When I confronted them about this, they told us they could barely afford the gas to come to our wedding! When approached about how they could have just given us a free family heirloom that would have meant the world, they told us we were way out-of-line. Am I out-of-line for bringing something up they had over two years to budget for? They also said they were going to pay for the rehearsal dinner but when it came down to it, they didn’t budget for that either and couldn’t pay for it.
What should I do? I feel like our relationship is deteriorating quickly. — Giftless Bride
You know what’s tackier than promising to pay for your son’s rehearsal dinner and not following through and not giving him a wedding gift and waiting a whole month to even give him a card? Confronting someone for not giving you a gift and even suggesting what could have been given in the event of a budgetary crisis. Above all else, this is the epitome of rude behavior and shows a complete lack of class. No wonder your relationship with your in-laws is deteriorating completely!
For the millionth time, gifts are not an obligation. Beyond social expectations, there are no hard rules that say that gifts must be given for certain events. They are offered as a way to express love and support for monumental events in people’s lives. That your boyfriend hasn’t even received a birthday card from his parents in eight years would indicate that they aren’t the type of people who express their love through tokens like that, so I’m not sure why you’re so surprised they didn’t step up for your wedding either.
At most — at most — you could have voiced your concern/annoyance about them promising to pay for the rehearsal dinner and then bailing, depending on when they did the bailing. If it was last minute and left you in a bind to cover the costs, you could have at some point pulled them aside and said, “It was so generous of you to offer to pay for the rehearsal dinner — we both really appreciated the offer — and I more than understand if the cost became more than you could afford. But it would have helped us plan and budget more carefully if you would have given us some more notice that you wouldn’t be able to swing it. We are so grateful that you were able to make it to the dinner though. Your presence and support is always worth more than any monetary contribution.” That’s it!
That you actually brought up the idea that your in-laws should have given you a “free” family heirloom in lieu of a store-bought gift is ghastly. Yes, you were out-of-line. It is not for recipients to say when, where, why and to whom such heirlooms are passed down. Were you raised in a barn? Rather than fixating on what your in-laws did or didn’t get you for your wedding, maybe you should be focusing some of your concern on the idea that they could barely afford gas to come to your big event. If that’s the truth, and they’re in real dire straits, they could probably use some family support right now instead of beratement over something as petty as an optional gift or the lateness of their card. Are they able to buy food for themselves? Pay their bills? If you truly don’t want your relationship with them to deteriorate further, why don’t you start thinking about how you and your husband might be able to help them rather than what old knick-knack around their house they could pass down to you?
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at email@example.com and be sure to follow me on Twitter.
sarita_f July 28, 2011, 8:47 am
Holy hell, LW. Entitled, much?
sweetleaf July 28, 2011, 8:53 am
joy July 28, 2011, 8:58 am
Wow! Totally tacky to ask for a gift or suggest a family heirloom be passed down! Does your husband know and support what you did? I can’t imagine he would. What your in-laws do with their money is their business. They had no obligation other than pay for your rehearsal dinner. I can understand being put into a bad position if they had promised to pay for the rehearsal dinner and reneged. It sounds like they are not as well off financially as you might think since they almost couldn’t come to the wedding. Perhaps it’s because all their children ask them for money and now they don’t have any. Grow up and realize you are not the center of the universe! I can only imagine how you would feel if your own children came up to you and behaved the same way!
Kate B July 28, 2011, 10:35 am
If the husband does agree with her, there might be a reason why he hasn’t gotten a birthday card from his parents in eight years. Wow.
caitie_didn't July 28, 2011, 8:59 am
LOL, preach it Wendy! Raised in a barn indeed.
LW, I don’t even KNOW you, and I think you’re a selfish, entitled brat. I think my brain just exploded while reading this letter. Can’t WAIT to see the update on this.
darden July 28, 2011, 10:05 am
Betcha $50 the update will go along the lines of “wow! Not the response I was expecting! Maybe I left of a few details, let me clear a few things up….” and a bunch of “facts” that completely change the situation.
lemongrass July 28, 2011, 10:36 am
You are probably right, however, I don’t know what facts could ever make it okay to expect a gift and then berate the people who didn’t give it to you.
SpaceySteph July 28, 2011, 11:44 am
Well obviously she and her husband are broke and live in a refrigerator box under the freeway but his parents won’t give them free housing like his rich sister who lives with them.
LTC039 July 28, 2011, 9:18 am
I wonder what she would do if her husband didn’t get her the “right” gift for an anniversary…
Bethany July 28, 2011, 9:00 am
While I 100% agree that it was pretty low of the in laws not to give a gift or birthday cards, and then bail on paying for the rehersal dinner, I 1000% agree with Wendy that it’s completely RUDE to confront someone about that! I could see venting to your girlfriends, but seriously?? To call them out on not giving you a gift?? Nothing says brat more than that.
Amber July 28, 2011, 9:01 am
Yeah, I can’t even imagine asking for a gift. That is just so out of line it’s crazy. And like Wendy said if they left you in a tough spot with the rehearsal dinner you could have said something. But, you go about it the right away. You’re not even their kid, who are you to judge how they spend their money? If they want to spend it on their children it’s their choice. And why did you say something about it instead of your husband? Does he feel the same way about this or are you the main person feeling annoyed by their actions? It seems like he’s the one who has been affected by their actions more than you.
SpaceySteph July 28, 2011, 9:48 am
You deal with your parents, he deals with his. If he is upset that his parents didn’t get a gift or backed out on paying for the rehearsal dinner or don’t tell him happy birthday then HE needs to talk about it with them. Not you.
I suspect the reason you had to confront them is that your husband is not really interested in making it an issue, or else he would have spoken to them himself. Your entire letter reads like a 4 year old stomping her foot. Get over yourself.
LennyBee July 28, 2011, 12:11 pm
Yes! No wonder people have issues with their in-laws if they feel entitled to bring up every little grievance with them. They’re not your parents! Your job is to be nice to them! Let your spouse deal with any issues with them! I would be so angry if my SO confronted my parents about something he felt was a slight. If we both discuss if and I agree that it’s a slight, then it’s my job to bring it up to my parents and find a solution. Not his!
SpaceySteph July 28, 2011, 6:07 pm
Even now, having been married for over 25 years, my parents still divide it up that way. Like when they go on vacation, when they land safely, my dad texts his dad, my mom texts her dad. Its just how it works. They may all be family but you have the responsibility as their child who they went through 19 hours of labor with to call them and you don’t get to pawn it off on your spouse.
Desiree July 28, 2011, 9:06 am
I definitely don’t have sympathy for the LW. However, I could see how her husband’s feelings could be a little hurt. It can get pretty touchy when parents do a lot (financially or otherwise) for one child and seemingly neglect the other in that respect. I have observed this cause conflict among my parents’ siblings and even a little between my sister and myself, on occasion. I do not see how the LW has claims to anything, though, except to maybe be a touch annoyed that they did not pay for the rehearsal dinner as promised. But, if her attitude in this letter resembles the attitude she shows her in-laws, they may have reneged on the dinner because of her behavior.
artsygirl July 28, 2011, 9:06 am
Wow sweetie wow….Talk about an unfeeling letter. Your complete lack of empathy to your in-laws, who you readily admit are already over-burdened by their children, is shocking and very saddening.
While I understand that on the wedding day, the bride and groom should be the focus but that does not come with the right to berate and abuse others. Yes they should have paid for your rehearsal dinner if they verbally committed to it, but if something came up (like a lost job or having to financially support your siblings-in-law) then you have to acknowledge that shit happens and it was not done maliciously.
You need to apologize ASAP to your in-laws and see if there is anyway you can help them out – i.e. invite them over to your place to cook a meal once a week or insist that holidays could be hosted by you. If you are in your 20s or 30s it is likely that your in-laws are in their 50s or 60s which means that they are facing retirement in extremely dire straits.
kerrycontrary July 28, 2011, 9:06 am
Wait to go Wendy!! This reminds me of Dudley Dursley from Harry Potter being upset when his parents got him 36 gifts for his birthday when they had gotten him 37 the year before. Temper tantrum much? And yes, sometimes parents favor certain children by providing them with a free place to live or paying for their wedding. But it is THEIR money. They have no obligation to pay for anything of yours.
ReginaRey July 28, 2011, 9:22 am
Lovin the HP reference! Holler.
TaraMonster July 28, 2011, 10:19 am
Harry Potter, FTW!!
katie July 28, 2011, 8:29 pm
and I will third a heck yes for the HP reference!!
Lindsay July 28, 2011, 9:09 am
I agree with Wendy wholeheartedly. The fact that they give others a free place to live and cover their weddings is even more reason to believe that they didn’t have the money for the LW’s wedding. The only reason the relationship is deteriorating quickly is because of the LW’s behavior.
Quakergirl July 28, 2011, 9:16 am
I’m probably going to get slammed for this, but I wonder if this really isn’t about the gift so much as her perception that her in-laws didn’t care about her husband/their wedding as much as they do about their other children. It sounds like half of her gripes are about the fact that they didn’t even do anything for the wedding–not even a card or help with the planning/preparations–and less about the lack of a physical gift. I get that not every family expresses love through tokens, but to not even acknowledge your son’s birthday for eight years is just hurtful, and even if you’re not that great with words or expressing feelings, getting your son and daughter-in-law a wedding card just isn’t optional. All it takes is to find a card that doesn’t suck and write “congrats, we’re so happy for you, welcome to the family, LW, etc.” And if they really couldn’t afford the gas to drive to the wedding, then maybe they should stop letting their other kids freeload off of them and they shouldn’t have offered to pay for the rehearsal dinner. That would piss me off, too. I would never expect my parents or in-laws to offer to pay for anything related to my wedding, but if they offered and then bailed last-minute, I’d be freaking out about covering those costs. It just seems like the gift is where she’s directing her anger, but there’s a whole host of other things going on.
That being said, LW, your were WAY, WAY out of line here. Confronting them about the gift is beyond tacky and probably made them feel horrible and defensive. If you do really feel hurt by their lack of support and this isn’t about the gift, then go back to them, apologize profusely for your behavior and explain yourself. That you interpreted their actions as lack of support, even if they didn’t mean it that way, and you lashed out, but that you’d like to try to rebuild your relationship. Tell them that you’re grateful for their presence in your life and want to be a part of their family. Then work hard to be kind and gracious to them and sensitive to their financial/life circumstances. And if this is actually about the gift, I suggest you go spend some time in a cancer center or a children’s crisis nursery so that you can understand what a real problem looks like.
ReginaRey July 28, 2011, 9:28 am
I totally agree with you. I think that this is more about the fact that her in-laws seem to favor, or at least prioritize, their other children over her husband. Who knows why! Maybe he caused them a lot of trouble as a teen and later reformed. Or maybe he was always extremely well behaved and on the right track, so they didn’t have to “worry” about him like they do their other children. If they’re suppoting their other adult children and her husband is abel to support himself, perhaps he doesn’t get as much attention because they’re too busy dealing with their other, less accomplished, children.
I can understand why that would piss someone off. But if ANYONE had the right to call out his parents, it was her husband. And if he really wanted to call them out on something, it should be his grievance with the fact that they ignore him/don’t appreciate him/don’t favor him, etc. NOT because they didn’t get you a gift. Soooo tacky and brattish.
LW, none of this was your place. You should have let your husband do the talking, if he wanted to talk to his parents about this, and like Wendy said, you should probably spend more time being concerned over the financial place his parents are in than griping about a gift.
Quakergirl July 28, 2011, 9:33 am
Agreed that it’s absolutely not her place. LW, I can understand why you’re upset that your in-laws are seemingly putting your husband last on their priority list, but his relationship with them is just that– his relationship. Listen to him and support him, but ultimately, if he wants to change his interactions with his parents, he has to be the one to do it. Your only job right now is to apologize to your in-laws.
LTC039 July 28, 2011, 9:50 am
“Or maybe he was always extremely well behaved and on the right track, so they didn’t have to “worry” about him like they do their other children. If they’re suppoting their other adult children and her husband is abel to support himself, perhaps he doesn’t get as much attention because they’re too busy dealing with their other, less accomplished, children.”
That is very likely. LW, why would you even want to have to majorly depend on your in-laws? You should be happy you don’t need to be supported by them!
JK July 28, 2011, 10:10 am
So true… my siblings have always recieved more help from my parents than I have, but I know for sure that it’s because luckily my husband and I don’t need it. And I also know that if in the future I need help more than my siblings that I’ll also recieve it!
kali July 28, 2011, 1:35 pm
JK, this is my situation as well. And yes, sometimes, in weaker moments, I fantasize that a little coddling would be nice and then I wake up and realize that I’m proud of my accomplishments and ability to handle my own affairs. I love my brothers and sister dearly and would never begrudge them anything but it does sometimes sting when they seem to have favored status over me.
LW, parents are imperfect people and even their own offspring may never know all the ins and outs of what goes on in the decisions they make. Love them, accept that they are choosing the course that seems right to them. You can choose to make different choices when you have your own family but this is your in-laws decision and you cannot tell them how to behave. It’s simply a recipe for a rotten relationship and one day you children may wonder why Grandma and Grandpa rarely come to visit…
lemongrass July 28, 2011, 10:41 am
I agree with you, but maybe the in-laws don’t really use cards as an expression of love. She didn’t say that all the other siblings got cards on their birthdays and he didn’t, just that he hasn’t got one on his birthday for 8 years. It could be that they show their love in different ways than she has experienced/grown up with and therefore isn’t seeing/appreciating it. She didn’t write that her husband is upset so perhaps he already knows that his parents love him and doesn’t expect a gift/card.
Quakergirl July 28, 2011, 10:58 am
I took this statement– “they haven’t even told their son happy birthday for at least eight years”– to mean that they hadn’t even acknowledged his birthday, not that they hadn’t given him a gift or card. Maybe I’m wrong, though, in which case I agree that they may not be card or gift people.
But I think the bigger picture still holds– she didn’t feel like they supported them and their relationship/wedding the way they did with his other siblings. They can house their three grown children, one of whom has already been married, but they can barely afford gas to drive to their wedding that they had two years to plan for? They can make their daughter a wedding dress, but not even write the LW and her husband a note or make them a picture frame/recipe book/quilt/what have you? That just seems thoughtless, to me, and I can see how she’d interpret it as a slight. Those are nice gestures that they’re clearly willing to do for the other children, but not for him. I just get the sense that if they had been involved with the wedding (asking questions, offering their time to help with preparations, etc.) and supportive otherwise (giving a nice toast, warmly congratulating them, telling them they were happy for them, etc.) then the LW wouldn’t be so upset about the gift situation. I may be way off base, but that’s just my read on it.
LennyBee July 28, 2011, 12:20 pm
I totally agree, and I’m glad you wrote this. I was finding it very hard to be sympathetic to the LW when all I could focus on was how inappropriate it is to confront someone else’s parents, especially if they’re your in-laws.
SpyGlassez July 28, 2011, 1:32 pm
But my other question is: are they STILL housing the adult child? When did they make the wedding dress? If the husband is the younger of the siblings, maybe mom made a wedding dress for the OLDER sister 10 years ago. Maybe the “adult children” moved home for a year or two after college while the husband was able to move out right away….
Frankly, the LW sounds like a spoiled little brat, who forgot in her bride-gasm that the world does NOT in fact revolve around you just because you get to play dress-up for a day.
Oh, yeah, and in my family we don’t give cards either. $5 for a piece of paper that’s going in the trash? We have old cards that we recycle (from years past before we decided it was a waste) which will get brought up and repurposed for a celebration. And as far as not wishing the husband a happy birthday – does HE call his parents on THEIR birthdays? Does HE send a card or a present or even an email? Does HE just call to chat during the week?
Quakergirl July 28, 2011, 2:06 pm
“Yet, they give their other three children a free place to live”
I assume since the statement is present-tense that the adult children still live there. Also, even if they did make the wedding dress for their daughter ten years ago, does that mean they can’t do something nice for their son now? It really isn’t about the cost at all, but rather that they were invested in their daughter’s life/wedding and not their son’s, which makes the LW feel slighted. Maybe she deserves it, maybe she doesn’t– I have no idea. And even if the son doesn’t call on their birthdays, two wrongs don’t make a right. They still could acknowledge his birthday, he’s their son. Are we seriously debating whether or not it’s reasonable to expect a parent acknowledge a child’s birthday?
I do agree that the LW sounds a little entitled and that she handled this situation entirely incorrectly, but the expectation of some meaningful acknowledgement of your wedding from the groom’s parents is not outrageous. They don’t have to spend $5 on a card– they could have hand-made a card. They could have done any number of things to make it seem like the wedding was vaguely important to them, but they didn’t. I’m not saying IN ANY WAY that the LW was right in this situation or that the way she acted was IN ANY WAY acceptable– it wasn’t. But I am just genuinely shocked at the number of people who don’t have any expectation of basic courtesy and niceness from their family, whether it’s their parents or their in-laws. Apparently, the fact that my parents call me on my birthday makes them eligible for parent-of-the-year awards.
Britannia July 28, 2011, 1:22 pm
I think it’s plausible that the parents did not like LW from the get-go, that she rubbed them the wrong way as soon as they met and have continued to do throughout her relationship with her now-husband. I see it as the parents not agreeing with their son’s life choices, including marrying the LW, and thus pushing him away. Obviously they are still somewhat involved in his life, since LW has the opportunity to demand heirlooms from them, but if they really dislike his choice in life partner but know they can’t do anything, I can see why they would be staying as far away from him as possible, whenever possible. It’s up to both the LW and her husband, at this point, to try to get back into the parents’ good graces if they’re hoping to be treated the same as the rest of the family.
SGMcG July 28, 2011, 9:19 am
If anyone is at fault for letting the relationship with the in-laws deteriorate quickly, it is you LW. The minute you made it about material matters, it stopped being about developing a relationship them and more about getting your take in goods and/or money. Just because you married their son, it doesn’t mean you are automatically his mouthpiece over things you feel that slight him. If he hasn’t had a birthday present in 8 years, HE has the obligation to bring it up with them. If he feels slighted by his parents when his siblings are lavish receipients of their parent’s generosity, HE has the right to ask what is up with them. If there was an issue with the budget of the wedding rehearsal dinner, the two of you can bring it up to them – AS A COUPLE. Yet by no means does this obligate either of you to ask about wedding presents two years after the wedding, like a church collection plate, let alone ask the givers of the potential gift to fork over family heirlooms!
silver_dragon_girl July 28, 2011, 9:21 am
Know what this is? This is the world’s smallest violin playing “My Heart Bleeds For You.”
Or something like that.
mel July 28, 2011, 9:24 am
It can be really frustrating to watch a family seemingly favor one child over another. My boyfriend’s parents go to great lengths to make sure that his whiney older brother is taken care of at every turn – although he has a steady high-paying job. While my boyfriend, who could be classified as lower-middle class at best, is just BARELY making ends meet and could really use the help. I wanna shake his parents.
But here’s the thing. They’re in the wrong, but it’s. not. my. place. to. confront. them. PERIOD. DO YOU NEED MORE PERIODS FOR EMPHASIS? BECAUSE I. HAVE. MORE.
And as far as asking for a gift? Unless it’s Christmas, and you’re between the ages of 3 and 7, whining about what you were or weren’t given is bratty, tacky, entitled, and just plain gross.
LW, you’re a married woman now, so act like an adult. Maybe your in-laws need help that you can provide. You want to help fix the deteriorating relationship? Then step up, lose the sense of entitlement, and see what you can do to help them, or at the very least smooth things over after your hissyfit.
artsygirl July 28, 2011, 10:18 am
Bwaahahaaah (your comment almost got me in trouble at work because I laughed so loudly)
lemongrass July 28, 2011, 10:43 am
Actually, even if you are between the ages of 3-7 it is still bratty and entitled! I don’t remember ever complaining, I was just happy I got stuff!
LennyBee July 28, 2011, 12:23 pm
Ya, no kidding. My niece is between the ages of 3 – 7, and would NEVER whine about gifts.
mel July 28, 2011, 3:04 pm
Yeah. That’s actually true.
At least its more understandable for a little kid, kinda?
va-in-ny July 28, 2011, 3:10 pm
Not necessarily.. Selfishness is not an act of ‘nature’. Children *learn* selfishness at a very young age. It is not something that is inherent with all children.
mel July 28, 2011, 10:56 pm
I think it has to do with what people let you get away with obviously. A younger child might have yet to be told that that behavior is inappropriate. What I failed to mention is that I wrote the original comment first thing in the morning… whoops.
I’m pretty much the last person who’s going to defend someone acting like a snot. Doesn’t really matter how old they are, but it definitely gets worse the older you get, because you REALLY should know better than that, ESPECIALLY if you’re of marriageable age.
LTC039 July 28, 2011, 10:23 am
I’m more appalled at the fact that she confronted them about that family heirloom. That is like the bottom of the classless, tactless barrel.
Missy, who do you think you are demanding something like that! That is not YOUR heirloom, it is not even your husband’s, you are not entitled to it because you married him!
va-in-ny July 28, 2011, 2:54 pm
I picture it as “Oh come on! You can’t say you don’t have any of those stupid famiy heirlooms lying around. Even that would have been better than nothing!” with feet stomping and a “I can’t even deal with these people. Husband, do you believe this?!?!??”
Not handled well…
Wendy July 28, 2011, 9:30 am
I wonder if the in-laws had something like a potluck or picnic buffet in mind for the rehearsal dinner (totally acceptable in my family) and the couple were thinking more like dinner and drinks for 30… and I don’t think not getting a card is a big deal. They were there, they (presumably) gave their congratulations in person. Maybe they wanted to avoid a “wait, where’s the check?” moment.
SpaceySteph July 28, 2011, 10:01 am
Your inlaws, from the very little I know about them in your letter, seem like they are doing the best they can. I know my parents would never turn one of us out onto the street if we were unable to pay for our own place to live. I know they would cut costs in other ways if they had to, like gifts, vacations, any money they were saving for paying for our eventual weddings.
You don’t say much about their financials, but housing their (possibly grown) children may really be a financial burden they aren’t prepared for. They may have paid for his sister’s wedding at a time when they had more disposable income, and when it came time for yours they didn’t have the money to do what they wanted. Likely they are already embarassed by their financial state, inability to afford gas to go to their own son’s wedding, and having to bail on paying for the rehearsal dinner. You confronting them can only further the embarassment.
As for the birthday thing… Your husband’s parents may not be the warm fuzzy gifting type, which is only a problem if you are the greedy gift grubbing type.
savannah July 28, 2011, 10:06 am
My family does not do gifts for occasions. My parents have never given me a card or a wrapped present in my entire life.(we’re jewish, so no christmas for those who were wondering) It’s just not how they show their love, support and affection. Instead at random times throughout the year they will send me and my siblings things they saw and thought we would like. At first my boyfriend found this very bizarre as his family is quite big on birthday gifts and cards, actually getting very upset if a card shows up a day late, even for what I consider lesser ‘holidays’ like fathers day. Eventually I learned our families just work and value these types of occasions differently and we as a couple have learned to adjust both our expectations when dealing with each side. I understand wedding gift protocol to be a little more rigid but what I expect if we get married would be for my parents to pay for something tangible at the wedding and I suspect my boyfriends parents would give us a proper wrapped gift they could hand to us.
LTC039 July 28, 2011, 10:19 am
It’s the opposite with me. My mom is HUGE on cards, for every occassion. I don’t like writing cards, it’s just not my thing. I spend more time trying to find the “perfect” gift that I know that person will love & to me, that’s me telling you how much I care about you. Or, if I can’t/didn’t get a gift, I’ll do something nice for them like treat them to dinner, drinks, etc… My mom still makes comments if I don’t write her a card for some occassions but I tell her she has to accept who I am. If I’m in the mood, I’ll write one, but it’s something I don’t really care to do.
LTC039 July 28, 2011, 9:12 am
I understand your feelings, but it is way innappropriate to demand someone to give you gift. Yeah, it shows they’re either pretty financially irresponsible or some other underlying issue, but it’s not something that’s your place to confront them about.
Although they are now your in-laws, I think this situation should be solely between your husband & them.
I understand your inner resentment, yeah it sucks, but the reason your relationship with them is deteriorating is because of yur confrontations with them about this. You need to just accept them for who they are, would you really even want a gift that you had to practically threaten them for? I sure as hell wouldn’t! Gifts are not mandatory, yes, they’re traditional, socially expected, but not mandatory. Gifts are not a right, they are gestures from the heart.
If you want to stop this rift b/w your in-laws, then stop yourself. Accept them for who they are, they are not going to change, & leave it at that.
Budjer July 28, 2011, 10:34 am
Contrary to popular belief….two wrongs don’t make a right.
bittergaymark July 28, 2011, 10:46 am
Yikes. Odds are this isn’t the first time the LW has done something incredibly tacky and all ME!-ME!-ME! with her inlaws. Seriously, is it any wonder they don’t like her? I probably wouldn’t have given her a gift either. (And I genuinely LOVE to buy gifts.)
So, LW, unless you want to spend your entire married life being an annoying bitch and textbook shrew regarding your inlaws (sadly this is probably precisely what you DO want so you can whine and create drama and illicit sympathy from EVERYBODY you badmouth them repeatedly to…) I would seriously just shut the hell up about this. Seriously, all too often people could solve their problems if they would just shut the fuck up sometimes.
Just shut the fuck up. Let. It. Go.
PS — Oh, yeah. And it’s not like we are smack dab in the middle in the biggest financial meltdown since the great depression… Oh, wait.
LTC039 July 28, 2011, 2:52 pm
I have a pretty strong inckling the in-laws haven’t liked her for some time (she’s probably always been like this) & that’s why they weren’t exactly compelled to help with the wedding &/or give a gift. (Not excusing that, but it’s a plausible reason)
Princess Bananahammock July 28, 2011, 10:49 am
LW, you need to seriously lower your expectations with your in-laws. I see why you were hurt and frustrated, but you can’t change them. And confronting them only made things worse. The best you can do is to change how you react to them. Your expectations are at about a 10, and you need to be at about a 5. Lowering your expectations doesn’t mean you are agreeing with their behavior, it’s just saving you from the (inevitable) constant disappointment.
I hope you take my advice. You’ll be a happier person for it and your relationship with your in-laws will improve. I hope you also heed the advice of the other commenters here and get your own anger and conduct in check, because you were way out of line. Good luck and congrats on your marriage.
Lydia July 28, 2011, 11:13 am
This is great advice. My dad spent a long time trying to make his own parents happy, trying to do things they appreciated, but he never got anything in return, while his two sisters got a lot of attention. Accepting that this is simply the way his parents were saved a lot of pain.
Princess Bananahammock July 28, 2011, 1:59 pm
Yeah, my family can be insensitive in some ways. I used to get really hurt when they didn’t react to something in the way that I thought a normal family should. Then I adjusted my expectations. I’ve stopped being so disappointed and hurt and I actually feel closer to them.
Ally July 28, 2011, 10:58 am
Time to get over it. My MIL hasn’t called for her son’s birthday, did anything for our wedding and bailed on paying for the rehearsal dinner last minute (no really, we literally had to use our debit card last minute). She also flew her husband’s entire family down to visit, round trip with expensive tourist destinations. She wanted us to come but suddenly “fell ill” and had to cancel three hours after we paid for our ticket.
She never calls about her grandson and made fun of us publicly on FB when we had to use food stamps (I caught a screenshot, people were shocked she did this) somehow she managed to come out innocent as a cupcake.
It sucks, but worrying yourself over it will put a strain on your marriage. Trust me.
El July 28, 2011, 11:37 am
Wow. I would have cut the bitch off after the food stamps comment. I’m sorry you had to deal with that.
Kate July 28, 2011, 11:42 am
I feel bad that you have a MIL who is so classless she discusses personal matters (that aren’t even HERS) on FB. Isn’t that what teenagers do?
Ally August 4, 2011, 3:15 pm
Absolutely. She is pretty, well-educated, loves animals all these things so people don’t realize she is the monster that she is until they are around her for a few years. She is on her fifth husband, she infiltrates close-knit families for money or the family she never had. She took a bunch of pictures off the Internet from our hometown, posted them on FB and orchestrated a FAKE TRIP here. She is 100% certified. I’m glad we live a million miles away from her.
bluesunday July 28, 2011, 11:27 am
I don’t understand why everyone thinks that every time Wendy gives a harsh response to the LW, it warrants a full- out character assassination of said LW. Yeah, it was inappropriate of the LW to confront her in- laws about the gift, but if wedding gifts are considered an optional societal construct, so are manners in general. The in- laws were rude to the couple, the LW was rude to them in return, and now we the commenters are being rude to the LW, but we’ll justify our over- zealous judgement by saying “well she wrote in because she wanted our opinion…”
Yes, she wanted our opinion, but that doesn’t give us all carte- blanche to act like Joan Rivers on Fashion Police.
SpaceySteph July 28, 2011, 11:48 am
I don’t think our response is because Wendy was harsh so we feel free to follow suit. Its because all of us are appalled that someone would confront her in laws about not giving her a wedding present.
If this was a “Your Turn” my response would be the same. She is way out of line.
Remember also that every letter has a spin, a (sometimes subconscious) attempt by the writer to make herself seem less shrewish or greedy or jealous. Yet this is the letter we got. I wonder how ridiculous the full story is, if this is the way it sounds with a positive spin.
ReginaRey July 28, 2011, 11:50 am
I personally kind of love Joan Rivers on Fashion Police. Woman tells it like it is, and the world would be a much less confusing and politically correct place if some people had the balls to just tell it like it is once in a while.
And while I get what you’re saying, I disagree. Most of the people who write into DW don’t deserve snide or harsh reactions, because they’re lost, confused, hurt people in need. And then sometimes, there are people like the LW who come off as nasty, bratty and entitled. I think with or without Wendy’s “approval,” people would still lay into LWs like this, because their behavior is so self-righteous. I think self-righteous behavior is what REALLY sets off DW commenters.
bittergaymark July 28, 2011, 11:56 am
Don’t ever compare me to Joan Rivers, please. She is only about half as snarky as I would be about how utterly stupid so many celebrities look. Hey, there is really no excuse to look bad when you are a celebrity… You get the best clothes free and pay people to tell you how to wear them. If you somehow still look like an idiot, well, then you truly ARE an idiot.
bittergaymark July 28, 2011, 11:30 am
Sometimes, you have to call a spade a spade.
Valerie July 28, 2011, 11:34 am
LW, I definitely think you have a right to be peeved in this situation. But this is the kind of situation where you need to call up YOUR mom or YOUR best friend and bitch to them about it, and then GET OVER IT. To confront your in-laws was way out of line. I think EVERYONE’S in-laws have some kind of quirk–that just comes with the territory. Everyone’s in-laws do crazyface things every now and again that we just will never understand. In-laws can be tricky, and even after you’re married this is one of the few things that, in most cases, should be dealt with separately. You will handle situations that arise with your parents and your husband will handle situations that arise with his parents. I also really like the suggestion of lowering your expectations with these in-laws, because these possible inequalities that you describe could definitely become more apparent after grandchildren come around…
Kate July 28, 2011, 11:35 am
“When approached about how they could have just given us a free family heirloom that would have meant the world, they told us we were way out-of-line.”
LW, what would YOUR parents think of this behavior? That was tacky and classless. WHY would you think that was ever appropriate to do??
bittergaymark July 28, 2011, 11:41 am
Franky, I remain rather surprised the LW didn’t simply snitch the rings off her poor inlaws’ fingers…
silver_dragon_girl July 28, 2011, 12:13 pm
Why do I get the feeling that in reality, a *particular* family heirloom was mentioned? Probably something worth WAY more than a blender from Target, too.
va-in-ny July 28, 2011, 3:01 pm
“You could have given us the family diamonds! It is a free gift! And would have meant so much!”
Nick July 28, 2011, 11:52 am
While it’s fair to call out LW for her lack of grace, the advice probably should extend to the issue underneath. So often the symptom is just a symptom not a cause. I disagree strongly with one of the premises– that a gift or card or token from each of the married’s parents is optional. Nope, it’s not optional. Not even a little. It’s quite the opposite. It’s an ancient social custom, the failure to follow which is a very serious insult to be taken as such. This isn’t like when someone forgets to pay you back for lunch. I think the question is more about what the graceful way to react is when you get insulted like this. I don’t know what you should do in that case. Maybe lean on the husband to get to the root of things with his parents. You can’t just let that insult slide though. Asking the bride to apologize to the parents? I’m afraid you’ve got it backwards in this case.
Amber July 28, 2011, 12:12 pm
So the appropriate response to that slight is in your opinion asking for one? The one thing I agree with in your statement is talking to the husband. Where was he while she was talking to her in-laws? You say a gift is not optional but, I completely disagree. Especially when it comes to weddings. Being there and celebrating with the bride/groom is all some people can give. And really it’s not right of the LW to expect more. You can be hurt by it and talk to your husband about it but it is rude to out right ask for a gift or ask why one wasn’t given.
And these are her in-laws not her family. If her husband wants to talk to his parents, fine. But, it should not be her doing the talking to them.
If I had to choose between having family/friend celebrate with me or getting a gift from someone I would always choose the person. Are you really going to remember that so and so got you a toaster 10 years from now? I’m not going to but I will remember that they were there and gave me a hug and told me how happy they were for me. People place way too much importance on things. Stewing over this will not help the relationship nor will bringing it up again and again. What will having the in-laws apologize do? Prove to her that she’s right and that making sure you follow all social customs to a T is what life is all about?
Quakergirl July 28, 2011, 12:29 pm
I completely agree that in 99.99999% of cases, showing up is enough of a gesture and more than enough of a gift, but really, the parents couldn’t do one tiny little bitty thing for them? They couldn’t write a (free) note? They couldn’t spend a few dollars to make a picture frame and 19 cents to print a family photo to display in the newlyweds’ home? They couldn’t write a book of family recipes (when my parents, brother, and I did this for my cousin’s wedding, I think it cost us about $2.50– $2.55 if we’re counting the ink from the pen– and it probably could have cost less if we’d gotten the notebook at the dollar store instead of Walgreens)? When it’s your parents who fail to make a gesture that other people are willing to do, it seems more like a lack of love and support than anything. I wouldn’t remember the toaster I got from a random person, but yes, I would remember that my own parents couldn’t be bothered to do something thoughtful (not expensive) for me on an occasion as meaningful as my wedding. Yes, I know some people are on a strict budget (believe me) but if my child were getting married and I had two whole years of notice, I’d find a way to save $2.50 over the course of those two years.
Kate July 28, 2011, 12:34 pm
True, but to ask for a family heirloom? Not acceptable.
Quakergirl July 28, 2011, 1:00 pm
Oh, completely agree– it’s not acceptable to ask for any gift of any kind. The way she reacted wasn’t cool, but I think the expectation that both sets of parents would make some kind of gesture of welcome and love beyond showing up isn’t unreasonable.
Kate July 28, 2011, 1:08 pm
No, it’s not unreasonable. I would have been hurt, too. I guess I would have ended it there, or…I would not have said a word about it to them. I am sure I would have said something to my husband and friends.
Amber July 28, 2011, 12:48 pm
No one is saying not to be hurt, you can feel what you want to feel. And in this case they were her in-laws not her parents. She said that ‘we’ asked for a family heirloom but did not give her husband’s feelings on the matter in general. And no matter how you feel it is never never never acceptable to ask for a gift. It is rude and makes you appear entitled. She could have been the bigger person put those feelings aside and said you know what they don’t treat my husband how I think he should be treated, I’m annoyed and ticked that they didn’t follow through with the rehearsal dinner but they’re here. They did show up for their son on a very important day, at least they did that.
Quakergirl July 28, 2011, 1:05 pm
I completely and totally agree that her reaction is beyond unacceptable, but I would feel the same way if my in-laws did that as if my parents did. I am 100% with you that she should have been the bigger person and not said anything, but I do sort of understand her expectation that her parents and the parents of the groom would be somewhat more invested thought-wise in the wedding than random guests. If a random guest could manage to do something thoughtful such as write a note, it would hurt that your in-laws couldn’t. True, they aren’t your biological parents, but they’re still family, and your wedding is still a big occasion for them, too– it is their son getting married, after all.
bluesunday July 28, 2011, 2:02 pm
To defend Nick, his first sentence clearly states that he thinks it was inappropriate of her to ask for a gift.
But when did it become optional to take a gift to a wedding? I have never heard this before. Of course its a little ridiculous to expect everyone at your wedding to bring you an exorbitant gift, but even when I was a poor student, I would at least give a card and get something within my budget, even if it was just a tacky photo frame that may get lost in a pile of wedding rubbish. If it were my child getting married, not showing up empty- handed would become exponentially more important.
I agree with you that it’s important to be grateful for the presence of your friends and family on your wedding day, and that it was tacky and crass of her to ask for a gift, but the oversight on the part of the LW’s in- laws was far too glaring to be anything but deliberate. They made it obvious they’re not too thrilled to have her in the family, and this little incident may have sealed the deal.
Kate July 28, 2011, 2:04 pm
It’s definitely optional.
Calliopedork July 28, 2011, 3:38 pm
I think buying a gift might be optional, but a card or note is not to much to ask and should not be optional. Even if it is just a quick handwritten note
Sistine July 28, 2011, 4:40 pm
Yes it’s definitely optional, if you’re rude and have no manners. Just like it’s optional to say thank you to someone who gets you a gift.
Honestly, I have no idea where everyone’s manners have gone. Somehow, it’s not acceptable to expect so much as a card from your wedding guests but it’s perfectly okay to go to a wedding and eat a $50-$200 dollar plate of food, enjoy the open bar and party without so much as even saying thank you?
Yes, it’s a silly tradition to bring a gift that’s supposed to equal in value to your plate of food at the wedding but a wedding itself is a tradition.
I know, let’s no longer give kids birthday presents at their birthday parties. Let’s not give anyone gifts at Christmas. Let’s not give a woman anything for her baby at her baby shower. Gifts are optional so it shouldn’t matter, right? The gift is that you took time out of your busy day to show up at a party and have free food and fun, right?
Budjer July 28, 2011, 4:47 pm
I commented on that below…not with as much vigor though, haha. But I’m glad someone pointed it out…
Kate July 28, 2011, 4:59 pm
Actually, yes, the gift IS showing up to celebrate. Anything beyond that is bonus.
I agree that is certainly customary to give a gift.
SpaceySteph July 28, 2011, 2:30 pm
Gifts by their very nature are optional. You should never feel required to give a gift. The “your presence is our present” mantra is alive and well.
However I think its just reasonable that anyone who would be close enough to a couple to receive and accept an invite to their weddng would then choose to bring at lease a small gift, card, homemade something, etc. to show your support for the couple and gratitude for the invite. Not because its required but because you are happy for the couple and do want to mark that in some way.
bluesunday July 28, 2011, 3:00 pm
I see what you mean. I guess I meant its not optional if you’re holding yourself to good manners. I’m someone that likes to show appreciation for my hosts, even at casual get- togethers, so I find it a little strange when others don’t prioritize an expression of gratitude at something as significant as a wedding.
LTC039 July 28, 2011, 2:47 pm
I do agree with you Nick, but the way she reacted to the situation, was way inappropriate. I’d be bothered if the same situation happened to me, but I’d leave it at that. I could never imagine myself actually confronting a person saying “WHY DIDN’T YOU GET ME A GIFT? HUH?!?!” The entire tone of her letter is why most commentors are whaling on her. I mean, she just married into this family & she had the oddassity to go up to these people & demand a family heriloom? What’s makes her think she is even near deserving of that? I believe that’s what most people had a problem with. If her letter woul’dve been something like
“You know I recently married & my in-laws haven’t really been “there” for me & my husband. They promised to help us with the rehersal dinner, but bailed last minute & they didn’t really get us a gift either. I feel they’re not very supportive of our marriage & I’m not sure how to handle this situation…”
I guarrantee the responses would be WAY different.
Point is, she came off like a spoiled self-centered brat & most of her credibilty went out the door when her letter was finished.
Nick July 28, 2011, 9:59 pm
Well, this was a funny thread for me. I especially appreciated the thoughtful response to my (first) DW comment (on a letter). You guys really tear this stuff up from every angle and it was quite pleasurable to participate. So thank you from a lurker!
It’s also a lesson for me in how to communicate clearly. Misinterpretation and fair interpretation of what I said was like 50%/50%.
I realize this issue is over, but for my own sanity, just to clarify some points I could have made better.
1. Yes the LW has gone over the deep edge. I get that. Asking for a gift? Ghastly bad taste. Zounds. Yes the tone of her letter is a little awful. But listen, I thought her behavior was awful in an excusable way (arguably) in response to an even more awful series of insults by the groom’s parents. It’s quite possible that simply each person involved in this weird messy situation deserves each other.
2. A gift from wedding invitees may well be optional (okay, I’ll go with that), but a token gift or gesture from the parents on each side is not at all optional if they intend to have what diplomats call “normal” relations. That there is high insult territory, not merely everyday low insult territory. The standard is different for the parents of the bride and groom vs. invitees. Yes, LW, you and your husband have been told by his family very clearly that you can both go pound sand. So deal with that.
3. I’d be tempted to say that the groom’s parents were raised by wolves (groom too?), but honestly, that’s insulting to wolves, who as we know have wonderfully supportive family and pack behaviors! 🙂 I’m guessing they have deep problems with the husband that she doesn’t fully understand.
4. If the LW wants to be happy, and if she wants her husband to be happy, she might either have him get the bottom of why the snubbing (not her job) or simply not have normal relations. Take the insult for what it is and just cut them out. IMO, weddings are “put up or shut up” times for family relations and they’ve made their choice, mmkay? I’d cut them off if I were her until they decide they want in and show appropriate changes in manners.
Thanks for the input all of you.
bittergaymark July 28, 2011, 11:59 am
I would say that anytime somebody slaps you in the face by, say, failing to give you a wedding gift, you just might want to take a brief moment and reflect on why such an obvious slight was handed to you. From the tone of the letter alone, plenty here feel that (sadly) it was probably all very much warranted.
robottapocalypse July 28, 2011, 1:46 pm
How much you want to bet that she started dating her husband eight years ago…. when the parents stopped acknowledging their son?
Britannia July 28, 2011, 2:00 pm
It’s also possible that the husband was already the black sheep of the family… and LW hammered the final nail into the coffin.
Emily July 28, 2011, 12:04 pm
In the immortal words of Leslie Knope: Bitches be crazy.
BecBoo84 July 28, 2011, 12:18 pm
Okay… I generally agree with Wendy’s points, but I do think they overlooked the fact that at least some of the LW’s hurt feelings are a result of the fact that her husband is treated so much differently than his siblings. She clearly went about expressing these feelings in the wrong way, but I can understand with why that would be bothersome.
robottapocalypse July 28, 2011, 1:47 pm
I’m pretty sure from the tone of the letter that the LW isn’t concerned about her husband’s feelings as much as her own. He’s a pushover if he’s letting her deal with his family this poorly.
silverchiquita July 28, 2011, 12:41 pm
LW, I may be out of line, but I agree 100% with you. Weddings are very stressful and your future in-laws should be supporting you and your new hubby. By support I mean financially, emotionally, including your in their family (with heirlooms), etc. It sounds like they are doing nothing. The in-laws are the ones who are raised in a barn! I am so sorry you have to go through this, but since you are part of their family now, you might want to take the high road and go to them and ask to start fresh, knowing in your mind that they are not going to be able to give you anything at all in the future. Repairing the relationship will ultimately be worth more than money anyways.
kali July 28, 2011, 1:39 pm
Hey LW, maybe your in-laws can find a lovely copy of an etiquette book (at a used book store) for you?
christinalovesdogs July 28, 2011, 1:39 pm
wow what a bitch. clearly she thinks that she deserves presents for being in love. having people at your wedding to share it with you is what matters, not some dumb heirloom. hopefully you married a match to your tacky personality, or else i doubt it’ll last long.
bluesunday July 28, 2011, 2:40 pm
I think its more that she’s after a token of support from her in- laws. Why else would she want some dumb heirloom?
Either way, can you really judge the strength of someones relationship from a 2 paragraph letters?
ele4phant July 28, 2011, 1:46 pm
Maybe its just me, but it really seems like the LW is more upset about the unequal treatment she perceives her new husband is getting in comparision to his siblings. I mean, yeah, she totally picked innapproriate way to address, but if I was in her shoes and saw my new husband’s siblings get rent free living while my inlaws seemingly did nothing to aknowledge my husband, I would be angry too.
ele4phant July 28, 2011, 2:03 pm
Really, people don’t like what I said? They haven’t said happy birthday to their son for 8 years! You are all telling me its out of line for her to be upset about that? If your SO parents’ ignored them for 8 years, but gave their support (and places to live!) for their siblings, you wouldn’t be upset either?
Desiree July 28, 2011, 2:23 pm
I would probably be unhappy as well. Having said that, I would choose to let the husband deal with *his* family. My boyfriend and I have been together for several years and know one another’s family. My family has a tendency to be pretty dramatic, but I keep him out of all that. Even were we married, I would take responsibility for handling my family. He doesn’t need to be my knight in shining armor where my family is concerned–frankly, that would be way too messy.
ele4phant July 28, 2011, 2:29 pm
I disagree with it being just his problem. They just got married. Its *their* family now, not just his. And while I totally agree that how she reacted was way out of line, she was completely justified in her feelings. IMO
Calliopedork July 28, 2011, 3:52 pm
i so agree with that, to me marriage means you are adding not only your spouse but also his/her family to your family. While she was definitely out of line addressing her in laws mistreatment of their son that way, I dont think mentioning it tactfully is beyond her realm. Im sure she also felt mistreated by her new family, I have no issue with the lw bringing up those feelings she just did it wrong.
Britannia July 28, 2011, 2:19 pm
It doesn’t matter if YOU’RE upset about it. It matters if HE is upset about it. And it’s up to him to either let it continue to be that way, or to do something about it. LW may be an in-law, but she doesn’t have the right to start meddling into family relationships in such an intensive way.
ReginaRey July 28, 2011, 2:21 pm
I agree with what you’re saying, but at the end of the day it was NOT her place to say anything to his parents about anything – wedding gifts, the rehearsal dinner, or the fact that his parents have perhaps ignored him or mistreated him. If he’s really upset about all of this, then HE should be the one sitting down to talk to his parents. I’m not saying she doesn’t have a right to be mad if her husband is being treated less-than-desirably, but it’s not her job to talk to HIS parents about that. It’s his job. Also, I’m also very much of the mind that the parents never liked the LW, and that whatever strained relationship they had with their son was made worse when she married him.
Britannia July 28, 2011, 12:57 pm
It sounds to me like his parents don’t like you. At all. That they respect his decision as an adult to have married you, but that they also reserve the right to dislike you. Concentrating on the material displays of “love” and “preference” like you are is only going to push them away further.
The question, “What should I do?” … Frankly, I think you should keep your head down and your mouth shut around them for a while. Imagining your behavior from their perspective, I imagine that they find you crass and without humility. Be more respectful of them, and talk to your husband about what you can do to come across as a more polite person when you do eventually spend time with them. And then try your absolute, damnedest hardest to have the best manners a person can have.
Greebo July 28, 2011, 2:48 pm
Wow. Just…wow. Even doing some impressive mental gymnastics, I can’t come up with a way that this doesn’t sound ungrateful, immature and spoiled.
Incidentally, LW, how do you know the siblings aren’t contributing financially to the household? Or that the wedding dress wasn’t altered from an old or discount dress, or made from inexpensive fabric, or given in better (financial) times? And you know what? None of this matters! Despite the common and understandable tendency people have to compare “what I get” to “what you get”, the world doesn’t operate on some grand principal of fairness.
SpaceySteph July 28, 2011, 2:55 pm
“Despite the common and understandable tendency people have to compare “what I get” to “what you get”, the world doesn’t operate on some grand principal of fairness.”
Very true. I bet the LW is an only child. An adult (as in a person who is mentally mature, not just someone who happens to be over 18) who grew up with siblings would have figured out and accepted by now that “Life isn’t fair,” as my parents would say.
Greebo July 28, 2011, 3:03 pm
Life goes more smoothly when you don’t focus on what everyone else gets/has/does.
You know, I also wondered whether the in laws gave a nice shower gift, or found themselves confronted by ingratitude on other occasions. Or maybe they paid for husband’s education or car or something and LW forgot that. I will grant that a card or letter would have been nice, and I do wonder what the circumstances were in which they backed out of the rehearsal deal. Something is missing here (like hubby’s take on all this).
Regardless of how badly the people around you behave, you (meant in the generic sense of course–not specific to you, SpaceySteph–always, always shine when you behave with grace, manners and tact.
Kate July 28, 2011, 5:01 pm
“Life goes more smoothly when you don’t focus on what everyone else gets/has/does.”
This is SO true in many, many situations. Words to live by.
bluesunday July 28, 2011, 3:07 pm
Meh, I know a family where all 3 siblings grew up bratty and entitled. It takes good parenting to raise children to be humble, well- mannered, and gracious.
TMSC July 28, 2011, 3:52 pm
I am an only child, and I can tell you I would never show up at a wedding without a gift (particularly if the wedding is someone in my family) and I would NEVER confront my in-laws, or anyone else for that matter, about neglecting to get me a gift. No matter the circumstances or reasoning.
SpaceySteph July 28, 2011, 6:03 pm
Sorry I did not mean to come off as critical of all only children. As the oldest of 3, I have been competing and “its not fair”ing with my sister (2 years younger) for basically my whole life. Now that I’m 24 and she’s 22, I’m frankly tired of caring about who mommy and daddy love more.
It surprises me that anyone would get to this age still caring about that, unless it was a new experience to them.
Britannia July 29, 2011, 12:02 am
It really does depend more on the parents than the amount of children. The stereotype of “the only child” being selfish *is* to a certain extent perpetuated by Gen X parents raising their kid to believe that they are the most special snowflake in the whole damn world… which is very well illustrated on the ‘STFU, Parents’ blog. However, many parents can raise a singular child to be humble and community-minded.
My parents raised me to believe that the only things I was truly entitled to were water, air, food, shelter, clothing, and a trip to the ice cream shop if I did the best in my class for the semester. They volunteered me for community service in hospitals and I earned every single toy I had. I think I turned out pretty darn good… if anything, I am sometimes taken advantage of by other people because I always try to give more than I receive.
Temperance July 28, 2011, 4:58 pm
I think it’s acceptable to feel upset about it, though. I have 3 siblings, and my parents strongly believed in keeping things as close to equal as possible for us because my mom grew up in a family where her brother and youngest sister were obviously favored. I’m always shocked and disgusted when other families blatantly financially favor one child over another. All that does is hurt the siblings who are not the favorite, and cause friction between all.
My FMIL does this with her daughter, and it really keeps me from respecting her as a person and from wanting to do anything to help her out financially.
giftless bride July 28, 2011, 4:27 pm
Thank-You all for your comments. I have realized that the way I wrote the post was a little harsh. I was very upset at the moment and came across overly critical. I thank the readers who posted pieces of support and helpful ways to handle this. I love the idea of changing my expectations of them, then we won’t be disappointed in the future is amazing advice 🙂 My intentions for suggesting the heirloom was just that it was a inherited piece they were already intending to give us and they could have just coupled that into a neat little card saying Congratulations. In no way did we expect a expensive gift, however, but free thoughtful gifts are the best. The recipe book of family recipes is a great idea! What a lovely way to remember your in-laws, to share a delicious new recipe together yet only costs a couple of dollars.
It is very difficult to know the whole situation in a couple paragraphs but Thank-You for the respones. Since then, the in-laws have acknowledged that they could have done something, my husband and I responded to them that we would like nothing more than them to become financially stable and just be able to be free of debt. As, they know the children living with them, are creating the strain in the home. Since then we have stepped back and know now our help or advice isn’t needed as everyone’s situations are different.
Kate July 28, 2011, 4:57 pm
Betcha $50 the update will go along the lines of “wow! Not the response I was expecting! Maybe I left of a few details, let me clear a few things up….” and a bunch of “facts” that completely change the situation.
Looks like you were correct 🙂
SpaceySteph July 28, 2011, 6:05 pm
Only if you think those details really alter the situation that much. I still think it was completely inappropriate to even bring up the lack of wedding gift.
Britannia July 28, 2011, 11:55 pm
I still find the fact that you term an heirloom as a “free gift” disturbing. It is not free, it is priceless. They would have given it to you if they felt like you respected that your place in the family… demanding it as a wedding gift, or really bringing up the bequeathment of it at all, is REALLY tasteless.
Amber July 29, 2011, 9:09 am
It was still rude to suggest a wedding gift. Even if they were planning on giving it to you. I’m sure they loved hearing that all you want for them is to be financially stable and debt free. Because I’m sure they don’t want that for themselves? It’s great that they’ve aknowledged they could have done something for you but even better you’ve learned to keep out of their business.
Budjer July 28, 2011, 4:31 pm
This is unrelated to the letter but related to the topic…I was under the impression that you should at least cover the cost of your dinner plate at a wedding if you don’t contribute a gift…? I’ve never not brought a gift (monetary or otherwise)…not my style….but I have heard that before…
El July 28, 2011, 5:46 pm
The “rule” is that you purchase a gift based on what you can afford. I would be absolutely appalled if a couple disclosed their per plate cost to me in hopes that my gift exceeds that cost. Said couple probably wouldn’t get any more than a card from me.
Britannia July 28, 2011, 11:57 pm
I wouldn’t go to their damned wedding… or if I were already there and they mentioned it, I’d give them the “Oh my God, what you just said was horrifying” look, and walk out.
Red_Lady July 28, 2011, 11:20 pm
I think that’s the polite thing to do, but it’s not obligatory. Plus, you never really know how much the food is anyways (or at least, you shouldn’t – it’d be pretty tacky if that info was disclosed!)
kati July 28, 2011, 11:32 pm
i agree, its nice to do this. although its rude to ask for money (instead of toasters) on your wedding invitation, its not rude (and very convenient for the giver) to give it and it is always appreciated (i have never planned a wedding myself, this is just what ive seen and heard.) i always give money! if i try to shop for a gift it would take me forever (plus ill start looking at everything that I want) and even if ppl have registries i think they like the money. the only time i would not give money is if the bride and groom were extremely affluent to the point where it would feel awkward (then i’d use the registry) but if their income is under 200k/year and they are serving you nice food somewhere comfortable, go with the money. and a thoughtful card.
Temperance July 28, 2011, 4:48 pm
I think LW really could have used different wording to get her point across. I’m not going to give my opinion about the family heirloom comment, because so many others have flogged her over that.
I see this from a different angle than Wendy does, but it’s solely because of my own experience with a very similar FMIL. She obviously and obnoxiously favors my FH’s sister over the boys. FMIL can barely pay her bills and basically juggles keeping everything one month behind, yet somehow managed to fund FSIL’s wedding last summer, which cost at least $6,000 from my estimates. FSIL and FMIL have both asked FH to send them money to help pay bills, while the entire time FSIL is buying herself brand new clothes and her husband is blowing his entire check on X-Box games and tattoos. Of course, FSIL and her husband live with my FMIL in her home, while we’re in a small apartment 2.5 hrs away.
I don’t think that the LW and her husband owe his parents anything, especially if they’ve been doing so much for his siblings and have left LW’s husband in the lurch. I see no problem with LW confronting them about the rehearsal dinner situation, and it really does hurt to see such obvious favoritism.
I obviously am coloring this letter with my own feelings about my personal situation, so as always, YMMV.
Budjer July 28, 2011, 4:52 pm
I agree favoritism is horrible…my parents were very careful to make sure me and my 3 brothers were all given the same and treated the same and I appreciate it a lot in hindsight.
However, the main point is that family deals with family…the daughter-in-law should not be handling this. If someone was going to say anything about something it should have been their son.
AKchic July 28, 2011, 5:09 pm
A few things stood out for me:
1) You were engaged for two years. Were you planning the wedding that entire time? Was this some extravagant “I’m going to top the royal family” wedding, or a small, intimate gathering?
2) There are three siblings in the home, one presumably married (with a husband in the home as well). How old are the other two siblings? Under 18? How many of them are working? How many of the adults are working? Have they been hit by the recession? Do you even care?
Look “Princess”, it’s time to pull your overinflated ego and head out of your ass and grow up. You are acting like an overly entitled harpy and I bet that if you always acted that way, then they have been hoping since BEFORE the engagement that their son would wise up and dump your ass.
You had no right to confront them about a gift, suggesting alternative gifts, etc. You did have a right to politely discuss the fact that they said they would cover the rehearsal dinner and then didn’t. That’s it.
Unless your now-husband said something to you about the lack of birthday cards for 8 years, it’s not your place to mention it. If they skip your KIDS (their grandkids) in the birthday card/present/Christmas present line when everyone else gets one – then yes, you need to bring it up, but that’s it. If nothing changes, stop bringing the kids around.
twiglet July 28, 2011, 6:14 pm
honey, I think what it is, is that all these people have to offer is support -and you don’t need it. They are probably really proud of you.It sounds like they have a lot of folks to take care of,and they are, I bet, really pleased you and your man have made good and are independent. They probably thought some old thing of theirs wouldn’t be to your taste. Whatever, please don’t take it as a slight on you and your husband.They’re just giving to them as needs, and probably if you were around on a birthday there would be a cake, if not-out of sight, out of mind–some people are like that.It’s just a case of caring for who is to hand, and you probably seem mercifully capable of caring for yourselves.
If you think that what you really wanted from your mother-in-law is validation of yourself and your husband’s relationship,rather than a present, tell her so, and why.You feel left- out, but for all you know, she may feel proud but scorned. Spend some time together. She sounds like she could use a hand now and then, chores can sometimes ease sores, and you could maybe learn more about each other’s lives.
katie July 28, 2011, 8:35 pm
“I will not expect gifts of any kind”
“I will not bankrupt my bridal party”
“I will accept that this day is not about me, it is about the joining of two people in marriage”
repeat once a day until a 6 months away from the wedding, then twice a day. then 3 months from the wedding, 3 times a day. the month before? everytime you think about the wedding, you say that first in your head.
katie July 28, 2011, 9:01 pm
oh, LW, on a more personal not, as a person who has no contact with their extended family due to arguements that happened before I was even born- if you are AT ALL not the selfish bitch that wrote that letter, get over it and mend the relationship with your in-laws. NOW.
Theenemyofmyenemyisagrilledcheesesandwich July 29, 2011, 1:59 am
Yes. I love this mantra. Seriously, reading the DW letters during wedding season makes me want to elope.
katie July 29, 2011, 2:38 am
yes i have been slowly formulating that from all the letters on here… lol i am seriously going to use it, too…
MissChievous July 28, 2011, 10:33 pm
This sounds like a bad episode of Everybody Loves Raymond. The parents favor the other siblings and may be a little insensitive and here comes the newcomer with totally different expectations making waves and is a bit hard to handle herself.
SweetChild July 29, 2011, 7:59 am
Maybe their lack of present is expressing that they don’t think their son should be marrying this LW. And judging by her response, their concerns are valid…
Kdkat November 30, 2012, 9:55 pm
No, most of you are wrong except for Nick. Are any of you even married? after the marriage his family problems are her family problems. No exception. In laws are family and if you treat them differently you deserve to get called on it. To your face and maybe in a harsh manner. All of you are self righteous, and would feel entirely slighted like the commenter so get off your high horses. my Mil made passive aggressive comments to me the first time I met her about “you know it’s polite to bring something to dinner when you meet people” also poked around with “we’re trying to get one of the kids to pay for our wedding anniversary party” and kept on at this all the while not giving us any card or even happy word about our elopement. She continued to give birthday lists and Christmas lists for herself and her husband to us while she knew we had trouble even paying the rent. We asked if we could move in because my husband lost two jobs in a row and we had a newborn and she said yeah we could but would charge us the same amount in rent we were currently paying. All the while paying my sister in laws education at NYU. He’ll yeah all of that pissed me off. So by the time my child turned 1 and my brother in law hadnt said congratulations to us about our marriage or child, acknowledged our baby shower and wedding reception, acknowledged his invite to his one year birthday party you bet I told my husband that he can’t be around my family and son unless he brings a gift. Because whether the mil and fil like it or not, when someone new enters your family and you can’t dont or aren’t able to treat them the same emotionally and financially, and you don’t confront it with your true feelings, it will ruin relationships. You all are way out of line. I commend the commenter for not putting up with the inequality, and sometimes it takes an “outsider” to let them know they are being hurtful and disrespectful.