Author Topic: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19, 56)  (Read 13751 times)

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Deetee

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #30 on: October 22, 2013, 03:18:45 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.

LeveeWoman

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #31 on: October 22, 2013, 03:19:07 PM »
I would not advise including the in-laws in family counselling because I think they're abusive.

Pen^2

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #32 on: October 22, 2013, 03:23:26 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.

*inviteseller

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #33 on: October 22, 2013, 03:27:54 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.

wheeitsme

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #34 on: October 22, 2013, 03:41:05 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. 

EllenS

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #35 on: October 22, 2013, 04:08:14 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.
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JeanFromBNA

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #36 on: October 22, 2013, 04:29:48 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. 

TootsNYC

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #37 on: October 22, 2013, 04:40:11 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.
« Last Edit: October 22, 2013, 04:43:04 PM by TootsNYC »

mspallaton

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #38 on: October 22, 2013, 05:04:04 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.

PastryGoddess

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #39 on: October 22, 2013, 05:07:39 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.

TootsNYC

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #40 on: October 22, 2013, 06:21:11 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.

Arila

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #41 on: October 22, 2013, 06:33:12 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.

cicero

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #42 on: October 23, 2013, 07:22:03 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).

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weeblewobble

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #43 on: October 23, 2013, 08:54:54 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.)

Drunken Housewife

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Re: The proper way to refuse a gift (update #19)
« Reply #44 on: October 23, 2013, 12:57:59 PM »
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."
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