When I met my wife, she was making a lot more money than I was.
Her family paid for our lavish wedding, though I would've preferred a smaller event.
I still struggle to connect with her family, and she and I don't see eye to eye on finances.
My wife was earning about half a million dollars a year in her career when we met, and she came from a wealthy family. I, on the other hand, was making $45,000 a year in education. My parents had more kids than the Brady Bunch, and we often struggled to have food on the table.
When we met, it wasn't exactly the plot of "Pretty Woman" — my wife being Richard Gere and I Julia Roberts. But there was certainly some head-scratching on her side of the family about how she ended up with me.
We dated for six months before we became engaged. The wedding was set for a year and a half later. During that time we lived together in her house while I sold mine. It threw me into her wealthy world.
My wife and I have very different backgrounds
My parents had eight kids. My father never made more than $43,000 a year. My mother barely worked a job outside the home because there were so many children who needed attention.
There were plenty of nights where we weren't sure what our next meal would be or if the bank would come foreclose on the house. Living in these situations was beyond stressful, and it took its toll on my parents and all of us kids.
My wife grew up with a few brothers and sisters, too, but that's where our similarities end. I learned she and her siblings drove nice cars, had college paid for, and got handed money when they needed it. Many of their bills were taken care of for them.
I didn't get my first new car until I was 40. When I tried to explain the significance of this event to her side of the family when we started dating, it went right over their heads. They'd all had new vehicles right out of college.
I shared my life with her family at fancy restaurants where the bill would be larger than my rent check back in the day. The parents would pick up the bill; the children were used to it.
To say our worlds were different would be too simple — we came from different universes.
Our wedding was an expensive event
My wife and her family planned and paid for our wedding. Well over 300 people attended, with my family and friends making up a little less than 15% of that number.
Several people said it was the best wedding and reception they'd attended. I would've rather had something simple, but my wife and her parents wanted to live it up.
The event ended up costing just under $100,000. I had to sit back and realize this was not my money. To avoid conflict, I learned to go with the flow.
Still, I was low-key furious when a couple of my wife's parents' friends came up to me at the wedding and said, "You really married up, didn't you?" My own parents and siblings were only a couple dozen feet away. If my parents had heard this remark, it would've broken their hearts and caused embarrassment. Thankfully, they didn't.
The financial differences have caused issues with my wife, but I try to look on the bright side
My wife and I have our disagreements — about finances and a million other things, just like with every other couple. But issues with the in-laws are some of the bigger fights we've experienced.
How do we work through them? We don't, unfortunately. She's set in her ways, and I'm set in mine. I've had to learn it's OK for two good people not to agree on everything. But it's made life difficult at times.
Sometimes I have to step back and look at the big picture. My wife and I now have two little kids; my wife's side of the family adores them and spoils them. My in-laws are not bad people at all. They can be quite pleasant to be around, especially in small doses.
It can be frustrating at times, but it could be much worse. I try to remind myself of this often.
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