Ask Amy: Debt creates an awkward dilemma
Dear Amy: My partner “Charles” and I were happily together for eight years.
I decided to leave our home and move with my daughter to another city for her work. The last few years of our relationship were long distance.
When he had a sudden heart attack and died, I was filled with grief and guilt.
After his death, I had to go collect my belongings from his place. While at the house, his parents volunteered that they felt his debts had died with him. I had loaned him $5,000 for his property tax. It wasn’t a secret, and he was open about this to his parents.
They sold his home for an impressive sum last year, but never offered to pay back the money he had borrowed from me.
I’m not wealthy. I am working hard and trying to stay afloat. I don’t want to sadden his parents or to come off as greedy. If he were here, he would tell me, “Girl, speak up and go get your money!”
I just can’t seem to find the words. — Struggling
Dear Struggling: “Charles’” parents might declare that his debts died with him, but in reality, you have the right to collect the money owed to you. [And if my Judge Judy fandom has taught me nothing else, please get these more informal arrangements written down, signed by both parties, and dated!]
You already have a solid rationale for wanting to have this debt repaid, but your late boyfriend has supplied the inspiration.
You should write to his parents. Share a memory and point out their son’s wonderful qualities. Because it is difficult to bring up the debt, address the challenge directly: “I realize this is very awkward. I might not get the words right, but I hope you will understand. I know you are aware of the money I loaned to Charles to pay his taxes. For me, this represents a substantial sum, and I did not hesitate to make the loan when Charles needed it. He agreed to repay the loan and I know you are aware of his intent. Charles had a high degree of fairness and he always encouraged me to advocate for myself, and so I am doing so now. I would very much appreciate you settling this debt from the proceeds of his estate.”
Dear Amy: I am currently 24 weeks pregnant with my first child. My pregnancy has had a lot of complications. The doctors have told me that I will most likely be hospitalized for early labor, preeclampsia, or because the baby needs to come out immediately due to low amniotic fluid.
The baby is also not growing as he should, and this could affect his lung development. I want to hope for the best outcome and since he will definitely be born early, my sister-in-law suggested doing the baby shower early (it will be a virtual shower).
I would love to have a baby shower, but I am wondering if it is appropriate considering our situation. Our immediate family knows what is going on, but we have not told anyone else of the complications.
What do you think? — K
Dear K: Given the uncertainty of your situation and your concerns about what the future holds, you should do exactly whatever YOU want to do. You may make one choice and then change your mind, but do not let anyone pressure you.
Because you have asked me to weigh in, I absolutely think you should go for it, and celebrate this pregnancy as soon as possible with every fiber of your being.
In a way, every pregnancy is a leap into the unknown, and every prospective parent is forced to face their fears with bravery and optimism. This is the very essence of parenthood, and you facing this challenge in an attitude of celebration is you being a very brave and very good parent.
I hope you will get back in touch with a joyful report about how things turned out.
Dear Amy: In your response to “Mindful” you cited a “Mars/Venus” stereotype regarding how men and women typically communicate. I loved your response and realize that this totally applies to my husband and me.
I’m going to remember that he is just trying to “problem solve” when he leaps in to “fix” my pettier complaints. — Grateful
Dear Grateful: The response to this topic has so far split equally along gender lines. Women see it as insightful, men do not.