Father-in-law often passes the buck
Dear Amy: Over the holidays my wife and two young children were with my wife’s family (her mom, dad, sister, brother-in-law and their two children). My sister-in-law insisted that we order takeout. We ordered in, and she paid for the meal.
Days later my father-inlaw suggested that he and I should give her money for the meal ($47 each). I’m annoyed by this for a few reasons: I have purchased several more expensive takeout meals at family events and have never asked for (or been offered) compensation.
This is an example of an increasingly frequent situation where my father-in-law effectively dictates how my wife and I spend our money. This is also an extension of a perceived difference in economic position between my wife and I, and her sister’s family. As a result, they tend to be treated more generously by my in-laws. Am I just being petty and cheap? — Son-in-law
Dear Son-in-law: Your father-in-law’s suggestions may sound like commandments to you, and you may feel pressured because he is your father-in-law, but you are an adult and you can make a choice to get on board — or respond respectfully: “Thanks for the suggestion. This is generous of you. But I’ve picked up the check any number of times; my theory is that these things even out in the end.”
You say that this has become a persistent issue; because it seems you can actually afford to be more generous, you should choose the path that causes you to feel the best about yourself. You can try to anticipate, participate and learn to tolerate this expectation — and come off as magnanimous and generous — or you can politely push back and tolerate the uncertainty that accompanies wondering if you are being stingy. Being righteously correct doesn’t always compensate for feeling petty.