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Presents from in-laws - am I ungrateful?

(35 Posts)
scruffmacduff Sat 11-Feb-17 03:09:32

Not sure if I am being ungrateful with regards to this or if it is the norm.

When it comes to birthdays or Christmas, my parents will buy presents for my DH that cost the same as the presents that they buy for myself or my brother.

My MIL has 4 children and 2 are married. At Christmases and birthdays she spends a lot of money on her children (my DH etc) but on my birthday/Xmas I am given something that has obviously cost very much less.

The presents are also always very odd and never wrapped/don't come with a card. The presents for my DH always are.

It was my birthday recently and I received something that is very practical but not really something that you would buy for a birthday (a fabric organizer for the inside of a wardrobe, ikea job).

I realise this sounds extremely materialistic as I read this back and it's not the value of the presents that is upsetting me, more that she obviously feels that I am second class or not worth as much as her own children (especially when my own parents treat their children/children in-law equally in this respect).

After this last present I actually feel that she mustn't like me very much at all.

Is this 'etiquette' and I am being on overly sensitive or is the way my parents do things correct? Thanks!

user1486613612 Sat 11-Feb-17 03:22:28

This is what it's like to be an adult. You can be glad that they remember your birthday at all. Your parents are doing a great job, but I think the other way is also "ok" - it could be a "we adults don't give each other presents" kind of situation. Your husband is still a child in his mother's eye of course, always will be, so the "adult" rule doesn't apply there... I don't think it has to do with being considered "second class" or something like that. Out of curiosity, what do you give MIL for her birthday? Next time, you could consider giving something that you two could do together, like going to see an exhibition or just go to the shops and have a coffee or something like that. Then you get to know each other better. Part of the problem might be you're now just an attachment to your husband... someone who is there but who one doesn't know all that well. I don't know, it's quite early in the morning here (4:22 a.m.) so it's perhaps not the best time to hand out advise...

scruffmacduff Sat 11-Feb-17 03:44:52

I get her what she asks for for her birthday - normally perfume, spa vouchers etc. There is always a list of suggested presents sent round by SIL. Always wrapped nicely - it is me who buys it as my husband is not great at remembering.
It's definitely not a case of adults not doing presents - they seem to be big on presents (but just for each other).

I think we get on well, we don't live very close by so we don't really get an opportunity to do things together a great deal.
I have tried to arrange things in the past, but she will change plans/invite her actual daughters too etc.

However, I accept that I am overthinking smile
I got up to feed the baby and now I can't get back to sleep! grin

peukpokicuzo Sat 11-Feb-17 04:48:12

Always wrapped nicely - it is me who buys it as my husband is not great at remembering.

Is it possible that she thinks the perfume/whatever is basically a gift from DH, and she's not really getting anything that is from you so isn't reciprocating but is just doing a "token" gesture fir you? I don't know how long you've been together but if she's getting the same kind of "level" of gift from him-as-bachelor as she is from you-two-as-a-couple then if she has a transactional view of gifts then treating the two of you as equal would be doubling her expenditure. Could you consider getting her two (possibly smaller) gifts one from you as an individual and one from DH as an individual?

I'm not a fan of such a transactional view of gifts but it's not uncommon.

scruffmacduff Sat 11-Feb-17 05:16:06

It's just the one gift from each couple/'child' - we do spend more than when DH was single (we've been together 9 years) and I think the quality of present now is much nicer!
Tbh I think she would find it odd if we got her separate presents as this hasn't been done before but I see your point.

Perhaps I should go 'off list' this year and get her something so that she definitely knows I got it? (I actually really love choosing presents for people and have never had the chance to choose her something myself as I feel I need to stick to the list given)

GreenRut Sat 11-Feb-17 05:34:55

I think it's just life. My dh's family are big on presents (think 15 each at Xmas type big) and it's always clear they've spent way more on dh than me but logic tells me this has to make sense? He's their son. I was also thinking if it might be a confidence thing? Your mil clearly feels confident buying and giving your dh whatever she's got him but that level of confidence won't be there for when she buys you things, she might be thinking what the hell am I going to get her?! I suggest this because my dm is like that with my dh and it definitely comes from insecurity.

pinkish Sat 11-Feb-17 05:45:39

My mum spends loads more on me than on DH. His parents probably spend the same on us both but have stopped doing anything but significant birthdays. He sorts out his parents' gifts and I do mine.

Next birthday I would get him to do his mum or i would go off list and do something personal.

But in all honesty gifts for adults are tiresome. I'm coming more and more to the conclusion that I don't want to give or be given anything more than a book.

ovenchips Sat 11-Feb-17 06:32:58

Your ILs do not give presents in the same way as your parents at all. You're feeling a little hurt that they are not treating you the same as your spouse (as your parents do). That is what you are used to and because of this, feels right to you.

However, I don't think your ILs will be changing any time soon. Their way of present giving feels like the right way to them. That's what they're used to.

I think the best way of feeling less bothered is for your husband to assume full responsibility for present buying for his family. I think it's fairer too.

I wouldn't (and I don't) do the gift buying on my DH's behalf. He does the pressies for his side and I do them for mine. I used to be more involved (thinking of ideas, shopping for some of them) until I realised it was inequitable (and complete 'wifework') after all he did not do any pressie buying for mine.

How well he does this, now he's solely responsible, is entirely his concern. If he gets them a pressie they love - great. If it's a poor show - well that's between him and the receiver.

I think if you could let him take full responsibility for present-buying for his family, you would feel less hurt by his family's present-giving. It's also less for you to do - which is a good thing!

DuckWaddle Sat 11-Feb-17 06:52:32

I think it's normal to receive a smaller gift from your in laws. I get a much smaller gift than they get for dh but I haven't given it any thought and think it's understandable

ItsNiceItsDifferentItsUnusual Sat 11-Feb-17 06:59:44

It might be less that the gift is smaller, but that it's actually shit? If your ILs get you a smaller gift than their own child, but it's still thoughtful/something you like, I imagine there wouldn't be an issue. It's the lack of thought that I imagine is hurtful.

I agree re. leaving gift buying for his family to your dh. If he forgets, he forgets. Stop putting the effort in.

ChuckSnowballs Sat 11-Feb-17 08:10:53

I can't see the logic in buying her a present from you just to get a better present fro her. Use your money to buy yourself something better and call it in your head your present from MIL. And let your husband get his mother his own presents.

SquitMcJit Sat 11-Feb-17 08:24:46

The thing I'd be most hurt by is the no card/ no wrapping thing. That sounds really odd and a bit mean.

Obviously, if she was someone who never sent anyone cards or didn't bother with/ believe in wrapping up and choosing thoughtful presents or didn't do adult presents for anyone then that's her choice. But to do it for some family members and not others isn't kind.

I also don't like that she gives out ideas of what she'd like herself ( meaning that she does indeed celebrate adult birthdays and thinks they are important) but then doesn't view op's birthday in the same way.

Sorry OP - sounds mean. What does your partner think?

BoboChic Sat 11-Feb-17 08:28:55

My FIL gives DP and me a large joint chèque for Christmas and birthdays (our birthdays are one month apart). I think this is a great solution!

ItMustBeBedtimeSurely Sat 11-Feb-17 08:33:50

I think it's mean. And strange to buy a much larger gift for their adult, married child than for their spouse. Seems rather infantilising to me. The lack of card and wrapping paper is plain rude, but that's probably done because the gift is embarrassingly crap - who would want to wrap an ikea clothes hanger!

Keeptrudging Sat 11-Feb-17 08:35:27

My own mother gives my DH far better/more thoughtful presents than she gets for me. I'd be less worried if it was my in-laws doing it. Maybe you should just get your husband to do the present buying for his side?

omnishamblesssssssssssssss Sat 11-Feb-17 08:40:22

Just go off list so you can get something smaller. If you have to stay on list give her a voucher towards the listed item.

omnishamblesssssssssssssss Sat 11-Feb-17 08:40:50

Or get DH to buy stuff.

omnishamblesssssssssssssss Sat 11-Feb-17 08:42:47

Can you have a list for yourself?

Spam88 Sat 11-Feb-17 08:43:07

The only bit that's weird about this is that she doesn't wrap your presents. I see no problem with them spending more on their child.

stonecircle Sat 11-Feb-17 08:45:28

Really, don't think about it. In recent years, when grandkids got to mid teens, my PILs used to send one cheque for the family, plus a few token presents. We spent Xmas with MIL this time as FIL died last year, so she gave us individual cheques in cards. DCs and I got £50, DH got £100. Can't say it bothered me. Though on reflection, DH and I paid jointly to take her away with us as her main Xmas present!

My mum always gave DH and me the same amount/equivalent value presents.

My eldest is in his 20s and has a gf of 5 years. I probably spend the same on both of them or buy them a joint gift - theatre tickets for example.

Everyone's different. Don't take it personally!

ToastieRoastie Sat 11-Feb-17 08:47:02

I would leave DH to it with buying his parents their presents. Also he could have casually mentioned things you like to her.

My mum used to ask me for gift ideas for exDP as she didn't know what he already had IYSWIM?

SnugglyBedSocks Sat 11-Feb-17 08:48:04

As other's have said, stop sorting out and buying hers. If DH forgets, then that's his problem. You're only making it your problem if you continue doing it

crankyfranky Sat 11-Feb-17 08:50:57

I've considered writing a very similar post before as our circumstances sound exactly the same.

For instance one year my husband received a cheque for £100 to take himself off to see a rugby game. I am not kidding when I say that I received a bar of soap.

A bar of effing soap!

What an insult after I had spent time thinking, buying, wrapping and giving thoughtful gifts to both of them. I was hurt & so from then on (after 7 years!) I let my H do it all for his parents & I do my parents which has worked ok, or so I thought.

Last birthday I spent the three days leading up to the day with my IL's & they didn't acknowledge my birthday at all & I though they forgot. We got home & woke up the next day & my H handed me a shitty card from them & I absolutely lost it. How rude & it really just let me know that they couldn't care less about me.

I've told him ask them how they think his sister would feel if she had received the same treatment. I don't thinks he's brought it up with them but as far as I am concerned I AM DONE with the gift giving & receiving with them.

It's just rude to blatantly give some members of the family extravagant/well thought out/considerate/relevant gifts & another a bar of soap or the like.

A friend of mine has married a guy with 4 brothers. All married.
The MIL gives each son a cheque for £100 for both xmas & Birthday - the exact same amount for her 5 DIL's & all the grandkids get a smaller but same amount each. How civilised! No one gets upset & it's something to look forward too to go & but something you actually really want or need.
That's what I'll be doing if I ever have SIL's and grandchildren.

errorofjudgement Sat 11-Feb-17 08:51:08

What does DH think about it?
And does your MIL actually give you an unwrapped gift at her house? If so I would be tempted to forget to take it home!

Penrithtearooms Sat 11-Feb-17 08:52:50

Op, my in-laws always get me wonderful presents or vouchers almost equivalent dh. However my parents get dh awful gifts that are so vague and unusable. Things like womens gloves, or opened soap. Probably unwanted gifts. It's ungrateful of me, as dh really doesn't care, but It does drive me mad and I find it so embarrassing when his parents are so generous. I organise all gift buying so after years of this, I now ensure dh gives them equally dull presents. Because clearly it's just getting something that counts, no matter if it's something you want or not! (sarcasm emoji)

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