After a nice vacation, her brother-in-law charged them for what they thought was his treat. How dare he demand payment when they supported and housed him when he was broke and at his worst?
OP (Original Poster) and her husband are relatively financially established and child-free by choice. Not one of them was born into a wealthy family, but both of them prioritized learning to manage their finances and have put in a huge effort in their careers.
However, the same could not be said about her brother-in-law.
The Exact Opposite
Five years before she posted this story, OP’s brother-in-law, Sam, was in a difficult situation. First and foremost, he had an alcohol problem.
Then, to add to that, his girlfriend suddenly got pregnant and had twins. Sam and his partner were already barely able to afford rent on a one-bedroom place with a roommate, and they were handling all that plus his student loan debt.
A Helping Hand
As a brother, OP’s husband wanted to help Sam because his parents weren’t financially capable of doing so. OP was okay with it since they had money to spare, and she really did feel for him.
OP wrote, “We supported them for almost a year. They lived with us, and once Sam recovered from his addiction, they moved out, and we still gave them significant financial help.”
Standing on Their Own
Throughout the last several years, Sam and his family have been slowly getting better and have paid off most of their debt, and they now own a small home.
A Much-Needed Family Vacation
Then, a few weeks before OP posted this story, Sam invited OP and her husband on a vacation. They accepted, and OP was happy to see the twins after a long while.
Her husband was also thrilled to have time to spend with his brother.
They stayed at a nice resort for a week, and OP was surprised and pleased that Sam and his girlfriend had gone from having nothing to being able to afford a holiday vacation for six people.
However, two days after coming home from the trip, Sam sent OP a message saying they should pay $1,500 for their share.
OP said, “I was shocked because they didn’t say anything about us paying when they invited us. It also seemed strange that they’d split the cost, including both of our airfares, when my husband and I live much closer to the destination and had much lower airfare costs than Sam’s family did.”
A Heads-up Would’ve Been Nice
With that, OP replied to Sam, refusing to pay as she and her husband genuinely thought he was inviting them as “family” and not as paying guests. She told him that if he wanted them to pay for their share, he should’ve mentioned it beforehand.
Sam wrote back rather angrily and told her that family is “all very well,” but that doesn’t mean one can “take advantage” of a person’s “kindness.”
Pay For Everything Else, Then!
That didn’t sit quite well with OP, so she went through some of their old financial records and sent Sam an estimate of how much she and her husband have spent on his family over the years.
She told him, “If you don’t want to take advantage of anyone’s kindness, then please start paying us back for all this, and we’ll pay for the vacation.”
Brother to Brother
Sam didn’t respond for a while. However, he eventually called and yelled at OP’s husband—his brother—over the whole thing.
Blaming His Wife
Given the situation, OP’s husband thinks she was “needlessly petty” and that it was “cruel” of her to “rub it in their faces” that his brother’s family needed help from them “a long time ago.”
Let’s Put Everything Behind Us
Additionally, he told OP that they should just pay and “forget about it.” He then accused her of being “selfish” for expecting Sam and his family to owe them for something they did out of their own free will.
She said, “It’s true that I would be less annoyed about them asking us to pay if not for how much we helped them in the past. Am I the a**hole for ‘holding this over their head?’”
People’s Opinions and Thoughts
For users, OP’s brother-in-law could have just been honest and directly told her and her husband he wanted them to pay, but he didn’t. Now, it just looks like he used them to lessen his expenses.
The top commenter wrote, “Not the a**hole. If he wanted all of you to go Dutch, he could have said so upfront. He didn’t. Also, he wants you to split his airfare costs. Hell no. He sees you and your husband as a piggy bank if he can’t handle the scorekeeping, which is what he did when asking for reimbursement after the fact. Also, five years isn’t ‘a long time ago.’ That’s still pretty fresh. Moral of the story for him: don’t invite people to a vacation you can’t afford. If he wanted to split the cost, he needed to communicate that upfront.”
Another person said, “Not the a**hole. If they wanted you to pay, that should have been mentioned before the trip. And not the a**hole for bringing up receipts.”
Shamelessly Taking Advantage
Some people think OP’s brother-in-law was trying to manipulate them into paying, and it seems like he’s ungrateful to the people who helped him when he had nothing.
A Redditor wrote, “Not the a**hole. He invited you and didn’t mention anything about the cost. However, I feel you also should have asked. With that said, the arbitrary number he plucked out of the air, how convenient it came out to a nice around $1,500, is ridiculous. He wanted to manipulate you into paying, evidently forgetting that relying on your kindness and goodwill is why he has a home.”
The same person added, “Essentially, he bit that hand that had fed him, and when reminded of that, he got upset. Your husband, it seems, is annoyed he had to listen to his brother’s tantrum. Tell him it’s his monkey and his circus, but no money will be handed over to his ungrateful brother.”
Shouldn’t Have Assumed
Redditors also pointed out that OP should have just asked if it was her brother-in-law’s treat in the first place, and the whole misunderstanding could have been avoided.
One person said, “Everyone sucks here because although he didn’t tell you that he wasn’t planning on paying for your stay, you shouldn’t have assumed that the invitation to come was them offering to pay for it. I suppose the wording of the invitation might help. Did they invite you to come with them on vacation, or did they offer to take you on vacation? So, were you invited to the vacation, or were they taking you on a vacation?”
The same Redditor wrote, “You acknowledge that your brother-in-law is not completely out of the woods financially and still has some outstanding debts, so it seems like it would have been prudent to know for sure who was paying for what. Next time, you can throw something out like ‘Should we pay our share up front, or just pay you back after the vacation?’ so that you know if you are paying or if they are.”
Was OP wrong for refusing to pay her brother-in-law? Do you think her husband’s brother should pay them back for all the help they gave him instead?
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This post first appeared as Her Brother-In-Law Invited Them on a “Family” Trip Then Demanded She Pay $1,500 for “Their Share.” She Refused and Told Him He’s the One Who Owed Them Thousands for All the Help They Gave! on Quote Ambition.