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I guess I'm not trying as hard as I thought I was ...

Started by Scoop, December 12, 2011, 06:21:07 am

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We're spending Christmas at my IL's house this year and I'm dreading it SO much!

I'm finding that I'm still bitter about the fact that she didn't get me a birthday gift.  I know it's petty.  But I asked SIL and she said that MIL always gets her and BIL something, and I'm sure DH is going to get something HUGE for his birthday (he's the Golden Child).

I know that I've been preaching to be nice because YOU'RE nice, not because they deserve it.  BUT man!  I feel like I'm letting her 'get away' with treating me poorly.

So I'm wavering between:

- sending them a Christmas card and pictures of DD (like I do with everyone else) but then feeling like I'm rewarding MIL's bad behaviour.  Usually I let DH write out the card to his parents, but he never does it and feels that it's okay to just bring it with us when we visit.

- refusing to send them a card (but, of course, DH is still welcome to) and feeling partly glad that I'm "showing HER" and partly guilty because I don't want to be that person.

This is really bugging me.  But I realize that it's not MIL that I want to change.  It's DH.  I want him to acknowledge that it was wrong.  (When I pointed out that the IL's didn't get me anything for my milestone birthday - not even the next time we saw them months later, and he said "Sure they did." but couldn't detail exactly what it was.)  I want him to say "Oh, I can't accept this gift because you didn't do anything for Scoop's birthday" - like THAT would ever happen.

I don't know.  I just needed to vent some of these emotions because it's really been bugging me.



Gifts are really symbols of emotions, aren't they?  You and the ILs don't like each other, right?  So logically (not emotionally), why exchange gifts? 

FWIW, my FOO never gave BD presents or Xmas presents to the in-laws.  They gave us gifts that our spouses greatly benefitted from.  My plan was to continue giving DS a sizable gift and DIL a much smaller version of that (till they cut me off, anyway).

I say let DH handle the card and gifts to his parents.  You do less and then maybe it'll help you not expect anything in return. 

And here's where I remind you of the WWU chorus:  Drop your expectations of them!   We all know how frustrating it is but give it up.  It sounds like she's not nice and she doesn't deserve the gift of your attention!


Scoop, I think you've been very classy and gracious throughout the time I've read here in dealing with you're in laws.  I know how you're feeling b/c I feel similar.  I think you've got to do what you feel is right. 

And, IMO, you're on the right track.  It's really DH, it's hard to know that he is not validating you or appreciating the effort you're putting forth towards people who are unkind to you.  You're a very articulate writer, perhaps putting it down on paper and giving to him to explain your feelings and the events that have happened?  My DH doesn't "hear" quite the same way he reads, maybe your DH is similar?
People throw rocks at things that shine - Taylor Swift


Scoop just a question, do you and your husband give individual birthday gifts to your IL's? Maybe they just don't give b'day gifts to in- laws. If that 's the case let him handle birthday gifts to his parents and just accept that's the way they do things, that frees you from having to worry about their birthdays. I get birthday gifts I know come from DS, but I have gotten birthday gifts for DIL for the past three years, no acknowledgment or a thank you from her though. I  get the feeling the gifts either make her uncomfortable, or she just expects them. Either way I'm done.  iMHO you need to give them the relationship they clearly want, and save your energy, that's the way I'm going.


Trying, we do give a Birthday gift each to MIL & FIL.  We only do "joint" gifts to them at Christmas, if it's something of a greater value, that is for both of their use.

I agree that it's expectations, because my Mom is painfully fair.  She spends the same on her kids as her SIL/DIL, at birthdays and at Christmas.  My Mom's fairness is legendary!  My friends still laugh at the idea that when my Mom buys Christmas ornaments, she makes sure to get 2 similar ones, so that when she dies, we won't fight when we divide everything up.

With my IL's, the birthday gifts have been hit-or-miss.  Sometimes they're good, sometimes they're just okay, but this is the 2nd time in 14 years that I've been missed completely.  I even asked SIL if she and BIL got birthday gifts from the IL's, thinking perhaps the IL's had scaled back but not told us.  But no, she said that they always get 'something'.

The first time they skipped my birthday, they actually sent a card, so I would know that they remembered my birthday, they just didn't get anything for me.  This year too, they sent a text to DH's phone to wish me a Happy Birthday.  The first time they skipped my birthday was pretty traumatizing to me, because that year I had personally picked out their gifts and went to a bit of trouble to do it too.  That was the last time I had anything to do with their gifts, I've already left ALL of that (except the budget) up to DH.  Even then, I sometimes can't help myself and will suggest things to him, because MIL is hard to buy for.

You know what's troubling me?  I know that GMIL will receive her card and call MIL to talk about the pictures of DD, however MIL won't have received a card.  MIL may even see the pictures on SIL's fridge.  This will hurt her feelings.  And I'm such a sucker that I feel bad about that.  Maybe it's because I know that *I* will get blamed for it.  But on the other hand, I've always left the card up to DH, maybe *this* is his way of "punishing" them?  It's too many head-games for me!


I'm still wondering - you don't like her, right?  Does she like you?

If not, why give gifts?


Scoop - you seem to be experiencing the flip side of what a lot of MILs here go through.  I think the issue is not MIL or DIL, but a one-way relationship.  Doesn't matter if the MIL is welcoming and the DIL is disinterested, or the DIL is eager to bond and the MIL doesn't give a rat's rear end.  Same difference.  We are talking about one-way relationships.  They don't work.  And the person that WANTS to make it work CAN'T - because the other person won't participate.  And that is hard for us to accept.  Because we think if we try, it will work.  If it doesn't work, we must have done something wrong - so we analyze our actions and try again and it still doesn't work. 

I haven't read your whole history, but is it possible that you or your DH could talk to his mother and find out what the issue is?  If it is a simple misunderstanding of fact, then perhaps a relationship is possible.  If there is no factual misunderstanding, you may simply have to accept her lack of interest, as many of us on this board have accepted lack of interest from our DILs.  Some lovely women such as Pen and Amflautist have had to accept far worse than simple lack of interest.  They have to deal with blatant hostility.  (May I shoot those DILs, please?) 

If neither you nor DH can have a heart-to-heart with your MIL - then you have to do what we all do.  Detach.  Let it go.  Concentrate on your own FOO, your friends, volunteer work, etc.

I have learned a lot on this board - probably more from the women I disagree with than the women who think like me.  When my darling MIL died, and my DIL ignored the loss to my FIL and DH, you yourself advised me --
"When GMIL passes, I will encourage DH to go for the funeral and DD and I will go, if it's not too inconvenient.  But, I won't send flowers, nor make a donation, nor will I get a card or sign it.  It's none of my business.  If DH wants any of that done, he's welcome and I certainly won't stop him or hinder him"

Your perspective helped me realize I was imposing (mentally) my standards on DIL - that what I consider common courtesy is simply MY opinion and expectation - and not shared by others - certainly not by her.  So I had to let it go.  I think you may have to take your own advice, and just let it all go. 


I know this is harder to do than it sounds but/and when I have been able to do it, it's worked for me. It's taking the high road...doing what you wish she would do. Treating her the way you would naturally treat her if she was  the person you wish she was. Not out of the one-up/look-down space...just as an expression of who you are when you are not reacting...and because it feels good. When I can pull that off...all of my inner dialogue about being wronged and being right fades away and I am free just to be. Sending love...
Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible. Dalai Lama


Doe - it's true, we don't like each other.  But I don't understand your logic.  *I* don't get MIL a gift.  *We* get MIL a gift.  So if there's no reciprocity, MIL should get no gift from us?  Should there have been a separate gift from *me* for all of these years?  If so, then MAN, I've been screwing up for years now.

Shelby - you're right, I have to let it go.

Luise - ugh, you're right too, I have to suck it up and do the right thing.  I guess I'm sending the IL's a card tonight.

I have to remember that you can't get blood from a stone.  My Mom always tells me that my MIL doesn't have it *IN* her to be fair / considerate / nice, so I can't expect it from her.  And then I have to remember that she wasn't a good mom and she's not a good grandma, so how can I expect her to be a good MIL?

Okay - thanks so much guys.  I knew that if I typed it out and got it out, I would feel better about it.


Quote from: Scoop on December 12, 2011, 06:21:07 am

I'm finding that I'm still bitter about the fact that she didn't get me a birthday gift.  I know it's petty. 

. . .
  But I realize that it's not MIL that I want to change.  It's DH.  I want him to acknowledge that it was wrong. 

Scoop - another belated thought --
I don't think it's about the gift at all.  You probably don't give a rat's rear end about the gift itself.  It's the acknowledgment and validation (or lack thereof) that is the issue.  So I do NOT think it is petty.  It's human.  We all want the validation from our loved ones - and FOR our loved ones from other family members.  When it doesn't happen, we are hurt - until we learn to lower our expectations.  I am one to give many chances - to think that maybe I was too sensitive if I perceived a slight.  So I give more chances - but finally we have to say - that's how the other person is, and I will not invest more of my emotion in that person.  Easier said than done. 

I'm still working on it.  I can say the words, but actually having no reaction, no hurt feelings is something I'm still working on - but I'm getting lots of practice, since DIL has been quite callous in 2011. 


Oh, I just don't get people gifts that I have animosity for.  That's what I was trying to understand.  I would have just let DH handle it all those years (or not if he didn't want to).  I didn't understand why 2 people who don't like each other would be swapping gifts.


I mean I don't get people who I have animosity for gifts.  I don't gift them..


You know Doe, I'm hip to that. 

But MIL *will* give me a Christmas gift, because she'll have an audience and if we visit for Christmas and she gave DH, DD, SIL, BIL and the DN's gifts and didn't give any to me, then SHE would look bad.  And she will avoid looking bad at any cost.  And really, that would be aggressive-aggressive and not passive-aggressive, and that's just not her style.

And your right, it's the consideration, not the gift. 


Oh, I get it.

Then, I would send her the generic Christmas card/pictures that everyone is getting - as a gesture.  She didn't win, you've won by being a nicer person (taking that high road that Luise mentioned).

Then push a Harry and David catalog under DH's nose and tell him to order something for her.  Then brag about him at the gift exchange - about how he chose the gift specially for her.  Then it's Harry and David for the rest of her life.


Scoop, a dear friend gave me some advice regarding gifts for my DIL & SM. She suggested buying something obviously inexpensive, but not blatantly cheap, if that makes sense. The recipient will know what the gift is implying, but if she complains she looks like a greedy meany. You will get your point across, but won't look bad to everyone else (oh yeah, don't tell DH your scheme! He will see his mom receive what looks to him like a perfectly generous gift.) Continue to smile, enjoying everyone else's company, be gracious and oh so sweet - but don't engage with MIL other than brief, generic polite-talk...no one will be able to say that you treated MIL less than charitably, but MIL will get it.

I did this with SM & DIL, and it worked - at least I felt better! It's kind of an amusing little secret I carry around with me when I am forced to socialize with them; keeps me going when the going gets tough.
Respect ... is appreciation of the separateness of the other person, of the ways in which he or she is unique.
-- Annie Gottlieb