Financial matters are always tricky. Money has always been a big influencer in the running of states. A mix family household is also like a state with many stakeholders. In a family where a bahu comes as a new member to live among strangers, the complicated financial matters make the situation worst. It is extremely hard for the newlywed to ask for anything even her husband let alone the saas, who was once running the show for her son. And if the husband insists on “Ammi say lay laina paisay, Unn ke saath mera joint account hai,” then that’s a dead-end for the new bahu.
There is a huge disparity between the mothers-in-law in Pakistani society with regards to flexibility; with those who completely believe in and let their beloved sons become independent after marriage and others who want to be the ruling party in their marriage. Though mothers-in-law are a decision-making authority for most families, I still blame those husbands who are not mature enough to balance the family by identifying the roles and responsibilities of both parties. If he had a joint account with the mother then he should also have an account with his wife to run a smooth family life. This will help to manage financial matters easily.
If all members fairly contribute to the common family budget, then they should be left alone with the use of their finances for their personal spending. It becomes very difficult if the parents-in-law interfere in what the son buys for his family, apart from the family budget, and usually, it is taken as a personal offense. The flexibility of fulfilling one’s needs with their own money should always be there for the comfort and respect of all members of the joint family.
Ideally, every parent should have the right to buy groceries for their children according to their needs without disrupting the common pool of resources and without the intervention of others. But that is not always possible! Sometimes, family members do not agree on the same menu and every meal table becomes a battlefield. Parties or personal guests to the house also put pressure on the common budget. The nosy members go to the extent of checking bedroom dustbins to know what was consumed by the other family without mutual consent. This brings resentment in the children for being constantly monitored and consequently they develop ill feelings for the joint family and its financial setup.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution to all these problems. However, the elders of the family should be considerate and accommodating to the needs of all family members. Flexible rules should be made regarding finances and groceries to avoid any discrepancies later. Also, the parents-in-law should not misuse their influence to suppress the needs of their married children. Husbands should contribute to the family wisely and THE BAHUs should have a big heart for others. After all, spending on your family is also Sadqa.