Eight years ago, my mother-in-law asked my wife and I to co-sign a $3,000 loan for her dentures. We agreed. I asked my wife to handle the details.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t a co-signed or traditional loan. It turned out to be a healthcare credit card with a $5,500 limit, underwritten in my wife's name with my mother-in-law as authorized user.
I was unaware of this until a year later when we began receiving collections calls for an account owing $5,600.
Apparently, almost immediately after receiving the card, my mother-in-law made additional purchases, and no payments.
Our choices included minimum monthly payments of $199.50. It would’ve taken 27 years to pay off the balance.
Instead, we took all of our money out of savings, and paid off the account.
My mother-in-law hasn’t re-paid any of the money, although she’s continually prioritized vacations and “luxury” items.
She feels she’s not responsible, as she never asked us to pay the bill. I believe it’s her responsibility to pay us back in full.
My wife still loves her mother and refuses to pursue the matter legally. Since I wasn’t listed on the loan, I’ve been advised that I have no legal claim against my mother-in-law, as the loan was in the name of my wife.
How should I pursue this matter? I dread any time I have to spend with my mother-in-law, as I see her as a thief and a liar.
But to keep peace at home, I attend all family functions and bite my lip while anxiety and anger eats me up inside.
It’s a $5600 life lesson. It’s likely that you already had some knowledge of your mother-in-law’s spending “priorities” when she asked for a loan for dentures.
Yet you left “the details” of the loan up to your wife.
I’m not blaming you for your MIL’s lack of responsibility (and yes, deceit), just pointing out that mistakes in judgment were part of this issue, and on your wife’s part too.
But persistent anxiety and anger isn’t healthy for you or your marriage.
Call it a mistake all around. You know when to “keep the peace,” so keep your own peace of mind and let this go.
My partner of nine years and I have a four-year-old. We jointly own a house and share a debt.
My partner drinks, mostly after work. He falls asleep on the couch, never sleeps with me. He never compliments me, shows affection, and we have no sex life.
I want out, but lost my job recently and am actively looking for work. I'd like to stay in our house but without a job, that's impossible.
I can't take much more of his coldness to me. I have no friends.
This isn’t a healthy environment for my child.
Tired of the Cycles
Moving out when you’re unemployed and have no friends isn’t a healthy option for you and your child, either, UNLESS there’s abuse to either of you and you need a place of safety.
Otherwise, get pro-active immediately – in your job search, any upgrading you can do, and counselling (some community agencies have subsidized fees) to help think through your choices.
Also, you need to talk to your partner (unless you fear him).
Tell him that his alcoholism and coldness are driving you away. Suggest working out a separation together.
He has some financial responsibilities towards his child. In some jurisdictions, a common-law partner also has support obligations. Learn what the law provides through a Google search.
FEEDBACK Regarding the woman with seven children and an absent husband (Jan. 3):
Reader – “She's trying to cope (for several years) with detriment to her social, emotional, and physical health.
“You suggested she ask him how to guide her in dealing with his undisciplined four sons. I’ll bet he’d suggest just more of the same.
“I'm unsure what would be best for her and her children, but more regard for her situation might give her the confidence to get the assistance she needs rather than putting it back on her.”
Ellie – She loves his kids, he’s away a lot, so my suggestion that she ask him what he wants for his sons’ development and “guidance” towards those goals, was to put him in the picture as a parent.
I also say she needs to request money towards household help and his presence more often. Speaking up will give her confidence to either stay or leave.
Tip of the day:
A family “loan” can be a pricey life lesson.