I am writing this message because I am very sad. My husband won’t speak to me because, without consulting with him, I co-signed a loan for my brother-in-law. I know that I should have consulted with my husband, but my sister asked me the favor because they need the money. I know that I did wrong and I have asked his forgiveness, but he won’t let it go.

It hurts me and saddens me to live with a person who won’t speak to me. What should I do?

Dear Friend,

In most countries and in most cases, husbands and wives are responsible for each other’s debts. So you signed a legal document promising that you, or your husband, will pay if your brother-in-law can’t return the money. You betrayed your husband by committing him to a loan without even asking his permission.

My guess is that this is not the first time that you and your husband have argued about money. It is very likely that you didn’t ask him about this particular situation because you knew he would say no. You probably knew that he would think it was too risky, so you went behind his back and forced him to do what he would not have wanted to do on his own. And now you want him to forgive you and forget about it, even though he knows that he may be the one who ends up paying back the debt in the end.

It is interesting that you don’t say why your sister and brother-in-law need the money. Did he lose his job? Has one of them been very ill? Maybe you don’t mention it because the reason is that they have been irresponsible or careless in the past, and now have built up a lot of debt. You are willing to overlook this point because you love your sister, but your husband obviously thinks more rationally and understands how serious this can be for your family.

A wise proverb from the Bible says, “Do not be one who shakes hands in pledge or puts up security for debts; if you lack the means to pay, your very bed will be snatched from under you.”(1) This proverb describes what can happen when people co-sign for others without having plenty of money to cover the debt. Your husband may know that paying back the loan would put a serious strain on your family finances, and he is wise to be concerned about it.

We recommend that you never lend money to anyone unless you can afford to give it to them. It’s not that lending money is bad; in fact, it can be a kind and generous thing. However, if you can’t afford to just give it away, then you can’t afford to lend it.

In addition, lending money to some people can just make their situation worse. Sometimes the kind and wise choice is to let them figure out how to live on less money, or how to earn more money themselves.

How can you make your husband speak to you again? Show him that you are concerned about the money. Do everything in your power to get the debt paid back. Spend less money yourself and prove that you understand his financial concerns. And recognize that you betrayed him and that he has a good reason to be angry. Be patient. Your problem isn’t going to be solved overnight.

We wish you well,

1 Pr 22:26-27