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My girlfriend's parents won't pay for outside school classes she wants to take (like singing, for example) and I really want to be able to give it to her. There is something I can afford, but she won't let me pay for her no matter how hard I tried to get her to.

It's really hard for me watching her parents ignoring her feelings and needs. I want to be able to supply for her and though I'm unable to pay for everything, I can pay for this particular little thing. It would make me so happy to do so. It's devastating she won't let me. How can I show her how much this means to me? How can I start a conversation about this?

Additional information (as requested)

Apparently money is an issue at her home. She is having a very hard time with the idea of "taking from me" even if not asked for. Apparently, it is nearly impossible for her to cope with paying with my money.

Her parents are really strict. They have a specific idea about her career (being a doctor) and anything that is not connected with that (e.g. singing, acting) is a privilege. Also, they really discourage her from doing stuff she likes and that is not what they like (e.g. singing, acting, dancing). Her mother does claim she is short on money, but it seems she might have a shopping addiction, along with poor management of her own money. I wouldn't be surprised if I found she has a negative balance in the bank. She repeatedly pays for stuff she probably can't afford and even makes her daughter feel bad for being a burden. ("I pay for all your stuff, the least you can do is..") Apparently, she sometimes borrows money from her daughter (which she worked for on holidays and school vacations) and doesn't pay her back with the same excuse.

Cultural and age differences

I'm almost 19 and she is 17, but she is noticeably more mature than I am. We are both from Haifa, Israel. Note that legal age is 18, so she is still legally under her parents' care. Though we are from the same place (and even the same school) the way we were raised and educated by our parents are totally different. Firstly, Israel is a pretty new country in which most of the citizens live for only 2 generations. My family is from Iraq and hers from Hungary, which is a great difference in the Israeli society. Hungarians are considered "Ashkenazic" and Iraqis are considered "Mizrahi". It was claimed that the "Mizrahi" people were discriminated against by "Ashkenazic", but her mother claims to accept all cultures. Though her repeated mention of my race and culture in the ears of her daughter hints otherwise... I should say that we are both (me and my girlfriend) more connected to the western culture than anything else.

Also, her parents are much older than mine and are practically from a generation before my own. I was raised pretty liberally while her parents are very strict and treat her more like a property than a human being with feelings.

closed as off-topic by Ælis, avazula, Xander, Rainbacon, sphennings Jan 7 at 19:05

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    "It would make me so happy to do so. It's devastating she won't let me. How can I convince her?" Do you want to do this mainly for your own good? – Anne Daunted Feb 20 '18 at 21:14
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    @AnneDaunted What a strange question. I love her, doing good for her feels exactly like doing good for me. So yeah, it's for my own good, and for her. – Shachar Har-Shuv Feb 20 '18 at 21:15
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    If she doesn't want you to, why not respect her wish? Or maybe find out why she doesn't want to first, instead of trying to convince her. – Anne Daunted Feb 20 '18 at 21:18
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    I understand where you come from, but I can still imagine she would want to avoid another conflict. You hating each other is probably hard for her. Even if she is not on good terms with her parents, most people cannot help but feel bad about seeing this type of conflict between their loved ones and family. In her position, I would try to avoid the conflict to escalate until I am old enough to remove myself (locally and legally). She does not want to lose you, but she cannot afford open conflict with her parents to escalate. – skymningen Feb 21 '18 at 14:42
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is asking about how to convince someone and no how to talk to someone about something which is off-topic here. – Ælis Jan 7 at 11:14
75

People of low financial means often take money issues much more seriously than those who have money. Take it from me; I grew up in a very low income household and accepting money from people, especially friends or family, has always been incredibly difficult, or at least noteworthy. To your girlfriend, your offer is much more serious than it is to you.

If you hope to convince her to accept your gift, you must first convince her that it is not a big deal for you. Arguments about how much you care about her or how important her desires, etc. are to you are not likely to be effective. Focus on what it costs you. Are you sacrificing an opportunity by giving that to her? If so, what is it and why is it okay to lose that opportunity (from a personal standpoint, not weighing her needs against yours)? Be specific.

That being said, I think you ought to reconsider giving her a gift of this magnitude at this point. If you really hope to have a future with this girl, you must consider the fact that giving her an extravagant gift like this (her perspective) creates a power disparity in your relationship (both your perspective and hers). Money issues are notoriously difficult for many couples to overcome, so be careful not to create one so early on.

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    This is... very well put. Thank you. I will consider giving up on this one. I certainly do not wish to create money problems so early in my relationship. I do hope that she will accept my help some day. It's hard wanting to help and not being able to. – Shachar Har-Shuv Feb 20 '18 at 22:04
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    @ShacharHar-Shuv Thanks! Best wishes and good luck! These things take time and hopefully someday it will be easier to share as much of your means with her as you want to. – BlackThorn Feb 20 '18 at 22:06
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    @ShacharHar-Shuv and BlackThorn, I think you are right, but I think in her case is also a trust issue, that is why it may be worth it to follow through with this. As ShacharHar said it, her parents tell her she is a burden, she is used to people do things for her and then throw it at her face. And so she feels in debt. You can not go around in relationships thinking everything they do for you, you are in their debt, you can't have friends or anything like that. If you cant do this one thing, try doing something else, and never NEVER throw it at her face, and she will learn to trust. – Mykazuki Feb 22 '18 at 16:29
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Your girlfriend's family issues are not something you should get involved with unless your relationship is very serious, and with her express permission. If her relationship with her parents is unhealthy (and it sounds like it might be), then that's something that she needs to tackle.

For example, if she knows that her mother is a shopping addict who literally steals from her (taking money from someone and then finding excuses not to give it back is called stealing), then she should not lend her mother any sum going forward, and let her deal with her own finances. Perhaps moving out might also be a good idea.

However, she also needs to decide what it is that she wants to do with her life. If she wants to be a doctor, then she needs to focus her efforts, and work hard at getting good grades, and getting accepted into medical school. Singing and dancing may be nice hobbies, but does she realistically have time for them?

Maybe, in her heart of hearts, she knows she does not, and you offering to pay for them is further pushing temptation to stray from her goals into her path. You need to analyze these things thoroughly before you try and force her to accept your seeming generosity.

Furthermore, you need to ask yourself how you paying for her lessons will be interpreted by not only her family, but also yours. Just how serious are you about this girl? How serious is she about you? There's some important conversations that need to be had before you start merging your finances like that.

I would suggest having some conversations with this girl:

  • How serious are the two of you? Do you want to get married?
  • How serious is she about wanting to be a doctor? Is that a personal goal, or just something that is being pushed on her by her parents?
  • If she is serious about being a doctor, does she realistically have time for singing, or acting lessons? If she does not want to be a doctor, what does she want to do with her life? (at least a vague plan)
  • Do you want to support her in achieving those goals? Is paying for singing lessons really a benefit to her becoming a doctor?
  • If you really want to offer her these opportunities, for how long are you willing to pay? 10 lessons? 50? What would the "contract" between you two be? This can be a particularly scary topic for her. (She may fear that you will expect her to do X in return for paying for Y)

I hope I've outlined that there's a lot more underlying issues at play here than simply paying for singing lessons. You guys need to have a serious conversation about your lives, and relationship before you offer that sort of thing.

  • She is legally under age so she can't leave her house. She can't also defy her mother in anything because her mother has the power of taking things from her and she does threat to. She obviously DO NOT want to be what her mother wants her to. She wants to be a performer and that is 100% clear to me. It IS hard to achieve that. I also know for a fact that if her parents WOULD pay for the classes she wants she would gladly go. her problem is taking from me. (or anyone else, probably) – Shachar Har-Shuv Feb 20 '18 at 17:42
  • I am VERY serious with this girl. I think she might be the one I'll marry. I want to be able to give her much more and as it goes know she barely let me give her the little I can. – Shachar Har-Shuv Feb 20 '18 at 17:43
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    @ShacharHar-Shuv - well, you've outlined the situation fairly grimly. She's a minor, and shouldn't go against her parent's wishes in this matter. Sure, she wants to be a performer, but that could change in time. When I was 14 I thought I wanted to be an archaeologist. By the time I was 17 I wanted to be an engineer. Things change. It doesn't seem to me like you should be getting involved in this situation. At least not until you guys are both adults in the eye of the law, and can plan a future together. – AndreiROM Feb 20 '18 at 17:53
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    @ShacharHar-Shuv - it commendable that you want to offer her these opportunities, but there's a bigger context of family relationships at play here. Quite frankly, her parents could go up to yours and tell them to keep you away from her. You're minors, that could potentially happen. You need to play the long game. If the two of you still feel the same way at 18, move in together, and let her take all the dancing lessons she wants. – AndreiROM Feb 20 '18 at 18:14
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    @harper - before financial compatibility can come into the picture, the OP and his GF should first establish that they're in a serious relationship, and probably move in together. Instead, he's 19, she's 17 (a minor), and they haven't yet figured what they're going to be doing with their lives. His GF lives with, and needs to obey her parents, at least until she's an adult, and may be able to strike out on her own. And so, financial compatibility is not something that should come into play just yet. Instead, they should be respecting her parent's wishes, and making plans for when she moves out – AndreiROM Feb 22 '18 at 1:02
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This might sound mean but, if she doesn't want you to pay for her things, why don't you just accept it and respect what she wants? As someone has mentioned, money imbalances can easily create power disparities in couples, and she is now in a vulnerable position. I strongly encourage you to respect her will. She will soon be 18 and able to make decisions without her parents' permission (and find a way to make her own money).

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    I'm not disagreeing with your answer, but I want to point out that her "wishes" might not be what she is saying. People often refuse large gifts for cultural, ethical, personal, etc. reasons even if they really want the gift. Depending on the reasoning, you may "convince" them to take the gift. In Japan, it is the norm to refuse a gift a couple times before accepting. – BlackThorn Feb 22 '18 at 16:38
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    The OP mentions "no matter how hard I try to get her to". It is clear she has already refused a couple of times or a few. Moreover, these cultural standards of always rejecting everything the first time are based on insisting on the offer, not on convincing the other person to take it. The difference is being willing to accept the other person's response, or insisting until the other person does what you want them to. – Anna SdTC Feb 22 '18 at 22:15
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I see you already have an answer, and I completely agree with BlackThorn, but let me add something as a fellow Israeli. Your GF is 17, that means 11th grade? In two years she will be in the army. Free. Making her own choices, financially and otherwise. What she does with her military service is her choice - her parents can't affect what she writes in her Manilla, nor what she says on interviews. That part of her life would not, cannot, include them. There's no threat her parents would able to hold over her head anymore - the army would pay her, feed her, clothe her. If she doesn't wish to live with her parents during military service, that can be done - through the Mashakit Tash. (I don't think situation coming to that would make anyone happy, but it's important to know the option exists. It's liberating to have choices.)

The army is a very empowering experience. Being an adult, being treated as an adult, doing something that's real and important and your responsibility - it's big.

I used to have a relationship with my parents not too different from what you describe your GF has with hers: my parents too had a very clear idea of what I should do with my life, paid only for what they thought I should have, reminded me of the fact that they're paying, and I'm not bringing anything into the household. It's a cultural thing. As a soldier, I was able to say "I'm an adult, I make my own choices. I'd rather you accept my choices, but I won't change my decisions if you don't. You do not decide things for me anymore." Military service changed both how I saw myself, and how my parents saw me. Even how my grandparents saw me. There wasn't even an argument - I've changed the dynamics, and that was it.

In the meantime (since waiting isn't the most pleasant thing to do), does your GF's school offer arts, theatre, or music classes (for Bagrut)? Any reason why she shouldn't take that? If that's not possible, her parents clearly want her to have a good Bagrut, right? (Since you say they want her to be a doctor?) That's something she should do, whatever career she wants to pursue later. Good grades open doors: she'd get more choices of where to serve in the army, it would be easier for her to get a scholarship if she decides to go for any kind of higher education, it will look good in her CV. She's in a hard situation, certainly, but she can at least make the best of it.

Something else your GF can try to do is involve a teacher she trusts, get the teacher to talk to her parents about what she wants to do with her life. An adult in professional capacity might not be dismissed as easily as someone "young and inexperienced".

I hope this works out, for both of you!

  • Thanks for sharing the experience. In fact her school does offer a Bagrut in Theatre but her mother wouldn't let her do it. (A painful point too). I hope you are right about the army... and that she'll really do what she wants. – Shachar Har-Shuv Feb 22 '18 at 10:10
6

Pulling out some key parts of your question (in order):

Her parents are really strict. They have a specific idea about her career (being a doctor) and anything that is not connected with that (e.g. singing, acting) is a privilege.

Also, they really discourage her from doing stuff she likes and that is not what they like (e.g. singing, acting, dancing).

She... even makes her daughter feel bad for being a burden. ("I pay for all your stuff, the least you can do is..")

Apparently, she sometimes borrows money from her daughter (which she worked for on holidays and school vacations) and doesn't pay her back with the same excuse.

These are the most important points for understanding her feelings. The only people in her life that give her money use it as a tool to manipulate her, a weapon make her feel bad, and/or an excuse to take away everything she works for. Of course she doesn't want your money. It's a trap that has already caused her a lot of grief.

Oh, but your money isn't a trap? Then you will have to convince her that it truly is a gift - no strings attached. Not a favor, not a perk of being your girlfriend, just a gift that you will enjoy giving. Would you want the money back if you broke up a month after paying for this class? Would you bring the money up if you had an argument?

No matter what, I advise caution in how you proceed. If you put too much pressure on her to accept, then you've taken her parents manipulation to a worse level - using the promise of money as a tool to coerce her.

As for how to actually convince her that it truly is a gift, I recommend honesty, since you're asking for trust, and honesty builds trust most surely.

3

Proceeding this question with rule-book like approach:

Please take no hard feelings if I sound blunt.

I am assuming that you are very serious on your side of relationship and there might be two reasons for why she is not feeling comfortable using your help:

  1. She does not feel that the relationship is at the level where she can ask or accept these favours.
  2. She feels that you can use the money in any other way rather than spending it on her. She does not want to put you in any trouble due to her invaluable wish. She underestimates her worth for you.

If it is point 1, you have to do a lot of work. Point 2 is quite simple to approach

Solution for point 1:

This will be tricky. Tell her how much you love her and try to be open on your side. Then choose a day when she is in the best of her mood and ask her how much she loves you. What all she can do for you and is there any limits that she would put on your relationship. You will understand if the answer is positive for you.
If it is negative please don't force your will to help on her. Give her time and show that you are still equally committed to her. Repeat this step until it is positive.

If the answer is positive, proceed to:

Solution for point 2:

Now here tell her how much exactly she means to you. Again use reverse examples of what she can do for you. Tell her that her happiness is everything for you. Tell her openly that you have x$ spare at the end of every month and that you can easily accommodate for her classes. Tell her that

if you both don't help each other, who else will? Won't you help me in something like this.

Hopefully this should work and make her accept your help. Ask anything if you are not content with this answer.

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    Although this addresses the OP's basic question of how to convince her to accept his money, it does not address the potential complications between the OP and his GF's family, or between the GF and her parents. What if she gets kicked out? What if they take steps to keep the two of them from ever seeing each other again? There's risks in antagonizing her parents that you are not considering, and which have potentially dangerous consequences. – AndreiROM Feb 20 '18 at 18:53
  • @AndreiROM I think the deal is NOT telling her parents I'm paying for her, and hope they won't notice. – Shachar Har-Shuv Feb 20 '18 at 20:23
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    She tells me it's mostly 2 but also 1 in a way. she tells me she would do the same for me ("of course") She also tells that if her parents will found out about me paying her it will get her into trouble. She tells me that even if it weren't for her parents she wouldn't agree. she feels as though she would owe me if I pay for her. – Shachar Har-Shuv Feb 20 '18 at 20:27
  • @ShacharHar-Shuv - the problem is that they would probably notice (sooner or later), and probably get quite upset about you/her lying to them. There are already some underlying issues in their family relationship .. why not wait until she turns 18 and move in together? Then you guys can do whatever you want. – AndreiROM Feb 20 '18 at 20:31
  • If it is not a problem in your relationship but more of a family problem, i suggest you must not force her to make decision against her family, ateast till she is not an adult. – Pranav Totala Feb 20 '18 at 21:06
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Setting aside the dysfunctional relationship with her parents or finances. If you want to pay for a class for her why don't you sign her up pay for it and give it to her as a present make a fake gift certificate with all the information on it and in small print on the bottom simply write non-refundable. You can give the gift for any little reason. As a gift you are avoiding the give/borrow money issue and since it is a gift and already done she will be very likely to accept it. If you look on line you can see hundred of examples of creative gift certificates people have made. Hope this helps.

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    If you gift something that the receiver has explicitly stated they do not want to receive from you, you run a very real risk of ruining your relationship. – Erik Feb 21 '18 at 16:37
  • I agree with @Erik this is a nice thought, but a very bad idea. – bigbadmouse Feb 22 '18 at 12:34
  • he stated she does wish to. – One Feb 22 '18 at 17:14
  • She wishes to take the classes, but not his money. OP says: "she won't let me pay for her no matter how hard I tried to get her to". – Em C Feb 26 '18 at 1:57

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