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Can I break my brother’s kneecaps to make him pay up?

My siblings and I are throwing a surprise 50th anniversary party for our parents. We all came up with the idea together, planned it together, and now that it’s time to start paying, my brother and his wife are suddenly acting like they were barely involved….because they think it’s too extravagant and don’t want to spend the money. It’s too late to change the location, and we’ve already put down deposits on catering, etc., and we don’t want to lose the money. Now there’s a lot of tension and what used to be something we looked forward to with excitement is now something we’re all dreading. I really think my brother is being a jerk and not pulling his weight in a situation that he was completely involved in from the get-go. How can I get my brother to pay up?

You can’t.

I’m sure your parents would feel pride bursting from their hearts to know that their 50 years of wedded bliss have produced such loving siblings.

There are a variety of situations that could have changed your brother’s tune about paying for the party. Maybe his wife decided she’d rather make a couple mortgage payments than get an ice sculpture made in the shape of your parents’ heads. Or maybe he bet on the wrong horse and lost all his party budget at the race track. Or maybe he’s just a tightwad and doesn’t want to fork over the cash. Whatever the reason, you simply can’t make him pay. You can ask nicely, and if he says no, either come up with the money yourself, or change your party plans to fit your budget.

And behave yourself at the party. Let it go. I’m sure your parents would much rather have kids who get along and love each other than a hotel party room filled with balloons and anger.

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