Case Study: Integrity in Relationships

I know a couple early on in their marriage who was blessed with the wife’s father gifting them a home.  Initially because of tax consequences, the couple requested that the home stay in the father’s name while they enjoyed the benefits of living there.  There was an implicit agreement of course, which was that one day the house would be transferred into the couple’s joint names. There were no conditions on this transfer…the house was basically theirs except for the formal paperwork.

The couple wants the house now to be put in their name and the father is reneging on the agreement because he feels that they have been irresponsible in their spending (I think they’ve made some big mistakes BUT they are responsible just had bad luck).  ANYWAY, the father has been very generous over the years with this couple; also paying for their school loans (I know….I know, don’t we all wish? ;), etc. 

Now the husband’s father, although a nice guy and supportive in other ways, has pretty much never given them a dime.  Frankly, hubby’s dad just can’t afford to…

What’s interesting is this couple’s frustration and anger at wife’s dad (Mr. Moneybags) and complete adoration of hubby’s dad (Mr. Nicebutpenniless).  Call them ungrateful if you want, but I do understand their perspective.  Mr. Nicebutpenniless never promised them anything…he has always been honest with them that he could not give anything to them financially. Mr. Moneybags, on the other hand, although providing them a lot financially betrayed their trust and put them in a difficult situation when they relied on his word (that the house was theirs).  He basically had led them on and it has wrecked the relationship.  Very sad because I feel Mr. M will eventually give them the house…just after a lot of arguments and hassle. 

As I’ve seen this drama unfold, it gets me to thinking how the most important thing you can give someone in relationship is honesty/integrity.  Mr. M would have had a much better relationship with his daughter and son-in-law if he had just never made a promise he could not keep (e.g. “I will give you this house, no conditions”)  He’s literally given them hundreds of thousands of dollars and they bitterly resent him.  How sad is that?

I personally struggle a lot with this kind of thing.  I have this knack of knowing what people want to hear and I will give them the words without considering first if I have the time/energy/money/true desire etc. to fulfill those words.  Finally, when action is required I often want to back out and the person in question is hurt and terribly disappointed.  None of this would ever have happened if I had just been honest to begin with…(e.g. kept my mouth SHUT!)

….little pain now (say ‘no’ to person now) OR lots of pain later (say ‘no’ later and suffer their disappoint, anger, loss of relationship, etc.)

I guess the choice is always mine…will I be brave enough?


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