For Christmas years ago, my mother-in-law, whom I love dearly but who is just the least little bit bossy, gave me a set of really beautiful padded coat hangers with satin coverings. They are smallish, not nearly big enough to hold my actual clothes, so in expressing my thanks, I mentioned that I would use them to hang up my more delicate and expensive lingerie—not that I have a lot of that, but what I did have I wanted to keep nice, and these hangers were perfect. My MIL pursed her lips up in that way people have of conveying disapproval without actually saying anything.
That same Christmas season, we went to my brother-in-law’s house to celebrate with him and his wife, and my parents-in-law were there also. My SIL received from my MIL a set of padded coat hangers identical to mine. She too thought they were lovely, and my MIL made a point of looking at ME and saying to HER, “I thought you could use them to hang up your work suits and things like that.”
I just rolled my eyes (when she wasn’t looking, of course) and let it go. Because those coat hangers now belonged to ME, and I am free to do with them whatever I want to! 0502-14
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It seems like your MIL took your comment as an insult–she interpreted it as something like “Well, these hangers sure aren’t good enough for my work clothes, so I guess I’ll hang my underwear on them.” She then gave the same gift to your SIL in hopes that she would appreciate it. Whether you intended your comment to be rude or not, it did seem unnecessary, and you could have avoided this whole situation by just politely thanking her for the gift.
She *did* politely thank her for the gift. It’s quite normal to include some expression of how you intend to use the item, as assurance that you really do like it and have a use in mind already. And padded hangers like this are often used to display fine lingerie in stores, so honestly, that would be the first thought to cross my mind as well. Suits? Nah, I’d use them for more delicate items. The suits go on sturdy wood or plastic hangers in my closet.
This discussions reminds of a story about my mother’s mother.
She’d moved to a conservative area, and one day after she’d done her laundry she hung it outside to dry, including several pieces of underwear. It was the 1950’s.
One of her neighbours was outraged at this display, and asked my grandmother to take her private laundry inside, and he wasn’t very polite about it either. My grandmother was by no means emancipated or progressive, but that day she did something we still joke about (she’s been dead since 1988.) That day she took all her underwear, all her children’s underwear, and her husband’s things as well, and she hung EVERYTHING outside in her garden.
I remember the days that a woman was supposed to hang her bras, girdles, and panties INSIDE the Pillowcases, to dry. You did NOT hang them out in the open. And there were days of the week when you burned your trash barrel, and days nobody would so everyone could hang their wash. (I knew a few that decided laundry day was a barrel day and found someone came by and tipped a gallon or two of water in their barrel–else there was ash all over everything and you had to go wash again). The pillowcase taking six pins to dry and had open end up… yep, that’s where things hung to dry. OR, at very least hang two rows of sheets or blankets and in the middle in a between line, hang the delicates…..
As far as I can tell the one thing the OP did wrong was trust that her MIL would not hyperanalyze every word that came out of her mouth and look for any excuse to feel hard done by and exert control.
“Oh, this is perfect for ____! Thank you!” is always appropriate if sincere, and if the giver is not attaching strings to the gift.
And “lingerie” is not a euphemism for “personal sex thing.” Good grief!
The OP told her MIL that she was going to use her gift to hang lingerie. I don’t know if that’s an etiquette breach. However, it does seem like something one just shouldn’t say to one’s MIL. Like the other reply said, why not just say thank you?
I agree with this 100%. I think the OP erred here. Her MIL most likely does not want to think of DIL in her lingerie.
Seriously, just say thank you. What she used the gift for is her business.
Why wouldn’t one say it to one’s mother-in-law? I genuinely don’t understand.
Already posted this elsewhere but, they are lingerie hangers. She stated that they would be used for their intended purpose.
Do a quick search, a lot of the sites I found literally had the word lingerie in the title for those hangers. Business suite hangers are a completely different thing and are about as far across on the scale of sturdy to delicate that you can get before hitting things like fireman uniforms and chemical protection suits.
Yeah agreed, that’s a really awkward thing to say to a mil (or in general company of others), unless you have a very close and relaxed relationship.
I am absolutely baffled by the people who are so uncomfortable with the concept of underwear that they refer to it as umentionable. It’s just clothes. Why are people so embarrassed by it? Bodies and their functions are normal and natural, not dirty or sinful or shameful, and there’s nothing dirty or shameful about underwear. Knickers! Bras! Socks! Stockings! Slips! Corsets! Look, the sky hasn’t fallen in!
Knickers, bras, socks, etc all have basic uses and call to mind your basic everyday underwear. For many, lingerie has a connotation of sexy little things that are only worn for a short period for the enjoyment of you and your significant other. It’s one thing for the MIL to know that the OP and her son have sex. It’s another to specifically bring up something that puts that image in her head.
But most of these comments are just a language difference. For many, lingerie means a nice nightgown or your basic, everyday undergarments. For others (myself included), it means little wisps of lace and whatnot that leave little to the imagination.
Regardless of what different people mean by lingerie, there are numerous people here saying that they refer to underwear as “unmentionables” as if saying bra will summon Voldemort. I can’t understand why anyone would be so uncomfortable at referring to underwear, especially as if everyone knows unmentionables means underwear, why not just say underwear?
I don’t know what kind of relationship the OP had and MIL have – I can imgaine some people are closer and others aren’t. I think both MIL and OP have been a bit silly here. Both as bad as each other when it comes to “foot in mouth disease”.
Kirsten and Enna, I so agree with both of you. What strikes me the most, is that people would think mentioning the “unmentionables” was so offensive between women. MIL and DIL. It is as if they put the MIL in a category, that is not loving. Aren’t they supposed to grow closer? As years go by, many women really love and bond with their MIL / DIL. I guess the attitudes here about offending MIL with talk of lingerie, is where the bad MIL / DIL posts we often see here come from. Let’s go with the puritan idea that lingerie only means crotchless tassled seduction tools. My first thought was “a MIL should be very, very happy, that her son has a great intimate relationship with his wife” – I can see a blush or giggle in the exchange, but if it were my DIL, I would have a happy little leap in my heart, that thankfully my son had a healthy marriage in the intimacy dept. I don’t think this MIL was offended by the word “lingerie” no matter what the word springs to her mind. The first sentence of the post, mentioned the MIL was a dear MIL. Wedding showers often have gifts of intimate apparel. MILs were once young brides as well. With all of the failed marriages, outside affairs, etc., marriage is hard enough. A healthy, sexy and fun intimate relationship keeps most marriages that last decades together. The idea a MIL would be put off by the hint her son has that, is what is so weird about the posts here. No, she doesn’t want to see your videos or hear about the role playing, but it is heartwarming to know the kids are having fun, and the family is sound. And the DIL wears pretties for her husband. No one wants a prude for a wife, or even a friend, for that matter. MIL’s want their offspring to have long healthy marriages. That’s all. Regardless of what the word means to you. My guess is the MIL saw the eyerolling, or pictured the DIL using the hangers a certain way, or there was something else going on DIL didn’t pick up on.
I can only assume that is OP thought her MIL had a problem with her mentioning her underwear, she wouldn’t have mentioned it. Personally, I have no problem talking to my in-laws about bras (in fact I do it more with my MIL than with my mother, because I am a similar [large] size to MIL whilst my mother can easily go braless). We’ve done each other’s laundry when there was a problem with someone’s washing machine and whilst I wouldn’t put some very particular items in a bag for her to wash (and would probably be surprised if such items turned up for me to wash) I have no more problem casually saying I need a new bra or talking about underwear than I would saying I needed a new coat or anything else.
The problem, I feel, is not that OP didn’t appreciate the gift or that she voiced an unmentionable: MIL had a specific intention for them that she didn’t mention. The same reaction would probably have been demonstrated if she bought a vase and OP said she would use it to hold flowers in the bathroom when MIL wanted her to use it as a pen-pot in the study. The fact of the matter is, you can give a gift to someone but you cannot decide what they do with it.