Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My In-Laws Never Gave us a Wedding Gift”

Jane, my sister-in-law, whom I have a very good relationship with, got married several years ago, just before I started dating her brother, Jake. As a wedding gift, Jake gave Jane and her husband, Craig, an extremely expensive camping tent … which they have still never used. We’re planning a big family get-together this summer and when Jane heard that we may camp for part of it, she got excited and was like, “Ooh that would be fun! We could finally use that nice tent after all these years!” But Craig shot her down so curtly, she seemed embarrassed.

Well, that incident opened up an old wound for Jake. He spent so much money and put so much thought into a gift that has never been used. Not only that, but when we got married last year, Jane and Craig didn’t give us a gift or even a card. In fact, Craig made several insulting comments about our wedding on the day of and since. I should point out that we gave them both very nice (and expensive) gifts for being in our wedding party.

Since I have a good relationship with Jane, would it be out-of-line for me to talk to her about this? I feel it may be productive to address whatever the underlying issue might be, but how do I do that without seeming like I’m after a gift!? I just would hate to see this build a barrier between Jake and his sister. — Giftless Bride

Absolutely, without a doubt, it would be 100 percent out-of-line for you to talk to Jane about why she’s never used a wedding gift that was given to her before you even met her or why she and her husband didn’t give you and Jake a wedding gift. You want to know why you aren’t able to think of a way to bring this up without seeming like you’re after a gift? Because there isn’t a way! Honestly, there is no way you can confront someone about her lack of gift-giving without coming across like a greedy whiner. It is the epitome of terrible manners — much, much more so than not giving a gift on a special occasion.

I can understand, though, being hurt that you didn’t receive even a card from your in-laws for your wedding, but they were actually in your ceremony, right? Isn’t that a gift itself? Isn’t that another way of expressing love and showing support for your union? Furthermore, if what most concerns you is the relationship between Jake and his sister, I would really, really hope that you’re basing this on more than the issue of gifts (both the lack of and the apathy towards them). And if there are other reasons than what you’ve mentioned in your letter, it’s still not your place to butt in. Jake and Jane are both grownups. They’ve known each other their whole lives. They can — and should — deal with whatever issues may or may not exist between without your help.

If Jake does decide to talk to his sister about their relationship, he needs to leave the gift situation out of it. Seriously, I cannot express enough how tacky and out-of-line it would be to make a point about the lack of a wedding gift (or the fact that Jane and her husband haven’t used their “very expensive” tent yet). What I am able to gather from the information you’ve shared is that Jane’s husband Craig is a douche. Now, that could be a topic Jake — or even you — could discuss with Jane. You wouldn’t want to call him a douche to her face, of course, but something along the lines of, “Sometimes I get the impression that Craig isn’t terribly happy in our company. Have we done anything to inadvertently offend him?” This way, you are acknowledging an issue with Craig, but you’re putting the brunt of responsibility on yourself. This also opens the door for Jane to give you some insight into Craig’s behavior and even their relationship. Maybe things are really rocky between them and it was all they could do to even put on a happy face at your wedding. Really, you are new to this family and no matter how well you think you get along with your sister-in-law, the very last thing you want to do is go criticizing her or questioning her relationship with her brother, a person who has been in her life decades longer than you have.

Finally, what’s up with your borderline preoccupation with the monetary value of stuff (the “very expensive” tent, the “expensive” gifts you gave your wedding party)? It sort of hurts your argument that your biggest concern is for Jake and his relationship with his sister. Sounds a bit like you’re a “tit for tat” kind of person and I can tell you now, if you don’t drop keeping tabs on the expense of things and who gave what for this occasion or that, it won’t be long before you’ll be worrying about your relationship with your in-laws.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at [email protected].

51 comments… add one
  • avatar

    cdj0815 February 9, 2011, 9:16 am

    I am with Wendy on this, and I would address the issue about the your sister-in-law’s husband, tactfully. He does seems like he has some issues with you and your husband. Has it always been like this or did something happen around the time of your wedding? He definitely acts as though he has some resentment issues with you both.

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  • avatar

    Desiree February 9, 2011, 9:19 am

    Really, it sounds like any unpleasantness is only radiating from Jane’s husband, Craig. Obviously I don’t want to sum up a whole person’s character from one letter, but those comments about Craig were quite revealing (particularly the “Craig shot her down so curtly”). Speaking as someone who has seen bad marriages within my extended family cause relationship strain, there is really not a whole lot for LW to do here. If Jane has an unfriendly, controlling husband, that will affect all of her actions. I am not sure that I agree with Wendy about someone approaching Jane about her husband. If she is under his thumb, nothing anyone else says will really matter. It *will*, however, create drama. Besides, I don’t think the LW has a significantly long relationship with Jane to do this anyway. It would need to be Jake, if anyone.

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  • avatar

    Mainer February 9, 2011, 9:56 am

    Gifts are not obligatory, they are simply considered good manners and proper etiquette, especially if the person you are suppose to gift has given you a gift. It sucks, but you can’t call them out on it because, as Wendy put it, that would be poorer form than not giving a gift. Since a bulk of you letter was surrounding the lack-of-gift giving issue, I’m thinking that your concern with Jane and Craig’s relationship is secondary and your motives in having ‘that’ discussion is in the shadow of the fact that they didn’t follow standard gift-giving operating procedure. If, on the other hand, you truly are concerned about Craig’s behavior, I think you need to realize one inescapable truth in this world: some people are just dicks. I wouldn’t put all your energy into trying to make shit smell better. Unless you and Jane have known each other since you two were fetuses, it’s not your place to try and “fix” her relationship. It’s just going to stir up controversy and, in the end, probably make things worse because Craig will feel insulted, which just leads to more dickish behavior. MOA.

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    • bittergaymark

      bitter gay mark February 9, 2011, 1:54 pm

      Not obligatory? True. But I simply CANNOT even imagine somehow NOT getting my own sibling a wedding gift. It’s beyond tacky. Again, I simply can’t fathom it… And as bad as Craig sounds here, Jane must bear the lioness’s share of the blame as it’s her own brother that got married!

      I agree, there is no real way to bring this up. Not tactfully anyway. Although, are you absolutely 100 percent sure that the gift didn’t get lost in the mail? I’m reaching here, I know, but it does happen. Gifts have also been STOLEN from wedding receptions… I mean, perhaps Craig is peeved that they never received a thank you from you guys note or something. (Petty I know, but a maddeningly recurring theme on damn every other advice column, I might add. Hell, I swear this comes up weekly.) The LW could always mention in passing conversation, “Whew. What a relief to have finally mailed off all those thank you notes!” Who knows, Jane could say: “We never got one from you…” And the whole missing gift thing could be cleared up. Again, I am reaching here, but why else would somebody who has a great relationship with you, NOT give you a wedding gift? Unless Craig HATES camping and feels that the gift was a passive aggressive slap in the face… Again, I am reaching — but clearly something is going on here.

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      • avatar

        Mainer February 9, 2011, 2:18 pm

        What is more likely: their gift was lost or stolen and there was never any mention of the gift from Jane and Craig (i.e. Oh, how do you like blah-blah-blah we got you?) OR they never got them a gift because they thought being involved _in_ the wedding was a gift in-of-itself? You _are_ reaching, to the point where you are reaching only to disagree. Which I’m fine with, I love playing devil’s advocate as much as the next guy, but only when my points are plausible and it doesn’t involve justifying a bitterness because you didn’t get a present.

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      • bittergaymark

        bitter gay mark February 9, 2011, 2:27 pm

        Actually, I don’t disagree with the LW, I share her anger. I would be very peeved. No, actually, I would be troubled… I mean, the behavior is so odd on the part of the inlaws, I was merely trying to figure out some possibly plausible explanation for it. I mean, it WOULD make sense if the LW had mentioned that they always had a very contentious relationship. But no… that doesn’t appear to be the case.

        Things get lost in the mail ALL THE TIME. Just this year alone, I’ve had two items go missing and it’s only mid February…. Also, it’s VERY bad manners to ask somebody how much they like a gift you have given them. It’s tacky and puts the receiver on the spot. You always wait for them to bring it up… Which is kind of the whole point of thank you notes.

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      • avatar

        Mainer February 9, 2011, 2:41 pm

        Tacky much in the same sense that complaining about the lack of a gift is tacky. It’s a situation in which both parties are at a standstill, in which case my advice was to Move On Already, as I mentioned in my first post. I know it is so implausible that someone would not give someone else a gift, but guess what, it happens. And to get all bent out of shape over it suggests a sense of entitlement and spoiled-brat syndrome that is far worse than going against the grains of social etiquette.

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  • avatar

    Bro February 9, 2011, 10:42 am

    Obviously Jake didn’t put as much thought into the expensive expensive expensive tent as you say or else they would have used it by now, right? Pretty dumb to buy a tent for a couple that doesn’t ever go camping, especially an expensive EXPENSIVE one.

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    • avatar

      maynard February 9, 2011, 11:32 am

      Gotta agree here. A tent is a gift you give a couple that goes camping rather frequently or, you know, at all.

      Unless they are puposely using an old tent and refusing to use a new tent that was on their registry, I’m too distracted by this part of the letter to follow anything else. Clearly it was NOT a good gift, and maybe Craig is being a douche because HE feels slighted about the gift at his wedding, eh? I mean if I had a whole slew of things in a registry then got a freaking tent I would certainly continue to think “what the fuck was this dude thinking?” every time I saw him.

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    • avatar

      Natasha Kingston February 9, 2011, 11:58 am

      I was wondering the same thing, Maynard. Does Craig feel like he shouldn’t have to give them a gift because he got one he never asked for or used, and is still grumpy about it? Also wondered if maybe Craig “shot her down” because he sold the tent or something and never told her.

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  • avatar

    Pam February 9, 2011, 11:02 am

    As someone who had an abusive controlling marriage (and made it out alive) it sounds a lot like Craig and Jane might be caught in that cycle — as LW mentions he has been rude to her and her husband (his brother in law) and has been snappish at his wife in front of family members. While it is okay for Jake to take his sister aside and ask about this sort of behaviour, it is NOT okay to make it about the gifts.
    Gifts are GIFTS, they are pleasantries, not obligations, even when they are socially expected like at weddings. None of my immediate family, ex-husband’s immediate family, or the members of our wedding party gave us gifts at our wedding and we did NOT expect them to because they had helped so much to get to that day. Despite this, when my exBIL got married we DID give them a gift, and when my brother brought his wife home from China (where they were married) I gave them a gift as well… it didn’t bother me that they hadn’t given me a wedding gift, I wanted to give something and so I did.
    Drop the need to discuss gifts. Stop keeping tabs on how much you spend and how much you recieve, its not worth it in the grand scheme of things. You don’t know if there are money issues or abuse issues or other issues hidden behind the scenes (maybe your in-laws couldn’t afford anything more than being in the wedding, even if they seem to have money on the surface “for show”)… or maybe there was history between Craig and Jake that you knew nothing about.
    Be supportive of Jane, if she asks, be friendly with Craig… but don’t worry so much about “expensive” gifts…

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    • Chicago-Dude

      Chicago_Dan February 9, 2011, 3:01 pm

      Are you over reaching by saying Craig is abusive? If so, that’s a tall assumption and you know what “they” say about making assumptions…

      Otherwise, I’m siding with your take.

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      • avatar

        Wolvie_girl February 9, 2011, 4:50 pm

        Well, Chicago_Dan, I, like Pam, was in a controlling-abusive marraige. We know whereof we speak…
        This relationship has all the earmarks.

        What people who haven’t been in a relationship with an abuser don’t realize (and stupid, unrealistic and inaccurate tv movies don’t help) is that abusers don’t start by punching you! Physical abuse is the eventual, tangible embodiment of emotional abuse that is carried out day-in day-out for years. If I had to bet, I’d bet that Jane knows what I and Pam are talkin about.

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      • Chicago-Dude

        Chicago_Dan February 9, 2011, 5:19 pm

        I think it’s inherently human nature that when one attempts to convince another to side with a point of view, it is our tendency to want to sway the audience by omitting or including over-stated “facts”. I know I do it, so I am doing my best to be as objective given the circumstances of the letter as much as possible.

        Here, we have Craig who is deemed abusive because he shushed his wife (on one occasion that we know of!), and made insulting comments on a wedding. This is how Craig is presented to us.

        That said, we ALL are then abusers because (now, i’m really going off on a limb here) i can’t think of a single person i know who has not shushed or spake a bad word about anyone or any event. Unless you are a saint, and Craig sounds like he’s far from a saint; like most of us.

        My heart goes out to you, Pam and any other person who has been abused in any way shape or form and if Jane is being abused, I’d hope the LW will do more than write to an advice column on what to do about that.

        So IMO, the abusive nature of Craig is being drummed up as a smoke screen and has nothing to do with him and his wife not giving a gift – and that, is the real subject du jour.

        My suggestion was that his insulting comments need to be addressed and Jake needs to be the one to address it.

        On a side note, I am doing my best to give Craig the benefit of the doubt because i REALLY fear this new site will turn into another TF with the male-bashing, rather than an honest look at the topics on hand.

        That said, wolvie, help me understand the earmarks of Craig that potentially make him abusive.

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      • LK7889

        LK7889 February 10, 2011, 9:30 am

        I’m sure that Wolvie will add to this but here are my reasons for suspecting that he might be abusive.

        He obviously doesn’t care what his wife’s family thinks of him. Why else would someone make disparaging remarks *on the day of the wedding itself* and to the people getting married? Normally abusers will go out of their way to alienate the family of the person being abused. It’s their way of trying to distance the abused from their outside resources. Isolating the abused from her (or his) family and friends is one of the first things that will happen.

        If Jane wanted to get her brother a wedding gift and he didn’t let her, that would constitute abuse (control) as well as trying to isolate her from her family. Controlling all of the money in relationship without regard to the other person’s wishes is another way to isolate and control the abused. It keeps the abused powerless and unable to leave if they so desired.

        If I’m taking the meaning of “curtly” correctly here, he also rather passive aggressively demeaned his wife in front of her own family members. Demeaning someone’s thoughts and feelings in front of their loved ones is a way to make them feel small and powerless. Especially if they do it in such a way as to treat them like a child.

        I would also like to point out like Wolvie that most abuse doesn’t even involve physical beatings. Most of it is a way of making the abused small, powerless and under complete control of the abuser without any means of escape. In these cases, there is almost no outward evidence of abuse other than the behavior of the abused.

        Another important point is that these are the ways that female abusers generally abuse their SO’s. Not physically but emotionally and mentally.

        And all of these examples are totally taken out of the context of the letter. Hell, for all we know, these are only times Craig has been anything but great to Jane. However, in my experience, this type of behavior constitutes abuse as often as it doesn’t. Only those close to the situation and Jane herself will know the truth here.

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      • LK7889

        LK7889 February 10, 2011, 9:45 am

        Missed something in my comment there. My point about the female abusers wasn’t laid out quite right. What I was trying to do there was point out that (at least from my take on this), it’s not male-bashing. Women abuse their SO’s as often as men do. We just don’t hear much about it because it’s emotional/mental abuse and not physical abuse most of the time.

        My take on this comes from the training I got from time spent volunteering for a women’s shelter during college and the experience I gathered during that time- not from personal biases but training from the community that helps the survivors of the abuse.

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      • LK7889

        LK7889 February 10, 2011, 9:48 am

        I wish there was an “edit post” function here so I wouldn’t have to keep posting new comments to clarify what I’m saying…

        Please don’t take the “personal bias” comment the wrong way. I only mean that my explanation comes from my training and isn’t something that I came up with on my own. I’m not demeaning any abuse survivor’s experiences or trying to say that training means more than going through it yourself.

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      • Chicago-Dude

        Chicago_Dan February 10, 2011, 2:10 pm

        LK7889, your argument is a non sequitur.
        Craig comes off as unpleasant (as stated by Desiree) not abusive.

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      • LK7889

        LK7889 February 10, 2011, 4:15 pm

        Consider yourself lucky to never have known an abuser then.

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      • avatar

        Wolvie_girl February 11, 2011, 10:50 am

        Chicago_Dan, isn’t it quite possible that people you find to be “unpleasant” are actually at home abusing their SO without your knowledge? Abuse isn’t worn like a badge, it’s hidden. I don’t know if Craig is an abusive person, but I don’t know that he isn’t either. Those of us who have known abusers recognize familiar behavior and red flags are triggered. It’s not proof, just a perspective we have that you don’t.

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  • avatar

    Elle February 9, 2011, 11:14 am

    I’m going to try to give both parties the benefit of the doubt here. The LW probably thinks highly of her in-laws – therefore, the mention of expensive (and one would hope, thoughtful) gifts, and was disappointed when she got nothing in return. (Not even a card, that’s pretty rude.) On the other hand, I think that the in-laws probably helped the LW and her husband in other intangible ways, and thought that whatever they did more than compensated for a wedding gift. (We all know how lines get blurry when it comes to family matters)
    I do think that the LW should let go of the gift issue. Just be glad they were there and shared your wedding day with you. Consider that your present. And in the future, refrain from giving them expensive gifts, as you already know they will not respond in kind.

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  • avatar

    AnitaBath February 9, 2011, 11:26 am

    I thought maybe she felt the need to mention the “expensive” part just to clarify that it’s not like she gave them some cheap tent for Walmart or a $10 gift card from AppleBee’s so that she could make it clear that it’s not like her in-laws held out on gifts because they thought hers were so tiny.

    When she mentioned Craig shot her down, I almost wondered if they didn’t even *have* the tent anymore. If it was that expensive of a tent, and they realized they wouldn’t be using it much, maybe they returned it for the cash? Then Craig’s thing would make sense like, “Shut up shut up, we took that back, remember!?”

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    • avatar

      Amber February 9, 2011, 11:42 am

      I was actually wondering the same thing. I’ve regifted or sold things I know I’ll never use before and it is awkward when someone asks about it. Usually I remember enough to say something polite though, haha.

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    • avatar

      Natasha Kingston February 9, 2011, 12:06 pm

      You beat me to it, I was thinking the exact same thing.

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    • avatar

      Jimnist February 9, 2011, 6:08 pm

      OMG, I was totally thinking the same thing! They totally re-gifted it or sold it back. They should just be honest about what they did.

      As for not getting LW and Jake a gift, who cares? Having been in a few weddings, I just wish that the bride and groom would say “Hey, we know is expensive to be in the wedding. Please don’t get us a gift. If you want to give us something, please don’t go overboard or donate to XYZ charity.” Seriously, being in a wedding is expensive and I think it’s absurd that you should also be expected to give a gift. I normally just cheap out and get something for $50 or less since I was already shelling out over a $1,000 to be in my friedns’ weddings. So, gurl, you need to stop being so petty over it and the stupid tent. Leave it to your husband to sort out, if there really is something that needs “sorting”.

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  • avatar

    Wolvie_girl February 9, 2011, 12:29 pm

    Although I don’t think this is very likely, given the information in the letter, I do want to point out the fact that it is acceptable to give a wedding gift after the wedding. I’ve personally heard that up to a year after the wedding is ok, so it *could* be that the in-laws will be sending a gift later…but I kinda doubt it based on the letter.

    I also agree whole-heartedly with Wendy that there should not be an expectation of a gift from you wedding party. Most likely, Jane purchased a bridesmaid dress, and Craig rented a tuxedo. I would personally be VERY offended if I spent money to participate in someone’s wedding and they later complained to me that I didn’t give them a gift!

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    • avatar

      Wolvie_girl February 9, 2011, 12:31 pm

      Or an expectation of a gift, regardless, actaully! Afterall, if someone is required or obliged to give something, it isn’t a gift. By nature, gift-giving is voluntary!

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      • avatar

        IdaTarbell February 10, 2011, 8:48 am

        While gift-giving is voluntary, so is being in somebody’s wedding. And as far as gift-giving goes, a card should be mandatory to everyone attending. If you simply can’t afford a $300 punch bowl or even a $25 gift card to Target, a card is the least someone can do if they’re attending an expensive dinner and reception.

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      • avatar

        Wolvie_girl February 10, 2011, 11:59 am

        To use your line of reasoning, Ida, Throwing an expensive dinner and reception is also voluntary. If I decided to throw a party and invite my friends, it’s because I want the pleasure their company, not because I expect anything in return. Are hostess gifts a nice gesture, of course! But my intent in throwing a party is to spend time with the people I invite, period!

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      • avatar

        IdaTarbell February 10, 2011, 12:14 pm

        Completely true, but you’re probably having a dinner party of 10-20 people, where you can actually look everyone in the eye at your table and hear everyone’s conversation. Weddings take months to plan, loads of cash, and often the couple barely get to hang out and enjoy anyone’s company because they’re being good host/hostess. So for 10 minutes of the couple’s time you get one-on-one, you get 3 hours spent drinking free wine, eating free salmon, eating free cake and listening to free music.

        I’m not advocating that you have to have to give a gift equal to your meal, but not even giving a card seems really cheap and in poor taste.

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      • avatar

        Wolvie_girl February 10, 2011, 12:36 pm

        In spirit, Ida, I’m with you, it’s tacky to attend someone’s wedding and not give them something… but it’s much tackier to expect or demand a gift of any kind from someone.

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      • avatar

        fallonthecity February 10, 2011, 3:42 pm

        I’m going to argue that a couple should not plan a wedding they can’t afford, and not plan a wedding with gifts in mind. If a couple want to have a nice dinner at their wedding, that’s fine – but it’s also their choice. You could serve fingerfoods and probably get the same presents. Yes, it is customary to give a gift, and I wonder why anyone would care enough to go to the wedding if they haven’t even written a sincere congratulations letter. But it’s not the point of the wedding, and I think people pay entirely too much attention to the gift aspect of weddings.

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  • Jess

    Jess of CityGirlsWorld.com February 9, 2011, 12:57 pm

    Yeah, wedding gifts and the surrounding etiquette can get so out of hand so fast. I have guilt about wedding gifts I haven’t given but I’ve also spent thousands of dollars on plane tickets, dresses, shoes, bachelorette t shirts, shower planning/costs/gifts, etc, etc, etc.

    If I am anything to go by, sometimes you really MEAN to get the couple a nice gift but you’re waiting for the money or the right idea. But then time gets away from you and the more it does, the more important it seems to offer up a substantial gift which leaves you in a jam.

    A card wishing the couple well is really a great way to go (on the day). You can always follow it with a real gift later on.

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  • avatar

    bostonpupgal February 9, 2011, 2:56 pm

    So they’ve never used the tent, and even the mention of it makes Craig upset. Also, Craig has put down the LW’s wedding on several occassions. It sounds to me like Craig is jealous.

    You know how children (and adults, too) tend to put down things they secretly wish they had, it kind of sounds like Craig is doing that. Maybe he’s jealous of the money you guys had to spend on your wedding vs. his, and maybe he resents the ‘very expensive’ gift given to him by his brother in law. And the lack of gift to you guys could have been out of spite “Oh, they don’t need it, they’re RICH” I could be totally off here, but its a thought.

    Either way LW, I do think it’s ok to address the obvious animosity Craig has towards you guys, but NOT the lack of wedding gift. Talk to your husband about things, and maybe the next time Craig insults your big day take the opportunity to bring it up. Or the next time he cuts off conversation about the tent, ask him if there is something he’d like to say about the tent, or if he didn’t care for it. Try to have an open, honest, non judgemental discussion with both of them, or just Jane, about what the issue is. As for the expensive gift they’ve never used, and the lack of gift to you guys, just let it go and take the high road.

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  • LK7889

    LK7889 February 9, 2011, 3:08 pm

    Building on what some of the other commenters have said here, I wonder if maybe the in-laws are in tight financial straits. If they don’t have money, that might be why they didn’t give a gift. And if they don’t have money, they very well could’ve sold the tent to get some money.

    It also seems likely that Craig is an extreme dickbag and possibly controlling and abusive. Normally the abuse becomes very clear when money is involved. If he wants to control all the money to hurt his wife, it seems likely that he wouldn’t allow her to buy her brother a wedding gift.

    Either way, I agree with everyone else that this is not a situation that the LW should be sticking her nose into. If her husband is worried about his sister’s situation, HE’S the one that should bring it up. And it shouldn’t contain any mention at all of gifts or gift giving.

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  • LK7889

    LK7889 February 9, 2011, 3:17 pm

    Also, just as an aside, different people view gifts and gift giving in different ways.

    During our very good friend’s wedding, my fiancee and I were only able to give them a $20 Target gift card at the shower and a $20 gift card at the wedding. They understood and told us that they were so glad that with things as tight as they are that they weren’t expecting more and that they were thankful that we gave as much as we did. I would never have NOT given them some sort of gift though.

    On the other hand, one of my best friends from college gave a whole, almost new living room suite to a couple of her best friends when they got married and they sort of turned their noses up at it. And we’re talking less than six months used, perfect condition, full living room suite!

    When I bought myself a new iPod because I didn’t have enough space on my old one, I gave my old one to my brother. This was for Christmas one year, btw. He was totally psyched about it and said that he didn’t care that it was used, it was better than anything he could’ve expected to get.

    Anyways, I guess this tangent is just to say that different people have different gift giving ideas. Some people consider a small gift to be rude, some consider a used gift to be rude and some people are just happy that you thought of them at all!

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    • avatar

      Jess February 10, 2011, 7:13 am

      I think most people like to select their own furniture.

      I’d much rather have a small thing that was on my register than a living room set that wasn’t to my taste. I mean, now they jsut have to donate it to charity or something, or live with furniture they don’t like. A strange present I think.

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      • LK7889

        LK7889 February 10, 2011, 9:54 am

        Well, when you are broke, don’t own any furniture, and can’t afford to buy any furniture, I have a hard time seeing turning your nose up at free stuff- which was the case with the people in question. I would’ve been absolutely thrilled to get a free living room suite! Also, the stuff was in good enough condition that if they truly hated it, they could’ve sold it on craigslist or something.

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      • avatar

        evanscr05 February 10, 2011, 10:04 am

        When I first moved out on my own, my family offered me a bunch of furniture since I had nothing. I turned them down. I appreciated the offer, but none of it was to my taste and I really wanted to decorate on my own, even if it meant I had no furniture for a while. If your friends’ friends didn’t ask for the furniture pieces, you shouldn’t assume that they “turned their noses up” to it. Perhaps it just wasn’t their style. It’s very presumptuous to give someone furniture as a gift like that if you do so without them picking it out first. Something you love could be ugly to them.

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      • LK7889

        LK7889 February 10, 2011, 11:45 am

        This whole mini-discussion just confirms my original point. What seems like a good gift to some people seems rude to others. It’s also why I stick solely to giving gift cards or asked for items as gifts. People are too damn picky!

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  • Chicago-Dude

    Chicago_Dan February 9, 2011, 3:20 pm

    Wait, why are people tagging Craig as abusive, dickbag, douchebag etc?
    Remember, we are looking at Craig through the lenses of the LW who is clearly jaded by him.

    Now, I’m not condoning his behavior of making “… several insulting comments about our wedding on the day of and since…”

    It is apparent to me, that THAT is the issue at hand that the LW needs to resolve with Craig. Wendy’s advice is spot on.

    Let Jake be the lead on THIS and only THIS issue because at the end of the day, Jake is the one who has more to lose should this confrontation go sour and your (LW) allegiance is to Jake and only Jake. Stop tying it into a monetary gift.

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    • LK7889

      LK7889 February 9, 2011, 3:54 pm

      Yes, we are viewing this through the lens of the LW, but if we take her description at face value then his behavior indicates that he is in fact a douche, dickbag, etc. I agree that’s a big “if” but it’s the only point of view we have here.

      I would also point that many of the people that are saying that he *might* be abusive are only saying that it’s a *possibility,* not that it’s *the truth.* I personally never stated that he *was* abusive- I stated that he *possibly* was abusive, which, admittedly, is something that only someone close to the situation would know. It’s simply speculation. Of course, if the LW didn’t want speculation on what the issue with Craig was, I doubt she would’ve have written to an advice blogger for advice on the issue.

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      • avatar

        Wolvie_girl February 10, 2011, 11:51 am

        Exactly! Anything we say in these comments are just hunches based on the face value of information we’re given. We don’t have a back story to go on for any letter, we’re just making statements based on what we read…

        based on what I read, the description of Craig reminded me of my ex, who was abusive. I don’t know Craig (and his name isn’t acually Craig 😉 ) so he could be a completely misunderstood dude, but my *hunch* is that there’s more than that going on here.

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  • avatar

    ladiejoy February 9, 2011, 4:11 pm

    Thank you, Wendy for this letter & response… 5 years ago I was in my friend’s wedding, and it was an over-the-top VERY formal New Year’s Eve wedding in a major metropolitan city. After throwing her bridal shower at my own family’s mountain house (including drink/food/decoration, etc), buying the dress, the shower gifts (there were 3), and the hair/makeup (which was supposed to be $60 and ended up being a surprising $130 the day of the wedding), not to mention lodging on the most expensive night(s) of the year, I was simply too maxed out to afford a gift. (She also didn’t allow my very long term boyfriend to attend the rehearsal dinner with me which I thought was weird)
    About 2 months after the wedding, she called me and asked if I had given her a gift, because she was going through cards from her gift basket and didn’t see my name. I was rather taken aback, and felt really bad about it. I found out she called two other bridesmaids with the same question. I’ve always been torn between thinking it was incredibly rude for her to ask that after all I invested in her fancy wedding, and actually feeling very embarrassed that I couldn’t afford a nice wedding gift.
    Your response makes me feel SO much better now – I didn’t realize I’ve been harboring some guilty feelings all these years.

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    • avatar

      fallonthecity February 10, 2011, 1:40 am

      WOW, that was really rude of her. If I were in your situation, I would have made copies of all my receipts from wedding expenditures, put them in a box, wrapped it up all pretty in white paper with a silver bow and sent it over.

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      • avatar

        Wolvie_girl February 10, 2011, 11:54 am

        Fallonthecity–perfection! Ladiejoy, it’s not too late…DO IT!! 😉

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  • avatar

    fallonthecity February 10, 2011, 2:07 am

    LW, dial it back a little and try to forget about the wedding gift. Gift-giving is not a contest. And it’s not like they weren’t there for you or supportive of your marriage — they were in your wedding party. They probably had to buy/rent their clothes and shoes for the day, pay for transportation, participate in your pre-wedding activities and events… they probably spent considerable time and money on your wedding even without the gift. It would have been really nice of them to give you a card, but it’s not as if they totally neglected to notice you got hitched.

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  • avatar

    Jess February 10, 2011, 7:08 am

    they definitely took it back ro sold it! thats why he shut her down curtly, and THATS why she was embarrassed! haha

    but seriously i think very very few people would want a fancy camping tent. i’d be annoyed if i got that for my wedding.

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  • avatar

    Jen February 10, 2011, 4:38 pm

    I didn’t give my brother a wedding gift. I also may have made negative comments during the wedding. I didn’t give them a present because I was in the wedding party, and was broke, and already had to pay for a dress, and shoes, and a tailor, and transportation to the wedding, etc. So no, they didn’t get a present from me. and at the reception, I was supposed to sit up by the wedding party, of which I knew exactly 2 people (the bride and groom), while my partner was supposed to sit in the regular seating area, where she knew exactly 0 people. So I removed my place setting and sat with her at a guest table.

    Siblings are siblings. They fight, they do stupid crap, they don’t always get each other presents…

    That being said, if my brother was having some weird issue with me, I’d be more than happy to talk about it with my sister-in-law. I think one of the best things about sisters-in-law is that they are able to functionally communicate, which some guys just can’t do. Plus, I no longer have to remind my brother when our parents’ birthdays are. 🙂

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  • avatar

    SouthernGirl February 11, 2011, 10:29 pm

    I didn’t get a gift from my brother at my wedding. It isn’t a reflection of how close we are or any passive agressiveness, it just happened. I’m beyond generous to him and his children and whether or not he gives me gifts isn’t going to change that. I’m kind of the same way as LW2, I expect people to make at least somewhat of any effort to treat me as I’ve treated them. Some do, some don’t. LW2, I know you feel like you should talk to your SIL, but I really think you should take Wendy’s advice and let your husband talk to his sister. Even if you gently bring up her husband she will likely get defensive and it will create problems for everyone. Take it from someone who has been where you are, it really won’t help anything.

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  • avatar

    Patti February 12, 2011, 12:20 am

    With all of the talk about mentioning or not…remember that you are letting this overshadow your special day. It isn’t about your inlaws and their lack of proper gift giving manners, it’s about you and your husband. Yes he gave them an expensive tent, and I’m assuming he was involved in the wedding party and maybe he got an expensive gift for doing so, but they didn’t feel the need to respond in kind. Who cares why…this was your awesome day, don’t dwell on the downers…dwell on the people who lifted you up, who laughed with you, who danced with you. Yeah, a card would’ve been nice, but in the grand scheme of things that card would’ve been tossed in the recycling bin. Did they at least wish you well on your wedding day?

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