Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Family and Children => Topic started by: mspallaton on September 30, 2013, 12:35:37 PM

Title: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19, 56)
Post by: mspallaton on September 30, 2013, 12:35:37 PM
Hello all -

I've posted questions about DH's family on a few occasions as we're trying to navigate a fairly unfortunate situation.  Here is some background for understanding the question (and to be honest, for advice for the future because I know it probably could've been handled better on our end as well):

[BG] DH has recently made the decision that he no longer wishes to have a relationship with his father.  FIL and SMIL had attempted to pressure us into inviting SMIL's whole family to our wedding though DH has no relationship with them.  It grew into a huge fight with FIL writing a nasty and condescending letter to DH just a few weeks before our wedding and DH responding with his boundaries and expectations for behavior at the wedding.

At the wedding, as I mentioned in another thread, FIL and SMIL gave us a clear cut direct when we tried to speak to them.  FIL can be immature and overly emotional so we had hoped that he simply wasn't over the conflict yet.  We found out after that they'd begun lying about how the fight had happened to make themselves look better to our extended family.  We also found out that FIL and SMIL walked around the wedding telling everyone what a wonderful time they were having, gushing about how happy they were and (in a few cases) trying to take credit for the reception as though they'd thrown it** [/BG]

Since the wedding, a stream of passive aggression has erupted on facebook.  I will admit to not being as far above the fray as I should've been.  SMIL goes on daily to post little pictures (you know, the inspirational pics with words in front of them) with the same theme: "you should love and respect your parents because they are the only people who are really there for you ever in the whole wide world".  Around the same time, she began being very overly effusive with DH's siblings (something she never did before).  You know - "oh I love you SO MUCH" on everything they write.

It really came to a head when I put a basic love note to DH.  (Yes, I know the lovey-dovey couples can be annoying - it is a habit I try to break, but little notes make him smile).  He responded with something we have said to each other for years, which is the phrase "two against the world".  It's something we've always said to each other, but I do see how she could've taken it badly.  She went on within a few minutes of it being posted with another picture, this time with the caption: "Some people need to get hit with reality, kick by karma and grow the F@&$ up".  (The curse word was not edited in her version).

That was the final straw for DH.  SMIL has always spoken for both FIL and herself so DH takes this as a statement from both of them.  We deleted them from facebook so there would be no more of the back and forth and DH is pretty set on not having a relationship with his father for a long time.  DH still believes he is owed an apology for the pre-wedding treatment and the recent comments show that FIL and SMIL not only don't agree, but think they're the ones who've been slighted.

That brings me to my question (but as I said, overall advice is totally welcome - DH and I are both still learning proper etiquette): when we looked at our cards and gifts, there was a card from FIL that said "your gift will be at your house on 9/30 - sorry for the poor planning".  DH does not want to accept this gift.  He wants to sever all ties at this point and accepting the gift wouldn't fit that message.  I've seen posters talk about abusers sending them gifts and they were advised to throw it away and not respond - but DH isn't afraid of FIL.  He's concerned that rather than being seen as no contact, simply throwing the gift away would allow FIL and SMIL to go around telling everyone we didn't send a thank you card. 

Is there a proper way to refuse a gift from someone you've decided not to have a relationship with?  Does it need to be thrown away or can it be returned without comment?
-------------------------

**Almost forgot to explain that: one of the guests has been my mother's best friend for over 20 years.  SMIL walked up to her and gushed about how beautiful everything was and how "everything turned out just how they'd planned" and wasn't this reception such a lovely way to welcome me to "her family".  The guest smiled and said: "we mustn't have been introduced.  I'm PallaMom's best friend.  And you are?"  SMIL gave her name, clammed up immediately and slinked away.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: Lynn2000 on September 30, 2013, 12:44:11 PM
If you're going to do the cut direct, I think the key phrase that is often used around here is to "be a black hole." Emails, letters, cards, gifts, anything they send to you goes into the black hole and is never heard from again. The thing with refusing a gift/sending it back is that it generally ups the drama, and forces you to have contact with the person you're trying to avoid. So when the gift comes, I would just donate it or sell it or throw it in the trash, whatever you want to do, and try to never think about it again.

In a true cut direct, in my understanding, the person simply ceases to exist for you. Obviously easier said than done. But the thing is, if you're always thinking about what they're going to do--if we refuse the gift, they'll tell everyone we were rude for not sending them a TY note!--you're still giving them power over you, still giving them head space. I think you try to find the path where you think about them the absolute least amount possible, so you can get on with your life, rise above their nonsense, and be happier overall.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: nuit93 on September 30, 2013, 12:45:21 PM
Maybe return the gift with an explanation as to why?
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: pierrotlunaire0 on September 30, 2013, 12:52:02 PM
Have you actually received the gift?  Is there a chance that FIL won't send it?
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: Vall on September 30, 2013, 12:53:50 PM
Have you received the gift yet?  Is it possible that you may never receive the gift--thus, never have to deal with this situation?
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: TootsNYC on September 30, 2013, 12:55:35 PM
You haven't received the gift yet. So you don't need to do anything.

If you avoid all contact, they can't hand it do you. If they go ahead and send it,  you can mark "return to sender" on the front and hand it to the post office to return (unopened). Which will create extreme drama as well.

Also:

There's a famous saying: "least said, soonest mended."

Seriously, drop the rope.

Hide SMIL's Facebook feed.
Edit the settings so she can't see what you post.

Don't keep fueling the fire (don't keep allowing HER to fuel the fire).

Just let it be.

In a couple of years, your DH may not feel quite as strongly--and if you guys get all proclaim-y now, you make it harder than ever for *either* side to ever back down.

Defend your reputation in the larger family where you think you need to, but do it without anger (throw in some sorrow--it'll help with the P.R. campaign).
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: Twik on September 30, 2013, 12:57:53 PM
I agree with previous posters that this sort of card is often an symptom of "words over deeds". By saying a present will be sent later, they can consider they've done their job, without actually putting a plan into action or spending money. In which case, they can be ignored.

If it does arrive, I would (if practical) simply readdress it and send it back to FIL. Do not bother to explain why. Just let them know through your actions that you are not accepting anything further from them.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: mspallaton on September 30, 2013, 01:00:13 PM
We have not received anything yet - I ask because FIL's pattern includes doing things to seem magnanimous with a guilt trip attached so DH has said he's more likely to send a gift with a note about loving DH so much and when DH is 'ready to apologize' he'll be waiting -- he's done that to DH and the sibs in the past.

I hope we simply don't get anything.  That would be easiest.

As to the FB portion - we have deleted them from our lists entirely so there won't be any further drama on that regard.  That was a hard decision for DH, but it was his choice and I simply followed suit.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: sevenday on September 30, 2013, 01:11:32 PM
I've actually gotten a package from someone I had cut ties with.  As soon as I saw the address on the box I took it the nearest post station (about half a mile away) and simply told the man at the desk that I was refusing the package.  Since it was unopened, he just took it and didn't charge me anything.  I don't know what happened to it from there, but... yeah.  Alternatively, open box, dump contents into trash bag without looking, and drop the bag off with other donated goods at your local donation site.  (Goodwill, etc if you have one)
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: Pen^2 on September 30, 2013, 01:53:31 PM
People here have good advice. I particularly like the phrase, "be a black hole."

If a gift arrives, you can either dump it or return it. If you're worried about FIL gossiping with other family members about how rude you are not to send a thank-you note, then returning the gift is the best option as it frees you from any thank-you note obligations.

Ignore anything and everything from them. From what you've said, it sounds like they very much do owe you both an apology. It sounds like they don't think that them saying sorry and possibly salvaging a damaged relationship is worth more than their own pride and appearance to others. This is the kind of mindset that won't change for a long time, generally. Sending a note to them explaining why you're returning their gift would therefore accomplish nothing, as they already know exactly what they did wrong (they were there!) but don't want to admit it. A note won't change that until they change their mindset. So get into a mode of life where you don't actively seek out information about what they've been up to, and have fewer conversations about them, until they are as gone as is reasonably possible from your minds (not completely, of course, but not taking up nearly as much space as they currently are).

In a few years, you might receive a message from them that's mindful of how they've hurt you, and then you can choose where to go from there. But for now, be a black hole and change your way of life to one that doesn't feature them very prominently. deleting them from Facebook was a good move in this direction.

Also, ((hugs)) because it sucks when people are horrible. Your spouse is very lucky to have someone who is supporting him during something like this.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: Arila on September 30, 2013, 03:13:03 PM
There's a famous saying: "least said, soonest mended."

Seriously, drop the rope.

Hide SMIL's Facebook feed.
Edit the settings so she can't see what you post.

Don't keep fueling the fire (don't keep allowing HER to fuel the fire).

Just let it be.

In a couple of years, your DH may not feel quite as strongly--and if you guys get all proclaim-y now, you make it harder than ever for *either* side to ever back down.

I agree with Toots in the quoted portion above. There's a lot of emotions tied up with the whole wedding and merging lives, and better to "take a break" or even just cool down the relationship than cut all ties.

If a thoughtful/nice gift arrives (anything not P/A or obviously insulting), I would acknowledge it with a brief note, full of civility, but it doesn't need to be warm. "FIL, SMIL, Thank you for the peach vase you sent to us on occasion of our wedding. It will compliment the color of the roses from our most prolific bush in the garden. - Mr & Mrs Pallaton"
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: snappylt on October 01, 2013, 02:29:48 PM
September 30 was yesterday.  Did anything arrive?

If something did arrive, I would encourage you to either accept it, write a curt thank you note, and then do whatever you want with it OR refuse the package and return it to sender.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: TootsNYC on October 01, 2013, 02:48:33 PM

If a gift arrives, you can either dump it or return it. If you're worried about FIL gossiping with other family members about how rude you are not to send a thank-you note, then returning the gift is the best option as it frees you from any thank-you note obligations.

Well, if you are worried about him complaining about the thank-you note, I would think that the family fallout from sending the gift back unopened, "return to sender," would REALLY give him something to complain about.

Something that would probably not be acceptable to other family members.
They'd be more likely to forgive you for not writing a note, but they aren't going to be willing to understand why you'd so dramatically and hurtfully turn your back on your own father(-in-law).

Not that I'm saying you should retain ties, etc., etc.--I just don't want you to send the package back without realizing that it is a MUCH bigger and much more REAL risk, in terms of "family P.R.", than no thank-you note.

My vote would be to minimize drama at every turn. Sending him a cursory thank-you note and donating the gift is the low-drama option.

You can be Teflon instead of a black hole. If you always choose the path that is the least involved and creates the least conversation--with others and **between the two of you**--you'll probably be happier.
    So, gift comes?
Option A:  Write a rote thank-you note, donate gift, move on. Total time spent: 20 mins.
Option B: Write "return to sender" on box, drop at post office. Listen to brother, sister, aunt, uncle tell you how FIL and SMIL told them, and how they think you're rude, and he's your FATHER, yadda yadda yadda. Total time spent: 20 mins. plus 2 hours of them talking, plus 2 hours of the two of you talking at home in an effort to detox.

My vote: option A.

Just do a fade-out.

If FIL calls, say: "Sorry, Dad, I'm in the middle of something, I can't stay on the phone--is there something specific? No, OK, Sorry, I've got to go. Bye." <click>

(Also make a pact with each other: If you choose the Teflon route, then NO TALKING BETWEEN YOURSELVES about it, because that destroys the non-stick coating, sort of like a metal utensil on Teflon.)

Your goal--am I right?--is to eliminate the potential for hurt, and to allow yourselves time to heal from the current bruising. Further drama is not going to do that.

The other advantage of the fade-out--of being Teflon--instead of the declared break:

It preserves options for the future.

Because, seriously, making a *permanent* break from your father is a big, honking deal.

Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: mspallaton on October 01, 2013, 03:35:30 PM
To update:  we did not receive anything yesterday - I continue to hope that we won't get anything at all so there is no issue.

After taking SMIL and FIL off of our facebook pages, DH called his mother and talked to her a little about what was going on (the continued passive aggressive behavior and his desire to end his relationship with his father).  To our complete and total shock, MIL's reaction was to agree with DH that he shouldn't communicate with his father right now.

We had expected (as TootsNYC warned in his/her last post) that any decision to truly break contact would be met with serious resistance.  DH talked to his mother partly because this is just a hard situation and partly to start easing her into the idea that even if things aren't fully broken, it will be a long time before they are fixed - in other words, pressure to fix it faster will turn him off of the conversation.

MIL said a lot of things that I was really surprised at (in a good way).  She agreed with DH that he'd been treated terribly by his father.  It was the first time she'd said that to him.  She told DH that she thought he and I should take FIL and SMIL off of facebook if we hadn't already and that she didn't think DH should be trying to have a relationship with his father.  She said that if FIL went to her and talked about DH she would shut it down (which is HUGE for MIL because she hates conflict). 

Basically her message was: the relationship DH and FIL have had is toxic and while maybe a relationship of some kind can be had in the future, it basically needs to be a from scratch deal for it to be okay.

She also said she'd been talking to SIL at length.  SIL is a daddy's girl so it takes a LOT for her to think he's done wrong.  When she found out about the letter to DH, her response was that DH simply must have done something wrong to cause that kind of letter and if DH would just apologize to FIL this could all be over.  SIL is the main person who FIL and SMIL have been lying to and trying to start rumors with.  MIL has been (without us asking) on and off the phone with SIL since the wedding basically explaining that she'd been lied to and sharing what really happened.

I was shocked when DH told me just how much and how strongly MIL has been going to bat for him.  She's a wonderful woman, but she never met a fight she liked in her life and she seems to have taken on this one in spades.

The reason I share all that detail is this -- if we do receive something from FIL and SMIL, we have someone who will set the record straight without us having to get in the middle.  Because of that and the advice we've gotten here, I believe our plan is to simply discard the gift without opening it and be a black hole.

We definitely want to avoid creating drama so sending it back seems like less and less of a good idea after hearing from people.  However, DH cannot stomach the idea of thanking his father for much of anything after everything that's happened.  Given that, it seems like black hole is the best option.

....that and keeping fingers crossed that nothing arrives... I'll begin breathing easier if we get all the way to Friday without anything in the mail from them.

And... as always... thank you all for your advice.  I feel like we would've made much worse/drama causing decisions even with the best of intentions if this board weren't here to bounce ideas off of.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: Luci on October 01, 2013, 04:28:59 PM
It's almost frightening how important parental approval is, isn't it? I'm so glad your husband had support from his mom, and it's even bettter that it is surprisingly stong if it is out of character for her. Go! MIL!

(I had a wicked stepmother aquired at the age of 25. Daddy outlived her, so we got back together and our kids got to meet the REAL grandpa D! We were very fortunate.)

Best wishes to you all.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: secretrebel on October 02, 2013, 08:52:43 AM
Donate the gift  and send a thank you. Any unpleasantness of saying thank you should then be mitigated by the thought that the gift will make someone else happy who doesn't know about the bad karma.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: mspallaton on October 04, 2013, 02:10:02 PM
Hi all - brief update - DH and I are calling "gift-watch" to an end as of today.  Meaning - we're both pretty confident nothing is coming, which is definitely for the best.

DH is understandably upset at the situation, but I think he's happy not to have a catalyst to a new issue this quickly and for FIL and SMIL not to have anything new they can complain about (since even the black hole option would've created a 'no thank you card' rumor for a little while).

Thank you all for the advice - I know sometimes it can seem anticlimactic when an etiquette scenario doesn't come to pass and the advice isn't directly used, but I just wanted to say that knowing what the options were and having time time to think and make a real decision about what to do was incredibly calming for my DH.  He really felt trapped - thinking it would come and we'd have to respond in some effusive way to a man he's come to view as emotionally abusive.  Hearing that there are etiquette-approved ways to step back and have a boundary set up was really helpful for him.

So -- despite no direct application of the advice -- thank you for it.  I just wanted to make sure everyone knows that it does help, even if it isn't put into practice.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: caz on October 05, 2013, 08:58:55 AM
I love to hear all updates :)  Best of luck.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift
Post by: Marbles on October 06, 2013, 02:05:45 AM
Really, in this case, no news is good news.

It's heartening to hear that your MIL is helping out so much behind the scenes.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: mspallaton on October 22, 2013, 12:56:18 PM
Unfortunately we called "gift watch" too early.  A couple days ago we got a card in the mail from FIL and SMIL with a check enclosed.

The card was unsigned and the check was accompanied by a typed note that says the following:

"Please find enclosed your wedding gift.  We always present our children with a cash gift upon their marriage.  Changes at my job this year caused our having to delay this gift until now.  We apologize for the lateness.  Congratulations.

Dad and [SMIL]"

---------------------

I have given up avoiding e-hell on this one.  DH is livid and cannot be talked down from sending the gift back.  I'm just trying to do damage control and minimize the rudeness of his response... he has simply reached a point of feeling like his father has gotten away with too much in regards to our wedding to accept a gift and move on without saying something.

I got him to stop and think about it for a few days (we are on day four at this point), but he hasn't wavered.  He is, thankfully, listening to some advice in terms of phrasing instead of just writing a nasty-gram with the check folded up inside.

Thank you all for listening and for the advice... even knowing we're about to be cast into e-hell, I promise to update and let people know how it turns out...
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Twik on October 22, 2013, 01:08:23 PM
"Please find enclosed your wedding gift.  We always present our children with a cash gift upon their marriage.  Changes at my job this year caused our having to delay this gift until now.  We apologize for the lateness.  Congratulations.

Dad and [SMIL]"

Seriously? From a father to his son, "please find enclosed your wedding gift.... We apologize for the lateness"? Wasn't FIL worried that it might be mistaken for something intended for the income tax department instead?  :o

FIL is not an exemplar of warmth and charm.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: cwm on October 22, 2013, 01:13:24 PM
Don't send it back, just don't cash it. Burn it, actually. Nobody else will get to it, it might make DH feel better, and you don't have to answer the phone when FIL and SMIL call asking why the check wasn't cashed.

Be the black hole. Don't do anything. Don't take their money, it's not worth it, but don't give in to sending it back.

For the record, if I ever got a note like that from a parent, I wouldn't be speaking to them either. That's ridiculous.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: FoxPaws on October 22, 2013, 01:27:53 PM
"Please find enclosed your wedding gift.  We always present our children with a cash gift upon their marriage.  Changes at my job this year caused our having to delay this gift until now.  We apologize for the lateness.  Congratulations.

Dad and [SMIL]"

Seriously? From a father to his son, "please find enclosed your wedding gift.... We apologize for the lateness"? Wasn't FIL worried that it might be mistaken for something intended for the income tax department instead?  :o

FIL is not an exemplar of warmth and charm.
On the other hand, MrPallaton can use that as a guide for the return letter - completely emotionless and flat.

Your returned check/wedding gift is enclosed. Given the nature of our relationship, we are unable to accept gifts of any kind from you, nor are we interested in any further contact.

Black Hole would probably be better, but if your DH is determined to send a reply, he needs to keep it brief and to the point. Nothing he says is going to make them see the error of their ways.

{{{mspallaton}}} to both of  you. This is a sucky situation and I'm sorry you're having to deal with it.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: *inviteseller on October 22, 2013, 01:35:39 PM
I agree with the don't cash/don't send back.  Just act like it never was in your mailbox.  They can't complain if there is no thank you or the gift because you didn't cash the check.  And that note?  The warmth just oozed out of that one now didn't it?  ::)  Seriously, my dad and step mom gave us a check for our wedding gift (very very generous) and wrote a lovely note in a beautiful card.  OTOH, my former MIL, when she would mail a check  to DD for gifts and we would call to thank her, she would whine about how she "really doesn't have the money but she scraped it up so her grand daughter could have a gift for her birthday" in the biggest martyr tone.  It was no more than $10, but after the 3rd time, I told DD we are no longer cashing the checks because there was too much guilt tripping . 
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: dawbs on October 22, 2013, 01:40:52 PM
Don't send it back, just don't cash it. Burn it, actually. Nobody else will get to it, it might make DH feel better, and you don't have to answer the phone when FIL and SMIL call asking why the check wasn't cashed.

Be the black hole. Don't do anything. Don't take their money, it's not worth it, but don't give in to sending it back.

For the record, if I ever got a note like that from a parent, I wouldn't be speaking to them either. That's ridiculous.

The only downside to destroying/not returning a check is that it gives the sender an excuse to contact you (in a way which cash doesn't).
"Hi, did you get our check or do we have to cancel it/write a new one/worry about it clearing 3 years later"
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Pen^2 on October 22, 2013, 01:43:39 PM
What a warm, loving note.  ::)

Black hole. Don't cash it (obviously). Tear it up or throw it out or whatever you like. Don't write anything back. Black hole.

If you must, to stop them (possibly) asking you to cash it later on, send it back to them without any note or fanfare. Be silent, then go back to being a black hole.

Anger is a very consuming thing, and I really feel for you and your husband. But time will make it gradually lessen. Easier said than done, I know. Sorry. But until then, the very best thing you can do is distance yourselves from these people. The longer you spend with them out of your lives, the easier it will be and the lower the anger levels will drop. Especially for your DH. If he sees them again (to yell or whatever), then he'll only feel worse afterwards, and his anger will be right back up there again. He'd have to start all over again in giving it enough time to lower to a tolerable level. Keep on being as supportive as you have been. Advising him to lay low was very good of you. Keep on doing that until he's able to do it himself. Because, despite what he might want to do right now, writing back to them or calling will only make him feel worse and extend how long it will take to heal from these awful people.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Deetee on October 22, 2013, 01:48:11 PM
I was going to say that no response is the best (destroy the cheque and no note). But, on further reflection, I think your husband needs to think long and hard about what he wants from his father and their relationship.

The urge to send an angry note back does not sound like someone who is ready to really cut off his father. He still wants to engage him and have a relationship (yes, angry notes are relationships).

So he should think
1) If he wants a relationship, he should look at family counseling (use the cheque to fund such mediation).
2) If he wants a low drama continuing pseudo-relationship, go with the Teflon approach (write a terse thank-you note and bank the cheque for something dull-future childrenís education, health insurance payments, retirement fund)
3)  If he wants continuing relationship of drama and anger, write a nasty-gram.

Neither of you seem willing or able to truly detach. I donít think thatís bad. This is all fresh and very wounding. Itís just that I donít think that either of you should be making permanent relationship decisions.

Strong emotions are like being drunk.  No irrevocable decisions should be made at this time.

(Personally, I am liking the idea of using the money for relationship counseling for your husband and you. Healthy communication ideas for your family and such)
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: TootsNYC on October 22, 2013, 01:55:58 PM

The urge to send an angry note back does not sound like someone who is ready to really cut off his father. He still wants to engage him and have a relationship (yes, angry notes are relationships).

So he should think
1) If he wants a relationship, he should look at family counseling (use the cheque to fund such mediation).
2) If he wants a low drama continuing pseudo-relationship, go with the Teflon approach (write a terse thank-you note and bank the cheque for something dull-future childrenís education, health insurance payments, retirement fund)
3)  If he wants continuing relationship of drama and anger, write a nasty-gram.

Neither of you seem willing or able to truly detach. I donít think thatís bad. This is all fresh and very wounding. Itís just that I donít think that either of you should be making permanent relationship decisions.

Strong emotions are like being drunk.  No irrevocable decisions should be made at this time.

(Personally, I am liking the idea of using the money for relationship counseling for your husband and you. Healthy communication ideas for your family and such)

I'll add my voice to Deetee's.

I think if your DH is that angry, he might really benefit from having somewhere neutral and probing to think it out.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Arila on October 22, 2013, 02:01:10 PM
I like the idea of family counseling. Having a designated space and time to explain your feelings and listen to the other person explain theirs, with a counselor present to sort of guide/mediate the discussion was really helpful for my mother and I, when we were going through emotional and angry times.

People rarely do things just to be malicious. Putting forth the effort to try to understand their perspective (and knowing that yours was understood as well) will either help to heal or at least provide closure.

Seems like most people accept that marriage counseling should be undertaken before dissolving a marriage, why not family counseling before dissolving familial relationships?
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: mspallaton on October 22, 2013, 02:12:14 PM
I will definitely present the counseling option to DH - he is already planning on seeing a counselor 1:1 to talk through these things.  The issue is getting FIL to participate.  He does not, by his nature, admit wrongdoing basically ever.  For example - when he was caught cheating on MIL with SMIL and confronted about it by MIL, his response (according to family lore) was "well, I'm sorry you feel bad about it, but it's not like I had another option." 

I am, sadly, pessimistic about getting FIL on board for counseling.  That said, I like having another idea to present to DH.  For those who recommending counseling - is there an etiquette approved way to broach that with FIL?  Or at least a way that isn't flat out rude?  It is probably being stuck sharing my DH's anger, but I can't think of how to approach it.

Thank you all for the advice -- DH and I are in a state 1300 miles away from the check until this weekend so I'm also hoping the next couple days will help us simmer a bit more.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Deetee on October 22, 2013, 02:18:45 PM
I will definitely present the counseling option to DH - he is already planning on seeing a counselor 1:1 to talk through these things.  The issue is getting FIL to participate.  He does not, by his nature, admit wrongdoing basically ever.  For example - when he was caught cheating on MIL with SMIL and confronted about it by MIL, his response (according to family lore) was "well, I'm sorry you feel bad about it, but it's not like I had another option." 

I am, sadly, pessimistic about getting FIL on board for counseling.  That said, I like having another idea to present to DH.  For those who recommending counseling - is there an etiquette approved way to broach that with FIL?  Or at least a way that isn't flat out rude?  It is probably being stuck sharing my DH's anger, but I can't think of how to approach it.

Thank you all for the advice -- DH and I are in a state 1300 miles away from the check until this weekend so I'm also hoping the next couple days will help us simmer a bit more.

I think a decent counselor will have advice on how best to approach recalcitrant family members and will help DH work through what he wants.

A decent counselor  will  also be clear that this is NOT about bringing FIL in and chastising him like a misbehaving child, but about working towards a healthier relationship for everyone. They would also be able to work with or without the presence of FIL.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: LeveeWoman on October 22, 2013, 02:19:07 PM
I would not advise including the in-laws in family counselling because I think they're abusive.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Pen^2 on October 22, 2013, 02:23:26 PM
I would not advise including the in-laws in family counselling because I think they're abusive.

Yes--at this stage, I don't see how getting FIL involved would help at all. But I'm not a counselor and have limited experience in these things. One-on-one counselling sounds very good, though. With that much anger, it will hopefully help a lot. And a good counselor will know if it is appropriate to bring other people into the counselling session, and if so, when to do it. Don't rush things. Lay all the cards on the table and let the professional do what their experience and knowledge tells them is best.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: *inviteseller on October 22, 2013, 02:27:54 PM
Your DH (not you) can send his dad a note saying

Dad,
Our relationship has been very rocky for awhile and I think if we plan to go forward, it would be best for you and I to see a family mediator (don't call it counseling).  If you care to join me it will be with Mr X, at such & such time and date.  Hope to see you there.   This is only for us at this time, not our wives.  I hope to see you there."

Until the meeting, I would not answer any calls from his dad or Sm.  If your FIL doesn't show up, that is your husbands answer as to whether he is going to have a relationship or not.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: wheeitsme on October 22, 2013, 02:41:05 PM
If the IL's have not figured it out that you are cutting ties, they will soon.  I'd destroy the check.  Heck, they'll prolly either try and contact you to destroy the check or stop payment on it, when they figure it out. 
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: EllenS on October 22, 2013, 03:08:14 PM
I was going to say that no response is the best (destroy the cheque and no note). But, on further reflection, I think your husband needs to think long and hard about what he wants from his father and their relationship.

The urge to send an angry note back does not sound like someone who is ready to really cut off his father. He still wants to engage him and have a relationship (yes, angry notes are relationships).

So he should think
1) If he wants a relationship, he should look at family counseling (use the cheque to fund such mediation).
2) If he wants a low drama continuing pseudo-relationship, go with the Teflon approach (write a terse thank-you note and bank the cheque for something dull-future childrenís education, health insurance payments, retirement fund)
3)  If he wants continuing relationship of drama and anger, write a nasty-gram.

Neither of you seem willing or able to truly detach. I donít think thatís bad. This is all fresh and very wounding. Itís just that I donít think that either of you should be making permanent relationship decisions.

Strong emotions are like being drunk.  No irrevocable decisions should be made at this time.

(Personally, I am liking the idea of using the money for relationship counseling for your husband and you. Healthy communication ideas for your family and such)

Getting DH to breathe and reflect before responding is an excellent suggestion, and I'm glad to hear, OP that DH is interested in counselling.

Etiquette does not address how to invite a family member into counselling, because by definition once behavioral health professionals are involved, you are already beyond the scope of etiquette.  Which is fine, there are a lot of things in close, family relationships to which rules of etiquette do not apply.

Hope things work out well and DH finds a good counsellor.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: JeanFromBNA on October 22, 2013, 03:29:48 PM
The only downside to destroying/not returning a check is that it gives the sender an excuse to contact you (in a way which cash doesn't).
"Hi, did you get our check or do we have to cancel it/write a new one/worry about it clearing 3 years later"

Unfortunately, yes. 
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: TootsNYC on October 22, 2013, 03:40:11 PM
You don't need FIL **at all** to go to counseling. I wouldn't even suggest it to him.
I'd be surprised if any of the other people who suggested it intended this.


The goal is not to "fix" FIL.

The goal is to give DH a safe space to work through his own thoughts and feelings. To give DH a person with whom to discuss goals, tactics, outcomes, possible strategies, and the complicated emotions that come with families. And perhaps to challenge DH a little bit to get him to truly examine his anger and urge to lash out. And to choose a path based **not** on his powerful negative emotions but on -his own best interests.- Longterm.


It's not about "counseling the family." It's about "counseling DH on family matters."

In truth, your DH sounds a lot like his dad. He doesn't like how his dad treated him, so he wants to make a big deal of it. That's a lot like what his dad did to him.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: mspallaton on October 22, 2013, 04:04:04 PM
All, I will say, with all due respect, is that my DH is nothing like his father.  Yes he is angry and yes I worry about him violating etiquette - which I why I'm seeking advice to try and help him -- but his father manipulates others' emotions to punish people for disobeying him even when he has no right to demand his personal desires be satisfied.  That is a vastly different thing than standing up for yourself against such intrusions - even if you do so rudely.

I realize I misunderstood - I thought PPs were recommending counseling for both DH and his father.  It seems my hesitation about how that would be broached makes sense, as most people seem to agree that FIL is unlikely to participate in counseling and while there are suggestions about how to phrase it they are somewhat confrontational (no offense intended to any of the posters who suggested - I just see how they could go badly with FIL).

I don't mean to be short with people - I do appreciate the advice and I will continue encouraging DH to consider his response carefully.  I appreciate getting a look at what etiquette allows in this circumstance.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: PastryGoddess on October 22, 2013, 04:07:39 PM
Adding my voice to the chorus.

Counseling is not about FIL, counseling is about helping DH to work through his emotions and find more productive ways to deal with them.  No one can change how FIL acts.  However, you and DH can change how YOU respond to his actions.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: TootsNYC on October 22, 2013, 05:21:11 PM
It sounds like DH has a real burden to carrying in terms of the stuff his dad has handed to him.

Another reason why having a safe place to talk about it, and work it out, could be important.

You, mspallaton, could be that "safe place," but you have your own emotions pretty deeply involved, so that's a bit of an impediment. And a counselor would have some expertise and tactics that most of us laypeople wouldn't.

I wish him luck.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Arila on October 22, 2013, 05:33:12 PM
Well, actually, I was recommending counseling for DH and FIL together. I'm sure that Mrs P has tried to present the facts without bias, but I don't believe that it's entirely possible to do that from one side of a very emotional divide such as they have. Since I assume bias, I am not really convinced that FIL is abusive (it seems like the other party is always negatively labeled in ways that I feel is really out of proportion), and would hope that he's as interested in maintaining a relationship and would participate. I do like the "political" wording suggested of attending family mediation rather than counseling, and addressing it as a breakdown in communications to be mended.


Regarding counseling and changing people, I have two thoughts:
1. I suggested it as a way to better understand one another. Perhaps with greater understanding, it could be,  that although FIL doesn't change, the interactions and interpretations of those interactions could be improved.
2. Counseling for one person should not be mixed with counseling for more than one person. When we entered family counseling, we had different people for individuals and for the group.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: cicero on October 23, 2013, 06:22:03 AM
All, I will say, with all due respect, is that my DH is nothing like his father.  Yes he is angry and yes I worry about him violating etiquette - which I why I'm seeking advice to try and help him -- but his father manipulates others' emotions to punish people for disobeying him even when he has no right to demand his personal desires be satisfied.  That is a vastly different thing than standing up for yourself against such intrusions - even if you do so rudely.

I realize I misunderstood - I thought PPs were recommending counseling for both DH and his father.  It seems my hesitation about how that would be broached makes sense, as most people seem to agree that FIL is unlikely to participate in counseling and while there are suggestions about how to phrase it they are somewhat confrontational (no offense intended to any of the posters who suggested - I just see how they could go badly with FIL).

I don't mean to be short with people - I do appreciate the advice and I will continue encouraging DH to consider his response carefully.  I appreciate getting a look at what etiquette allows in this circumstance.
I think that family counseling (as in "for them together") probably *is* a good idea, at some point. But right now, let this be about your DH coming to terms with this "relationship", understanding what is toxic about it, and learnign to build healthier family relations. whether or not this will help him with his father is not the point. but it will help to either come to terms with the dysfunctional relationship (get some closure), or help him rebuild the relationship (or actually build it up from scratch).
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: weeblewobble on October 23, 2013, 07:54:54 AM
Also agree with no cash/no response. If you cash it, you give FIL the impression that everything is OK again, the status quo is returned and if he runs into problems with his relationship with DH, he can throw money at the problems they'll go away.  If you send a letter, you're playing into FIL's hand.  He can complain about his "horrible ungrateful son" who wouldn't even accept his generous wedding check.  So just ignore them.

The whole "we always give OUR children a wedding check" communicates two things: 1) he's still trying to impose stepMIL as DH's mother figure.  And 2) the check is more about the tradition of giving the wedding gift and being able to maintain the image of family harmony, than DH, his marriage or feelings.



(And good for your DH for not being lured in to an untenable position by the money.)
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Drunken Housewife on October 23, 2013, 11:57:59 AM
Cashing the check and using the proceeds for counseling to discuss the issues caused by the FIL:  sure seems like an appropriate use of the money, but I don't think you can tell the FIl that you are doing that.  In that case, there has to be a thank you note.  It would just be too passive-aggressive for etiquette to countenance if you guys sent a note saying, "We received your check, thank you.  We plan to use this money for family counseling to work on our problems with you."
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Eeep! on October 23, 2013, 12:31:49 PM
Well, actually, I was recommending counseling for DH and FIL together. I'm sure that Mrs P has tried to present the facts without bias, but I don't believe that it's entirely possible to do that from one side of a very emotional divide such as they have. Since I assume bias, I am not really convinced that FIL is abusive (it seems like the other party is always negatively labeled in ways that I feel is really out of proportion), and would hope that he's as interested in maintaining a relationship and would participate. I do like the "political" wording suggested of attending family mediation rather than counseling, and addressing it as a breakdown in communications to be mended.


Regarding counseling and changing people, I have two thoughts:
1. I suggested it as a way to better understand one another. Perhaps with greater understanding, it could be,  that although FIL doesn't change, the interactions and interpretations of those interactions could be improved.
2. Counseling for one person should not be mixed with counseling for more than one person. When we entered family counseling, we had different people for individuals and for the group.

I appreciate that you are tyring to not jump to conclusions, but I really think that someoone who is interested in maintaining a relationship with their son doesn't (A) publicly shun them at their own wedding and (B) send a type-written letter.  Think of the extra effort that went into the sending the typewritten note. That was deliberate, in my opinion and sending a message.

Someone who does the above doesn't get the benefit of the doubt in my book. And I seriously highly doubt that the father will ever get to a place where any sort of family counseling would be possible. But maybe I'm being pessimistic about.

And regarding your point 1. If a person doesn't go into counseling with the intent to try to change then all any talk of "understanding" etc. does is put more stress on the person who is willing to change.   I'm having a hard time expressing what I mean but I think the OP's DH just needs to learn how to manage his responses to his father's behaviors. My husband's father has all kinds of issues and DH and I can sit around come up with very likely reasons for why his father behaves the way he does.  We can even most of the time predict how he will likely respond in a given situation. But none of that matters very much.  What matters is that DH is working on coming up with how he deals with the behaviors in a way that his helpful to him.  I think if we tried to have his father in counseling, all it woudl do is open up new ways for DH to be disappointed by his father.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Arila on October 23, 2013, 12:50:51 PM
Eeep!

I just recently went through some really rough times with my mother. Actually, sort of cold and uncomfortable real-life situations were how we started out, followed by stiff email communications - but we were both interested in maintaining/repairing a relationship. So, neither one of these things indicate to me that FIL is not interested in holding up his side.

We went to family counseling. From the outside, third party perspective, nothing has changed in our situation, but from the inside - I assure you that coming to a better understanding of one another has made a world of difference.


I don't know how anyone could assume such a huge thing about a person, such as a parent no longer caring about their relationship with their child without making a substantial effort to verify that.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Eeep! on October 23, 2013, 04:12:45 PM
Eeep!

I just recently went through some really rough times with my mother. Actually, sort of cold and uncomfortable real-life situations were how we started out, followed by stiff email communications - but we were both interested in maintaining/repairing a relationship. So, neither one of these things indicate to me that FIL is not interested in holding up his side.

We went to family counseling. From the outside, third party perspective, nothing has changed in our situation, but from the inside - I assure you that coming to a better understanding of one another has made a world of difference.


I don't know how anyone could assume such a huge thing about a person, such as a parent no longer caring about their relationship with their child without making a substantial effort to verify that.

That is really wonderful that you and your mom were able to work through things! But I think the problem with the "substantial effort to verify" thing is that each time one makes one of those "efforts" they are again opening themselves up for the hurt, rejection, etc. that they are getting from the other person.  So, I guess each person needs to decide for themselves at what point they decided "enough is enough"!
In addition, I don't understand why it is up the child (and in this instance, the party that has been hurt by the other party's actions) to make this effort. relationships are two way streets. If the OP's husband decides to take his father's actions up to this point as a sign that he doesn't care - or at least not in a fashion that is meaningful to him - and takes steps to deal with that fact, then I personally think that is a healthy response to situation.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: LeveeWoman on October 23, 2013, 04:32:32 PM
Eeep!

I just recently went through some really rough times with my mother. Actually, sort of cold and uncomfortable real-life situations were how we started out, followed by stiff email communications - but we were both interested in maintaining/repairing a relationship. So, neither one of these things indicate to me that FIL is not interested in holding up his side.

We went to family counseling. From the outside, third party perspective, nothing has changed in our situation, but from the inside - I assure you that coming to a better understanding of one another has made a world of difference.


I don't know how anyone could assume such a huge thing about a person, such as a parent no longer caring about their relationship with their child without making a substantial effort to verify that.

IIRC, the way they behaved at mspallaton's wedding was not the first time they had acted badly toward mrpallaton. Then, this note. Just how much verification does someone need before he decides the other parties are too toxic to allow back into his life?
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: baglady on October 23, 2013, 08:50:05 PM
I'm going against the grain here, but I think you should cash the check and send FIL/SMIL a very cool thank-you note. No gushing, no detail about what you're going to spend it on, just "Thank you for the check; we appreciate your thoughtfulness." Then continue with plans to cut them off.

I suggest this because I think sending back the check would just open you up for more drama and family gossip. And tearing it up or failing to cash it would open the door to more unwanted contact when they realize it hasn't been cashed and call to find out why.

They sent the check because they considered it their duty. Do yours and send a cool thank-you, and consider that the end of contact.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Otterpop on October 23, 2013, 09:09:20 PM
I'm going against the grain here, but I think you should cash the check and send FIL/SMIL a very cool thank-you note. No gushing, no detail about what you're going to spend it on, just "Thank you for the check; we appreciate your thoughtfulness." Then continue with plans to cut them off.

I suggest this because I think sending back the check would just open you up for more drama and family gossip. And tearing it up or failing to cash it would open the door to more unwanted contact when they realize it hasn't been cashed and call to find out why.

They sent the check because they considered it their duty. Do yours and send a cool thank-you, and consider that the end of contact.

I like your reasoning.  Everyone coolly doing their duty and closure, not obligation, is established. 8)

OP, FIL crossed the threshold of being toxic to the family a LONG time ago.  Good luck!
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: lorelai on October 23, 2013, 10:33:53 PM
I'm going against the grain here, but I think you should cash the check and send FIL/SMIL a very cool thank-you note. No gushing, no detail about what you're going to spend it on, just "Thank you for the check; we appreciate your thoughtfulness." Then continue with plans to cut them off.

I suggest this because I think sending back the check would just open you up for more drama and family gossip. And tearing it up or failing to cash it would open the door to more unwanted contact when they realize it hasn't been cashed and call to find out why.

They sent the check because they considered it their duty. Do yours and send a cool thank-you, and consider that the end of contact.

I think people that find fault with you will find it no matter what. "They took our money and cut us off! Ungrateful children" they might say. I think better to send it back or not cash it.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: LeveeWoman on October 23, 2013, 10:43:02 PM
I'm going against the grain here, but I think you should cash the check and send FIL/SMIL a very cool thank-you note. No gushing, no detail about what you're going to spend it on, just "Thank you for the check; we appreciate your thoughtfulness." Then continue with plans to cut them off.

I suggest this because I think sending back the check would just open you up for more drama and family gossip. And tearing it up or failing to cash it would open the door to more unwanted contact when they realize it hasn't been cashed and call to find out why.

They sent the check because they considered it their duty. Do yours and send a cool thank-you, and consider that the end of contact.

I think people that find fault with you will find it no matter what. "They took our money and cut us off! Ungrateful children" they might say. I think better to send it back or not cash it.

No matter what mspallaton and her husband do, there's gonna' be some back-lash.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: zyrs on October 23, 2013, 11:16:32 PM
No matter what mspallaton and her husband do, there's gonna' be some back-lash.

So much this.  There will be backlash no matter what.

So it is up to the OP and her husband to decide which etiquette approved solution would make them feel the least stressed about this situation and then do that.  If the least stress would result from destroying the check and not contacting fil & smil again, then that is what they should do.  If the least stress would be to cash the check, send a bland thank you note and be teflon from now on, that is what they should do.

 
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: MamaMootz on October 24, 2013, 11:27:23 AM
I would burn the check and pretend I never got it. Things get lost in the mail, all the time - right?
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Pen^2 on October 24, 2013, 11:40:27 AM
No matter what mspallaton and her husband do, there's gonna' be some back-lash.

So much this.  There will be backlash no matter what.

So it is up to the OP and her husband to decide which etiquette approved solution would make them feel the least stressed about this situation and then do that.  If the least stress would result from destroying the check and not contacting fil & smil again, then that is what they should do.  If the least stress would be to cash the check, send a bland thank you note and be teflon from now on, that is what they should do.

This exactly. Don't worry about potential nasty gossip or whatever, because if they're of a mindset to spread such nastiness, then they'll find a reason to do it no matter what you do.

FWIW, someone upthread said that the fact that the OP's DH wants to write a very strongly-worded note to toxic FIL means that, deep down, he still wants a relationship with him. This is not necessarily the case. I've had a similar thing involving toxic relatives, and in my experience, it just wasn't true. Wanting to express anger at a person or object that has upset you is a natural human reaction. If someone on the street yells out something rude, a lot of people have an urge (although the polite ones hopefully don't follow this urge!) to yell something back. Wanting to communicate in retaliation does not mean that they want a relationship with a random rude stranger on the street. It's just a natural response in these kinds of situations, that's all. Wanting to vent anger at a person who has shown themselves to be toxic absolutely does not imply that one wants a relationship with someone so dreadful.

But anyway. Get a good counselor and do what they recommend. Be strong. And keep supporting your DH, OP. You're doing great. Toxic relatives take a huge emotional toll. Do what you can to think in the long run before taking any actions, because when emotions are high, it's easy to do something you'll regret later.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19, 56)
Post by: mspallaton on November 20, 2013, 09:32:06 AM
So... after all the hand-wringing about getting tossed into EHell, I have an update.

Last night, after MIL left from her visit, DH and I intended to send the note.  We sat down, he double checked everything, folded it up with the check inside, addressed and stamped the envelope - basically the whole shebang.

We talked a little before taking it out to the mailbox because I wanted him to be absolutely sure it was what he wanted to do.  He sighed and told me he was tired of people in his family telling him he "couldn't do this" or "couldn't do that" and the fact that his mother had such a bad reaction is part of why he was so committed to sending it.  Because, seriously, not her fight.  But he looked at the sealed, addressed, stamped envelope and basically said 'ya know, obviously I can do it if I want to - here it is - sealed up, signed, dated, ready to send - and no one stopped me from doing that'.

Then he took the letter over to our safe, locked it up and said there was no reason to send it.  He already knows where things stand and he's walking away from it all.  And if anyone brings up his father to him, he's first going to bean dip, then draw the boundary, and then walk away if they can't get their heads wrapped around his decision.

So... black hole it is.  I fully expect some e-hell worthy stories at Christmas time when we don't go over to FIL's house on Christmas Eve, but for now things are finally calm.  Thanks everybody for the advice and the listening ears.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19, 56)
Post by: MyFamily on November 20, 2013, 09:43:50 AM
I'm so happy for your DH that he came to this realization.  Hopefully, this will help him feel stronger in all his interactions with anyone who is trying to pull him down. 
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19, 56)
Post by: Lynn2000 on November 20, 2013, 10:29:55 AM
That's a great update. The thing is, now he's in control. He can send it whenever he wants. Once it's sent, it's out there, it can't be taken back. But now it's within his power to decide. It can be so terribly frustrating when you're upset about something, and people are telling you you "can't" do this or that. Sometimes, it's not that you really want to do those things, you just want to take back control, have the ball in your court. DH probably feels like he's been taking, taking, taking from his father and other people. Now, he can stand up and feel like he's the one with power over his own actions and responses, instead of just reacting to others. I think that is a great place to be.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19, 56)
Post by: TootsNYC on November 20, 2013, 10:32:36 AM
Very powerful of him, and for him!

Great admiration!

Lynn is so totally right!

...It can be so terribly frustrating when you're upset about something, and people are telling you you "can't" do this or that. Sometimes, it's not that you really want to do those things, you just want to take back control, have the ball in your court. DH probably feels like he's been taking, taking, taking from his father and other people. Now, he can stand up and feel like he's the one with power over his own actions and responses, instead of just reacting to others. I think that is a great place to be.

His power is SO strong that he can even decide not to send a letter even if it *does* have a stamp on it! It sounds like that realization was what made him feel most powerful of all.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Twik on November 20, 2013, 10:47:36 AM
Eeep!

I just recently went through some really rough times with my mother. Actually, sort of cold and uncomfortable real-life situations were how we started out, followed by stiff email communications - but we were both interested in maintaining/repairing a relationship. So, neither one of these things indicate to me that FIL is not interested in holding up his side.

The note was brilliant in its wording to convey "I have no warm feelings toward you at all." Heck, J.K. Rowling could have used it as a missive from the Dursleys. The fact it was typewritten was just the crowning touch.

I don't see this as FIL still "interested in holding up his side." Perhaps, deep down, he's crying out for reconciliation, but it's buried deeper than the Mohorovičić discontinuity. I don't think there is any option right now for setting up a rapprochement on equal terms, unless it surfaces a little more.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19, 56)
Post by: Pen^2 on November 20, 2013, 11:48:19 AM
That's a really good update, OP. Thanks for posting it.

I'm glad your DH is feeling a little in control of things now, and that you've both decided to be a big old black hole. It's so easy to just do what your emotions tell you to, but generally that escalates things, especially with toxic people who have demonstrated that they are good at getting your blood heated up!

Black holes and bean dip. Yeah, christmas won't be fun to deal with, but if you keep supporting each other, then I'm sure you'll make it through. After that, it gets easier with time.

Your husband is very lucky to have a spouse as supportive as you've been. Good on you!
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Arila on November 20, 2013, 11:49:31 AM
Eeep!

I just recently went through some really rough times with my mother. Actually, sort of cold and uncomfortable real-life situations were how we started out, followed by stiff email communications - but we were both interested in maintaining/repairing a relationship. So, neither one of these things indicate to me that FIL is not interested in holding up his side.

The note was brilliant in its wording to convey "I have no warm feelings toward you at all." Heck, J.K. Rowling could have used it as a missive from the Dursleys. The fact it was typewritten was just the crowning touch.

I don't see this as FIL still "interested in holding up his side." Perhaps, deep down, he's crying out for reconciliation, but it's buried deeper than the Mohorovičić discontinuity. I don't think there is any option right now for setting up a rapprochement on equal terms, unless it surfaces a little more.

I think we are just going to have to agree to disagree. I posted my thoughts, even more especially because I seemed to be the only one. I hope that now that DH has realized he does have some power over the relationship, that he can find some peace and healing.
Title: Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
Post by: Precarious Armada on November 24, 2013, 02:58:49 PM


The card was unsigned and the check was accompanied by a typed note that says the following:

"Please find enclosed your wedding gift.  We always present our children with a cash gift upon their marriage.  Changes at my job this year caused our having to delay this gift until now.  We apologize for the lateness.  Congratulations.

Dad and [SMIL]"


Send them a generic, unsigned 'thankyou" card, with a typed note enclosed saying the following
"Please find enclosed your 'thank you' note for the wedding gift. We are sending 'thank you' notes to everybody who gave us a gift on the occasion of our marriage. Thank you for the gift.
MsPallaton and Mr Pallaton.'

On second thoughts, though, Evil Armada is chortling over it. Is it possible to satisfy one's evil side AND be polite?