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Dealing With In-Laws Who Ask for Money
Here are 4 ways to help cope with in-laws who over step their boundaries.


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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 donít 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 Iím 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, theyíll always expect to be treated with a modicum of respect that they may, or may not, deserve. But letís 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 itís time to rethink the relationship. Before we assume that youíre just being used for your financial resources, though, try to figure out exactly what the problem is. Some people borrow money because theyíre 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, theyíre 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 donít take offense. Often they are grateful from the reminder.

Another possibility is that your father-in-law is genuinely poor and that heís 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. Thatís probably not the case, but if so, it may help you to understand better why he doesnít ever seem to have cash. Then, of course, you and your spouse can choose whether you want to be his personal welfare agency.

If youíve ruled out any better explanations for his behavior or even if youíve ruled them in, you may decide that youíre 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 donít 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 youíre not comfortable with loaning out money because you fear that such financial exchanges put a strain on your relationship and youíd both be happier if those strains werenít 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, heíll understand and learn his lesson. If not, then, it may put some very necessary distance between you.

In all cases, donít 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 youíll be able to support each other whatever the outcome!

Scott Haltzman, MD is a clinical assistant professor at Brown University Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior. Dr. Haltzman is also the author of "The Secrets of Happy Families: Eight keys to building a lifetime of connection and contentment," "The Secrets of Happily Married Men: Eight Ways to Win Your Wife's Heart Forever," and "The Secrets of Happily Married Women: How to get more out of your relationship by doing less." You can get more information at his website, www.drscott.com.


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