Unwillingly Indebted

Updated on September 26, 2011
A.B. asks from Pittsburgh, PA
16 answers

A few years ago, I was in a wreck and my in-laws fronted the $2000 for the repairs. Since then, my husband and I have tried four times to repay them. Whenever we receive our annual supplemental income, we approach them with a check for the full amount and they refuse it. They tell us to hang on to it "until we finish with the house" (that will never stop needing updating, etc) but have never forgiven the loan outright.

My in-laws are some of the most caring, altruistic people I know. They never hesitate to help their family and we appreciate this very much. The issue is that my husband and I really want to be debt-free. We are aggressively paying down debt, socking away for DS's college, and paying cash for our home renovations. We want to be free of this. My husband has tried to explain this to his parents, but there's never any resolution. The last attempt we made to pay it was met with any angry phone call from my FIL to my husband saying that we needed to "not worry about that right now". They have not cashed the check.

How to proceed? I don't think they see this as us being in our debt, but we do not feel free of it. However altruistic they are being, they are also disallowing us to be free. My husband feels very self-conscious whenever we buy anything new, make home improvements, etc, with this hanging over us.

What would you do?

What can I do next?

  • Add your own comment
  • Ask your own question
  • Join the Mamapedia community
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

So What Happened?

Thank you, everyone. We are surely not trying to be disrespectful of them, rather, we didn't want to take advantage of their generosity by assuming this was a gift. That was never said, and our relationship is such that I could see them feeling comfortable saying so if it was. So we didn't want to plow ahead and spend that money on other things before we had paid our debt to them. We felt it was the honorable thing to do.

They really are not controlling people - I can say that with total confidence - but such is the dynamic between the debtor and indebted, whether they are intending it or not.

Thanks again for your time!

Love the ideas about putting it away for our son's college or in a savings. Both great - thank you!

Featured Answers



answers from St. Louis on

all of the suggestions have been excellent.....kudos to the mamas!

& I agree....let it go! You're being....disrespectful & bullheaded. Sorry.

Edit My Answer
3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dover on

I understand how you feel and I understand why you want out from under it. It isn't because you are being disrespectful and it isn't because they are controlling. It's because you want to feel completely independent, and like you have taken care of what you feel to be a responsibility.

You could put it in a savings account and not touch it, and then if it ever comes up you will have it available. You never know when they will need you and it will be nice to have it available for them.

I know we owed my in-laws some money and when their dryer went out, we just bought them one for approx them ammount we owed to make it even.

Edit My Answer
2 moms found this helpful

More Answers



answers from Pittsburgh on

Put it in a savings account and don't touch the money. And if your in-laws ever need anything, you can give them the money immediately. In the meantime, consider yourself free of the debt.

9 moms found this helpful


answers from Redding on

I agree with setting that money aside in an account, that way it's always there, your husband knows it, and can be handed over at a time when they might actually decide to take it from you..... let it collect interest ;)

8 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

You DO have resolution...You wrote them the check. they haven't cashed it. You've paid your debt. If they don't want to cash the check that is ON THEM - NOT YOU...

I think it's great that you have in-laws that give rather than take.

Let it go.. they have made their wishes clear...you wrote them the check and they haven't cashed it - so let it go!!


7 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

This might be a question for your husband, but is it a DEBT or a GIFT? It sounds like you are thinking of it as a debt, but they are thinking of it as a gift - taking care of you, showing their love. This is especially true of the older generation; it is often harder for them to show emotional love and support, but sometimes easier to show financial support. If this is the case, then you need to let them give you this gift. If it makes you uncomfortable, take the suggestions of the other moms - put it toward your daughter's education, or keep it aside for them if THEY need it.

Stop pushing the repayment - it makes them uncomfortable. You ARE debt free - they are family and are not holding this as a debt over you. You are holding it over yourself. Let it go and you will all feel better because you KNOW you will take care of them when they need it. :)

6 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Take the money, put it in a college account for your daughter. If this is not resolved by the time she goes to college then take the money and say it is a gift from her grandparents towards her education.

Problem solved.

6 moms found this helpful


answers from Provo on

Why aren't you seeing that they are meaning it as a gift? If you guys can't see it like that, then put the money in an account like the others have said and keep it there until they need it or pass on and count that towards your DS's college account.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Austin on

Wow, you cannot catch a hint. They are giving you the money. Be gracious and take it.

If you feel guilty put it aside for your child/children.

Be thankful and realize they want to do this for you and their son.

5 moms found this helpful


answers from Charlotte on

PLEASE allow your parent's in law to have some dignity in this. They are begging you to.

Take care of your obligations. Fix the house. Do what you need to do. Put away some money every month in the "in-law fund" for them. When the time comes that they tell you they are ready to cash the check, hallelujah. Until then, give it a rest with them.

If they pass away first, tell whoever the executor of the estate is, that you owe $2000 to the estate. Then your conscience will be clear.


5 moms found this helpful


answers from Biloxi on

Put the money for the repayment into a separate interest bearing account.
Then forget about it.
Stop trying to force it onto your in-laws - if they wanted or needed it they would take it.
Let it sit in the bank - and know that if your in-laws ever need anything that the money is there for them.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

This is your problem not theirs. Obviously, they are not in need of it. So just forget about it. Why not put it in a savings account and let it grow some interest. If they never ask, someday you'll have it for something else. If they someday are in need themselves, you'll have it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Phoenix on

I would find other ways to repay the debt, in a down low kind of way, like paying their electric bill, buying them groceries & having them delivered, things like that.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Texarkana on

Buy them some savings bonds with the money and give them that. just a thought.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

This is more than just a loan that you want to clear. It is their way of having some control on their son.

Like Cheryl O. said, you wrote a check, presented it and paid your debt. Count that $$ out of your accounts. If they don't cash it and move forward... It's on them.

Keep complete documentation of Everything.

I personally see it as them hanging onto something to maintain some sort of control over your hubby. Their motives are not altruistic.

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

Your husband needs to tell them very simply: "You have our check. Our debt is re-payed in full. Please cash it as soon as possible."

Have them sign a note for receipt of the check.
Explain (once again) that this is a debt you'd prefer to settle NOW.

IF they don't cash it at that point, that's their choice.

Next question: Poll on What You Think About Repaying Parents