How Should I Pay Back My In-Laws?


Dear E. Jean: My new husband’s family is loaded; mine is solid middle class. He and I took great pride in planning and paying for our own small wedding and saved up for a very budget-minded honeymoon to Rome. On our wedding day his parents gave us a card that said, “A little bird told us you could use some help with your honeymoon.” The card contained a check for $10,000! Although we knew we should have saved it, we blew every cent of it on an upgrade at a fancy hotel and swanky dinners and had the time of our lives. When we returned, the first thing I did was call his mother and thank her again for the wonderful gift. Imagine my shock when she said, “You’re welcome, dear. Take all the time you need in paying us back.” What the?!? It was a gift, not a loan! My husband and I live paycheck to paycheck. I have no idea how to handle this, and my husband doesn’t want to confront his parents. Eeeek! —Blushing and Bewildered Bride

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DANG!: As I always say, your family will bilk you before anyone else. Send your idiots-in-law a handwritten note of glorious gratitude for the “grand trip,” etc., in mushy-mushy detail. Conclude with a list of why you love them. The last item on the list should be their “gift of a heavenly honeymoon.” Both you and your husband sign it. Add a P.S.: “Mom mentioned the word ‘loan’ on the phone. Of course, we’d never have spent a penny if we’d known, but we will be happy to pay it back at $5 a month.”

This letter is from the E. Jean archive.



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