Husband never told me he was on his Mother's underwater mortgage!

JW - posted on 05/23/2012 ( 9 moms have responded )

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Hey Ladies, I am new to this group and am thankful to find a group of mommies with a Godly outlook on raising children and dealing with the stresses of life with a Christian perspective.

Currently, I have a three month old baby girl and have been married for a year and a half!   I love my husband and he is also a very strong Christian.  Before we got  married I knew he had student debt and that was no big deal and I had seen all the statements on his student loans so I knew that amount he owed.I honestly thought he had told me all his financial debts.  I was very clear with any debts I had before we got married and didn't withhold anything!  

We decided to get pregnant within a few months of getting married and are very thankful for our daughter.  When I was 7 months pregnant my husband was looking at his credit report and I looked at it with him I noticed a debt of $357,000 on his credit report.  I was so confused and asked him is that your student debt?  His student debt is not even close to that amount.  He said no that's my Mother's mortgage?  I was so confused because he never told me he was on her home.  Apparently, he is on her mortgage which is fine if he needs to help her out since she is a widow.  I respect that, but not telling your wife before you get married or before you get pregnant is not honorable.  Plus, being financially tied to his mother is making cleaving nearly impossible.  

His mother thankfully makes all the house payments on the mortgage.  But she also treated her house as a piggy bank.  She kept taking money out of the house as the assessed value climbed.  She took out at least $200,000.  But now that the assessed value has dropped the home is at least $60,000 underwater.  The home is also in a very bad type of mortgage.  Plus, in about 2 years she will not be able to afford the house payments let alone maintaining it. She then wants us to move in and take over house payments.  However, I am so upset that her son never told me about this.  Plus, we are bailing her out of a 200 K spending spree.  I wish someone would do that for me.  She also has several other children and maybe they should help her out.  How is bailing her out helping her to learn to manage money better?  I would like to show her grace but also want her to be an accountable adult.  Or am I being too nice by taking over the house?

My husband has been saying our only option is to refinance.  I told him I would like his name to be removed but that is not possible.  The bank will not allow it even with a refinance.  So this means the financial lie can't go away.  He can't fix it.  He can't make amends to me.  I feel like the foundation of our marriage has been built on a financial lie.  Trust has been fractured.  His mother is not going to be accountable for taking out so much money and her son and me are left to clean up the mess.  I just don't think that is right to do this to us.  

I am  trying so hard to see this as a blessing but I can't because of the financial lie my husband created.  She also has several other grown children that should help her out.  I thought one option would be to sell the house even if it's underwater and everyone split the underwater portion.  This would remove my husbands name from the mortgage.  However, we would have to inherit more debt from the underwater portion of the house.  But this might be more emotionally healthy for our marriage.  Plus I have a feeling if we move into her home she will have lots of strings attached and be critical over anything we do. I know this because she is critical over how we manage our baby through constant nagging and meddling.

I am having a very difficult time giving my husband grace and forgiving this financial lie.  I know God forgives instantly when we ask for forgiveness it it washed clean, but I am human and this is so hard to let go.  

I m trying to figure out the best way God would want us to handle this situation.  Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions?  I was considering counseling for my husband and me.  My patience is growing thin.  The last 1.5 year has been way too stressful!  Sometimes I question if my husband loves me because he didn't tell me about the mortgage and he keeps telling me we have to refinance.  It's like I don't have any choice or say.  

Any advice would be must appreciated!  

Thank you!

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Linda - posted on 05/30/2012

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I agree with Carla....just because you say you are a Christian does not make you one. His siblings are certainly not acting like Christ would in ostracizing you. Where were they when their mother needed help? It would be nice if they shared the debt...it would be the CHRISTIAN thing to do, but they have no legal obligation to do so. It is our job, in as much as we are able, to live at peace with all men. Do what you have to do, pray, and don't worry about their attitudes which you cannot control. That is between them and the Lord.

Hopefully you have both learned a hard lesson. Proverbs 11:15 says, "He who puts up security for another will surely suffer, but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe."
NEVER co-sign a mortgage, or any other loan, even for your children. It's just never a good idea. If someone can't afford something, then they don't need it. God will supply all our NEEDS.

I know $60,000 sounds like a lot of money, but you can pay it off eventually. Have his mother pay as much as she can. If she gets a cheaper apartment, it should be less than the mortgage payment and she should be able to pay a little each month towards it. Also, I would keep track of everything you have to pay out of pocket. Keep immaculate records! Perhaps you can eventually be repaid by her,or her estate after she is gone...especially if she has some life insurance. It is NOT right to expect children to pay off a mother's debts. Everyone should understand this. Proverbs 13:22 says that", A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous".

Carla - posted on 05/30/2012

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Your statement, JW, about cleaving to your wife/husband isn't going to happen until Hubby makes his mother face up to her mistakes. I find it ironic that the siblings, who claim to be Christians are ostracizing you because you aren't joining the march to drink the Kool-Aid. Remember, sweetheart, that just because you call yourself a Christian doesn't make it so.

The hard reality of this situation is that you are tied to this home, and will probably have to make some very hard decisions, which will NOT be popular with the rest of the fam. I don't know where you live, but here in Michigan, people are walking away from their homes in droves, willing to accept a hit on their credit rather than being strangled by the debt.

You and Hubby need some serious counseling. Mama needs to look into a short-sale for the home. $60K is STILL a whole lot less than $367K, and Mama needs to downsize into an apartment she CAN afford in a year or two. You are absolutely correct, children are NOT an ATM for parents! I pray God's Presence in this situation--do a lot of praying and fasting. You are going to need every ounce of Godliness to handle this.

God bless, honey

Linda - posted on 05/26/2012

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I definitely agree that selling the house is the wisest way to go. You should not move in with her--two women in a house does NOT make for peace, especially early in a marriage. If she was 85 and could not live alone, and you had been married for 20 years, then it would be a different story.

It may sound horrible to owe $60,000 on something you don't own, but at least there is hope in repaying that. The other debt is insurmountable.

Yes, your husband was wrong in not telling you about this earlier, BUT God commands us to forgive. I'm sure that he was trying to do the right thing, albeit in an unwise fashion.

If you need a third neutral party to come to an agreement on this, I would suggest taking the FInancial Peace University program of Dave Ramsey. He would definitely recommend selling the house.

Carla - posted on 05/26/2012

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And yes, Angela, your surmise is correct. I sold real estate for a brief period, while the market was going nuts. People were being approved for mortgages that even I knew they couldn't afford. Real estate agents and the lenders were making money hand over fist. (I didn't, I think I was too honest). Also, we have millions of people like Mama who took over $200K out of her equity on her home, thinking the market would continually go up, and she could use her home as a bank forever. Closing costs, which can be as high as $10,000 were being rolled into the mortgage, so as soon as this house sold, it had another $10,000 added to it's asking price when they sell it. So when the market crashed, literally everyone's homes lost value, ours lost 1/3, but some lost half or more. Now these people are walking away from their homes, as they now realize they will NEVER have their home paid off.

The American dream is gone. I think a lot of it has to do with America's smugness that they are blessed. And we WERE. However, we now think that we have done it through our own particular brand of smartness, NOT because God shined His face on us.

God bless, all, we are gonna need it

Carla - posted on 05/25/2012

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Oh, and just to add a little bit--our 'daughter of the heart' married this guy who's mother is loaded. She spends like a drunken sailor, since her husband passed on, on silly, stupid stuff, as well as bailing Alan out of every and all messes he gets himself into, and believe me, he gets into some doozies! The other siblings, at my daughter, Angie's urging, went to the family attorney and took the power out of Mama's hands, and placed it in a financial advisor's hands. Two of the more rational siblings now pay her bills out of a special account, then Mama gets a living allowance.

I am embarrassed for this woman as well as for your mother-in-law. They say with age we get wisdom, but obviously these women aren't old enough yet for that ;) SOMEBODY with wisdom is going to have to step in and take the reins in your situation, sweetheart.

God bless

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JW - posted on 05/29/2012

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Hey Carla,

Thank you for your helpful input on my situation. I totally agree with you on a repentant heart and that we make a change in ourselves to flee from our sin and work to change ourselves and not make the same mistake over again. Thankfully, his mother can’t take any more money out of the house as it’s underwater, even if she could my husband would have to sign for it since he is on the mortgage. I am just upset because his mother told me we don’t really have an option that we will probably have to live there. I just don’t understand making your child take on your debts. In my family, parents are usually trying to leave assets and help their children out, not make more debt for them. Also, he has lots of student debt and she has never helped him with a penny of it. I don’t think it’s right then to make us clean up her debt. It’s like she is the child and we are the adults.



My understanding is that my mother in law took out the 200K over the course of a decade (which was before my husband went on her mortgage). My husband went on her mortgage after her husband died back in 2010. It is my understanding she had already taking out lots of money before my husband (her son) went on the loan. He went on her mortgage to help her out since she couldn’t qualify by herself for the refinance, she was a widow. She doesn’t have a big enough income to qualify for a mortgage of $357 K. She needed her son’s income to qualify for it, which is fine. She however makes all the mortgage payments, but will not be able to afford the home in a year or two.



I am still very upset my husband didn’t have the decency to tell me about the mortgage before our marriage. I feel like he tricked me as he even asked me “well if I had told you about the mortgage before our wedding, you probably wouldn’t have married me.” This statement leaves me to believe he purposely hide the debt from me. At least if I had known about the mortgage, he could have worked out this financial mess with his mother before getting married and having a baby.



I actually think my husband didn’t do his homework when he went on her mortgage. I still wonder if his mother took money out when he went on the loan with her back in 2010. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if she did take money out. I kind of think his mother took advantage of my husband since he was grieving the loss of his dad and so he helped her refinance the home. I honestly don’t think he knew what he was getting into. I think he thought he was being a good son and helping his mother out. He just didn’t realize she was a financial mess.



I agree selling the house and splitting the debt of $60K is probably our best option. However, I am not so sure his siblings will help out because my husband’s name is the one on the mortgage. None of the other sibling’s names are on it. Therefore, they are not legally accountable for the mortgage. I have a feeling it will be very difficult to get them to split the underwater portion. My mother in law has told me she can’t afford to pay much of the underwater portion. That is very frustrating because she is essentially making her son and her daughter in law (me) bail her out. What about being accountable for her actions?



All I want is to be financially freed from his mother so we can cleave to each other and not have to worry about her finances, too.



Thanks again for your input!

JW - posted on 05/29/2012

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Hey Angela,

Thank you for your reply to my post. Sorry about the confusion with underwater mortgage term. It is essentially the same as the British term of negative equity.



Underwater means that my my mother in law owes more debt on the property than what the current market value of her home. So she owes $357,000, but the home is only able to sell for $297,000 that means the home is $60,000 dollars underwater. I am not even sure if the home can sell for $297,000. It could be even more underwater.. That is just an estimate.



Anyways, I like your term ' "deadwood" -a family member who has no economic or financial common sense. Someone, moreover who is old enough to know better.' I am eternally frustrated because I am now at home with the baby and my husband is the sole income provider. We are basically balling out his mother on her mortgage.



In my opinion, she didn't handle her finances in a respectful and healthy way. I honestly still can't believe my husband did not have the decency to tell me about this mortgage before our marriage. You are right - I have built up a lot of resentment towards my husband and even his mother. I wish I could forgive him for this but he is sort of pushing us to live there and that is making me resent him more as I am having to accept his lie and help his mother with her spending spree.



I honestly don't know what to do. I am also feeling very ostracized by his family members. They are making my life miserable. His siblings give me the silent treatment and talk bad behind my back. I honestly think this is very cruel especially since they are Christians. It is not right to make someone feel selectively ostracized.



I truly need a miracle to make my marriage work and me to be happy. Please pray for me.



Thank you again for your post and validating my feelings about this situation.

Angela - posted on 05/25/2012

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I’m British and had a little trouble understanding what “underwater mortgage” meant. Different cultures have different names for the same thing. But I have now come to recognise this term as meaning the same thing as what we call “negative equity”. That’s when the debts on a house exceed its actual value – so selling the building would still leave debts. Am I right?

I really feel for you in your position. I absolutely agree with you that he should have been upfront and straight before you married. To be honest, I would be quite resentful of “carrying deadwood” – a family member who has no economic or financial common sense. Someone, moreover who is old enough to know better. The thought that my owned hard-earned wages were “subbing” someone not in our own household, or, if your husband is the sole earner, that his hard-earned money which could be benefitted from directly by him, the baby, myself or the home we occupied would have had me absolutely burning with resentment and annoyance. So you have my empathy 100% on that.

As for moving into the property at some future point – you’re right that it would no doubt be under her terms and conditions.

I agree that your husband’s siblings could help out BUT …. ever wondered why they didn’t get involved in the first place? Putting their own money into backing their mother and helping her keep her house isn’t something that you can enforce. Your husband KNOWS that. Furthermore, your husbands siblings KNOW that and also ensured they kept a low profile at the time their brother was “rescuing” their mother.

You need to have some plain talk with your husband. First of all he should accept that the secrecy is not acceptable – he should NEVER have withheld this important information from you. Next he needs to recognise that his mother isn’t the wisest individual when it comes to money. Finally you need an action plan to get out of this mess.

I can’t offer any practical suggestions, only my prayers. But our God is big enough for this! Good luck.

Carla - posted on 05/24/2012

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There's a big difference in the forgiveness God gives us. We go to him with a repentant heart, ask for forgiveness as we have screwed up big time, then we turn our lives 180 degrees and work hard to stay out of the sin we had before conversion. Mother doesn't seem to have repented, if she is still taking money out, THEN wants your husband to bail her out.



My advice would be to talk with the other siblings, sell the house, and split the deficit between you all. Most of us older parents are trying to give our children tangible assets when we pass on, not give them debt! This house has turned from an asset into an albatross around your necks. Have Mom sell it. A portion of $60K is a whole lot better than ALL of $357K you will inherit when she passes! If she can make the payments on $357,000, she can pay rent on an apartment. I also have to ask if Hubby was aware she was taking out the equity. My husband and I are joint on our mortgage, and he can't just go get money out of it without my signature on the re-fi docs. If he was aware, he is complicant with this debt.



Hind sight is 20/20. Maybe he thought he was doing a good thing, and it snow balled. I don't know. But I think if my husband said 'oh, by the way, I am on a $357K mortgage, I would have a heart attack!



Have a frank talk with Hubby and tell him your concerns. You did a good job of describing your very valid reasons why you feel this is detrimental to your marriage, tell him the same way. Trust me when I tell you having Mama tied to the married family is NOT a good thing, and will damage your marriage. Pray and maybe even fast before your talk to your husband. He did this before you were married, but it has to be resolved in order for him to properly take care of HIS family, which does not include Mama. Yes, we are to make sure our parents don't starve and have a roof over their heads, but condoning wasteful spending, then cleaning up the mess, isn't what Scriptures tell us is our responsibility.



God bless, honey, keep us informed.

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