Author Topic: You said I could have them...  (Read 11116 times)

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lemonfloorwax

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You said I could have them...
« on: May 27, 2013, 07:34:02 PM »
I have a question for my fellow ehellions. My MIL and FIL are redoing their entire back yard. They're putting in a new deck, new lighting, new patio, etc. Previously, they had a large flagstone patio. One day, my MIL was telling me about the renovations and said that they had a lot of the old flagstone left and asked if I would want any. I told her no, we don't have a use for it, but my friend who is on a very limited budget would LOVE it, as she is trying to fix up her backyard. MIL knows my friend and knows she is in a tight spot financially (single mom of two on a teacher's salary). MIL agrees and says she will let me know when I can come get the stones.
My friend is ecstatic and makes plans to borrow her brother's truck so we can get the stones.
At my MIL's house today for Memorial Day BBQ and I comment on how great the renovations are looking. I then ask when she wants friend and I to come get the stones. She says, "Oh no, I'm keeping them."
I sort of sputter and stammer and ask if she remembers saying my friend could have them. She just shrugs and changes the subject to the new flowers she is putting in.
I'm assuming I (and by extension, my friend) am out of luck. I know MIL didn't sign a contract or anything, but I feel very cheated. I know they are HER stones to do with as she likes, but is there something I should say to her? I'm feeling very hurt and confused.

TootsNYC

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #1 on: May 27, 2013, 07:41:33 PM »
I think the *only* thing you could say (and this is only if it comes up again) is, "I wish you'd told me as soon as you'd decided--I feel really bad because I got my friend's hopes up."

And also, something to file away: Many of us are happy to give our extras to our own family and our own close friends. But we lose a LOT of motivation when the "gift"/hand-me-down goes out one extra "generation" (a friend of our family member). Even if we do know and like that friend.

Some people might consider it rude of you to be looking to take your MIL's asset (the old flagstone--worth $$, as you know) to give to someone else. Even if she does ask you if you want it.

Because she didn't actually ask if you knew where she could get rid of them; she asked if you would want any.

GreenEyedHawk

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2013, 07:44:20 PM »
Except the OP mentioned to her MIL when the initial offer was made that SHE didn't want the stones but had a friend who would love them and MIL agreed to that.  If MIL had an issue with the friend taking the stones instead of the OP, she should have spoken up then, not backed out later.
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lemonfloorwax

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2013, 07:47:42 PM »
I think the *only* thing you could say (and this is only if it comes up again) is, "I wish you'd told me as soon as you'd decided--I feel really bad because I got my friend's hopes up."

And also, something to file away: Many of us are happy to give our extras to our own family and our own close friends. But we lose a LOT of motivation when the "gift"/hand-me-down goes out one extra "generation" (a friend of our family member). Even if we do know and like that friend.

Some people might consider it rude of you to be looking to take your MIL's asset (the old flagstone--worth $$, as you know) to give to someone else. Even if she does ask you if you want it.

Because she didn't actually ask if you knew where she could get rid of them; she asked if you would want any.

Excellent point. Usually, MIL is overly generous with giving stuff away and she has said to me before, "Oh here, take this extra thing for your friend, I know she likes these." Or, "Do you think your friend could use a thing? I have an extra and I know they are expensive."

Thanks for the input.

TootsNYC

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #4 on: May 27, 2013, 08:22:29 PM »
Except the OP mentioned to her MIL when the initial offer was made that SHE didn't want the stones but had a friend who would love them and MIL agreed to that.  If MIL had an issue with the friend taking the stones instead of the OP, she should have spoken up then, not backed out later.

I think the MIL is completely allowed to back out later. They're her paving stones. And they can be worth a lot! And she was only in the planning stages, so it's completely reasonable that she might find, during the tear-out etc., that she has another plan for them. Maybe her landscaper clued her in to exactly how valuable they are, or something.

Or, maybe she agreed at that very moment without much thought. But in thinking, she decided something else. I don't think people must be held to those sorts of snap decisions. Even if she had some qualms at the moment, she might not have felt comfortable expressing them in front of the OP, who (perhaps) is enthusiastically forging ahead with her own plan for MIL's paving stones.

And the MIL may have thought her offer was sort of tentative anyway.


Of course that might influence how other people view her, and whether other people believe her when she promises something in the future.

(and it's one thing to offer something to your family member's friend but another to have the family member reassign it on her own. Maybe I'm projecting a bit, I'll admit, bcs I had once expressed to my soon-to-be-MIL that I was going to need to figure out what to do w/ my double bed when I moved in w/ her son, and she immediately said, "Oh, you can give it to this cousin or that cousin--they can use it!" and it really hit me wrong. It's my stuff; it does still belong to me, it's not yours to give away to someone else! If I'm going to give it away, I'm going to give it to someone *I* want to give it to. I didn't say much at the time, though I think I did say, "No, *I* will figure out what to do with it, it's *my* bed." But I felt churlish and rude for my reaction, and I hesitated to say anything. I can see me saying, "Oh, hmm," and her thinking I'd agreed. 
   And I can see that the more valuable something is--either financially or emotionally/symbolically, as was the case w/ my "I'm a grownup now" bed--the more reluctant someone might be to give things away at that "extra generation.")
« Last Edit: May 27, 2013, 08:31:01 PM by TootsNYC »

Surianne

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #5 on: May 27, 2013, 11:08:26 PM »
I do think you put her on the spot.  Not intentionally -- to you it made perfect sense, thinking her goal was getting rid of them (in which case, it didn't matter who ended up with them), whereas her goal may have been to help you and/or keep the gorgeous stones in the family. 

So when you suggested your friend, she couldn't think quickly enough to say no, but realized later that she didn't want to give them to your friend, and didn't know that you thought it was a done deal.

In that way I don't think anyone was wrong here, it was just a misunderstanding of the situation.  I've done this myself before. 

In the future something like "I can't use them.  If you wind up wanting to get rid of them, I have a friend who would love them, just let me know" and then a change of subject would let her know about the alternative, without asking her to make up her mind now.  She can then approach you if she wants to give them to your friend. 

MariaE

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #6 on: May 28, 2013, 12:54:22 AM »
Except the OP mentioned to her MIL when the initial offer was made that SHE didn't want the stones but had a friend who would love them and MIL agreed to that.  If MIL had an issue with the friend taking the stones instead of the OP, she should have spoken up then, not backed out later.

I think the MIL is completely allowed to back out later. They're her paving stones. And they can be worth a lot! And she was only in the planning stages, so it's completely reasonable that she might find, during the tear-out etc., that she has another plan for them. Maybe her landscaper clued her in to exactly how valuable they are, or something.

I vehemently disagree. A word is a word and somebody who goes back on their word is not to be trusted.

But even saying I agree with you on this, the MIL still messed up by not informing the OP straight away instead of waiting for her to ask. This would annoy me more than her going back on her word in the first place.
 
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bansidhe

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #7 on: May 28, 2013, 02:01:22 AM »
I think the MIL is completely allowed to back out later. They're her paving stones. And they can be worth a lot! And she was only in the planning stages, so it's completely reasonable that she might find, during the tear-out etc., that she has another plan for them. Maybe her landscaper clued her in to exactly how valuable they are, or something.

I vehemently disagree. A word is a word and somebody who goes back on their word is not to be trusted.

But even saying I agree with you on this, the MIL still messed up by not informing the OP straight away instead of waiting for her to ask. This would annoy me more than her going back on her word in the first place.

This. MIL is acting like a flake. If she wasn't sure she was going to give up the stones when the conversation first happened, she should have said so instead of agreeing to something, then changing her mind. That's really weasely and if I were the OP, I'd be quite irked.
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TootsNYC

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #8 on: May 28, 2013, 09:33:03 AM »
I regard "giving one's word" as a very serious promise. And therefore I do NOT regard "just any agreement" to be the same as "giving one's word."

If I'm going to hold someone, or myself, to that sort of promise, I don't assume that anything they agree to IS that level of a promise. I make certain that they really, really mean it.

We weren't there--the OP was. By her own admission, *she* was the one who suggested that the friend receive the pavers. And maybe her MIL was enthusiastic about it, etc., etc.

But I can also see her saying, "OK," right at that moment and then later realizing exactly what it was she promised.

Promises that are not carefully thought through are NOT true promises of the level of "keeping one's word." And the higher the stakes, the higher the bar.

So to me, agreeing to meet for lunch needs to be a definite sentence ("see you Friday at 2--we'll meet at the restaurant"), and I will *seek that out* before I count on it.

Ditto the pavers. I would absolutely have asked at least twice more to be sure MIL was still planning on giving them to my friend. I wouldn't have mentioned them to my friend until I'd gotten a second confirmation after the first conversation. Especially because there is a monetary value to them.

Margo

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #9 on: May 28, 2013, 10:17:01 AM »
I do think you put her on the spot.  Not intentionally -- to you it made perfect sense, thinking her goal was getting rid of them (in which case, it didn't matter who ended up with them), whereas her goal may have been to help you and/or keep the gorgeous stones in the family. 

So when you suggested your friend, she couldn't think quickly enough to say no, but realized later that she didn't want to give them to your friend, and didn't know that you thought it was a done deal.

In that way I don't think anyone was wrong here, it was just a misunderstanding of the situation.  I've done this myself before. 

In the future something like "I can't use them.  If you wind up wanting to get rid of them, I have a friend who would love them, just let me know" and then a change of subject would let her know about the alternative, without asking her to make up her mind now.  She can then approach you if she wants to give them to your friend.

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Virg

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #10 on: May 28, 2013, 10:21:20 AM »
TootsNYC wrote:

"Promises that are not carefully thought through are NOT true promises of the level of "keeping one's word." And the higher the stakes, the higher the bar."

I disagree.  A promise is a promise, and going back on a promise is rude.  It's certainly not on the level of breaking a date or cheating on your spouse, but MIL said that lemonfloorwax's friend could have the stone and then retracted the offer, and that was a faux pas.  At the very least she should have told lemonfloorwax that she'd changed her mind rather than letting the matter drop until she asked about setting up retrieval.  The fact that it's her stone doesn't make her action polite.

Surianne wrote:

"So when you suggested your friend, she couldn't think quickly enough to say no, but realized later that she didn't want to give them to your friend, and didn't know that you thought it was a done deal."

If that's the case it was still on MIL to tell lemonfloorwax that she'd changed her mind when it happened.  I'm down with dropping the ball when put on the spot, but a phone call that evening (or any time before lemonfloorwax tried to arrange retrieval) to tell her she'd changed her mind would have fixed the problem and MIL didn't do that or anything close to it, and as a result left two people in the lurch.

Virg

TootsNYC

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #11 on: May 28, 2013, 10:30:44 AM »
It's not that much of a lurch.

It's far less of a "lurch" than cancelling lunch the morning-of.

Cami

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #12 on: May 28, 2013, 10:39:46 AM »
TootsNYC wrote:

"Promises that are not carefully thought through are NOT true promises of the level of "keeping one's word." And the higher the stakes, the higher the bar."

I disagree.  A promise is a promise, and going back on a promise is rude.  It's certainly not on the level of breaking a date or cheating on your spouse, but MIL said that lemonfloorwax's friend could have the stone and then retracted the offer, and that was a faux pas.  At the very least she should have told lemonfloorwax that she'd changed her mind rather than letting the matter drop until she asked about setting up retrieval.  The fact that it's her stone doesn't make her action polite.

Surianne wrote:

"So when you suggested your friend, she couldn't think quickly enough to say no, but realized later that she didn't want to give them to your friend, and didn't know that you thought it was a done deal."

If that's the case it was still on MIL to tell lemonfloorwax that she'd changed her mind when it happened.  I'm down with dropping the ball when put on the spot, but a phone call that evening (or any time before lemonfloorwax tried to arrange retrieval) to tell her she'd changed her mind would have fixed the problem and MIL didn't do that or anything close to it, and as a result left two people in the lurch.

Virg
I agree wtih Virg. If you change your mind, it's basic courtesy to let the other person know.

I guess you've learned as I have with some people -- don't count on receiving anything until it's in your hand.

DavidH

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2013, 10:53:56 AM »
I think one key difference between this and TootsNYC's situation is that in TootNYC's case she didn't agree, whereas MIL did.

The notion of a promise only meaning something if asked three times is just bizarre to me.  Are we sure it's three times and not two or four?  What situations require a three times promise?  Only ones with monetary value, if so, what amount?  Marriage isn't one of them since in the ceremony you are only asked once if I recall correctly. 

I think you are fine to tell MIL that you are hurt that she reneged on her agreement to give the pavers to your friend and that it puts you in an awkward position.  I'd also say that in the future, please don't say yes if you mean no, or at least tell you once the situation changes. 

TootsNYC

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Re: You said I could have them...
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2013, 11:08:33 AM »
if the OP's MIL said, "Oh, okay," is that a promise?

I require promises to have a bit more fanfare around them before I consider them "a binding promise." There's not a hard-and-fast formula, of course, but I think an off-the-cuff response is not really something one should "count on" without further conversation.

Otherwise it's an agreement, and those can be broken.

Of course there are consequences; the OP might think a little less of her MIL. Might find herself being less accommodating at some future time.

And of course the MIL really should have said something earlier. But before I accuse someone of "going back on their word," I personally want to be sure they've actually *given* their word. To my *own* personal satisfaction.