Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Want Nothing To Do With My Mother-in-Law”

I am a woman in my late 20s and I, like so many others, am having a MIL problem that is now causing tension in my relationship. “Jane” is overall a nice person but has been un/under-employed for most of the five years that my fiancé and I have been together. She has bounced around from family member to family member in turns, living with them for a short while — including us on several occasions. For the most part, I’ve had no problem with her staying with us as we have always gotten along well and even though she wasn’t paying us rent, she helped out by cleaning and buying groceries when she could.

The problem started after we moved to a new house. I had a box set aside for things that were to be given away to charity. In another room, I had a box of shot glasses that I had been collecting for over 10 years and that held a lot of sentimental value to me. Somehow, Jane put this box with the charity items and gave my collection away. I was, and still am, heartbroken about this and very upset with Jane over it. She maintains that before she took the box to charity, she asked me to look through it, so it’s not her fault. I say that there’s no reason I would ever think that something of mine would be in the giveaway box if I had not put it there. In an effort to avoid discord I tried to put this behind me, despite her lack of apology, and made excuses for her, thinking that perhaps she was embarrassed about it, and went on as before.

Fast-forward to a few months later, and the tensions in the house have been rising due to Jane’s continued lack of employment and her seeming lack of any efforts to find any. During this time, a friend of mine let slip that Jane had told her that I was being very immature about my disappearing shot glass collection and that she had done nothing wrong and had absolutely no intention whatsoever of ever apologizing, and that if I thought that I was owed one then I was mistaken. I am FURIOUS about this, and this new information combined with my frustration with the employment situation caused a humongous row with Jane and she moved out — after a year of living here rent-free — still refusing to apologize, and I no longer want anything to do with her.

My fiancé has thus far been very supportive of me in this and defended me to his mother during this period of turbulence. Unfortunately, he now wants to start inviting her over again and doesn’t understand that I do not want her in the house. I feel that until I get an apology, there’s nothing that we need to say to one another and while I will not prevent him from seeing her, I don’t feel I’m obligated to play hostess to her. He says that they were just shot glasses and I need to get over it. How can I make him understand that this is not about the shot glasses anymore and rather about his mother’s total lack of regard for me? My fiancé and I are planning to be married at the end of March next year and I feel that giving in now will set the tone with her for the rest of my life and I am not going to be walked on by anyone. Am I being immature? SHOULD I just “get over it”? Or am I right to put my foot down over the principle of this matter? — Shot Blown

I always love it when a letter writer ends his or her letter with a couple of really obvious questions, because it makes my job so much easier and it also means it won’t be a total shock when I say, “You’re being immature! You should get over it!” Because, SB, you are being a little immature and you should get over it. That’s not to say that your future MIL is off the hook, but she isn’t the one who wrote in to me. If she had, I’d tell her to get off her high horse and apologize to you for her part in the mix-up that resulted in the loss of your beloved shot glass collection. But she didn’t write to me; you did. And what I’m about to say will probably shock you a lot more than me simply saying you’re acting immature. I think you should apologize. Yes, you!

As you say, you and your MIL are going to be in each other’s lives for many, many years. You’re going to spend holidays together and birthdays, and who knows how many family get-togethers and reunions. She’s the mother of the man you love, and if you have kids together, she’ll be their grandmother. You owe it to all of them to do your part in creating a harmonious home where family comes first and people are happy and comfortable around each other. This means picking your battles, and frankly, this battle you’ve picked is kind of a stupid one to base an estrangement over.

So, yes, you should apologize, because the truth is, you really are as responsible for the disappearing shot glass collection as your future MIL is. She was just trying to help you guys in your move. She was trying to contribute to the household by saving you an errand and taking the charity boxes to charity herself. And it wasn’t like she just grabbed a bunch of boxes and took off. She asked you specifically to double-check and make sure she was taking the right stuff. And rather than take a few minutes to indulge her, you waved away her request. Imagine how she must have felt when she learned that not only was your sentimental collection inadvertently included in the charity pile, but that you were heartbroken and furious with her. Here’s a woman who may quite likely already be feeling depressed about being unemployed and “mooching” off her children and now she’s gone and pissed off a future DIL whom she was only trying to help out.

Yes, she should have apologized! Absolutely. But for whatever reason — pride, shame, fear of you — she didn’t. Her reaction — to shut down and then to bad-mouth you behind your back — was childish and hurtful and I am definitely not excusing her. But can you try to understand that the fault was not 100% hers and yet she felt you were 100% blaming her? If you want to talk “principle of the matter,” look at that point for a minute. You were demanding an apology for something you were partly responsible for and yet you had no intention of issuing an apology yourself. And why? Because you’ve let your MIL live with you rent-free for a year so you don’t ever owe her anything (especially an apology)? Because you were the one who lost something as a result of the mistake — not her? It doesn’t matter. If we’re going to get on our high horses about principles, it would seem that the if two people are equally responsible for a mistake, then they are equally responsible for shouldering the blame, regardless of who the bigger “victim” is. If you both started a fire that burned your house down, would she be more responsible simply because the house is yours? That doesn’t make any sense.

So, apologize. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for your fiancé — your poor fiancé who has these two stubborn, self-righteous women he probably desperately loves and wants to please at each other’s throats. Swallow your pride and apologize for him so he can go into his wedding and marriage without a crazy estrangement between his wife and mother already at play. Tell your future MIL that you’re sorry you didn’t look through the charity boxes like she asked you to and you’re sorry you put all the blame on her for your missing shot glasses. Explain to her that you were overly emotional because there was a lot of sentimental value in that collection and the shock of losing it made you a tad irrational. Apologize for letting things get so blown out of proportion and tell her that you always appreciated the help she provided around your home while she stayed with you and you hope you can put this episode behind you and repair your relationship from here. You may not necessarily get the apology you desperately want in return — though it’s definitely possible! — but I bet you’ll get the respect and regard you say you’re missing from her.

*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.

98 comments… add one
  • Callifax June 16, 2011, 7:13 am

    I’m behind Wendy 100% here. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, aren’t there a lot worse things that could come between you and your MIL? Is one tiny mistake (with or without apology) worth causing tension between you and her for the REST OF
    YOUR LIFE? You guys don’t have to be besties, but for the sake of your poor fiancee, move past it and accept that accidents happen.

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    • Slamy June 16, 2011, 10:56 am

      Yep. Sometimes you have to apologize to keep the peace.

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  • Christy June 16, 2011, 8:08 am

    I’m starting to feel like Wendy’s answers should be multiple choice, with the options being the following:
    1. Of course you should MOA.
    2. Grow the fuck up.
    3. Use common sense.
    4. You need therapy.

    Clearly, they can be used in combination.

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    • Citypretty June 16, 2011, 1:09 pm

      Its like that episode of Friends where Monica is explaining where the 7 different spots are for women… but this is for their mental health:

      “One, two, three… two…two… one three…one two one three…. THREE THREE THREE TWOOOOO FOOUURRRR… oh yeah”

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  • joy June 16, 2011, 8:09 am

    I agree with Wendy about picking your battles. From your description of your future-MIL, she has never give you any reason to think she would deliberately do something to hurt you. It was a mistake. She said she asked you to look through the boxes before she took them and you did not. Perhaps you are mad because you feel like she is dismissing your feelings by not apologizing for taking your shots glass that have sentimental value to you. Truthfully they are just stuff! Those memories will always be with you as will your MIL for a long time. Should she have apologized for the mistake? Yes. But I think this has gone beyond her wanting to. You are being immature in the fact that you never let it go. If you had just talked to her and explained why you were so upset about losing your shot glasses, perhaps your future MIL would have been more understanding. You really never let the issue go and it has probably been that black cloud over your household all that time until you heard the latest news that put you over the top. Let it go for the sake of your future husband. It’s his mother. He is not going to take her out of his life. At least he defended you but remember it’s his house too. You don’t have to be best friends but having a civil relationship will go a long way with both your future MIL and husband. BTW, I’m married too, so I have some experience with MILs.

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  • Wendy June 16, 2011, 8:25 am

    The MIL didn’t do this with any malice. There are MILs out there who are evil witches. Wendy is right on when she says to kiss and make up now before there are grandkids who will be caught in the crossfire. I know, I am one of those grandkids. My mother brainwashed us that Nana was an evil witch. After I became an adult, I found out from one of my cousins what the original argument was about, which caused such an estrangement that I saw my Nana twice before my father died, and never after he died. To think I missed out on knowing this wonderful woman who loved my cousins with every fiber of her being. Is it worth it to deprive your children of this love, so that you can be “right”?

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    • NaturalBlue June 16, 2011, 12:58 pm

      I understand your point, but there are no children and we don’t plan to have any so it doesn’t apply.

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      • Rachelgrace53 June 17, 2011, 2:41 am

        Pretty sure she was using that as a relevant example of probable consequences, because there is still your fiance to consider and the rest of both of your families that WILL be affected for the rest of your lives if you can’t resolve this.

      • Debbie June 17, 2011, 1:46 pm

        The example of the consequences here for stubborness still holds even without children in the mix because of the extended family.

        My husband’s family is very close and for a few years his sister and favorite aunt had a huge fight and couldn’t be in the same room. During this period, every get-together was stressful and drama-filled as people tried to figure out how to see both the sister and her kids and the aunt and her family. And as a result, there were fewer family parties overall because it was too difficult to try to manage and/or ignore two angry, stubborn women. When they finally got over themselves and made up, it was such a huge relief for all of us. And it actually happened at our wedding, so it meant a ton to us to see them hugging and crying and finally talking at our reception. That was 14 years ago and now they couldn’t be closer.

        Your feud impacts the whole family, especially your fiance, so be the bigger person and get over it, if only for his sake because you love him and don’t want him to be unhappy, right?

  • TheOtherMe June 16, 2011, 8:38 am

    I also agree with Wendy, you need to put this behind you. If not for you & your fiance, do it for your future children. Grandparents have a special role in children’s lives and to cut her out of you life would really be penalizing them more than you can imagine.

    My brother didn’t speak to our family for almost 10 years because of a similar situation & now that we’ve been back in contact, I am happy to have met my teenage nieces but it pains me that our family had missed out on the best years of their lives.

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  • PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 8:41 am

    I agree with Wendy that you need to let this go, because it was a mistake on her part. If she knew you wanted to keep them and donated them anyway, then I could understand being upset with her but not to the degree that you want her out of your life and the life of her son (and possibly future grandchildren).

    However, I don’t think your hostility over this is solely due to the shot glasses – I think it’s the fact that she lived with you for so long without gainful employment. You seem to be trying to be mature over allowing her to stay with you and your fiancé, but your words to describe the situation point to the fact that you weren’t as “okay” with it as you are trying to convince yourself, and I’m assuming your fiancé. Having her live with you for that long of a period of time _is_ a very big deal, and I think you need to be honest about that if it happens in the future. I’m not suggesting you throw her out on the street, but if that is the underlying cause of tension that will result in you making “mountains out of molehills”, then you need to address it if the possibility of her living with you and your fiancé comes up again.

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    • Laurel June 16, 2011, 9:19 am

      I think you’re totally right about the bigger issue being that the MIL lived with them for so long in their new house.

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    • baby.blanka June 16, 2011, 10:28 am

      I actually wanted to believe the hostility was not over the shot glasses, but after re-reading the letter I kind of think that it is.

      That being said I totally agree that shot glasses are, indeed, a molehill and that since the issue has been pressed and they are both are still coming out on opposite sides then it’s definitely time to just drop it. Neither the LW nor the MIL are going to agree about what happened and it does not change the resulting lost glasses so MOA.

      I also think that berating her about the job issue is not going to help. What would help is a financial counselor, or maybe help with her resume. Libraries and unemployment offices often hold classes in things like resume and cover letter writing, as well as classes in Word and Excel to help boost her confidence if they are required for the jobs she is looking for.

      If she cannot find a position over the summer then trying retail and things like that when kids go back to school and before holidays is almost a sure shot to get hired, even if it is just seasonal.

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      • PFG-SCR June 16, 2011, 11:38 am

        Don’t get me wrong – I do think she’s really upset about the shot glasses. My point is that she’s made a much bigger deal about them than she likely would have otherwise. When there is tension or resentment over something like that (someone else living with you and your fiancé and changing the dynamics of your life), it’s easy to go overboard on something that isn’t that big of a deal because you’ve displaced your anger and frustration.

  • WatersEdge June 16, 2011, 8:46 am

    I’d like to point out that you say that you initially put it behind you and moved on after she didn’t apologize, but that your MIL told a friend that you were “being very immature” about it, and that she has “no intention of ever apologizing”. So she obviously knew that you two were in a bit of a standoff about the shot glasses, and that you were holding out for an apology. So yes, you WERE being immature.

    I’m one of those people who argues with family and then goes back to living peacefully like nothing ever happened. In my family, it’s unacceptable to hold grudges. You just don’t erase family from your life. In fact, people will get on the phone with you and yell at you if you refuse to come to a family function because you’re mad at someone else in the family. You come anyway and be civil, then work out your problems later! There would have to be an extreme circumstance like stealing a large sum of money and blowing it on cocaine, leaving me homeless, before I’d consider creating longstanding tension. She’s your MIL (or soon will be), and she’s family now, so petty arguments about who’s right and who’s wrong don’t hold water. Extend the olive branch. If you can’t swallow the thought of apologizing, borrow an olive branch from my family tree and let your fiance invite her over and pretend it never happened. You can be cool but friendly at first and work back to your old relationship over time.

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      Budjer June 16, 2011, 9:05 am

      I agree with you here. Coming from a family with both large issues (stealing large sums of money) and small issues (sister-in-law / mother issues) there are definitely things to hold a grudge over and not…things are civil between my SIL and Mom, but their relationship is strained for really stupid reasons related to immaturity on my SIL’s part (I was an eye witness to it all).

      LW, don’t ruin a potentially good relationship with your MIL because it will only cause strain for the entirety of your fiance’s family and potentially create resentment for you with his siblings, especially over something as “seemingly unimportant” as shot glasses. Do not put your fiance in that situation.

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    • Joanne June 16, 2011, 8:56 pm

      Just wanted to say that I love your phrase “borrow an olive branch from my family tree.” Sounds like your family knows how to argue and stay family!

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  • TMSC June 16, 2011, 9:18 am

    I agree totally with Wendy and the other commentators. I have a mother whom I love dearly, but who can be a very difficult person to get along with. This would be the type of thing that would happen with her, and would turn into a long grudge and source of endless frustration. So I feel for you. However, being on the other side of the fence (the one with the difficult parent), I have to tell you that I would be heartbroken and panicked if I had to be in the middle between my mother and my fiance. I am fortunate, as my fiance is an incredible guy who is pretty laid back. He has never put me in the middle and understands that I love my mother, and that is the way she is. You cannot change somebody. But you can change how YOU react to them. I know its hard, but for his sake (and your own in the long run), let it go. Be the bigger person and bridge the gap. At this point, you are only making things more difficult for the bigger victim in this scenario, your fiance. I thank heaven for my SO’s calm-head, his support and his attitude towards the these types of situations with my parent over the years.

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    • francesk June 16, 2011, 10:13 am

      “You cannot change somebody. But you can change how YOU react to them.”


      It’s so very true. I’ve learned that you can’t control the outside world, or other people, but you can control how you react. I live a much happier, stress-free life applying this basic principle. Oh, and comminicate. As said on another response earlier this week. Use the I feel _____ when ____ statement.

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  • EmmieEm June 16, 2011, 9:29 am

    Get over it. Marriage is a unification of families, too. If your mother/or other family member had made the same mistake, would you be willing to banish them from your life forever? Treat your fiance’s family like your own, because from here on out, you’re stuck with them.

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    • SpaceySteph June 16, 2011, 11:25 am

      This is a very good point. She is acting like because it was “the MIL” and everyone has problems with their MIL that its ok to want to cut this woman out of her life. But really, she’s family now. She’s family because you’re marrying her son, and you can’t cut her out of your life any more than you can cut out any member of your biological family.
      Which is to say, of course you can cut any family member out of your life, but do you really want to do that over a collection of shot glasses?

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    leilani June 16, 2011, 9:32 am

    Yeah, you really wouldn’t want to ruin a lifelong relationship over something this small. Its not like she did something malicious or cruel and isn’t apologizing for it–she made a completely innocent mistake when she was trying to do a favor for you. If I were her, I definitely would have apologized, but I also would be very upset if I felt like you were holding any type of grudge about something that I did completely inadvertently. I understand you being annoyed, but really, you don’t want to allow her in your house over this??? That’s really, really overreacting. You’d think she’d have thrown all the shot glasses at your head or something, from how badly you want an apology and how angry you still are about this.

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  • kerrycontrary June 16, 2011, 10:14 am

    Right answer Wendy!! Life is too short to spend it being angry, trying to prove a point, or letting your pride get the best of you. Stop trying to prove to everyone that you won’t let your MIL walk all over you. She probably isn’t trying to anyways.

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  • abby June 16, 2011, 10:15 am

    I mostly agree with Wendy, but I think rather than just apologize to your MIL, sit down and talk with her about it. If you’re able to have a calm, rational, ADULT discussion, maybe you’ll also get the apology you were waiting for.

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  • sarita_f June 16, 2011, 10:29 am

    Sheesh. Remind me to not start a collecting hobby.

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  • Lindsay June 16, 2011, 10:41 am

    I agree with Wendy. And the MIL is right. She asked you to look in the box and you didn’t. The whole fact that she asked you to look in it should have tipped you off that maybe there was something in there of yours. If that’s the only thing she does wrong, then you’re pretty lucky, especially after reading some of the other letters about in-laws.

    But you have to realize that telling your husband that HIS MOTHER can’t come over to your house (not because she’s cruel toward you or has no respect for you, but because she accidentally took your shot glasses away), is ridiculous. People who say they can’t move on unless x happens (like an apology) are creating those circumstances. You can move on whenever you decide to move on. And you should, before irreparable damage is done to your relationship with your husband and his family.

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    • EmmieEm June 16, 2011, 12:31 pm

      “People who say they can’t move on unless x happens (like an apology) are creating those circumstances. You can move on whenever you decide to move on.”

      That is profound, I’ve never thought of things that way. Very well said, Lindsay.

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  • Maracuya June 16, 2011, 10:41 am

    Charity sold ’em that quickly? That sucks, but…you need to clear the air. You don’t want to start your marriage with that much tension. Like everyone else said, she’s going to be in your lives for a very long time. She probably felt bad, but looking at the stuff she couldn’t have known it was important to you.

    You felt probably felt bad too because if you had double-checked the box it wouldn’t have happened. 🙁 I think if you do what Wendy said and extend the olive branch, you’ll probably get your apology. Not 100% certain, but MUCH more likely. She feels bad, but got on the defensive when you got angry at her.

    And as long as your fiance knows inviting her over =/= living with you again, it should be fine. I would nudge your fiance (and you can pitch in too) to help her along the way to employment if she will accept it.

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  • LeahW. June 16, 2011, 10:48 am

    I’m going to play devil’s advocate here for a second to prove a point. Let’s say she was 100% in the wrong for donating your collection (you say that SHE said she asked you to double-check what was in the box, not that YOU remember this happening). In those circumstances, yes, it would be totally immature and selfish that she outright refuses to apologize for something that, presumably, you would be happy to forgive her for if she had. In this situation, there are two very big things that you have no control over: 1. this woman is immature and dysfunctional, 2. this women gave birth to the man you’re going to marry. She may very well be a mooch on you and other family members forever (you say she made up for it by helping around the house, but the fact that you included this information in your letter makes me think you’re a tad resentful which would be very understandable), and she may never apologize for anything hurtful she ever does to you for the rest of your natural lives. But if that’s the case, you have absolutely no control over her actions and as long as your husband wants his mother in your lives, the respectful and kind thing to do is to allow her in without a big fight. Plus, if you refuse contact with her you’ll be missing out on the wonderful things she can offer to your future family along with the aggravations, and that would be a shame. Unless she’s downright abusive or dangerous, I would just suck it up and be the better person here. It doesn’t make what she did any less right or you any less of a person for backing down, but it does make the whole situation easier. And when dealing with in-laws, easy is a very worthy goal!

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    • CG June 16, 2011, 2:37 pm

      I picked up on the “she said she asked me to look through the stuff” comment too. I think it was kinda unclear the way it was written, but I took that to mean that the MIL didn’t actually ask her to look through the stuff and only said that afterward to save face when she realized she screwed up. I still think this is getting blown out of proportion, but I agree with the commenter who said they should sit down and talk and clear the air. I don’t know that the LW apologizing is a great idea given the MIL was talking about her behind her back.

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  • Yozi June 16, 2011, 10:48 am

    Ya, LW is being immature. Sounds like the shot glass thing was an honest mistake. Her MIL probably felt bad about staying at her sons house in the first place and was trying to help out as much as she could so she wouldn’t be a burden on them. She made a little mistake and you jump all over her for it? Try and imagine yourself in her position. Being middle aged and underemployed/homeless is not something anyone plans for, but it’s happening more and more these days. If you can’t rely on your family who can you rely on? Sounds like MIL was moving around houses so she wouldn’t put too much pressure on any particular family member. I think LW is being a brat. Imagine raising a son, and all the sacrifice that means, and then later when you are going through a really difficult time feeling like you can’t rely on him for support because he’s living with a childish brat…

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    • El June 16, 2011, 1:31 pm

      I wouldn’t go so far as to call LW a “brat”, but I absolutely agree that she should be a bit more sympathetic to her MIL’s situation. I understand what it’s like to be unemployed. You go from feeling like a productive, self-sufficient member of society one day, to a leech on your friends and family the next. I would guess that LW’s MIL spends most of her day feeling hopeless and depressed about the fact that she can no longer provide for herself and her children.

      I’m assuming the LW is from my generation (80’s baby). Growing up, the only unemployed adults out there were the ones who CHOSE not to work. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case anymore. Almost 8 million jobs in this country are gone forever. I know plenty of middle-aged adults with college degrees who have had to take minimum wage gigs working alongside high school students. It’s sad and demeaning. LW’s MIL needs the love of her son now more than ever.

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  • beans629 June 16, 2011, 10:51 am

    Does anyone else think it’s weird that this woman ‘in her late 20s’ is ready to wage an all out war with her future MIL over some freakin’ shot glasses? If that ain’t the biggest red flag for the relationship, I don’t know what is.

    LW, please take Wendy’s advice and then run don’t walk to the nearest therapist to find out why freakin’ shot glasses would cause this much grief in your relationship with your future MIL. Because it is really about the shot glasses or some other problems in your relationship, life, etc that are manifesting as ‘she gave away my shot glasses’ ?

    Maybe you don’t like that your MIL is living with you for extended periods of time or maybe just maybe it’s about who gets control of the fiance, after all men always marry their mothers; or it could be some other unhappiness that you have in your life that you don’t want to deal with directly and this battle is easier to face than the real one.

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    • Splash June 16, 2011, 10:59 am

      What if it was a beloved family heirloom?? Why does something have to have a lot of monetary value to be sentimentally valuable? It doesn’t matter what the item was. You probably have things that are important to to you that I would find just as silly as you find shot glasses. The point is, the LW lost something that was sentimentally important to her – how could that be a red flag?

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      • NaturalBlue June 16, 2011, 11:56 am

        (This is the LW) Thank you for making that point. Yes, they were just shot glasses. But do you know what else they were? Mementos from a time in my life that I will never get back. I travel every year with my mom for my birthday and I get a shot glass every place I go. Every time a friend of mine travels, they know to get me a shot glass as a souvenir. This was my tradition WAY before I met my fiance. This was 10+ years of memories – gone. I know that I still have the memories, but these shot glasses were very sentimental to me. THIS is why I was originally upset, but not why I am angry with her.

      • beans629 June 16, 2011, 12:08 pm

        I get that those things have sentimental value to you because they represent traveling with your friends/family. But the question I have to ask you is… what if you had children and they had broken the glasses, would you be so angry with them that you would kick them out? (far fetched I know) Or what if something happened to your house and they were destroyed? What would be your reaction?

        My point is…material objects DO NOT make memories, people do and memories of the fun times you had during the travel are stored in your heart and brain, not on a shelf in the symbol of a shot glass.

        I ultimately believe that your particular problem has nothing to do with the shot glasses but with something else and I think you should step back from the situation and think about what it really is that you are upset about. If you want to keep thinking it’s your MIL, *shrug* go ahead but I guarantee you will lose a lot more than some shot glasses.

      • NaturalBlue June 16, 2011, 12:17 pm

        You’re right. It has to do with the fact that she hurt my feelings, refused to apologize and then talked behind my back making disparaging remarks about it and then STILL refused to apologize. If you are honestly saying that having something like that happen to you would not upset you, then you’re a better man than I – but I think you would be upset.

      • beans629 June 16, 2011, 12:29 pm

        Nope, I’ve been there many times and realized that it wasn’t what they did but how I felt about or in the situation.

        Once I figured out what was eating me up, I was able let go of the hurt/resentment/anger in the situation and move toward a resolution that made me feel better. Also, I knew for the future what boundaries I needed to set for that person so I wouldn’t wind up in the same situation.
        Best of Luck, though.

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        bittergaymark June 22, 2011, 10:33 pm

        God, the LW is an uptight little bitch. That so many of you support her speaks volumes for your sex. Ugh. Petty. Petty. Petty. So glad to be gay, lately, more and more.

      • EmmieEm June 16, 2011, 12:46 pm


        I just want to address what you said about the 10+ years of memories being gone. Many moons ago when I was a teen, my family and I move across the country, from Illinois to Arizona. Our moving trailer was stolen, absolutely everything we’ve ever owned was gone. Keepsakes and all. Trust me, I understand sentimentality. But, never had memories been so important to me. I’ve said all that to say, the memories do not lie in the objects themselves, you still have them. You’ve had every right to get upset, sad even. But, reconsider the grudge. You’re going to end up creating many more negative memories if you continue to do so.

    • Laurel June 16, 2011, 2:02 pm

      “…after all men always marry their mothers”

      Um no, I think not.

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      • beans629 June 16, 2011, 2:35 pm

        I respectfully disagree with you. Unless a man/woman is actively trying not to marry someone like their parents then they inevitably do, not 100% like their parents but pretty dang close.

        Because realistically, if you’ve been raised a certain way then when you go out into the world you do what has always been familiar to you. Who actively seeks to do something against the grain of how they were raised? People who have realized that doesn’t suit them or they don’t want to live in that situation?

        Besides, Wendy pointed it out…”your poor fiancé who has these two stubborn, self-righteous women he probably desperately loves and wants to please at each other’s throats.’

        Coincidence?? Probably not so much.

      • beans629 June 16, 2011, 2:37 pm

        –People who have realized that something doesn’t suit them…

  • Splash June 16, 2011, 10:55 am

    I actually do not totally agree. I understand saying that the LW should let it go and apologize for the sake of a happy family. But I don’t see why the maintaining of a harmonious relationship should solely fall on the head of the LW. She had a collection she had been working on for TEN years. These are probably items the LW associates with great vacations, visits with great friends, etc…and I’m amazed that everyone feels as though the LW is being immature for feeling hurt about the situation – so much so that the LW should apologize for bring hurt about the loss????? All because MIL was just trying to help?

    To look at it a different way, say MIL took the car out to get it washed and crashed it. By the same line of thinking, the LW should apologize for being upset about the damage since the MIL was trying to help out. Also, the LW is really the one at fault for agreeing to let the MIL drive the car in the first place.

    I ABSOLUTELY think the LW has every right to feel upset. However, I think that the LW should talk to the MIL and tell her that she knows the MIL was trying to help but that the collection held a lot of sentimental value. And that the MIL’s reaction to the situation is hurtful because she did not give any consideration for the feelings of the LW

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    • SpaceySteph June 16, 2011, 12:57 pm

      I think Wendy addresses that too. It shouldn’t fall solely on the LW, but shes the one asking for advice. The advice to both of them would be the same…
      She’s marrying your son/she’s the mother of your fiance, and you are stuck with each other from now on… please suck it up, apologize, and try for the sake of your son/fiancee and the future (grand)children to maintain harmony.

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      Wendy June 16, 2011, 1:26 pm

      Your analogy about taking the car to get washed isn’t quite right. It would be more like if the MIL offered to take the car out to get washed but asked the DIL if the car was safe to drive, and the DIL said “yes” without checking, and then the MIL had an accident because the axle was loose (or something like that) and she lost control. The accident could have been avoided if the DIL simply checked to make sure all was fine with the car, or said, “Don’t worry; I’ll take the car in.” But she couldn’t be bothered.

      In both scenarios, a mistake was made but it wasn’t 100% the MIL’s fault as the DIL seems to think. That’s why I think the DIL would be doing the gracious thing by apologizing for not taking SOME of the blame from the get-go and for making the MIL feel like a total turd for making a mistake while doing something she thought was helpful.

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  • SGMcG June 16, 2011, 11:17 am

    I TOTALLY get where you’re coming from LW. I have a father-in-law who has the best of intentions, but his stubbornness and unwillingness to listen make it hard to get along with him. However I feel you need to provide some clarity here. When you say that “you don’t want her in the house” do you mean that she’s not to live in the residence again, rent-free or that she’s never to step in the premises again ?

    If it was the former, I would say that this is a VERY reasonable request as a newlywed couple. A marriage is hard enough to work in with two people, and having someone there interrupts all dynamics you are trying to form. I don’t think Shotglass Wars would have occurred in the first place if your MIL wasn’t there interrupting the dynamic of you preparing your home – who decides that there should be TWO boxes given to charity when it was explained that there is only ONE. It’s hard for a man to be accommodating to his future wife with his mother around. Even if you have room for her, having someone else in the nest with you, even if they’re the ideal roommate, is encroaching, and your fiancé should support that.

    If it was the latter, then her banishment until apology is totally unreasonable on your end. Would you want your children to not have you in their homes because their spouse doesn’t want you in the house? She may never apologize for what happened, but you need to accept that. Do you need to apologize to her in return? I think issuing ultimatums regarding the relationship of your fiancé and his mom does deserve from humble pie from you. That doesn’t mean that you should cowtow to her every whim whenever she’s a guest in your home, but you should at least say hello when she enters and say goodbye when she leaves. Giving her the cold shoulder/silent treatment/home banishment now will be harder to repair once you start having children, so don’t deny your potential future children visits from Grandma over shotglasses.

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  • MiMi June 16, 2011, 11:21 am

    Sadly, the collection is gone and sadly, your future MIL is here to stay – literally, if you allow her to. Be good to your fiance and, even if you’d like to wring her immature, feckless little neck, you’ll have to be the bigger woman and find a way to smooth this over with her – for his sake. That’s what families have to do sometimes.

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  • melikeycheesecake June 16, 2011, 11:29 am

    Keep the peace with his family as much as possible. Your life will be much smoother and easier if you can find a way to get along with her and everyone else for that matter.

    Try not to hold grudges… be the bigger person and talk things out with her or whomever upsets you in the future.

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  • NaturalBlue June 16, 2011, 11:43 am

    This is the LW. For the record, it isn’t about the shot glasses anymore, I was simply explaining the background of what happened. I was upset about them, but my problem is that even if it was an accident as you have all asserted (and which I 100% believe), why would that not merit an apology? If you bumped into someone on accident, you would apologize. Especially since, up to that point, we had a very friendly relationship. Wouldn’t you apologize to a friend if you accidentally did something that hurt them? If you had a friend that accidentally hurt your feelings and then called you immature for wanting an apology, wouldn’t you be even MORE hurt?

    Also, for the record, my fiance was way more agitated about her living with us than I was. I was the one defending her to him, telling him that we couldn’t just kick her out and we needed to help her. Even after all this happened, I told her that she didn’t need to move out (although I understand that it would have been uncomfortable after our fight). I have seen her several times since then and have been perfectly civil and nice and have not said anything to her or my fiance about any of this (nor have I ever banned her from coming to the house, even though I was uncomfortable with it at first) so I don’t feel that I’m being a “brat”.

    I do agree that I’m just going to have to find a way to get over this since there will never be an apology and I don’t particularly want to be mad at her for the rest of my life. I DO NOT agree that I should be the one apologizing, but I will do my best to swallow my pride on this and MOA. Thank you for your advice, Wendy.

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    • Kate June 16, 2011, 11:50 am

      LW, I don’t think you are being a brat. I agree with you. I think I would feel the same way you do if I were in this situation. Good luck with your MIL.

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      parton_doll June 16, 2011, 12:10 pm

      I don’t think you’re being a brat either. I have a MIL who can be the sweetest woman ever and then say the craziest things to me. And I generally have to be the one to apologize, as Wendy said, for my husband. But I may apologize for my tone of voice or for starting an argument … I will not apologize for the things that I said because I meant them. Also consider, once your MIL-to-be realized the mistake, she may have gotten upset with you as a defense mechanism because she knew you would be upset with her. Doesn’t make much sense but it does happen. So, see if you can find something that you feel comfortable apologizing for … raising your voice, carrying a grudge, starting an argument … and then like you said. Let it go. This will be the first in a long line of bizarre MIL situations to come, trust me 🙂

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    • Lindsay June 16, 2011, 12:10 pm

      I don’t think you necessarily need to apologize, at least any more than a “sorry that we haven’t been getting along” sort of deal. The MIL sounds like one of those people who doesn’t like to admit they are wrong or who isn’t good with apologies, so she wanted to justify why she did what she did. That sucks, but the reality is that having an ongoing feud with your in-laws can be really detrimental to your marriage and can mar what would be fun times at holidays and family gatherings. I don’t think that trying to make the peace is about YOU apologizing to HER, but more about not creating a really rough relationship. Because you’re going to have her in your life for a very long time.

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    • SGMcG June 16, 2011, 12:16 pm

      OK – I get it now. It wasn’t the fact that the shotglasses are gone. It’s just that she didn’t apologize that the incident occurred. For her to apologize would mean that she would need to assert responsibility that the incident occurred. She has already repeated that it wasn’t her fault, so there is no chance that she would apologize and accept the responsibility for the incident. For her to apologize would also mean that she empathizes with your loss of the shotglasses. Although I personally feel sorry that a sentimental collection like that which was developed for over 10 years are now gone, maybe your MIL just cannot develop the empathy for your loss. She may not apologize just for that as well.

      Just accept that some people don’t want to be burdened with responsibility or empathy and recognize that your MIL is just one of those people.

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      leilani June 16, 2011, 12:27 pm

      I think she doesn’t want to apologize because she doesn’t feel that it is her fault. She told you to check the box, doing her part to make sure that something like this didn’t happen, but you opted against it. I don’t really know what else she could have done, so I think its a little silly to put all of the blame on the lost shot glasses on her, instead of just realizing that it was just an unfortunate thing that happened. I still think she should have apologized, or at least expressed that she is sorry that it happened, even if she doesn’t feel that she is at fault. But, if she felt your anger toward her from the get-go and didn’t feel that it was deserved, I can understand why she would be withholding an apology.
      I wouldn’t apologize to her if I were you, I would just be the bigger person and try to forget the whole thing ever happened. Maybe she behaved in an irksome manner or a way you don’t fully understand, but that happens. Cutting her out of your life isn’t going to accomplish anything.

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    • dobby June 16, 2011, 1:14 pm

      Totally get where you are coming from. But what I have realized is that some people just will not apologize. I don’t get it either – like you, if I know I hurt a friend or family member I will apologize even if I felt that I did nothing wrong – because obviously I did something wrong or the other person wouldn’t be so upset.

      And I just went through this with a friend. We were having a bit of a heated email exchange when I finally wrote that I couldn’t continue the emails because I found the whole thing to be upsetting and hurtful. And then we talked and I again told her that I was hurt by what she had said/done. Her response? It was my fault for taking her words/actions the wrong way. She did nothing wrong, it was all my problem. We’re not so close friends anymore and never will be.

      The point being, some people just refuse to acknowledge they hurt another person and will never, ever apologize for it.

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      • SpyGlassez June 17, 2011, 8:35 pm

        Grew up with someone like that – my dad cannot just apologize to save his life. Everything has a “but.” I’m sorry but….you left the door open. I’m sorry, but….you didn’t look in the box. I’m sorry, but….you didn’t call me early enough. Whatever the reason, he has a mitigating factor. It bothers me a lot sometimes that he can’t just say he’s sorry for something without trying to turn the guilt back on someone else.

        Your MIL won’t say she’s sorry, or she won’t say it without turning the guilt back on you. She got defensive. I agree that it feels wrong that you then are being told to apologize, but I have found with my dad that “Well, I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry that this is causing a problem, and I want to move past it” can work wonders. You can’t control her actions, but you can control your reactions.

    • silver_dragon_girl June 16, 2011, 2:00 pm

      I’m with you. Move on, put it behind you, but I definitely don’t think you need to apologize.

      What I don’t understand is how on earth she didn’t reflexively apologize in the moment. If it had been me, and someone said, “Oh my god that box was my box of souvenirs from around the world, you were supposed to save that” the FIRST thing out of my mouth would be, “Oh my god I’M SO SORRY!” followed by frantic calls to the charity to see if they still had the box.

      But anyway. I would try to just let it go and get on with life. Good luck 🙂

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      • Maracuya June 16, 2011, 2:26 pm

        Yeah, me too. I would be frantic.

    • milli June 17, 2011, 7:52 am

      Sorry, but you just did not seem to get it. And another thing about the mother living rent-free with the two of you: I do think that if you have the financial means to support that, you HAVE TO do it. She raised your partner and did not expect anything in return. The fact that your partner wants to kick her on the street should be a big warning sign for you. I couldn’t even imagine my mother not having the security of a roof over her head after all she has done for me. You should both grow up!

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      • VioletLover June 17, 2011, 10:25 pm

        What a crock. This couple does not HAVE to let his mother live with them rent free, or even if she was paying rent (which she’s not, an frankly that’s pathetic).

        The only thing children ‘owe their parents is to grow up and make their own lives. People do not owe their parents the responsibility of taking care of them, just because the parents took care of the children when they were CHILDREN. What if the mother wasn’t essentially homeless? Would she still get to cash in on what her son “owes” her, just by another means? NO? No. Because that’s ridiculous.

  • Kristen June 16, 2011, 11:46 am

    Like a few others have said, it doesn’t sound like she gave away your collection with the intention of hurting you. I’d guess that she feels embarrassed and maybe inadequate that she’s had to depend on her children to support her while she’s out of work, and straining your relationship even further was the last thing she wanted to do. I think everyone would have been initially shocked and sad that their collection was gone, and you were entitled to those feelings, but don’t let that start you on the wrong foot with your fiance’s family for the rest of your life. Yes, she acted poorly afterward by talking about you behind your back, and she most likely does not feel that she needs to apologize. I’ve been there – that can be really frustrating. But it’s critical to your own sanity (and that of your fiance) that you extend forgiveness to her, even without an apology. Maybe you can send her flowers or invite her over for dinner… do something kind that will melt the ice in a less awkward way, and THEN talk about it and put it in the past. And by put it in the the past, I really mean forgive and let it go. Don’t bring it up in the future during arguments, don’t make her feel bad about her mistake six months from now, or bad mouth her to other people. Forgiveness doesn’t mean that you’re acknowledging that what the other person did was OK or didn’t hurt you; it just means that you are choosing not to let it control your life or your relationships. That you’re prioritizing a peaceful family relationship over a life of bitterness and grudges. You’ll be so much happier, even if it’s hard at first.

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  • Amanda June 16, 2011, 11:52 am

    Did you ever consider just going to the Goodwill/Salvation Army/etc and buying the glasses back? You may not be able to recover your entire collection, but most of what is donated at these stores is later sold at the same stores. But regardless, shot glasses, or any material item for that matter, are not worth causing a schism in your family. Please apologize and move on.

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  • cmarie June 16, 2011, 11:55 am

    I’m probably going to get a lot of thumbs down for this but I’d be careful about conceding right now. She’s already lived with you, rent free, for over a year. Granted she’s done little things to help out around the house but that’s still a huge strain on you and your relationship. It’s hard to have fun times with lovey if mommy is in the next room. Did she make an effort to give you privacy? Clean the way you liked? Did she take your preferences into consideration or did she just do her own thing? It might seem petty but when it’s your own house you should have the right to say I want the blinds closed, all the time. When my partner and I were moving, her parents came to help because they were closer than my family. In one box we had some clothes we would be donating and in another there were some that we were shipping. They were in separate rooms and when her mother asked about them we told her the one in the living room was going to Goodwill and the one in the bedroom was for us. I thought we were pretty clear however, she took the box of clothes we wanted to keep. Some people would tell me to just get over it, it was a mistake but in that box were some clothes of mine that I wanted to keep because they were gifts from my mother. My mother being gone made them even more precious. She refused to apologize, saying that I should have been more clear, should have made sure she had the right box. Yes, I’m still angry and still hurt that she took it upon herself to give our stuff away, my very important stuff. You can say it’s just stuff all you want but when you lose something that means so much to you it’s more than that. It’s one thing to make a mistake and take responsibility for it, but if she absolutely refuses,then you have every right to be angry. Of course, you should have checked the box like she asked and yes, you should tell her you are sorry you didn’t but it takes two tango and she needs to grow up and take responsibility as well. You also need to talk with and and your fiance about any expectations you have of her should she move in again. It’s obvious there is some tension about the amount of time she spent with you without really contributing to household expenses. You say she doesn’t seem to be making any effort to find a job and that’s a problem. That’s something you need to talk about and if she’s going to move back in that’s needs to be something she really works. on. Do your part to work with her and make the relationship better, but don’t bend over backwards for her. I’ve seen it before, I’ve lived it before (imagine being quiet for an hour while my partner talks to her parents just so they don’t have to hear my voice), and it only leads to more heartache. If you want your marriage to have a fighting chance you need to try to make it work with her but you need to keep your own independence and self-assertion. Make concessions to her but don’t be the only way. Relationships are a two-way street and she needs to do her part.

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    • Kate June 16, 2011, 12:03 pm

      I agree with you. I have a friend whose grandmother lived with them for her parents’ entire marriage (40 years). Her mom would hang laundry and her nonna would go out and rehang it, every time. She criticized her mother’s cooking and her cleaning. Nonna would always side with her son, no matter the situation. That took a toll on their marriage and undermined things with the kids. I know this is not what’s happening in the LW situation, but I think you are correct in not being so quick to concede.

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      • Kristen June 16, 2011, 12:05 pm

        Yikes. Why did they allow her to stay for all that time? It would be insanely stressful to feel like you’re being challenged in your own home every single day.

      • Kate June 16, 2011, 12:11 pm

        Well, her husband passed away when my friend’s dad was 18. He had one younger brother and one older who was already married. Her grandmother basically couldn’t support herself; she wasn’t educated beyond high school and had no skills. Different times (60’s). So, I think they felt the right thing to do was just have her live there. My grandmother lived with her MIL, too, until she passed away, but they had a much better relationship (this according to her and my dad and aunts). It has to be tough though, to have your MIL there ALL the time.

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      Jessika June 16, 2011, 1:41 pm

      I sided with LW, too… Only those of us that have had MIL problems know what it’s like!!!
      My husband was really close to his Mum (she actually raised him from age 2), a couple of years into living together we left our rented house in a hurry (we’d been completely burgled), and ended up staying with her for the longest 2 mmonths of my life (until we bought our current house). Not only did she smoke nonstop, everything I did was wrong, she took over a tv we bought t watch crappy soaps all day, left cigarette ashes EVERYWHERE (I cant stand smoke), would barge into our room without even knocking (thank goodness she never caught us in the act), criticized me for going to my room (I felt so uncomfortable there it wasn;t funny), criticized me for doing laundry every other day, etc etc, unbelievable!!! I should mention that for the time we were there we were paying all of the rent and other bills. When we were searching for a house to buy she even had the gall to suggest we get one with a flat for her!!!! After that our relationshp was strained to say the least, there was a lot of other stuff that I won’t even mention.
      Unfortunately (for my husband) she passed away last year (the day before mother’s day), I can’t say I miss her, I do feel sorry for my husband though.

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  • MsMisery June 16, 2011, 11:58 am

    I agree with Wendy’s advice. I think, based on your description of your MIL’s behavior and the way she lives her life, you’ll have plenty of opportunity in the future for a rift. Yes, you may be blowing this out of proportion this time, but she is a grown ass woman with grown ass children and she can’t keep a job, mooches off all her kids, and talks behind family members’ backs. Something like this will probably happen again, so be the bigger person this time. It will do wonders to keep your husband on your side.

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  • JLF June 16, 2011, 12:03 pm

    People are really too hung up on material things. In the end, yes it sucks to lose your shot glasses but what you are really losing in this fight is a relationship with a real live person who has the potential to be there for you in ways that a bunch of pieces of glass will never be. Sure it may bring back memories to look at a collection. but in a few years more than likely they will just be dust collectors that you store in a cardboard box up in the attic cause you don’t want the kids to break them. Forgive your mother in law. Especially if shes a nice person for the most part. A strained relationship with her is not worth it.

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  • Cherry June 16, 2011, 12:19 pm

    Wow, over shot glasses? Really? I agree with Wendy, you need to get over it and take the high road. I hate to think of the many things you fly off the handle about with your poor husband.

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    • dobby June 16, 2011, 1:23 pm

      It wasn’t about shot glasses. That was just the trigger, not the underlying issue.

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        bittergaymark June 22, 2011, 10:35 pm

        Yeah, and the issue being that the LW has the mentality of a VERY spoiled 8 year old.

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    TaraMonster June 16, 2011, 11:35 am

    A lot of people are jumping all over her for being immature and not seeing the MIL’s point of view, but how many people can really see another person’s side of things ALL the time, especially when it comes to the people closest to us? The shot glasses may seem like a tiny thing, and perhaps they’re not as a big a deal to the LW as she makes it sound. The point is, there’s all this tension built up and it’s hard for the LW to see what’s what anymore. The LW is upset, but she’s not being a huge immature brat- she’s just a little emotional. I think we can all relate to that.

    So let’s give the LW a little credit for her side as well and hope she takes Wendy’s very spot on advice.

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  • AnitaBath June 16, 2011, 1:11 pm

    Even if you end up not apologizing, or the apologizing thing goes bad and doesn’t really solve much, please DO NOT put your soon-to-be husband in the middle of this. You shouldn’t make him choose between the two of you and forbid him from inviting his mother to his home.

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  • AKchic June 16, 2011, 2:49 pm

    Shot glasses? Seriously? Let me introduce you to my second (former) MIL and my current SO’s mother.

    My (former) MIL was a nice woman… unless she was introducing me to someone. Then I was the one her son was supporting and the one who’s kids her son was raising. I was the one who was constantly dieting and starving herself. I was the one who was going to hell because I didn’t believe in God.
    The truth? I was 130lbs after 3 kids, I made more money than her son, and he was so “hands off” that her husband was called “Daddy” by her biological grandson at the time. And I was a practicing pagan. When we started our divorce, she tried to hire an attorney to take custody of my 3rd son (her biological grandson) on the grounds that a divorced, single mother was unfit to raise a child. This coming from a woman with a child molester (her younger son) living with her. She’s gotten better now that she knows that in both AK and NJ, grandparents have no rights, and that I don’t have to let her see the kids, and my ex and his dad both sat her down and kept at her until she finally believed that my ex was the one that wanted the divorce, not me.

    My current SO’s mother is nuts. She told everyone in his family that I was after his money (he was a fulltime student working at Wal-Mart when we met), after the family money (there is none), after the family land (again, none), I was emasculating him (I bought him his first gun, taught him how to do laundry, cook, start a grill, change a tire, got him to get rid of his 2 door Saturn coupe and got him into a Suburban), that I am draining his finances (I make more money than he does, and supported him throughout his college years), that I had a kid to trap him (we have no plans of getting married, the pregnancy wasn’t planned, and I told him he could leave at the beginning and I wouldn’t hold it against him), I’m not allowed at her house, she won’t come to my house when I’m there, she tries to undermine our relationship all the time, she calls daily. If he doesn’t call at 8pm nightly, she calls him. He’s the oldest of 3 boys and almost 30. She still tells people that eventually I will get tired of him and he will come home as soon as I tire of him and drop him.
    Her middle son refuses to tell her when he is dating anyone. She’s still pissed he moved out 5 years ago and is always trying to get him to move back “home” too. The youngest is still home, will be 21 this summer. Never had a girlfriend, still a virgin, can’t look a girl in the eye.
    What’s worse, is she does this to ALL women that come into the family. Her nephews girlfriends and wives have all had the same treatment. I’m the only one that has had it for 4 years though. Everyone else only lasted 12-18 months. I must be special because I made her a grandma.

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    • Kristen June 16, 2011, 2:57 pm

      I’m exhausted just reading that.

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    • beans629 June 16, 2011, 3:51 pm

      Ok, AKchic, I have read several of your relationship postings and mentally I’m pretty worn down from just reading your stuff. I am not at all criticizing you but damn… girl, you might need some kind of therapy or find out why you have such drama filled relationships. I can’t even imagine how much energy all that takes to have your life. *whew*
      I’m just going to pray to the universe that some better people/energy/vibes/times comes your way soon.

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      • AKchic June 16, 2011, 4:22 pm

        *laugh* Understand you completely. I haven’t talked to the SO’s mom since the youngest was born in 2009. My former MIL and I only talk on the phone, and like I said, she’s nice because she wants to communicate with the kids.
        My 2nd ex and I get along great now. 1st husband, well… thank goodness we live in different cities and he doesn’t have any of my information other than facebook. Other than that – it’s as breezy as it can get with four kids in the house and a busy job 🙂

  • LTC039 June 16, 2011, 1:53 pm

    Hey, I’m all for realizing the fact that MIL’s can be annoying, BUT unfortunately, you are stuck with them. Unless your fiance decides he never wants to speak to her again, well, you’re stuck…You can’t say anything & yes, that is your home but it’s his home too & really, the matter at hand isn’t all that big.

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  • kali June 16, 2011, 3:14 pm

    One thing I’ve learned in one very nasty divorce, one very sudden foreclosure, and many many moves – most of which I had no control over – is that stuff gets lost or somehow gone. Some of it is sentimental, irreplaceable or simply wonderful. But in the end, it’s all just stuff. That was a tough lesson for me to learn because I love my stuff. But that’s not what makes us who we are.

    I won’t comment on the relationship issues here; that’s been done rather well, IMO. But please don’t ever put the stuff in your life before those relationships. It’s just stuff.

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    sobriquet June 16, 2011, 5:48 pm

    I totally understand how losing a collection of sentimental items can be devastating. I lost ALL of my scrapbooks and yearbooks from high school when my car was stolen a few years ago… I still feel like vomiting whenever I think about it. However, I do not think a shot glass collection deserved that reaction. Everyone collects shot glasses, my dear. I would be a little bummed if my shot glasses were accidentally donated, but that is something that I would easily get over.

    Now, if my clay pots from Mexico broke, I would be very sad. If my silly coconut monkey cup from The Bahamas was given away, or my wine cork collection from Rome went missing, or the beautiful purse my mother bought for me in Greece was stolen… I would cry. Because all of those things remind of the wonderful experiences I had on those vacations. Those have true, solid, sentimental value for me. I can look at my clay pots and remember the woman who sold them to me at the market in Puerto Vallarta. I can visualize the beautiful weather that day and taste the margarita I was drinking while shopping. I even remember the silly fight my boyfriend had with his sister because she wandered off and went missing for 10 minutes. I bought my Puerto Vallarta shot glass the next day, I think, and remember nothing about that particular experience because I was just going through the motions. “Oh, hold on everyone, gotta buy my shot glass!”

    Shot glasses are neat. I collect them on my vacations because it is an extremely cheap memento. My boyfriend has a HUGE collection of shot glasses and one day, whenever we move into a larger space, I’m sure he’ll want to display them. And I’m sure it’ll be pretty cool for him to see them displayed, because he’s been collecting them for over a decade. And that will be the extent of the sentiment. He’s not going to invite people over and show them some shot glass he got in Canada 7 years ago, because, frankly, no one gives a shit. It’s not like he’s going to hand his shot glasses down to his children some day. Honestly, shot glasses are neat, but that’s about it. To me, it’s the equivalent of collecting a postcard at every destination.

    So for now, his shot glasses remain stacked up carefully in a large box in the closet, with the words “FRAGILE” and “IMPORTANT” and “SHOT GLASS COLLECTION” written in sharpie 17,000 times on the sides of the box. So that I know not to mess with it. I’ve been warned. My sentimental knick knacks are also in clearly labeled boxes. When something is really important to you, you will treat it as such.

    LW: It’s a bummer that your collection was mistakenly given away. But it’s not like she threw it out on purpose! There was no mal intent! YES she should have apologized as a COURTESY, but you have to get over it. Shake it off. Apologize for overreacting and tell the MIL that you are hurt that she spoke ill of you behind your back. Resolve it. And then move on. For the sake of your future family.

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    • Lamia June 16, 2011, 8:48 pm

      I understand everyone may collect shot glasses, but it seems that they meant as much to her as your silly money cup or purse from Greece. Just because something is common doesn’t make it any less special to the person.

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    • kate June 16, 2011, 9:03 pm

      I think you missed the point.

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    • NaturalBlue June 17, 2011, 12:47 pm

      I think it’s very rude and dismissive of you to say that you treasure your little chatzkies from your travels but say that my collection is not worth sentimental value. People put value where they feel a connection and my shot glasses were a reminder of the trip I took. My shotglass with a Hawaiian pinup girl made me think of my first Hawaii trip with my mom for my 24th birthday. I had dyed my hair right before I left and when I went in the ocean I unintentionally got my hair wet when a huge wave hit me, making the dye run and my hair fade hilariously. My shot glass from Cozumel reminds me of the cruise my mom and I took for my 23rd birthday and the first time I ever got in the ocean where the water was warm and what a novel experience that was for me. The Luxor shot glass from Las Vegas reminds me of the impromptu trip I took with my girlfriends when we were 25 and all single. We had a crazy time running around the strip, meeting new people and flirting with guys.

      So, yes, something as “common” and “trivial” as shot glasses can be just as important as your clay pots and wine cork collection (which, btw, sounds as dumb to me as my shot glasses do to you). What gives you the right to decide what I should have an emotional attachment to or what collections are acceptable? Didn’t your mother teach you the phrase, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Why would you feel the need to crap all over my distress at losing something important to me just because YOU don’t see the value? It’s a really crummy thing to do and I’m sure you wouldn’t appreciate it if someone did it to you.

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        bittergaymark June 22, 2011, 10:37 pm

        Hah! Speaking of NOT saying anything nice, perhaps you should reread your own letter….

    • HmC June 23, 2011, 9:31 am

      That was a long explanation to essentially make the statement that your things are more important than LW’s because of illogical, arbitrary reasons. It’s all just stuff, yours and hers, with as much or little value as anyone chooses to bestow on them. Your memories are still clearly very vivid. No one should *need* a shot glass or a wine cork or any other tangible thing to remind them of wonderful life experiences. I think we’re all too attached to too much random, worthless crap. Stuff isn’t who you are.

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  • Britannia June 16, 2011, 4:55 pm

    I’m not going to touch on the politics of fighting over shot glasses or whatever. I disagree with Wendy that you should apologize to your MIL.

    Your MIL drifts between houses, preferring having no stability to having to be responsible. She has lived with you multiple times, collectively a long period of time. Then, she does something she doesn’t mean to do, but it causes you severe distress. She should at the very least be sorry that she caused such grievance to you, if she cannot be sorry for not thinking twice before donating what was obviously a beloved collection.

    I don’t think you owe her an apology for anything, because she doesn’t understand the value of apologizing for the sake of saving a relationship even if the apologizer thinks the apology-receiver is being petty. Your MIL is not willing to validate your feelings or try to find some middle ground in order to save your relationship, so I wouldn’t either. Obviously, everything has to be on her terms, or you can just go screw yourself… so I don’t blame you for kicking her out!

    I do think that you should try to maintain some sort of benign relationship with her, outside your home. I think that it’s okay to be once burned, twice shy. Remember that this woman doesn’t give a damn about your feelings if she happens to screw anything up – don’t let her live with you again, but please do try to be cordial and redevelop at least a basic friendship with her so that you don’t end up being the Bad Witch Who Stole Her Son.

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  • misslisa June 16, 2011, 8:54 pm

    I don’t comment here often, but I want to address something: Not the shot glasses or the apology, but the MIL’s unemployment. I’m guessing I’m close to the MIL’s age (I’m 47). Frankly, MIL is a loser and a moocher. A grown woman who can’t look after herself and expects others to put a roof over her head is pathetic. I don’t care what anyone says about the economy: I put my resume on Careerbuilder 4 months ago, just for the heck of it (I’m not really looking), and I get calls/emails about jobs DAILY – gigs located all over the US that pay at least $50K. (Real jobs, not those goofy fake ones, ha!) One of my close friends, also 47, got laid off in April, and within 6 weeks had 3 offers paying over 100K.

    LW, regardless of how you resolve the immediate situation – and this advice goes for everyone here: Do not allow other adults to manipulate, guilt, or shame you into providing for them. There is no reason for an able-bodied middle-aged adult to be chronically unemployed.

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    • SpaceySteph June 17, 2011, 1:07 pm

      I gotta say I agree with you. I drive by ‘now hiring’ signs 20 times a day. Maybe its not a job in your field, maybe its not your dream job, but I think its possible to find A job in most cities. Though I have an engineering degree and would obviously prefer a job doing that, I would definitely wait tables or flip burgers before I would move back in with my parents, let alone if I had kids… how could this woman really prefer to be unemployed and mooching off her son rather than take a job she might consider beneath her?

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  • jubietta June 17, 2011, 12:57 am

    This seems to be a case where the LW is stuck between *being right* and *getting what she wants*. I read that she wants an apology as the price of restoring the balance and family harmony. And I read that she wants to be right about who her MIL is (stubborn, proud, unempathetic, underhanded, passive aggressive). I learned that I can ALWAYS *be right* about anything I want, but sometimes being right is less important than *getting what I wanted* in my life. It often comes down to the choice. If LW wants a better functioning family, I agree with Wendy’s advice. If LW wants to be right, then it’s important that she understands that was her priority and her choice. The nice thing, though, it’s never too late to change your mind about it if you realize that you’ve made the wrong choice.

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  • Amber June 17, 2011, 12:02 pm

    This is the one time I don’t agree with Wendy’s advice. If it was simply about a few shot glasses here or there, I would say “get over it,” but a large collection that’s been building up for a while and was separated from the donation boxes? That’s ridiculous. And then to go behind LW’s back and talk to a friends of LW telling her how immature she is? That’s immature of the MIL and I wouldn’t let her in the house either. It’s as much the LW’s decision as it is the fiancé’s.

    All the LW can do from here is start over with her collection (unfortunately) and put them in a place of high regard. As for the MIL, she needs to get off her high horse and start showing respect for one of the bridges that can so easily be burned.

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  • Debbie June 17, 2011, 2:20 pm

    I know this hurts and I understand LW is sad about her loss, but I think she needs to take a step back.

    MIL made a mistake, but she did ask LW to double-check the boxes and she opted not to, and she still doesn’t seem to acknowledge that mistake on her part.

    Then she and a few folks here make a big deal about MIL talking “behind my back” and I want to take issue with that. Come on, you’re not 12. You know women talk with their friends, especially when there’s something going on, they vent about their feelings, frustations, struggles, etc. — you know we ALL do it, every single one of us. That’s how we think through situations. You can’t take it that personally. And besides, I don’t think it was that big of a deal what she said to the mutual friend — she said LW was being immature about the collection and she wasn’t going to apologize. And separate from the apology/no apology issue, when LW was stubborn and hostile toward MIL when you both made mistakes that led to the shot glasses being lost, that was immature.

    Now, I think it would be big of you to apologize, but if you don’t, I think that will be ok too. Probably if you just start acting nice to her, invite her over, be kind, then she’ll respond accordingly and you guys can just go back to normal. Just get over it and be nice.

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    Katie June 20, 2011, 9:21 pm

    as someone from a broken family, i would say that you need to (almost) always put things behind you, be the bigger person, and make it right no matter what. i have NEVER met my family, save for a few that i have only met once or twice. i have a mom (one of 5 children), a dad (also one of 5), and a sister, and that is it. i actually have an uncle that lives in the same town i do, and refuses to speak to my mom so i have never met him, or his children, or his children’s children. i dont even know what they look like. i could have potentially dated a cousin and i would have never known. i have always envied people who have a family, so i would say not to take for granted what you do have, and let it go.

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    • Debbie June 20, 2011, 9:23 pm

      This is a really important perspective and I hope LW has a chance to read this. Thank you for sharing your experience and insights.

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  • Kimberly March 17, 2017, 1:15 am


    IF you both are fighting now over shotglasses… there is no point in going further, cut bait and move on. There will be endless battles in the future, with no clear winners
    Life is long when your waiting for that blessed day your MIL drops dead.

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  • Michelle April 30, 2019, 8:13 pm

    Seriously? I’m pretty sure the comments ha e been overrun with other uncaring, selfish MILs. Your future MIL is a freeloading, inconsiderate hag. I’d seriously reconsider the next step in your life. Have you laid down any base rules with your fiance? Like how long she’d be allowed to live with you in the future? How much money he’s willing to shell out for her laziness?

    And you’re not even married. Her lack of remorse and level of interference is only going to get worse after marriage – not to mention after grand babies…

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  • Suz December 24, 2020, 12:17 am

    I 100% disagree with Wendy! You absolutely DO NOT owe your horrid MIL an apology. You are justified in feeling that your space was violated by what she did. I recommend journaling (in a locked computer or other safe space) to vent your feelings. And I recommend finding it in your heart to pity what a pathetic, toxic creature she is. You’ll feel better if you can acknowledge that she is mentally ill and deserves pity for her apparent disability. Make sure you set clear boundaries with people like her, when they are an unavoidable part of your life, and stand firm on those boundaries. Do not let her move in with you. Do not let anyone make you compromise healthy, comfortable boundaries. And so not ever feel the need to apologize to a toxic person. You deserve to be respected, and your partner should support you. If he doesn’t, then end it and move on. Life is too short to let yourself be abused and mistreated.
    Stay strong, sister!

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