partners.

I am 67 and my husband is 72. This is a second marriage for both of us.

My husband doesn't seem to know that he is married! Every morning he goes to the coffee shop for his coffee and to read the paper.

I have offered to make him coffee at home and I even subscribed to his newspaper, but he still leaves the house every morning to "have coffee and read the paper." I went with him once, but all he does is read the paper! I'm puzzled, and I don't know if I should "change" him or just let him do what he's always done.

- Lonely Wife

Dear Lonely:

You've only been married a short time. You and your husband should each make some lifestyle changes as you make the transition to life as a married couple.

Don't mess with the man's morning habit, however. For some people, reading the newspaper at a coffee shop is simply the only way to start the day, just as others jog or take leisurely showers.

You should join your husband some mornings and read or do Sudoku over coffee. Other mornings, meet up with him afterward.

Talk with him about all of this during a relaxed time. You can work it out.