Author Topic: Uncomfortable hospitality (updated throughout/most recent page 8)  (Read 26466 times)

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doodlemor

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #60 on: March 21, 2013, 09:56:55 PM »
In laws are not well off. Father in law "retired" about 8 years ago. Mother in law worked as long as she could before retiring.

 I have a financial/legal background and many times mother in law has come to me for advice / support.

 Father in law called and said he wanted to do a dinner at a restaurant this year and would we help plan it.

His dad was quite open about it being an open menu, everything will be covered and that it is going on the line of credit

My sister in law is not in a position to contribute in any way and hubby and I could but not to the extent to make a huge dent in the overall cost.

Re: ponying up at the earlier event. I did not agree at all and in fact it was quite the disagreement between hubby and I that in fact basically ruined our evening that night and took us a few days to sort out.



The green sentences are taken from the OP's different posts.

To my way of thinking, MIL and FIL have already involved tiggnduff and her DH in their business.  MIL has confided to OP about the family finances **many times**, and FIL has asked them to help plan the party.  That could give him justification to ask for financial help in the subsequent fallout from the party. 

OP knows that the IL's are people of modest means, and that a large expenditure will be very hard for them to repay.  OP and her husband don't have a lot of money to bail them out, but I think that her DH will feel obligated to help if their finances are so shredded by this that they can't pay for the necessities.  Paying for the 40th dinner caused stress between OP and DH.

I don't think that the idea of bankruptcy is so far fetched.  Their finances sound rather pinched right now.  Add a large credit card payment to that, and then suppose something unexpected comes up like medical bills, home repairs, car repairs, etc.  I do think that this could turn into a catastrophic financial situation.

I still think that MIL is going to feel betrayed that her children let her husband do this without a warning.  I don't think that a spouse of either gender should spend thousands to "surprise" the other under any circumstances.  A PP had a good point when he/she stated that these are funds that come from both IL's monies. 

Here is another thought - and not a nice one.  Right now I assume that the IL's have two incomes of Social Security coming into the household to pay the bills and the taxes.  If one of them passes away before the charge is paid I suspect the remaining spouse would still be responsible to pay the bill.  The remaining spouse would still have all of the other bills to pay, too, with a greatly reduced income.

If MIL was ecstatic about the 40th party, this might be justified.   Otherwise, I think this will not end well./color]

POF

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #61 on: March 22, 2013, 07:29:30 AM »
doodlemor - I agree with you absolutely.

The FIL and MIL have shown that they DO invole the OP in their business.  I believe that changes the entire dynamic.  Plus - my parents have been married the same amount of time and these type of passive agressive thing has been used my Dad ... But it was a SURPRISE for YOU !!! he will say to my Mom about an expense that A) she didn't want, B) they could not afford.

That dynamic WILL bleed over to other family members. 

For this reason - my parents know NOTHING about my finances, not what I make what anythign costs .... Nothing.  In this type of situation, where I have deliberately kept my finances to myself - YES, it would be a problem if they butted in.  Not the case in this situation,.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2013, 01:09:43 PM by POF »

Dazi

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #62 on: March 22, 2013, 08:08:43 AM »
I just asked my DH what he thinks my reaction would be if he did this.

His response "You would be okay with a limited menu at a restaurant priced like Outback, if I saved up for it.  Otherwise you'd have my Donkey's Patoot." 
Meditate. Live purely. Quiet the mind. Do your work with mastery. Like the moon, come out from behind the clouds! Shine. ---Gautama Buddah





MommyPenguin

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #63 on: March 22, 2013, 09:28:19 AM »
One consideration might be... is MIL even going to be able to enjoy this celebration?  I mean, she'll walk in, expecting a two-person dinner or whatever the decoy is, everybody will yell, "Happy Anniversary!" and she'll exclaim and sit down and... then she'll start to think, "Wait, this is FIL's thing?  Where's all the money coming from?  Did he save for it or something?  Are *we* going to be paying for it?  Then she'll look around and count everybody, take note of what people are eating, look at the menu, do some quick math, and start to worry.  Even if she isn't the type to try to calculate what they're going to owe, there's a good chance that she'll realize that this is going to be really expensive when they're already close to the line.  Is she really even going to enjoy the night (that she'll be paying for for years) when she realizes that?

It could be the same with, say, a fancy cruise.  You're surprised by being told to pack some clothes and then arriving at the boat in time to go on a fancy cruise... but would you really be able to enjoy it if you're worried that those few days will ruin your finances for years?

I'd talk to the FIL *seriously*, pointing out actual numbers, and that it's not really fair to surprise MIL with something that she'll be paying for and gets no say in, and see what he says.  If he still won't budge, honestly, I'd tell MIL.  As others have said, they've already involved the OP and her DH in their finances.  And this is somebody taking money that MIL has earned from her, forcing her to spend it on what they want, and presenting her with the bill.  If they've been married 45 years then they're probably at least 65 and maybe older, which means they don't have a lot of earning years left, and health problems could pop up that would make recovering from this a big deal.

Margo

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #64 on: March 22, 2013, 09:55:05 AM »

OP, you and your DH know your MIL best. If you believe she'd be more upset about FIL blowing thousands on the party than she would about the surprise being ruined, I'd definitely tell her.

Actually, FIL knows MIL best.  And whether they have separate or joint accounts, the one thing that is clear that it's not the OP and DH's money, nor their business.

But by involving OP and her DH in the plans, FiL has made it their business, at least up to a point. They are now part of keeping MiL in the dark. I think that OP's Husband could say to his father -something along the lines of
"Dad, I'm really worried that Mom is not going to like this, because of the financial burden it will put on you both to pay for this. From what you've told me, it sounds like what you're planning is going to cost $4,000 and up. I  don't feel comfortable keeping that secret from Mom, if she's going to end up effectively paying for it." I think he can then lay out what he is, or isn't able to do - e.g. "I'm happy to help you work out a set price menu, so you can fix a budget which you and Mom can afford without struggling, but I feel I at least have to give Mom a head-up and suggest she talks to you about plans for the anniversary, because I'm going to feel like a heel if it turns out that this lands the two of you in debt, and I knew and didn't warn her"

Is there any chance that one of you could, quite separately, talk to his Mom to see what she would like? You don't have to tell her about the party, just test the water as to how she'd like to celebrate the anniversary. If she says "Oh, we're having a party at [expensive restaurant]. FiL thinks I don't know, so don't let on" you're off the hook. If she says "I'm planning to take FiL for a romantic dinner for two - I'm really looking forward to a quiet anniversary" then you can then consider speaking to FiL and telling him that while you haven't told MiL, you happened to be talking to her and the anniversary came up, and she made it clear that she really wants a quiet celebration.

bah12

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #65 on: March 22, 2013, 11:55:39 AM »
I'm honestly flabbergasted by the response on this thread and can't figure out what I'm missing.  The FIL asked them to help plan a party that he's paying for...not them.  He asked them to help keep a surprise, maybe come up with some ideas, help with coordination.  That's their lane.  They are welcome to come up with cheaper ideas, but it's his party so if he doesn't agree, then he doesn't agree.

Is FIL not mentally stable enough to make his own grown up decisions?  In 45 years has this couple never worked through how financial decisions are made?  Is the OP and her DH somehow responsible for the care of FIL and MIL?

MIL may have asked the OP for financial advice in the past.  She may ask again in the future.  That doesn't make it the OPs responsibility or even give her the right to insert herself into every financial decision they make.  It certainly doesn't give her the right to decide that she knows their marriage better than they do.

These are adults.  In an adult and very long term relationship.  They didn't get to a 45 year anniversary by not ever working through conflict.  FIL has made it this far making his own decision with regards to money (no matter how sound anyone thinks they are).

So, if FIL is mentally unfit to make decisions, then the OP should say something...but that's not an etiquette isse.
Etiquette wise, it's completely innappropriate for her to insert herself into the business of other adults.  I know I certainly wouldn't like it if a family member ruined a surprise my DH was planning for me because he asked them to help plan and they felt that gave them some kind of in to make judgements on the cost, my reaction to the cost, and the fragility of our marriage. 

tiggnduff

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #66 on: March 22, 2013, 12:25:49 PM »
wow this has turned into a very interesting discussion  :).  I can see both side of this and I think that is why DH and I are struggling with this.  We keep swaying back on forth between doing nothing and doing something. 

Further discussion between us and we are firmly in the do nothing camp.  Show up and smile, as they say.

I admit it will likely play out as a previous poster described with MIL's brain starting the calculations once she realizes that FIL is picking up the tab.  They are grown ups they can sort it out. It's their marriage.

DH and I are firm on not bailing anyone out! DH wavered a bit at the beginning when we were discussing the "bail out" possibility but I was way more than firm on my opinion and he admitted I'm right  :D and we are standing strong & together on this point now.

POF

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #67 on: March 22, 2013, 01:21:18 PM »
I'm honestly flabbergasted by the response on this thread and can't figure out what I'm missing.  The FIL asked them to help plan a party that he's paying for...not them.  He asked them to help keep a surprise, maybe come up with some ideas, help with coordination.  That's their lane.  They are welcome to come up with cheaper ideas, but it's his party so if he doesn't agree, then he doesn't agree.

Is FIL not mentally stable enough to make his own grown up decisions?  In 45 years has this couple never worked through how financial decisions are made?  Is the OP and her DH somehow responsible for the care of FIL and MIL?

MIL may have asked the OP for financial advice in the past.  She may ask again in the future.  That doesn't make it the OPs responsibility or even give her the right to insert herself into every financial decision they make.  It certainly doesn't give her the right to decide that she knows their marriage better than they do.

These are adults.  In an adult and very long term relationship.  They didn't get to a 45 year anniversary by not ever working through conflict.  FIL has made it this far making his own decision with regards to money (no matter how sound anyone thinks they are).

So, if FIL is mentally unfit to make decisions, then the OP should say something...but that's not an etiquette isse.
Etiquette wise, it's completely innappropriate for her to insert herself into the business of other adults.  I know I certainly wouldn't like it if a family member ruined a surprise my DH was planning for me because he asked them to help plan and they felt that gave them some kind of in to make judgements on the cost, my reaction to the cost, and the fragility of our marriage.

Bah - I think you are being very literal and black/white about the situation.  I think family dynamics have unseen undertones and are not as defined as you indicate.  Just because someone makes unsoound financial decisions does not make them mentally unfit - that is quite a stretch.

Plus - for most people a $4,000 + party is a huge tremendous expense - My husband and I do well financially and it would never ever occur to me to host an open menu event of this size.  Some of the things the OP mentioned, the growing invitee list, the no expenses spared look like a gesture starting to get away from anyone. It also seems like this event has started to take on a life of its own.  when we planned an event for my MIL, we went at it with a deifned guest list, a budget and reasonable expectations.  I bet if this event were being priced out at $1,000  - there would be much less concern.

Frankly - I am flabberghast at your inability to see both sides.  I understand that many times family / other people finances are not my business.  But give the history here ..... I think it is. 

OP - I alos think the whole - help me keep it a surprise might backfire .... what if MIL gets mad at you and FIL says - well they thought it should be a surprise.....  I know that's a slight possibility, but I've seen it happen before.


doodlemor

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #68 on: March 22, 2013, 01:42:59 PM »
wow this has turned into a very interesting discussion  :).  I can see both side of this and I think that is why DH and I are struggling with this.  We keep swaying back on forth between doing nothing and doing something. 

Further discussion between us and we are firmly in the do nothing camp.  Show up and smile, as they say.

I admit it will likely play out as a previous poster described with MIL's brain starting the calculations once she realizes that FIL is picking up the tab.  They are grown ups they can sort it out. It's their marriage.

DH and I are firm on not bailing anyone out! DH wavered a bit at the beginning when we were discussing the "bail out" possibility but I was way more than firm on my opinion and he admitted I'm right  :D and we are standing strong & together on this point now.

Best of luck with the situation, tiggnduff.  Let us know how the party goes.  I'm sure that MIL will enjoy seeing her friends.  Maybe some people will give a bit of cash, and that can be used to offset the expenses.

I've been very concerned for you and DH, that you could be asked for $$$$ later this year, when FIL can't pay the charge bill, utilities, taxes, car, etc.  Perhaps you could discuss with DH just what he will say if this happens later on.

Bethalize

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #69 on: March 22, 2013, 01:56:40 PM »
Minding your own business and treating your family members as respectable, sensible adults is great in principle but so many family members don't act like respectable, sensible adults.

Delusions of grandeur have led many a person into debt. It's a narcissistic trait and if the father has it and his wife is living with it then I think she'd be grateful for family who watch out for her. The lack of compromise from the father suggests to me that being the big "I am" is part of this experience for him whereas most people would be concerned about giving their guests as good a time as they could afford.

Tiggnduff, if you suspect even one iota that your father in law is being grandiose rather than clueless I'd let your mother in law know. If you think father in law is being clueless then I'd push the issue with him a little more and try and get him to compromise.

Lynn2000

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #70 on: March 22, 2013, 02:29:27 PM »
OP, sounds like you and your DH have come up with a plan, and good for you; that's the important part, so neither of you gets ambushed later and agrees to something without the other.

I'm kind of torn on the issue, personally. If it was my father--as in, my actual father with all our history, personalities, etc.--I would question him about his plan, ask about cost, ask if he thought my mom really wanted him to spend that much money, etc.. Generally trying to lead him away from the expensive idea or at least discuss it with her first. And if all else failed I would mention it to my mom myself. Normally I'm the type to butt out of things but if the $$ was really getting up there I would see it as crossing the line into seriously bad behavior, and I would not want to sit by and let it happen without trying to do something. In my case I wouldn't even worry about them expecting me to bail them out, because I make/have less than my parents; it would be all about how hurt and angry my mom was going to be.

But, that is how my own family dynamic works, and I have reason to believe it would be successful based on our shared history. I can see how someone else might not feel that way about their own, or especially someone else's, family; and I think if there's doubt, doing nothing, while battening down your own financial hatches, is probably the best option.

The other consideration is how often the OP/her DH intrude between this couple. Of course I would find it tiresome if someone was frequently second-guessing my SO's judgment and tattling to me. But stepping in once, out of genuine concern, over what is perceived to be an extreme situation, is much more forgivable, IMO. Which I guess means I do think stepping in is fundamentally rude, but sometimes the situation trumps that consideration.
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bah12

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #71 on: March 22, 2013, 03:09:33 PM »
I'm honestly flabbergasted by the response on this thread and can't figure out what I'm missing.  The FIL asked them to help plan a party that he's paying for...not them.  He asked them to help keep a surprise, maybe come up with some ideas, help with coordination.  That's their lane.  They are welcome to come up with cheaper ideas, but it's his party so if he doesn't agree, then he doesn't agree.

Is FIL not mentally stable enough to make his own grown up decisions?  In 45 years has this couple never worked through how financial decisions are made?  Is the OP and her DH somehow responsible for the care of FIL and MIL?

MIL may have asked the OP for financial advice in the past.  She may ask again in the future.  That doesn't make it the OPs responsibility or even give her the right to insert herself into every financial decision they make.  It certainly doesn't give her the right to decide that she knows their marriage better than they do.

These are adults.  In an adult and very long term relationship.  They didn't get to a 45 year anniversary by not ever working through conflict.  FIL has made it this far making his own decision with regards to money (no matter how sound anyone thinks they are).

So, if FIL is mentally unfit to make decisions, then the OP should say something...but that's not an etiquette isse.
Etiquette wise, it's completely innappropriate for her to insert herself into the business of other adults.  I know I certainly wouldn't like it if a family member ruined a surprise my DH was planning for me because he asked them to help plan and they felt that gave them some kind of in to make judgements on the cost, my reaction to the cost, and the fragility of our marriage.

Bah - I think you are being very literal and black/white about the situation.  I think family dynamics have unseen undertones and are not as defined as you indicate. Just because someone makes unsoound financial decisions does not make them mentally unfit - that is quite a stretch. Plus - for most people a $4,000 + party is a huge tremendous expense - My husband and I do well financially and it would never ever occur to me to host an open menu event of this size.  Some of the things the OP mentioned, the growing invitee list, the no expenses spared look like a gesture starting to get away from anyone. It also seems like this event has started to take on a life of its own.  when we planned an event for my MIL, we went at it with a deifned guest list, a budget and reasonable expectations.  I bet if this event were being priced out at $1,000  - there would be much less concern.

Frankly - I am flabberghast at your inability to see both sides.  I understand that many times family / other people finances are not my business.  But give the history here ..... I think it is. 

OP - I alos think the whole - help me keep it a surprise might backfire .... what if MIL gets mad at you and FIL says - well they thought it should be a surprise.....  I know that's a slight possibility, but I've seen it happen before.

That's my point.  Finances and relationships are not open for family fodder.  Just because FIL has made some unwise decisions in the past that MIL has not liked, doesn't mean that he's unable to make financial decisions on a whole.   They can definitely say "Hey, FIL, this is kind of getting big and expensive.  Does it fit in your budget?  Have you thought about what that even may be?"  But, if he says "I got this" then they have to respect that.  They don't know if he's saved up for this or not.  They don't know if he already got permission to charge $4000 on the credit cards and told MIL it was for something else.  To assume that anyone would be so in the know that it makes it appropriate to interfere in their finances and predict the outcome of their marriage as a result...better than FIL is crazy.

Where would you draw the line?  At what dollar amount is FIL allowed to make his own decisions without interference from his children?  How many times do the kids get to approve of his spending habits before they don't question them anymore?  Family dynamics aside, this type of thinking is extremely disrespectful.  He doesn't have a mental inability to make decisions, so really the OP and her DH have no right to go behind his back and "tattle" to MIL, and potentially causing a whole lot of ado about nothing (which they have wisely decided to back away). 

How many of those in the "I think they should interfere" camp would be livid if someone did this to them?  How many would argue "it's different with me because I've considered a, b and c and other family doesn't know that", yet fail to see that argument both ways.

Minding your own business and treating your family members as respectable, sensible adults is great in principle but so many family members don't act like respectable, sensible adults.
I was unaware that etiquette gives an allowance to not respect other adults if you (general) feel they aren't acting sensibly.  That's pretty interesting. 

There is no excuse, outside of being mentally unfit or safety, to insert yourself (general) into another adults finances and marriage when you are neither their financial nor marriage councelor.  Being asked for input at some point in the past does not buy you (again general) the freedom to interfere in all future decisions as you see fit.

doodlemor

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #72 on: March 22, 2013, 03:58:14 PM »
We do know that FIL has not saved up for this:

His dad was quite open about it being an open menu, everything will be covered and that it is going on the line of credit

bah12

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #73 on: March 22, 2013, 04:13:05 PM »
We do know that FIL has not saved up for this:

His dad was quite open about it being an open menu, everything will be covered and that it is going on the line of credit

He has a plan for payment.  So, we are also to assume that he doesn't also have a plan for paying the credit card?

I'm not saying that he's definitely making a financially wise decision.  I am saying, it's no one's business. 


Amara

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Re: Uncomfortable hospitality
« Reply #74 on: March 22, 2013, 07:12:05 PM »
OP, do you happen to know if his "line of credit" will be a credit card or tied to their house?