Advice,my Husband Wants to Pay for His Adult Daughters Wedding & I Don't Agree.

Updated on June 06, 2014
J.H. asks from Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
27 answers

I met my husband 6 yrs ago.He's10 yrs older,3 kids from his previous marriage,1 from before he was married.I have 2 from my previous marriage(So 6 between us)he had his 3 living with him full time.His ex left the state to move in with a man.She sees her kids 1 to 2 times a year.Even though my husband had full custody he still had to pay her $700 a month in alimony.So once we were together we were paying for everything for his kids + her alimony each month.We paid for all his kids needs including first cars &insurance,20,000 out of pocket for his daughters college and his son currently in college.His alimony was for 7 years and ended last year.she has not contributed a thing for these kids!She also collects 750 a month in ssi because she's"depressed and can't work"& whatever her boyfriend makes.Meanwhile we're living in a house that's falling apart and we're supposed to be saving to buy a new home together.I save every penny & sacrifice many things to do so.I drive a 14yo truck while his kids have much newer cars,now his daughter is getting married.She is 24,will be 25.She has lived with her boyfriend going on 5 years with a child.My husband tells me today he plans to pay for it.I thought we we're going to pay for the pics and/or flowers(a couple thousand)I feel like my children & I r getting the short end of the stick.I know we will not be paying for the other kids weddings & he didn't pay for his daughters wedding from his first relationship.Am I wrong for feeling this way?

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your helpful opinions. I want to make it clear that I don't mind helping my step daughter with her wedding. My personal opinion is that she's an adult that has started a family and has lived with this man going on 5 years that they as a couple should be paying for part of the wedding and her father(we) ,her mother and the grooms family should all help them with it. As to some of the comments I would like to add that I'm not jealous. I feel neglected as a wife when it comes to my husband not putting our home as a priority. My other problem is that all the children are young adults now. As I mentioned his daughter lives with her boyfriend, his middle son is away at college and his youngest went into the navy a few months ago. My oldest lives with his gf. The only one with us full time at this point is my youngest who just turned 16... Now how do we afford to get him a car and pay for his college? The other children are all between the ages of 20 -25. The all have significant others and I'm sure will want to get married soon, how do we help them pay? Something's got to give and I don't feel that it's right that they don't all get treated equally. I feel that my husband puts his 3 way above the others including his own daughter from his previous relationship. I don't feel that's right. I believe once you're married your spouse and all of the children should be the priority.

Featured Answers


answers from Indianapolis on

You're making this ALL about money.

What about his daughter?

Parental obligations don't end at 18. And traditionally the bride's family does pay for the wedding.

ETA: My vehicle is 16 years old. Life isn't about possessions or money.

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answers from New London on

Not at all. I would be a little put off too. It's one thing to do that when you don't have a house falling apart.

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answers from Houston on

I say all the time, that I will never marry a person with kids under age 21.

Anyhoo, you need a third party to help y'all through this, objectively.

Yes, I'd be pissed. Go buy a newer car. Then, there would be no extra money for the wedding.

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answers from Portland on

You and he are partners. Decisions for major purchases should be made together. Even without the the many major expenses already paid. Yes, you have the right to feel that way. However, even if paying for the wedding was not a financial hardship you should expect that the decision would be a joint decision. Did you agree to the other expenditures? If not, I suggest that you've stored up a lot of anger that is making this more difficult for you.

Try to let go of the anger and focus on getting him to understand How you feel and why. Use I statements to explain how you feel. For example: I feel hurt and betrayed because you are continuing to spend money we need for our family still at home. We need to fix the house. We have two more children to financially help with college. How are we going to be able to do those things if you pay thousands of dollars for this wedding. You can tell him you are angry that he doesn't include you in deciding to spend money without considering my opinion.

Then focus on finding a compromise. The two of you could pay for specific items as you thought was happening. Or you could decide how much money you are able to give his daughter for the wedding. You could pay for the wedding telling his daughter the maximum that you're able to spend.

It is tradition for parents to pay for daughters' weddings. Is that why he wants to do this? If so, an important part of that tradition is for the parents to decide how much to spend. Daughters then have to make up the difference if they want a more expensive wedding.

I suggest that we've moved away from that tradition and couples often pay for their own wedding. The tradition of parents paying for daughters' weddings was needed when daughters went from parents' house to husband's house and because women didn't work or have money of their own.

I add that once a child has become an adult thay are responsible for themselves. Parents continue to be responsibile for themselves and the children still at home.

I wonder if the wedding issue is mostly a symptom of how your husband does not include you in decision making and how he doesn't consider your feelings and needs. If that is the case I urge you to get in counseling to learn that you are worthy of having a say in how you live your life and then to learn how to be assertive. I have become much less angry since I learned how to get my needs met by being assertive.

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answers from Reading on

Tradition dictates the bride's family pays for the wedding and perhaps he regrets not doing so with his first daughter. Or perhaps she didn't give him the chance. It sounds like the other girl didn't live with him, but this one did. Or perhaps there is another reason. But most fathers want to do so. My husband and I were 30 when we got married, my sister was 35. We both had professional degrees, had established households with our fiancés and told our parents we didn't want them to spend their money. They were crushed. They wanted to do it. I let them pay for a portion and was very grateful for the help, especially since most of the guests were their friends.

My husband has used our money to help others many times, people I don't know, and I don't ever stand in his way. When he believes he is doing the right thing, I will not stop him, and I certainly wouldn't stand between him and his child. But he ALWAYS checks with me first and gets my approval. He shows me the same respect. We support each other, and I would absolutely support him in this. He is the girl's father and he may be trying to win affection, make amends, or do the right thing. Whatever the reason, the money isn't the problem between you. It's your relationship. You sound very bitter that he has worked to meet his obligations by paying court ordered alimony and now his daughter's wedding.

Eta: your title specifies that she's his "adult" daughter, as if it's offensive that he should pay since she is an adult. Aren't all daughters who are marrying "adults"? That's irrelevant when it comes to traditional wedding culture.

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answers from New York on

This is a really complex situation becuase I can see both perspectives. My sister's husband sends almost $1000 to his ex-wife for child support and both have already graduated from college and are over 21. His wife doesn't work and never has - so in effect my sister subsidizes his ex-wife's lifestyle. Fortuantly that's all coming to an end very soon. But for your husband the money he had to pay wasn't child support but alimony. That's a different thing and doesn't get counted towards the kids - in any way. It sucks but it's true.

On the other hand, techinically he doesn't have a respsonsibility to your kids. Your kids are your responsibility. But married people help eachother out and that does include finances with kids of the other spouse.

So I guess it kind of comes down to - what's the financial breakdown between the two of you? Are you earning about the same income? If you're earning about the same then any money he spends towards his daugher's wedding is coming out of your shared wallet - so to speak. But if he makes more ethan you and has always been paying more towards the household expenses then I think he gets to use his excess towards his daughter's wedding. I wouldn never pay the full amount for a couple who's been living together and alraedy has a child - to me they should be keeping their wedding costs realisticallly low-cost. But I can fully understand dad's desire to help pay for his daughter's wedding. He's probably visualized it in his head since she was born.

I think this requries cool heads, a willingness to compromse and a real effort not to put the other person on the defense. The minute you tell him it's not right he gets defensive towards his daughter and will shut down. it's easy for me to say it - it's much harder to follow through on this.

These are the big problems with blended families with kids from the first marraige. It's really hard to be objective. I know if my husband and I were dealing with kids from prior marriages it would be tough. We have only two kids - both ours and I drive a 12 year old jeep - that we got when my FIL died. I drive that so we can help pay for our daughter's college. If she was living at home and going to college I'd probably want her to have the newer car so she'd be more safe on the road. My kitchen is from the 70's and is falling apart, our upstairs bathroom is from the 50s and in even worse shape. I work hard outside the home and like a dog at home. But that's how life is.

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answers from Boca Raton on

Normally I would be inclined to take your husband's side on this, but I actually agree with you in your particular situation.

Even if your step-daughter was the biological child of both of you I would feel the same way.

It's a tradition that the parents of the bride pay for the wedding. It's also a tradition that a couple does not move in together or have children prior to marriage.

Once you start breaking traditions it's unreasonable to demand observance of another tradition from your parents (because it benefits you).

Young adults don't have to like or observe any of the traditions - it's still a free country (mostly). They just have to understand that they can't have it both ways.

None of this is punitive - I'd still help in smaller ways if we could reasonably do it, just as I would for any adult family member who was dear to me.

I would get to some marriage counseling with my husband. Subsequent marriages have high divorce rates due in no small part to issues like this. You guys need to get on the same page.

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answers from Washington DC on

He told you. He did not ask you. In an equal partnership, the partners discuss, consult, ask. They don't just "tell." I see in other posts that you and he already seem to have money issues -- car and house issues. I totally get how this would drive you nuts.

But I also hope that you can step back and not turn the daughter's wedding into the hill you want to die on here. Yes, husband was wrong to tell you and not ASK you -- but not necessarily wrong to want to pay for his daughter's wedding. (I'm not saying it's right to pay for it -- only that he has the right to WANT to do it.)

Try to separate his feelings here (wanting to do something for his daughter) from his actions (stupidly ignoring his obligation to discuss financial issues with you). Hard to do, I know! But it sounds like he has a long pattern: He has spent so long paying alimony and kids' costs and college bills that he may automatically just say yes to costs related to kids without even thinking of consulting you.

While this is wrong of him, it is a long-established pattern for him, and it's not reasonable to expect a long-established habit to change instantly.

Have you tried sitting down and talking with him? I would not approach him by dragging in every dollar and cent figure for all the alimony and college tuition he's paid - that's fighting an old battle that is over now. Let that go or it will dredge up resentments that will muddy the issue of the wedding costs.

Just focus on how you feel: "When you make a large financial decision like that and just tell me about it, rather than discussing it with me and giving me a say in it, I feel like I am not an equal partner in our marriage. I am hurt by that. I would like to make decisions with you, not be told about a decision that affects both of us after the decision has been made." Don't make accusations, don't tell him he's wrong, etc. Tell him that you need to be part of this decision. And then tell him that you see the wedding payment as optional, or something where you could expect to pay for certain items but not an entire wedding, start to finish. Say you would like to find a compromise because now that the kids are adults, you and he need to think about your own retirements and futures -- but also let him know that you understand (even if you really don't, at heart) the fact he wants to give his daughter a lovely wedding. Tell him you want to be part of that too.

He also may not really realize how wedding costs can balloon; how "paying for a wedding" is too vague in a world where it could start out meaning a small reception for 30 and end up in a reception for 130 at a more expensive location -- etc.

The fact that you are so precise about all the money he's spent on alimony and his kids over the years tells me there's a lot of resentment about the financial side of his divorce and custody. But if you let that get in the way in THIS conversation about one specific event, you're going to sink any chance you have of calmly showing him you do understand his generous motive here but want to partner with him to keep things reasonable. He may counter that "This isn't about being reasonable, this is about a wedding, love, the best event ever" etc. and he may accuse you of nickel-and-diming his child in her "special moment." Be careful that you don't come across like that.

If he is determined not to discuss this with you or compromise: You DO have your own money in a separate account only in your name, I hope? Be sure you do, because if you cannot get through to him and he never spends anything on necessities like a decent house or functioning car (or retirement account, or savings), then you and he have very different priorities. I would definitely look into getting couples counseling with a focus on both financial issues and on dealing with past resentments over his family from the first marriage.

You asked, am I wrong for feeling this way? No, feelings are not right or wrong so you're not wrong for feeling this resentment. And you seem to be thinking about practicalities more than he does. But try to step aside from your own feelings and see that he does probably view this as the last big gift he can give his little girl (he likely still sees her that way even though she's a mom etc.). Acknowledge that. Doing so does not mean you approve of his expenditure or especially his lack of any consultation with you. Talk to him but be prepared, don't wing it, don't raise other money he's paid out over the years, and make it about "When you do X, it makes me feel Y."

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answers from Washington DC on

I agree with you. Sorry, but kids don't get new cars when you're driving an old one. Kids don't get college paid for when your house is falling apart. One out of 6 kids doesn't get a free wedding while everyone else has to pay for their own.

Tradition has kind of gone out the window with mom and dad paying for the wedding. My parents bought both of my sister's dresses, but that was it. They paid for the rest of it, and they had very different weddings...but it was what they wanted to spend that dictated the style.

I think your husband is in the wrong here and no way would I sit back and go along for the ride. I would make my opinion known and if he went ahead anyways, I would probably not stick around. Sorry, but that's a BIG thing he's doing.

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answers from Boston on

The problem is not that he wants to pay for their weddings. The problem is that you and he are not on the same page. You don't agree on a budget, on how to make adult kids feel confident and self-sufficient, and there's no ability to say no to older kids. Are their new cars something that he is paying for or contributing to? Are the adult kids paying their own insurance and so on?

It might make sense to set a budget for the household, for each kid's support (regular expenses plus things like college and cars and insurance and phones), and tell each kid how to work to contribute for the luxuries. This budget should vary based on the age of the children. Each kid should know what share of their college expenses they will be responsible for, and should have jobs and should fill out student loan applications themselves. That debt should come to THEM, not to you. Even if you help out, the loans should not be in your name(s).

I think the fact that your husband is not treating all the children the same is a big issue, and he (and you) needs to get to the bottom of it. I'd recommend couples counseling because you are not on the same page at all.

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answers from Miami on

No, you aren't wrong. Your husband should be ashamed of himself for this. You have a house that's falling apart and are driving a 14 year old truck?

You had better get him into marriage counseling. If I were in your shoes, I'd save all your money for a place to live without him.

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answers from Los Angeles on

Yes. You're wrong for feeling this way.
You KNEW you were marrying a man with 3 kids to support.
That's the deal when you marry a man with previous obligations.
I'm sorry. I'm sure it's hard.

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answers from Chicago on

When my husband and I were getting married we were also looking for a house. My father passed when I was young so we both knew that my mom would not be paying for our wedding. We did not care. We did not expect a thing. We did however receive money from my mom and his parents. We were told we could put it towards the house or put it towards the wedding, but this was all we were getting. :) we chose to put it towards our down payment and paid for the wedding ourselves.

Maybe a good compromise for you guys would be to give them X amount of dollars and say this is all we have. I know very few couples that have their weddings paid for, by their parents, any more.. Make a list of home repairs that need to be done and talk with your husband about how you will pay for these and a wedding? Plenty of people choose paying for an education for their children over doing much needed repairs to their homes. Unfortunately, home repairs left undone, lead to bigger, more costly repairs in the long run. Sounds like you need to sit down and work out a budget so that both things can be accomplished.

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answers from Philadelphia on

The fact that your house is falling apart and are driving a 14 yo truck tells me you are not his priority. I would be mad too. I hope your husband sees the light.

It sounds like he can not afford to pay for a wedding if he can't afford to fix up a crumbling house and it is only a matter of time before your truck dies.

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answers from Washington DC on

i'm sorry. it sounds as if there's a lot of built-up resentment here, and i'd be pretty pissy too if i were driving an old car and living in a shack, and my husband made big financial decisions without consulting me.
on the one hand you signed up for it when you married him. i assume you knew about the alimony (rather shocking when he has custody of the kids), and you presumably discussed at some point before marrying how much you both planned to contribute to the kids' ongoing expenses such as cars and college.
you don't explain why this daughter's wedding is getting covered but you 'know' that no else's will. has he stated this outright? what rationale did he give?
so i can see two sides to this. one is your very natural anger at not being consulted in financial decisions, and the other is that you walked into this with your eyes open.
i'm glad at least that the alimony is finished!
is this going to be a lavish affair, or do you at least get to keep it minimal?

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answers from Atlanta on

Just wanted to echo what Leigh R and Diane B said. As I read your post with all the exact numbers of how much your husband has paid when to whom, it's clear you are pretty resentful about those past obligations and the daughter's wedding looks to you like another one. It is a little different, however, because it is conventional for the bride's family to pay for the wedding and I can understand why your husband's first thought is that he wants to do it. It's time for two conversations, one about how much you two can reasonably contribute to your step-daughter's wedding and one about how you can make sure your family/household's needs are properly met.

Regarding 'paying for the wedding,' when I was getting married as a 33 year old graduate student with some income, my parents took the approach of saying they would give us a certain amount of money towards our wedding expenses and anything above that was our responsibility. That worked well for everyone, I think. They had contributed to making the day for us and we could include all the people we wanted to. Just a thought...

Good luck, and I do hope you can enjoy the process of making her boyfriend officially part of the family.

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answers from Dallas on

In my opinion, yes, I feel you are wrong for feeling this way. This is what happens when people who have children remarry. It is a big mess, and is something that you signed up for, so you are just going to have to deal with it. His children come first - before YOU - just like your children come first - before HIM.

Addition - I just your SWH. You said (regarding your 16 y/o son) - "How do we afford to get him a car and pay for his college?" Why do you think your husband, who is NOT your son's father, is responsible for helping to buy him a car and pay for his college? You childrens' finances need to come from you and your ex. You ex gives you child support, right?

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answers from Oklahoma City on

Alimony has absolutely nothing to do with children. It's a legal obligation to support his ex regardless of her having custody or not. So that is something you need to let go. It's not your issue. He had to pay that to her and her alone.

You are hurt. You sacrifice for the greater good of the family and you see all this spending and are jealous. I get it, really, I do. I do without food until the kids eat their fill. If they throw their food away after eating I get frustrated because I might have liked to eat that. Putting way too much on their plate is wasteful.

I do without buying new clothes, I gave up wearing deodorant because I hardly sweat. I don't stink unless I've been sick and not showered for several days. I gave up shampoo. I use only conditioner now. It saves a bit.

You need to understand some things. You said money was spent, $20K for college, paying for his son who is now in college, he buys his kids new cars, and medical bills.

Ummmm, if you guys paid cash for college to me that says you are quite well off. People who are lower income, living in a house that is falling apart, and stuff like that qualify for full financial aid. Why didn't you guys apply for FA?

Why is hubby paying cash for college? If he makes that much money he "should" pay for his child's wedding. He should do the father of the bride stuff. I also think he should do the "I love my wife" too and make sure you get some extra special treatment.

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answers from Raleigh on

It might smooth things over if you sit down and settle on an amount to give to them for their wedding. You two don't have to pay for the whole thing. Just help out. Very nice weddings can be done on a budget. Keep in mind that in determining this amount that it will likely be replicated with other children in the future.

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answers from Washington DC on


Welcome to mamapedia!

I'm sorry. You aren't going to like what I am about to say. You asked for my opinion and I'm going to give it to you.

Yes. You are wrong to feel this way. Why?

1. You KNEW he had kids when you married him.
2. You have allowed your home to fall apart too - this is NOT just your husband's responsibility.
3. TRADITIONALLY the bride's parents pay for the wedding.
3 a. Doesn't matter about his ex-wife. She's NOT involved in her kids life (that's her bad, not yours). That you know her financial situation is kinda creepy.
4. You need to sit down and COMMUNICATE with your husband. It really sounds like you don't like him. You feel like you have sacrificed for him and his kids and he's doing nothing for you. You NEED to COMMUNICATE.

5. Find out exactly what he means by "paying for the wedding" - and what her plans are - is she trying to plan something extravagant? If so, you and your husband need to set a budget and stick to it.

6. There's nothing wrong with driving a 14 year old car. It's YOUR job and responsibility to maintain it. That the kids have newer cars? Well, sorry. The "Cash for Clunkers" program took used cars off the market and made it difficult to purchase older cars for kids.

Your whole marriage sounds funky. Do you NOT communicate and set expectations? I mean, really? Yout "thought" and he TOLD you. It sounds like people who live in the same house and don't TALK to each other, just expect the other to pick up on their body language or read the other's mind.

Get a list together. Tell him what needs to be done around the house and how much those items cost. Find out what his daughter expects in way of a wedding and set the budget. If she doesn't like it? Well, she is more than welcome to pay for it herself, she is 25 years old after all and living with him and their child...but you can't hold that against her.


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answers from San Francisco on

I don't agree either, but I don't know how to convince your husband of that.

He absolutely is not obligated to pay for his daughter's wedding. I don't plan to pay for my daughter's wedding.

Good luck convincing him.

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answers from Norfolk on

It depends on what they plan for a wedding.
If they want a major debt incurring extravaganza, I'd have a problem with that.
If they was a civil service and a reception for 50-75 people, it might be very affordable.
Better yet, tell them how romantic an elopement can be - maybe Dad can buy them ticket to Las Vegas.

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answers from Boca Raton on

i'm with you on this. with so many kids, i would either pay for all their weddings, or not at all. i believe college (bachelors) should be paid by parents. everything else is on them (kids). so, sit with him and ask what his plan is for all the kids? create a future plan, together.

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answers from Chicago on

Perhaps you should ask your husband how much he plans to contribute to the wedding. As they are adults, they should be contributing the majority because it is their wedding. You should remind your husband that this is a great gesture, but we should keep in mind other financial obligations as well, so a budget would be a good idea. Do you think your husband has created children who feel entitled? Your husband seems overly generous with his kids and this is fine as long as there are understood boundaries and there don't appear to be any. Wedding today, co-signing for their new vehicles and new home tomorrow. You should have a talk with him.

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answers from Chicago on

Can y'all afford to pay for it without causing financial injury to your own family? If so, let him pay for it.

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answers from Chicago on

you and your husband need to sit down. look at your budget and decide what you can afford to give them towards the wedding. and give them that an no more. do not sign any contracts with any of the vendors etc. in our case we gave our son $5000 towards the wedding. and that was with the agreement that "x" people from our family would be invited. It was an expensive wedding. they paid close to $20,000 when it was all said and done. But I did not agree with some of the expenses and was not willing to foot the bill for them. However there were family and friends that we wanted to be included and made sure we gave enough to cover them plus some of the extras like flowers etc. Just because she is 25 and has a child does not mean she can afford a wedding. but a wedding does not have to cost a fortune. there are many many ways to cut corners. I would just make sure you and hubby are on the same page or it will be a nightmare.

we did in addition to the $5000 also game a wedding shower which cost me over a $1000 and a rehersal dinner which was another $1000.

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answers from Los Angeles on

I haven't read the other replies. I see your point, especially after reading your SWH, but I have to say I only partially agree with you. Yes, I do think that all six children should receive equal treatment and that your two shouldn't get put behind his four. However, I also think that many fathers have it in their heads that they will pay for their daughters' weddings, and he probably feels an obligation - and possibly a desire - to do so. If you are both white Americans, he may feel even more strongly about it, since the tradition in this country is that the bride's family pays (I say this because in other cultures, tradition is for the groom's family to pay).

As much as it sucks, I think you need to accept the fact that his ex will not pay a dime. She hasn't proven herself to be much of a mother in the time that you've known her, so I would not expect that to change now. She wallows in misery and won't shell out a dime.

I don't think it is wrong to ask the bride and groom to share the expenses, if it's truly something you can't afford. Or, at the least, since you are paying for it you should have a say in how the money is spent. Set a budget and stick to it. Anything above that and they are on their own. I know you see them as adults, especially since they have a child already, but 24 really isn't that old at all when it comes to marriage. Figure they haven't been working for that many years and haven't had an opportunity to save up that much money. Plus, many women are older when they get married now - 30ish - and have had a lot more time to become financially independent.

So, I think you need to accept that your husband will pay for the weddings of his daughters. If you have a daughter of your own, and she still has a father in her life, you can also expect that your current husband my expect your ex to pay for that wedding. He may also expect that neither of you should pay for the weddings of your sons. It is a very traditional way of thinking - father of the bride pays for the wedding.

Of course, I see why you are frustrated. You have your own financial priorities and things you need and want to do with your money. But, I don't think your husband is out of line in paying for his children's weddings and college education. The cars... well, that could be something they do themselves, but I certainly know of plenty of people whose parents got them their first cars.

You need to sit down and talk about it. Most importantly, you need to make sure that he grants the same treatment to your two kids as to his own four. Of course, the situation with your ex will also factor into how he views things.

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