When I confronted them about this, they told us they could barely afford the gas to come to our wedding! When approached about how they could have just given us a free family heirloom that would have meant the world, they told us we were way out-of-line. Am I out-of-line for bringing something up they had over two years to budget for? They also said they were going to pay for the rehearsal dinner but when it came down to it, they didn’t budget for that either and couldn’t pay for it.
What should I do? I feel like our relationship is deteriorating quickly. — Giftless Bride
You know what’s tackier than promising to pay for your son’s rehearsal dinner and not following through and not giving him a wedding gift and waiting a whole month to even give him a card? Confronting someone for not giving you a gift and even suggesting what could have been given in the event of a budgetary crisis. Above all else, this is the epitome of rude behavior and shows a complete lack of class. No wonder your relationship with your in-laws is deteriorating completely!
For the millionth time, gifts are not an obligation. Beyond social expectations, there are no hard rules that say that gifts must be given for certain events. They are offered as a way to express love and support for monumental events in people’s lives. That your boyfriend hasn’t even received a birthday card from his parents in eight years would indicate that they aren’t the type of people who express their love through tokens like that, so I’m not sure why you’re so surprised they didn’t step up for your wedding either.
At most — at most — you could have voiced your concern/annoyance about them promising to pay for the rehearsal dinner and then bailing, depending on when they did the bailing. If it was last minute and left you in a bind to cover the costs, you could have at some point pulled them aside and said, “It was so generous of you to offer to pay for the rehearsal dinner — we both really appreciated the offer — and I more than understand if the cost became more than you could afford. But it would have helped us plan and budget more carefully if you would have given us some more notice that you wouldn’t be able to swing it. We are so grateful that you were able to make it to the dinner though. Your presence and support is always worth more than any monetary contribution.” That’s it!
That you actually brought up the idea that your in-laws should have given you a “free” family heirloom in lieu of a store-bought gift is ghastly. Yes, you were out-of-line. It is not for recipients to say when, where, why and to whom such heirlooms are passed down. Were you raised in a barn? Rather than fixating on what your in-laws did or didn’t get you for your wedding, maybe you should be focusing some of your concern on the idea that they could barely afford gas to come to your big event. If that’s the truth, and they’re in real dire straits, they could probably use some family support right now instead of beratement over something as petty as an optional gift or the lateness of their card. Are they able to buy food for themselves? Pay their bills? If you truly don’t want your relationship with them to deteriorate further, why don’t you start thinking about how you and your husband might be able to help them rather than what old knick-knack around their house they could pass down to you?