Dear Annie: My husband is the youngest of seven siblings. While they are all successful, some are more financially comfortable than others.
Five years ago, the oldest sibling wanted to give their mother an 80th birthday party. She planned a huge party for hundreds of her mother’s friends and neighbors. She rented a party place, hired a band and catered an elaborate buffet and open bar. She then emailed all of the siblings and informed them that they each owed her $1,000.
Annie, my husband didn’t have that kind of extra money. He had recently moved, found a new job and married me, a graduate student. He also pays child support for a daughter as well as our rent.
He explained this to his sister and said he could pay $150. We attended the party and enjoyed ourselves. There was no animosity from the sister about the money at that time. But now she has started making comments to my husband and the other siblings via Facebook and email that she is still waiting for my husband to “step up to the plate.”
Is it right for one member of a family to plan an event without consulting the others and then expect them to pony up the money requested? This has caused a serious rift between my husband and some of his siblings. – Wife of Mr. 15 Percent
Dear Wife: Obviously, your husband’s sister should have discussed the finances with her siblings if she expected them to split the bill. And if she is having a problem with your husband, she shouldn’t be slamming him on Facebook or in group emails. However, she did go through a lot of trouble to plan the party, and for five years, she’s been out of pocket the amount she thought your husband would pay. He doesn’t “owe” her the rest. But in order to maintain good family relations, your husband might speak privately with his sister and ask whether he could contribute whatever additional monies he can afford on an installment plan.