My spouse (32M) and I (30F) have been together for over 15 years and are very close with our immediate families. My sister-in-law (28F) recently went back to college after dropping out 8 years ago. She is struggling financially, as she quit working to attend school and is living off of credit cards and savings, and my parents-in-law fill in the gaps.
She could live at home, or in my grandmother’s house rent-free (my grandmother lives with my aunt out-of-state), both options that are actually closer to her school, but she prefers her apartment so that she can walk to go out with friends, etc.
Every year for our birthdays, my mother-in-law gives us a small cash gift, enough to pay for a nice dinner or bottle of wine. My in-laws live comfortably, but I know that it is a financial strain on them to support my sister-in-law. My spouse and I communicated to them that we do not expect cash gifts for birthdays or holidays, especially considering these circumstances.
Our financial situation is much different than that of his family’s, and we both have good jobs. We are, however, both in grad school and are paying for our tuitions out-of-pocket, so there has been some financial strain recently, on top of unexpected home repairs.
My mother-in-law insisted that she gift us cash for my spouse’s birthday anyway. I told him to accept it, that it isn’t our fault that his sister is in this financial situation, and his mother insisted on us taking the money.
She sent us a check, and my spouse cashed it. Once the check was cashed, she called him upset that he had cashed the check, and asked if he was planning to give the money to his sister. He said no, but that he could. We sent his sister the money, but my sister-in-law and my mother-in-law are still upset.
They are upset that we have not offered to help his sister out at all, which isn’t entirely true. My grandmother offered my sister-in-law her house to live in rent-free, which was my idea, and that is all we can truly afford to offer considering the burden of our grad school tuition.
My mother-in-law insists that we need to do everything to support my sister-in-law so she will finish school this time around. She is neurodivergent and cannot work while in school, which I understand, but I also feel that is not my problem to solve. We do not discuss specifics about our finances with his family, but we have communicated to them that cash flow is tight right now.
They see our nice house and cars and think otherwise, however. My spouse and I do not have consumer debt, and we don’t feel like we should get into debt to help family. AITAH for not giving my sister-in-law my spouse’s birthday money until we were asked to, or any money for that matter?
NTA. This feels bizarre and your MIL has some things she needs to sort out on her side. If she doesn’t want to gift money, she can just say that (and use the funds instead to support her daughter). It’s not the thought that counts when you choose issue a cheque, but then get mad it’s cashed.
So your SIL could be living rent free at your grandma's but chose to force her parents to pay her rent????? I'm sorry but under those circumstances I would not give her a penny.
NTA Why would she even give him a check to begin with, then freak out when he cashed it and calls to insist he give it to the sister? This is bizarre. Is there some cultural nuance that I'm not catching perhaps? I can't understand why else you would be expected to financially support an adult who isn't your child.
NTA, but I'd refuse any monetary gifts in the future. Whatever game she's playing, she is not sharing the rules with you.
Most definitely NTA. SiL is 28…28 years old. If her parents want to fully support her that’s totally their choice!! But expecting you or any other family to do so too is absolutely ridiculous, even if you were rich & could afford to! You also offered her a rent free solution and she’s acting entitled enough to turn it down! Choosy beggar!
And no, you shouldn’t discuss your finances with them nor have to give a freaking gift for his birthday to his sister. That’s even more ridiculous! Why even bother give it her son just to expect him to give it to his sister??? Your in laws are freaking weird and entitled.
Stand your ground and don’t go into debt for someone else. Sit them all down and tell them how absurd this all is and ask who’s going to pay your bills while you gel SiL with hers??