You can pay me back

My FIL/MIL used our van this weekend to take our kids out to eat while DH and I went out on a date. When he drove our van, FIL noticed a litany of things that need fixed and told DH to come out on Saturday and they’d work on it. At first I had no issue with it, it sounded as though they were just going to replace the rotars on the wheels. We’re pretty strapped right now, but I was okay with springing for something as basic as this. Then last night the little ‘project’ just blew up. FIL is going to ask his mechanic about how much he thinks it’ll cost to have our van repaired and he’d foot the bill and we could just pay him back.

Gee, thanks. This will be the second loan we’ll owe his dad and I am VEHEMENTLY opposed. I didn’t say this to DH, but all I could think was, whenever my parents give us money, it’s an out-and-out gift, not conditional for repayment. If you’re going to offer someone help, just give it as a gift, don’t offer them a loan for something they neither want nor need. DH says that FIL’s thinking is that this is the primary vehicle for his grandkids and he wants us all to be safe. Well, that’s all very nice, but we can certainly wait 4 months to fix the van till we can afford to do it ourselves.

How can I put into words what I’m trying to say here? This ‘offer’ would just create a very offputting feeling in our relationship, that we ‘owe’ his father in some way. It almost feels like a bit of an ego trip, which FIL, as generous and sweet as he normally is, is known for.

You are right. The important thing is to get your husband on board with this, as he needs to execute this conversation with FIL. Somebody else can provide you exact language (I’m rushing off), but here are a couple of points to use.

  1. We don’t have the money. If we had the money, we’d pay for it ourselves now.

  2. We already owe FIL money and it makes me uncomfortable.

  3. We would be willing to accept a gift of the repair, but borrowing yet more money from FIL just puts us in a worse financial situation. It does not improve our financial situation.

  4. Borrowing money from family often harms relationships (it doesn’t sound like your previous loan from FIL has made you feel more warmly toward him).

It’s not really that important what your husband says to his dad, just so long as it’s polite and he says “No, thanks.”

It’s possible that as a compromise, you could do a minor repair, keep it running, and not do the huge repair that FIL and his mechanic have in mind.

You need to say something, now. In-laws should not be able to dictate to you how to live your lives. If car repairs are so necessary and cannot wait, then you’re better off taking out a loan or credit card to make the repairs, especially if family is going to charge you interest. I don’t know if that’s what’s happening here, but even then, that’s not help. That’s business.

The flipside is also true. Stop taking money from your own parents. That doesn’t help your case here, even if it is a gift. Today’s gift may be tomorrow’s “I did this for you, because you couldn’t have done it yourself”.

ahollars said:

“The flipside is also true. Stop taking money from your own parents. That doesn’t help your case here, even if it is a gift.”

I think a gift is different from a loan. Obviously, there are people who attach strings to gifts or hold it over recipients’ heads, and the OP should not accept gifts from her parents if they make her husband uncomfortable or do that stuff, but gifts and loans are different.

The Bible says, “The borrower is slave to the lender,” not “The recipient is slave to the giver.” Debt is much more stigmatized in scripture than gifts are. In fact, gifts aren’t stigmatized at all.

To be honest it sounds like you’re letting your own ego get in the way of good sense.

Perhaps in their family gifts of large sums of cash like that aren’t a thing for them and self-sufficiency was valued, however in that situation your FIL understood you were in a bind and forwarded you the money. Yet your reaction to this seems to be finding ways to justify you being defensive about it --perhaps embarassment or shame that he’s helping you out (again)?

Because it seems weird you are attacking him for being generous because it has some sort of emotional benefit for him. So what? That’s a part of human nature, our egos and emotions reward our compassion. If I were to feed a homeless man a sandwich, am I not allowed to feel good about it even though my motivation was to not see a man starve?

Pride is a bitter pill to swallow, especially in a situation where your humility is forced by circumstance, but what you basically said is that “My ego is too big to allow my father in law to have any sort of satisfaction in helping my family out. I’d rather put my car out of commission or put my kids in a potential death trap rather than let him ‘win’.”

It’s an act of love, don’t let your pride assume that he’s trying to antagonize or belittle you.

ahollars, you are right, I should pose this to DH about not accepting any more money from either of our parents. I will say, and maybe DH doesn’t feel the same way, that NEVER does my dad make me feel like he would EVER hold his gift-giving over my head. He’s pretty open that he gives freely to ALL of my siblings and even the grandkids. He helped us out when DH was off work for 4-6 weeks and in and out of the hospital with kidney stones. They helped us pay to see a specialist about our severe infections.

Perhaps the thing I need to work on most is NOT complaining too much to my folks about our burdens so much, b/c, I’ll be honest, even though it’s NEVER my intent to milk them, I honestly just need to vent, and they don’t help EVERY time I complain, I can usually expect a little something from them. And then there’s times when we’re experiencing a lull and everything’s fine and mom drops a hundred bucks or so in the mail, just for fun. It’s never felt like a burden.

I don’t know if my dad’s father (a farmer and widow) was ever able to help my folks out as much, but mom says that her parents basically made the down payment on their first home for them as a gift. So it’s sounds like a generational ‘pay it forward’ mentality.



The guy wants his grandchildren to ride a safe vehicle. If you think having a loan with him is expensive wait until your brakes fail and you slam into the back of another person’s car. Or you get left on the side of road with several kids and have a tow truck bill in addition to a repair bill.

Don’t try to get between your husband and his father.

I’m sorry for what you are going through, you sound very frustrated, please be assured of my prayers.

I have to be honest here, I am totally lost by your post and have to ask for clarification. I have no idea why you would be angry with your father-in-law. I can understand why you would not want a loan, but do not understand your anger. Perhaps it is because I do not have the benefit of family history? Based simply on your post, he sounds very reasonable actually. It doesn’t sound as if he is taking your vehicle in for a painting estimate or something frivolous, he seems concerned for safety, this is reasonable and understandable isn’t it? I sincerely apologize I am not trying to be uncharitable to you in any way, I am sincerely confused so if you could clarify that would be very helpful as I the misunderstanding is probably my fault.

I give gifts all the time but only small gifts. I could not afford to fix someone’s car. I would have to offer to loan them money and they could pay me back I suppose. How is that manipulative? If you don’t want the money simply say “no thank you” and have the car fixed later?

Is it that you expect them to be more like your parents and give gifts instead of loans? Perhaps the underlying problem is the relationship and the dynamic of how they interact with you compared to your parents. I am sorry if I am way off-base. Please be assured of my prayers, clearly you are frustrated and I know how hard that can be. God bless you.

sinscriven, point taken. I think I still have a bad taste in my mouth over DH accepting a loan from FIL for a vasectomy - both of which I was against. My feelings were that this is something that can wait till we have the money to pay for it ourselves. Also, accepting money from FIL for this particular thing was the equivalent of letting family into a very private part of our life where NObody belongs.

My FIL is VERY generous and we graciously accept small gifts from him all the time and I LOVE his thoughtfulness, but there’s lots of little things in the background and money is just a very different animal, esp. when it’s an unsolicited offer made conditionally. I know this is maybe reaching a bit, but the analogy of giving a homeless man a sandwich doesn’t click with me b/c you’re giving to someone who you KNOW can’t repay you, and giving UNconditionally. I feel insulted for my MIL b/c FIL will come over and help DH with plumbing problems at our house all the time, but he refuses to have the bathroom fixed (or ANYTHING at his house for that matter). Their full bath (and the nicer of the two if you’re expecting company) has been out of commission for nearly 10 years. He went and bought an underground shelter after a freak hail storm, but he won’t pay to have someone come fix his stool!!!

I dont’ think I’d take a whole lot of pride in LOANING someone money inasmuch as just GIVING it to them. I might even feel a sense of ownership toward that person.

  1. We would be willing to accept a gift of the repair, but borrowing yet more money from FIL just puts us in a worse financial situation. It does not improve our financial situation.
  1. Borrowing money from family often harms relationships (it doesn’t sound like your previous loan from FIL has made you feel more warmly toward him).

This is a similar situation that many people have to endure. Due to the worldwide dysfunctional economy a lot of people and families are forced to ask/beg for financial support. The reality of it is, is that because of our independent thinking we do not understand that we should all help each other out and should not resist one another when we are asked to assist them.

I confess that a long time ago I came into a similar scenario where I was asked to give a small amount of money to a relative in order to help them out with some a financial bind. Instead of acting out of love, I acted out of the enemies provisions and did not give in a spirit of charity. Although at the time I too was equally financial strapped and when I did receive a little extra finances that came my way and I told them they asked immediately for charity. After reflecting on this now I see that it was greed and selfishness too resist those who asked of me.:frowning:

**Luke 6:35

English Standard Version (ESV)**

35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

Praise be to GOD the heavenly father and his son lord JESUS CHRIST forever>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

[quote=Monicad;11328728 I give gifts all the time but only small gifts. I could not afford to fix someone’s car. I would have to offer to loan them money and they could pay me back I suppose.

Forgive me, stinginess is something I struggle with, but if I can’t afford to GIVE someone money, I certainly can’t afford to LOAN it to them. When friends lament about money, I would rather stuff cash in an envelope and mail it to them anonymously than to have them know it was me and feel awkward. Oftentimes it’s enough just to take them to lunch and foot the bill.

Trust me, we’ve been very humbled by generosity from friends and family and we’ve learned to accept free-will offerings graciously, knowing that we cannot repay them. This just feels very differnt to me from all those other things.

A few thoughts:

  1. The loan-for-vasectomy thing is really cringe-making. I would just die if I were eating Thanksgiving dinner with the people who had loaned my husband money for a vasectomy against my will.

  2. Given the bathroom example, it sounds like FIL is a little weird about money and “helping.” It’s not just in the OP’s head.

  3. “Honest to goodness, we’ve made it this long, I think we can wait THREE months till we get our tax return and then make the other repairs.”


  1. “To me, I would no sooner accept an offer from family than I would a credit card company to open up a line of credit for something I don’t need.”

Yep. It’s a loan–it’s not free money. If it were an emergency, they could get a real loan from a real credit union, and not have any family drama. As it isn’t an emergency, they don’t need to do it.

:confused: :eek:

I like this answer. :thumbsup:

I would suggest that your DH knows his parents better than you do and that you should not dismiss his views on this matter any more than he should dismiss yours. Also - If I’m reading yoru post rightly - DH was with his dad when the decision was made to have the additional work done and your FIL paying the bill. Since he was there, he had the best look at what was wrong with the vehicle and what the best decision was…

I know that if my wife were to call my decision on such a matter into question I would be quite hurt. She should trust me to do what is right - especially where the kids are involved.

As to your FIL, he may very well realize - and even consider - this as more of a “gift” than a “loan”. His manner of expression might simply be his way of not making you feel embarrassed about “taking” the money from them. I know this because my parents did this with us…and I have done the same with our kids. It’s expressed as a “loan” but teh proviso is “just pay it back when you can” (which frankly is usually never)…:wink:

You have already said that he is normally very generous and sweet…What makes you think that this is somehow “abnormal”? To me it sounds quite generous and quite sweet.

As to the money - Please do pay it back when you get the chance. He will appreciate it and so will you.

In not so many years from now you may find yourself doing similar things for your kids…sort of Paying it forward…

Just some thoughts.


I guess I just don’t like somebody telling me I need to take care of something when he doesn’t take care of his own things. I’ve thought of this before now, but I would be supremely jealous if DH EVER gave to our DIL before taking care of OUR needs. Such as the case w/ FIL. It isn’t frivolous to have your bathroom fixed so that company can use the nice bathroom instead of your ‘mud’ room that you use to wash off when you come in from working cattle. In fact, it’s his stinginess in keeping up his home that NONE of us (BILs and their wives included) EVER want to go to their nasty house.

When they moved into this place about 10 years ago, FIL was content to keep the old stove that came with the place, even though it obviously needed to be replaced. HE doesn’t cook and wasn’t going to use it, so to him it was frivolous. Nevermind that his wife would use it to cook HIS food! DH and his brothers actually had to band together to confront their dad and tell him he better get their mom a new stove - she never asks for anything and he certainly would never offer.

I think even if he didn’t offer the loan, I’d still be annoyed for HIM to tell US to get our van repaired. I’m confident that DH feels the same way. In fact, he wants no part of this getting together with his dad to work on the van. He could really care less. Not that he isn’t concerned for our safety, or that he isn’t annoyed with the noise, but we’ll get to it eventually and we’ll pay someone to do it. He has no desire to learn these skills.

But would you be supremely jealous if your husband gave money to help your own grown children with their family needs while sacrificing his own?

I agree I would have a hard time accepting a loan from my in-laws, but its because they are strings attached people -well my FIL is. Even a gift of money would be difficult depending on what its for because these usually are conditional. A small example many years ago when FIL offered to pay for my husband’s schooling there were a list of conditions including how my husband wore his hair.:rolleyes: (And no my husband didn’t have some hippy hairstyle or anything.)

I would have an extremely hard time accepting a loan from any family member that loaned my husband money to do something that is completely against my religious beliefs. That alone would take me a long time to work through.

rayne89 said:

“But would you be supremely jealous if your husband gave money to help your own grown children with their family needs while sacrificing his own?”

If it’s done in consultation between husband and wife, as a mutual decision to sacrifice for the benefit of grown children, that’s one thing. But if it’s the husband unilaterally making loans or making gifts, that is quite another thing. He would be treating family funds as if they were entirely his to dispose of, which is not kosher.

Note that in this particular situation, the FIL made a loan to the OP’s husband to pay for a vasectomy, against the OP’s wishes. There’s a sort of compounding pattern here of 1) not adequately considering the MIL’s needs and 2) not considering the DIL’s wishes about whether she wants her family to be in debt for the vasectomy and the car loan. There’s a pattern of treating wives and female relatives generally as second class citizens in their marriages.

So, yes, any loan or other money from FIL does require a lot of scrutiny, particularly when it is used to override the OP’s rights as a wife. (She should, of course, consult her husband before accepting further gifts from her family.)

I’ll add that my in-laws have been very generous to us. They wanted us to buy a house well before we were prepared to buy a house and they had rather big ideas about what kind of house we should buy. At some point, they offered to supplement our house payments on a monthly basis to encourage us to buy something nicer, as they did not have a lump sum available. We (via my husband) said that we would not be comfortable doing that. We would buy according to whatever resources we currently had in hand. So we continued to save and then eventually, my in-laws were able to step forward with about 50% of our eventual downpayment. That was a great help, rather than being a source of continual anxiety as to whether they would be able to pay this month or not. The OP is in a very similar situation–the loan would offer them temporary relief, at the cost of future anxiety with regard to being able to pay off the loan.

Oh, and to those posters who loan money and then “forget” it–please do your children and sons and daughters-in-law the favor of explicitly telling them that you have forgiven the loan, and give them a notarized document saying so. You do them no favors by leaving the loan hanging over their heads. You may have “forgotten” the loan, but if your children are at all conscientious, it is flavoring their relationship with you. If it’s a gift, let them go.

Thank you for clarifying this really helps. Okay I have to be honest that I disagree with you on the meaning of “stinginess.” I don’t believe that if you can afford to loan someone money then that obligates you to give it to them instead, and I don’t think that is Catholic Church teaching either. I know that the church discourages high interest of course but I don’t think there is anything sinful about making a loan. Case in point…my husband and I had a small savings (a few thousand dollars) and a family member that was in dire straits. There was a discussion and we agreed to make a loan of the money.

Now JLCecilia if I could have, of course I would have given the money away! However I had small children at the time and that was our savings. Because I had a young family I simply could not justify GIVING someone that large of a gift, I just couldn’t. I even explained that to the person I loaned the money too. They paid us back in full and all is well. I do not think of myself as stingy but rather honest about my life, my lifestyle and what I could afford to do. I suppose you and I will have to agree to disagree.

As far as your father-in-law it seems there are so MANY problems here. This has to do with a house that is in shambles and a vasectomy and loans and probably a host of other problems that you could write a book about!

My advice to you is to let this go as best as you can and to concentrate on your marriage. Your father-in-law is a source of irritation for you but try as best as you can not to let him come between you and your husband, I know he already has so try not to let it happen again. I speak from personal experience my husband’s mother was very difficult and not only did my husband have a hard time with her…but he used to get an EARFUL from me after every encounter with her. I just made things worse, it took me years to realize that. Let your marriage be a source of peace. Your husband has a difficult father. His father seems scattered and does not follow through. He leaves a bathroom unfinished for several years? There is something wrong there. Your husband probably already has difficulty with his father (just guessing.) Do what you can to be a source of peace for your husband, be a source of love and of serenity. It took me years to try and do this but when I did it really helped my marriage.

Try and resist the urge to discuss, analyze, criticize or belittle your father-in-law to your husband. This does not mean you have to condone his actions, just be a source of love and peace for a while. It sounds like you have quite the battlefield going over this car repair. Whether or not you have the car fixed is irrelevant, what is important is that you make the decision to do so in peace without fighting. I haven’t been in your shoes exactly but know what it’s like to have difficult in-laws, it is a heavy cross to bear. Remember that Jesus Christ gave you this cross as a gift. Hard as it is to believe your cross is a gift meant for your life, God knew from all eternity that you would be living your life and that this would be your circumstance. Try and get through this trial as best as you can with the help of Christ. Hope this helps a little, God bless you.

I actually have a problem with being told I need to take care of something because they would take care of it. Not a big problem just an annoyance.
My inlaws are meticulous about the condition of everything they own. If anything even minor goes wrong, or is damaged in someway it is either immediately repair or replaced. A tiny scratch or ding on a car -fixed and repainted. A cooking pan, a sock -anything and everything has to be in perfect condition.

My mother-in-law visited at the beginning of summer. She works at a big box store in her area and we have one near by. We have a microwave that a couple of the numbers on the keypad have stopped working. We work around it. My daughter, my MIL and I went shopping she when she was visiting. MIL went on her own in the store and came back with a microwave in the shopping cart. Our finances are usually always tight and I appreciated her generosity. The thing is there were things my daughter really needed that I would have rather she spend her money on. As we walked around I finally managed to says something. I told her I appreciated her thoughtfulness but because money was tight I would rather her buy my daughter such and such because she really needed it. To her credit she was not the least bit offended any actually generously bought both (I think because having a microwave with a couple of buttons that don’t work is unfathomable to her).

That was June, the microwave she bought us is still in the box. Why? Because our microwave still works and I can’t bring myself to replace it yet. I grew up in a family that wasted nothing. My father was an engineer and wasn’t because we didn’t have the money. My parents can afford much more that my husband’s family can. I can not think of single thing that was replaced while I was growing up unless it was worn out. I know I will have to pull the new microwave out before my MIL comes and visits again because I don’t want to hurt her feelings. I knew in my gut before she came she was going to offer to to replace it.

There is that tiny part of my feels I don’t need to be told when I need to replace things. I guess I get my pride up in a bunch feeling like I am being told I need to be a certain way. That we need to be like them. The first year after my husband got our of the military and my inlaws came to visit us because we moved back to our home state. We had a 13 in TV that I had bought myself while still living at home (we married out of highschool). My inlaws have always had a big screen TV. The next Christmas after they visited they brought one of their large televisions to give us (they had bought a new one). My FIL was clearly astonished that we would have such a small television and I’m pretty sure he felt my husband was deprived.:rolleyes: Their TV is always on. In my house growing up it was not that way. And I did not want a giant TV as the centerpiece of my living room. But we graciously accepted it. (Thankfully it died after a couple years.) That 13 in TV is my daughter’s room which she uses to watch dvd’s on and it still works perfectly (its over 20 years old).

So my long, rambling off on a tangent post does have some relevance to your situation. I think we don’t like to be told has adults what we need to do, how we need to spend money, and when we need to spend it.Even if it could be helpful and at the very least its morally neutral. (unlike the vasectomy situation).

I would not like to be loaned money to fix things that I feel aren’t necessary which means I have to pay it back. I have a scrape on my car. I would not want my FIL to loan us money to fix it. The car has over 130,000 miles on it.

Funny story my front tire has a slow leak, I mentioned to my dad that I was planning on replacing it. (Hubby does add air regularly) he said “I’d wait a few more months it has some good tread left on it.” That didn’t irritate me at all. :smiley:

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