San Juan Islands, Wash.: About eight years ago, my husband and I decided to help two of his sisters—both single mothers—buy their own houses. We wrote up no official papers, had no formal date for being repaid. (Yes, I know now this was all a bad idea.) One of them paid us back several years ago. The other has never mentioned it. As I saw her become financially stable, her children grown and moved out of the house, I kept expecting her to bring up how she might begin to repay us. My husband refused to ask her about it, saying she'd bring it up when she was ready. After a couple of years of wondering, I finally wrote her a letter saying this uncomfortable matter was still between us and asking for us to talk about it. She responded by writing a letter only to my husband, saying she was surprised that the "private agreement" that existed between her and my husband of his "generous gift" might be causing him pain. My husband was angry that I had gone "behind his back" to write a letter to his sister. He says now that he has always hoped that one day she would "pay it forward" to another family member but that whatever she does is her own business. I feel like she --and he-- have cut me out of the discussion of what happens to our money($20,000!). What should I do?
Emily Yoffe: Yes, the original mistake was not clarifying the terms of the loan. Since enough time has gone by for your sister-in-law's children to have grown and left, even a low interest rate would be a nice return for you now. Your second mistake was taking action without your husband. This has backfired by making it his family against you. "Pay it forward" is a lovely idea, but it sounds as if your sister in-law just decided to stick with the "pay" portion of this aphorism and has no use for "forward" let alone paying it back. Given the high feelings, you should apologize to your husband and say you want to let the issue go for now. Then in a few months say to your husband you know you behaved inappropriately by writing to your sister-in-law, but you wanted to bring it up again with him to see if you both could get some recompense from his sister for your long ago and generous loan. link to original post with 20 million other questions
what it looks like is husband GAVE his sister 20,000 behind his wifes back. "pay it forward" my ass, it does not sound like he mentioned any such thing to his sister and especially not to his wife.
prudie says the wife should apologize. nooooooo she shouldnt. sure she could start the conversation with her husband with an apology about writing the letter, but she needs then tell her husband that she feels he went behind her back in setting up an apparent "private agreement" with his sister. the sister seems to think it was a gift. if it was the couple has much bigger issues. assuming joint finances, it is just as much her money as her husbands. he does not have the right to give anyone that kind of money without her consent. if it was a loan and it was stated as such from the beginning, than he needs to discuss a repayment plan with his sister, without blaming the wife for anything.