Dealing With In-Laws Who Ask for Money Here are 4 ways to help cope with in-laws who over step their boundaries. BY DR. SCOTT HALTZMAN
Having in-laws who over step their boundaries could put a strain on your relationship.
“ Many people feel rude asking for money back. Disorganized people need prompting, and don’t take offense.”
My father-in-law is always borrowing "a couple bucks" from me, but he never pays me back. How do I let him know that I’m not his personal banker and that my funds are for my family, not his?
Developing strong a relationship with your in-laws is a vital part of a happy and healthy marriage, and part of your relationship with your in-laws is give and take. Of course, they’ll always expect to be treated with a modicum of respect that they may, or may not, deserve. But let’s face it, when you picked their child out of all the other possible life partners, they felt that gave them bragging rights and the right to expect your respect.
But when an in-law regularly starts to take more than give it’s time to rethink the relationship. Before we assume that you’re just being used for your financial resources, though, try to figure out exactly what the problem is. Some people borrow money because they’re not organized enough to bring money along; they run out and they never get back to the bank to get more. People like this are not only disorganized about their own finances, they’re disorganized about their debts. In these cases, they might just "forget" they owe you money in the same way they "forget" that they have to go to the ATM that morning. The best way to pin your dad-in-law down is to remind him that he owes you money. Common sense, yes, but many people feel rude asking for money back. Disorganized people need prompting, and don’t take offense. Often they are grateful from the reminder.
Another possibility is that your father-in-law is genuinely poor and that he’s not so much taking advantage of you, but surviving off of your few dollars. If he had made a few too many bad investments or his home is about to be foreclosed then he may just be getting by and reaching out to you for charity. That’s probably not the case, but if so, it may help you to understand better why he doesn’t ever seem to have cash. Then, of course, you and your spouse can choose whether you want to be his personal welfare agency.
If you’ve ruled out any better explanations for his behavior or even if you’ve ruled them in, you may decide that you’re not interested in scraping the insides of your pocketbook at his request. You can go about solving this problem in a number of ways. Here are some approaches to consider:
Turn the tables: Regularly ask your father-in-law for money until he can "feel your pain" and realize how annoying such behavior can be.
Empty your pockets: Another way is to simply arrive for a day out without any money, and, when he asks, say you don’t have any.
Make a comfort zone: Alternatively, you can have all the money you desire in your wallet and when he asks, simply say that you’re not comfortable with loaning out money because you fear that such financial exchanges put a strain on your relationship and you’d both be happier if those strains weren’t there.
Clarify: The best way of solving this problem would be to sit down with your father-in-law even before he asks for money, describe how the current situation makes you feel and inform him that you plan to stop. If he truly cares about you and your spouse, he’ll understand and learn his lesson. If not, then, it may put some very necessary distance between you.
In all cases, don’t take on this problem in a vacuum. Sit with your spouse and discuss how you see the problem and find out how she sees the situation. If you present a united front in dealing with your father-in-law, then you’ll be able to support each other whatever the outcome!