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Is an Antique Wedding Gift Taboo?


Dear Annie: I am down to my last nerve with my husband of 30 years. He has turned into a lazy slob I can no longer tolerate.

Last year, "Evan" worked a total of three weeks. It was the same the year before. He has taken one shower in the past four months, which was also the only time he changed his clothes.

I work a full-time job, and Evan sits in front of the TV all day long. He is unmotivated and does not care that I am struggling to pay the bills. He also appears to be a hypochondriac, but refuses to see a doctor for any of his supposed symptoms.

I think my only option now is a divorce and to not worry about what happens to him after I leave. What are your thoughts? — Disgusted and Tired of Being Used

Dear Disgusted: Healthy individuals do not suddenly turn into unwashed lumps after 30 years. Is Evan depressed? Does he have anxiety issues? He needs medical attention. If he is too listless to arrange it, tell him you are going to make an appointment for him to see the doctor, and then accompany him. Make every effort to address this before walking out. It sounds like he needs help.

Dear Annie: Six months ago, my husband and I drove several hundred miles to attend his niece's wedding. Our gift was a three-piece china serving set bought at an antique shop during a visit to a small lakeside town. We were inspired by the quaint, artsy atmosphere, and we really liked the ivory color trimmed in gold and the holly design in the filigree border. We imagined it would be used during the holidays in years to come and would be a reminder of their wedding day. It was in perfect shape, and the cost was comparable to what we have spent in the past for other nieces and nephews.

However, instead of receiving a thank-you note, we received a box in the mail. Inside was our gift, broken, along with a letter written by my husband's brother.

The letter said that the bride and groom had no idea what the gift was and that a simple card of congratulations would have been more appropriate than the "yard sale item" we gave them. He accused us of being inconsiderate, tasteless and insulting.

The bride and groom are college graduates, over 30 and own their own home. We sent letters to both of them and to my brother-in-law explaining that our good wishes were sincere and no offense was intended. Did we make a mistake by giving a pre-owned gift that we loved? — Wedding Gift Nightmare

Dear Wedding Gift: No. Guests can give whatever they choose, although it is considerate to make it returnable. If the bridal couple doesn't like it, they must still send a proper thank-you note and not chastise the giver. The father of the bride has no business getting involved at all. We assume the china arrived broken, and this may have been the source of the problem. But even so, your brother-in-law was unconscionably rude.

Dear Annie: I read the letter from "At a Crossroad with a Broken Heart," who adopted his wife's daughter, "Janet," who is now out of control. How could that mother not tell her child that she was adopted?

I married when my daughter was 2, and our nightly ritual was to go over the story of how this great guy fell in love with us when we walked by his store. Later, when we had biological children together, my daughter was still absolutely sure that she was really his because he had "fallen in love with us."

My sister-in-law lied to her son about being adopted, and he discovered the truth when he was 16. It destroyed his relationship with his mother. Why not turn an important fact into a positive truth rather than lie? — No Broken Hearts

Annie's Mailbox is written by Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar, longtime editors of the Ann Landers column. Please e-mail your questions to, or write to: Annie's Mailbox, c/o Creators Syndicate, 5777 W. Century Blvd., Ste. 700, Los Angeles, CA 90045. To find out more about Annie's Mailbox and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at



89 Comments | Post Comment
LW1 - Eww. I feel for ya, girl. Your husband has major issues, mental/emotional. The Annies are right, it isn't normal for a normal person to all of a sudden shower and change clothes three times per year. Do what you can to get him to a doctor. Make a list of his symptoms and behaviours and call a psychologist, they may be able to suggest the best way to get him help (e.g., maybe an intervention of sorts would work).

LW2 - I, for one, would love such a gift! You weren't really asking for advice on the family situation, but... Was the china broken before they opened the gift, or after? If it was the former, is it possible they thought you sent them something broken? If so, it's no wonder they thought you were rude and tasteless (not to mention weird) - call them up and explain, with your apologies, and offer to take them out for a meal or something to mend relations. If it was intact when they opened it and they broke it, well, I can only speculate that something else is up with your relationship with these people that would cause them to lash out with anger over something like a wedding gift. If that's the case, you will have to look into your relationship and see what is wrong and whether you can fix, and decide if these people are toxic.
Regarding your ACTUAL question of a pre-owned gift - I guess it depends on the person, however the Annies are the correct. As the gift giver, you can give whatever you want. If the newlyweds don't like it, they can give it away, re-gift, etc. But etiquette dictates they thank you. People who knew me know that I would enjoy such a gift (I love vintage stuff), but I know people who wouldn't like that sort of thing - but it's not WRONG to do so. When in doubt, cash is king.

Re yesterday's BTL - I went out and got myself a jar of coconut oil in your honour. Yum.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Zoe
Wed Jun 1, 2011 9:15 PM
LW1- Someone who hasn't taken a shower in four months isn't just being lazy;he is clinically depressed. He needs medical treatment.

LW2- Your b.i.l. was rude to return your gift along with such an insulting note. I don't know why you keep sending letters to these people trying to convince them that you meant well by giving a gift. Gee, a simple "thank you" from the bride or groom would have been nice. Stop sending all those apologetic letters to people on whom the concept of gift-giving is totally lost.

Lise and Chelle,
I left you messages on yesterday's thread.
Comment: #2
Posted by:
Wed Jun 1, 2011 9:35 PM
LW2- The Annies said the gift might have been broken in the mail,but the LW said she attended the wedding.
Comment: #3
Posted by:
Wed Jun 1, 2011 9:45 PM
To Joannakathryn RE info on the canola. I am a follower of alternative medical issues and the canola has been highly professed to its goodness. There are other statements out there that regress it back to the 1938 quality where it was not even good consumtion for lifestock. The re-breeding over and over of the plants have removed it from the bad lists--toxic ones as its last formulation of 1998. That is still the form of plant used as safe food consumption. Yes, rapeseed used to be on the noxious list, and still is--along with the mustard plant, etc that grow wild in the ditches. It is important NOT to be taking of these 'breeds' of plants. Same as I would not go mushroom picking, cause I like mushrooms. I get mine from the grocery store-- I could never be a botanist--don't have the patience to learn what I can and cannot eat safely. My gardens with vegies, fruits and herbs all come with the help of Burpee/or local green houses.
Anyway, say a farmer has these original forms on their property and they are not 'farmers' of the healthy-safe product, they MUST take forms to destroy it. State laws. Noxious materials, sort of like the dandilions for some
while for others it makes a fresh plate of salad.
LW1. I don't know that after all that I could stomach even being in the same house! You are not talking about what happened to bachlors in the day of old when they went past their ripe stage. I used to get patients at the hospital which would fit the bill of--CHECK THE CALENDAR LUCY, IS THIS THE MONTH I TAKE A BATH? Many times we would be on the bad end of the smell, esp if they came in with the FLU or a broken hip. You gowned yourself up and then took the scissors to their clothing to get them off. That smell never leaves your brain. Sort of like me saying MOLD and you know what that smells like.
A mental disorder took hold, this is not normal/natural. And if refusal to deal with this happens, pack a box of clean clothes up, ask social services for help. ( Send him with them.) You don't say anything about kids. Has he moved into dementia? And no, this is not something you need to deal with the rest of your life. If he refuses to deal with it, then he can deal with it all by himself elsewhere. Sorry--not much help.
Wedding gift. If I had been you, I would have had the gift shipped, many places that do it for you and insure the gift. Actual value is in the eye of the beholder when it comes to antiques. Would I have like it? Maybe not. My own fancy china is in the china hutch unused. It was a wedding gift from my grandparents--and to me it is a special, do not use. THEN found out my m-i-l had the same china--so we have double of it all. Since I lived in a house of testosterone, anything that was breakable was never used. Tupperware and corell dishes. Same thing for grandchildren. My imported crystal also sits unused. Need a goblet? Use the unexpensive ones. Yet, I have 16 pieces of 2 different sizes--my parents wedding gift (get this, to balance that delicate gift, I got a 20 cubic foot freezer!)
People's tastes are different. If you had know your niece was a collector of antiques, etc it would be different. Each person collects what says WOW to them. I have been 'pushed' out of collectibles cause everyone else decided I should have versions of what they felt were part of my desires. NOT.
This being said, the brother-in-law was borish in the very least. A thank you was all that was needed. If the gift were broken and they knew you delivered it personally, they did not need to bring it to your attention. Obvious value was to you, not to them. The thought that counted. They did not have to use it, fix it, let you know anything other than thank you.
Adoptions. Each has to decide for themselves how to handle the issue. You never know what will be the explosion.
Comment: #4
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Wed Jun 1, 2011 9:59 PM
Of COURSE someone who hasn't showered or changed his clothing in months is depressed and needs treatment. Except that if he won't go, there ain't nothin' you can do about it. Until he's a threat to himself and to others, he cannot be coerced. Move out. There is no reason why you should have to live in this funk - eeeeew.

An antique does not qualify as "used drek", except in the mind of people with an Dollarama mentality. If the china arrived already broken, they would have to be paranoid to think that this is your fault - these things happen, that's why travel insurance exists in the first place. This could have happened with anything purchased "new" anyway.

A gift is something that is suppposed to be graciously acknowledged anyway, even if it doesn't do anything for you and you intend to re-gift it to the first sucker next on the list of birthdays. Evidently, the newlyweds have not had the latest basic manners software installed in their lit-tle brains.

P.S.: Don't waste you time, energy or money on them if there is a next time. Send them a modest gift card for some shop.

Comment: #5
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Wed Jun 1, 2011 10:16 PM
LW1 - Yes, he's definitely depressed! I hope LW1 can convince him to see the doctor.

LW2 - The husband's brother was totally out of line. It's not his business. The bride and groom should have thanked LW2 for the gift and been polite. The husband's brother should have stayed out of it completely.

The gift could have been intact when it was brought to the wedding, but by the time the bride and groom opened it, it could have been broken, if it had not been packed well. At our wedding, our friends in the wedding party brought all the gifts home from the reception hall to our house where they sat in our living room until we returned from our honeymoon. If the gift hadn't been safely packed, the contents could have broken when the box was stacked, dropped, transported from the reception to the newlyweds' house, etc. In that case, the bride and groom should have either just sent a "thank you for your gift" type card or contacted LW2 and said "Sadly, the gift arrived broken. What was it supposed to be? Thank you for your thoughtfulness and thank you for attending the wedding." The bride and groom did not handle this correctly. And the husband's brother was far far ruder.

LW3 - Great suggestion by LW3.
Comment: #6
Posted by: FAW
Wed Jun 1, 2011 10:18 PM
LW1: there's some psychological issue going on there. Depression? Change in hormones? Depression from job loss and not feeling like a real husband?

LW2: "Did we make a mistake by giving a pre-owned gift that we loved? "

No, and yes.

It is not a mistake to give a lovely antique to someone who would enjoy it. It can be a mistake to get something that YOU love, if the couple would not like it. A bit of what I'm hearing in the letter is that you and your husband fell in love with this seaside down, thought that the atmosphere was great, and bought a souvenir, which you then gave to someone as a wedding present. Not having been on that trip, and not having fallen in love with the artsy atmosphere, your niece does not understand the present. It's also very possible that it isn't her taste at all, which would make the gift appear thoughtless rather than unique and special.

Regardless, what your BIL did was unconscionable, and the couple should be ashamed of themselves. Accept the gift with grace and sell the thing on eBay if you hate it.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Roxeanne de Luca
Wed Jun 1, 2011 10:21 PM
LW2: Someone broke the china, but it may not have been the bride and groom as the package and the super mean letter came from the father of the bride. The couple was given the chance to correct the situation when they received your letter of explanation though, and they have apparently failed to smooth things over with you.

I get why they thought it was a very poor choice of a wedding gift. Holiday-themed gifts are not to everyone's taste, they could tell that the gift was used, and you gave the couple ONE place setting, not even enough for them to enjoy together. At best it was something they could display during the holidays and a dust-catcher the rest of the year. Many (if not most) people would consider it useless and tacky. I would have assumed it was kindly meant if a disappointing choice, sent a gracious thank you note, and then handed it off to anyone I know who does garage sales. You bought it for yourself impulsively during a vacation. It wasn't chosen specifically for the couple or the occasion. Basically, you pulled something you didn't want anymore out of your cabinet and then talked yourself into believing it to be an appropriate wedding gift. Your explanation of why you consider it to be a thoughtful present is a bit of a stretch. You can at least own up to that much.

None of this excuses the outrageous behavior of the recipients, who revealed shockingly poor character in their response to the gift. There's no way they could reasonably consider it an insult when you traveled so far to attend the wedding, and the newlyweds can't possibly be unaware of your brother-in-law's actions after receiving your letter. You can be the bigger person and forgive them for the sake of family harmony, or not. I'd recommend it, even if it's a bitter pill to swallow, and you are off the hook for any more gifts for these folks. In the future, you should probably stick to sending cards.
Comment: #8
Posted by: LouisaFinnell
Wed Jun 1, 2011 10:33 PM
I usually don't have a lot of sympathy for spouses who sit around eating the groceries and not contributing in any way (and "depression" is often a poor excuse for sloth). But I hope LW1 will take the Annies' advice. From the severity of his symptoms, it's likely his problem is medical
I had a friend whose husband (age 50) exhibited somewhat similar symptoms. He got worse as the months passed, and was finally diagnosed with Alzheimers. He went downhill rapidly after that, and the last few times I saw him, before his sudden death from a heart attack, he didn't remember any or our previous conversations. LW1's husband may just be a leech, but before turning him loose, it's important to diagnose what's going on.
To LW2: I do sympathize, but, some people truly don't like used items. I wouldn't recommend giving a gift that looks like it could have been bought on Craigslist, even if it was in perfect condition. (You say it was, but I'm wondering if it may have had flaws you weren't aware of, or been damaged while inside the box, perhaps when it was being transported after the wedding.)
This doesn't excuse the behavior of the recipients, who were appallingly rude. But I think as a matter of policy, it's best to give new rather than used, unless you're sure the recipient is a lover of antiques.
Comment: #9
Posted by: sarah morrow
Wed Jun 1, 2011 10:46 PM
LW2: frankly it sounds like a pretty bad gift that few people would like. Not everybody likes antiques, and personally I loathe Christmas-themed items. However, that does not justify the incredibly rude response. A simple thank you and regifting discreetly would have been appropriate. No more gifts for them, ever.
Comment: #10
Posted by: Claire Beatty
Wed Jun 1, 2011 10:59 PM
A well-chosen antique is a far better gift than the same old mass-produced stuff! And anyone who doesn't understand that sometimes china breaks is too dumb to be married and own a home. (Same goes for "adults" who go whining to Daddy instead of contacting the LW directly.) Did they really think their aunt and uncle drove hundreds of miles to give them a "yard sale item"? If it arrived broken, they should have said so--directly--but only after saying THANK YOU. WTF is wrong with people?
Comment: #11
Posted by: Baldrz
Wed Jun 1, 2011 11:21 PM
Louisa, the letter says it was a serving set, not a single place setting (that _would_ have been a lame gift!), and to me a holly pattern doesn't necessarily scream "Christmas." Ivory and gold might not be everyone's favorite, but it's a tasteful combination that would fit into most people's homes. In short, I can see why they thought someone else would like this gift, and some antique china can be quite valuable. And anyone who travels hundreds of miles to go to a wedding deserves the hosts' respect and thanks, even if they arrive empty handed. Also, I refuse to believe they didn't include a card, as the idiot BIL claims. If they didn't, how did anyone know whose gift it was? Tacky, slimy people with an overdeveloped sense of entitlement and possibly an unrelated axe to grind.
Comment: #12
Posted by: Baldrz
Wed Jun 1, 2011 11:32 PM
LouisaFinnell - I don't think she only got ONE setting. That would just be lame.

I got the feeling that she got this because she really thought it would be something they would treasure. Even if it wasn't to their tase and it arived broken, they acted like jerks.

When I got married my Great-Uncle (Grandma's big brother) gave us a bottle of wine. He'd been saving it. It was from the 80's. It was a Chardonay. It had also been in his garage.
We never drank it, but I sent him a thank you note. I still have it. It was in our wine rack for a long time. Now it is up on top of our cabinets. I can see the top of the bottle sticking out. I smile every time I notice it. I will always keep it just because it is so like my family to think that a white wine would be good after 20 years.
Comment: #13
Posted by: MT
Wed Jun 1, 2011 11:57 PM
What Marty said. Seconded.
Comment: #14
Posted by: Matt
Thu Jun 2, 2011 1:37 AM
LW1 - I hope you can get him to a doctor because a sudden change like that after 30 years is a medical problem. In the mean time, if you're struggling to pay the bills, I suggest getting rid of some luxeries, like the cable TV that your husband loves to watch so much.

LW2 - I agree with Zoe's advice. Even if the LW brought the gift to the wedding and it wasn't shipped, it could've still broken in the box. Perhaps during a bumpy car ride or maybe someone dropped the box when they moved it?
Comment: #15
Posted by: Michelle
Thu Jun 2, 2011 2:27 AM
LW1: Yeah, this guy needs to see a doctor.
LW2: You know, I received a tarnished silver necklace from a distant relative for my Bat Mitzvah. We think that he took it out of his daughter's jewelry box or re-gifted it from another occasion (which, I honestly don't have a problem with as long as its not obvious. And, I still wrote a thank you note even though I it was tacky and I really didn't like those people (turns out that I was right on the money with that one); my mother made sure of that.
I don't know what the serving set (not place setting!) looks like, but never got the impression that it was Christmas or holiday themed or that they went "souvenir shopping;" they seem to have simply fallen in love with the set and didn't realize that perhaps not everyone would appreciate an antique piece or china that they didn't pick out themselves. That does not translate to "giving the worst gift ever" or one that nobody wants. And according to the LW, they spent a comparable amount on what they would have spent anyhow so assuming they're not total cheapskates, the set had to have some value. And surely if the set was broken when they opened that box (as the Annie's suggested) they couple would be intelligent enough to realize that sometimes things get broken in transit, whether it be by mail or by moving from the reception to the house of the bride and groom?
For the couple to appeal to the father of the bride and allow him to be so rude shows that they are not mature enough to even be married. And frankly (my temper is going to rear its ugly head) when I got the note from my B-I-L in the mail I would have called my niece and asked why she thought it was appropriate to appeal to her father when she is an adult, and why she thought it was appropriate to send a gift back. I would have explained why we bought it, and mentioned that we spent a decent amount of money on her present. If she is going to be so ungrateful towards a kind gesture, even if it is not in her taste, then I wouldn't see the point in presenting her with anymore gifts; I probably wouldn't have included that last sentence, but she wouldn't ever get another gift from me.
Comment: #16
Posted by: AgLee16
Thu Jun 2, 2011 3:06 AM
Re: LW1, yes to what everyone is saying, it's almost certainly depression, and if he gets to a doctor, gets a diagnosis, and starts working with someone to find the right treatment, he could have a dramatic turnaround. The issue is getting him there, and whether or not you still care enough to be the person to get him there and stay with him through the diagnosis and adjustment period. (It's rare that the right med at the right dose is prescribed right away, there's almost always a period of time where they have to make a best guess, see what happens, then adjust doses or try a different med, until they get it right).

I don't think anyone would blame you if you had already had too much of this to continue this process, but you are probably his best chance to get the help he needs. You have a lot to figure out, and it's not easy, but if you can try to visualize how much better he'll be after getting help, that may help you.

Re: LW2, no question, it's a rude response and uncalled for. I will say that I kind of agree, though, that LW2 seems to have bought a gift she liked rather than really thinking about what the couple would have liked or needed. And clearly, based on the response, they don't really have the same taste. I've gotten plenty of gifts over the years, from friends or family, that were just not even close to "my style" and I quietly re-gifted or donated or stored in the attic. It's also why gift registries were invented.

If you aren't 100% sure that the gift you are buying is something the couple will like, buy from the gift registry or give cash. Weddings are nutty times and people are often wound pretty tightly. If you simply HAVE to get something "personal" that's not on a registry, get them that PLUS a smaller item from the registry as well. That way you know for sure they'll like at least part of your gift.

There are some people who just think of themselves as so perfect and thoughtful as a gift-giver, it almost becomes a point of pride or even arrogance, and if you suggest their gift *isn't* perfect, they get offended.

Still and all, regardless of why they chose this particular gift or how inappropriate it was for this particular couple, the response they got was rude, over-the-top, and simply wrong.

Re: LW3, what a great way to deal with this issue.
Comment: #17
Posted by: Mike H
Thu Jun 2, 2011 3:49 AM
LW1 - I disagree with the Annies on this one. The husband may need help, but it's HIS responsibility to get it. It's not hers. I don't blame her for being disgusted and fed up. And really, it's gone on for this long, which amazes me. It doesn't MATTER if he's depressed or whatever. What matters is what he DOES about it, and that appears to be nothing. Personal responsibility matters... and he's not taking any. That's HIS problem, not hers.
Comment: #18
Posted by: anna
Thu Jun 2, 2011 4:10 AM
LW2: wish we had more info on how the gift was delivered. I dunno; I've gotten plenty of gifts i didn't like. Eventually, with my mom, I started telling her things about what I DID like, although that doesn't exactly apply here. Saved a lot of money and trouble.

The father is way out of line here. It's not his place to play gift police. And the gift MAY have been exquisite. I just came back from Niagara-on-the-Lake (went to four plays at the Shaw Festival Theatre) and there were some beautiful one-of-a-kind things on sale there. Some new, some antique. I can see why someone would choose something like a serving set if it was so unusual.

I could see myself doing the same thing, but luckily I didn't have any gifts to buy and I kept my credit card back at the B and B because I KNOW what I'm like when this stuff is in front of me! To me, those gifts are way more thoughtful than the typical gifts from the typical, run-of-the-mill home-decorating stores. I love boutique stuff because it IS so unique. It's not like you're going to buy a vase that three other people have chosen too. Too bad the bride's family is too dim-witted to appreciate the thought that went into a gift like that. There's no accounting for taste, but no reason to put up with tastelessness either.

I agree with some of the other posters. No more gifts for that branch of the family. And I wouldn't buy gift cards either--just plain old cards giving them your well-intentioned well-wishes seems just fine by me when it comes to boors like this.

LW1: He's so obviously mentally ill! But I guess watching a slow slide into this condition is different from seeing it described, all at once, in a column like this. It must have happened by slow degrees for this wife to have such a huge blind spot, but I'm still a bit stunned. She needs to get him evaluated immediately. A bit of medication may make all the difference.
Comment: #19
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 5:27 AM
LW1: Why has the LW waited this long? This is at least the 2nd year of this type of behavior. The stench alone would have made me do something a year ago. Then add the stress of paying bills alone, etc. He needs help....but so does she. He may not want it, but she can at least go talk to someone so she can sort out what the best path for her is.

LW2: I received a depression glass pitcher as a wedding shower gift and absolutely love it! The best part is that it came from a friend of my hubby's family. It is not something I registered for (I hated that experience) but it was something she took the time and discovered some of my interests. The china set the LW described sounded lovely. I hope they chose it not because it was lovely but because they thought it was in the couple's taste.

We also received one of the ugliest candle holders I have ever seen in my life. Our "style" is traditional/ country. This was a very modern piece. I wouldn't be surprised if it was a re-gift. There was no receipt with it but did we say anything to anyone? No - we sent a thank you card and were very gracious about it. It is long gone now. We kept it displayed for a couple years, then converted it to a vase which was, finally, given away a couple years ago. They will never know.

The response the LW received is disgusting. Those are the type of people I would limit my contact with. Why choose to be close to someone like that?
Comment: #20
Posted by: ppclps
Thu Jun 2, 2011 5:34 AM
@Mike H: I really agree with your point about the wife being the best chance this man has to get help. Even if she wants to leave him, I think she should at least honour her wedding vows and help him get to a doctor or psychiatrist who can help him before she goes. Mentally ill people usually aren't in a position to help themselves of course because of the limitations of their conditions. It just makes sense.

I'm one of those people who takes pride in buying great gifts for people, I'm afraid! So I'm a bit more sympathetic to the LW2s. There were gifts that I got from my mom which I absolutely hated. But, I could see she was so pleased with her purchase that I didn't have the heart to tell her I didn't like what she'd gotten me. So I waited for a time in-between gifts to give her a clearer idea of what I liked.

To me, gifts are not about the material thing. It's about the pleasure the giver has in handing the gift over. It's such an act of love and I really think that people who don't bask in that, at least for a few seconds, are really missing the point. It's not hard to regift, although I have to say, I've never done it--too afraid of getting caught! And I find gift cards so impersonal. Really. I'd rather get a so-so gift from someone than a gift card that took them less than 3 minutes to buy. I just love the look on my mom's boyfriend's face when he opens my gifts. He comes from a family of swift shoppers, and so when he sees how carefully I've chosen for him, he just beams. I love it. And that's the whole point, right?

But to each his own...and yeah, the father in this case was way over the top. Talk about Scrooge!
Comment: #21
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 5:40 AM
Re: marty

I was always taught to mail a gift to the bride a groom rather than bring it to the wedding/reception. That way, no one has to pack up and deal with the gifts while the B&G are off onto their honeymoon.
Comment: #22
Posted by: Kelle
Thu Jun 2, 2011 5:59 AM
Re: LW1: My ex husband could have become this man. After he lost his job, he sat around either watching TV or on his computer. He showered maybe once a week. He was agoraphobic so he never left the house, and hated to do anything that was out of his normal pattern. I wasn't very supportive of him, and only being married 2 years, filed for divorce. I am very happy in my life now, and never really felt truly happy when I was with him. But he did need help, a wake up call. Me leaving him was a wakeup call on his part, and thankfully he has good parents and a good family support network. I have only talked to him once since I divorced him 10 years ago, but it sounds like he is doing a lot better now. I don't know if he has a job yet (he didn't 4 years ago), his parents may still be supporting him. Hopefully he is happy now.
Comment: #23
Posted by: Rebecca
Thu Jun 2, 2011 6:25 AM
Re: anna

It may, in theory, be "his" responsibility to get help, but people with depression often don't realize they have a problem or can't bring themselves to pick up the phone to make an appointment to see their doctor. If he were motivated to do something about being depressed, he wouldn't be depressed.

So it's all well and good to put your foot down and say "you're depressed, I'm not; get your own help, slob," but it's not going to accomplish anything. LW1 has been with this man for 30 years. I'm sure she's willing to put in a few months to try to get him help to get him back to the man she knew.

Just as a followup to LW2 - we don't KNOW that the husband asked his father to write such a nasty letter. He could have been there when the gifts were opened and took it upon himself to be an ass.
Comment: #24
Posted by: Zoe
Thu Jun 2, 2011 6:42 AM
LW1 - The LW can make all the dr's appts she wants for this guy but, he's not going to go. She can list his symptoms and make and appt and go herself..... then what? How does one make another adult (mentally/emotionally capable or not) do something they're not interested in doing? Realistically I think she needs to get an attorney, divorce the guy, call the sherrif and turn him over to the county where he may be forced to get some help.
Comment: #25
Posted by: Rick
Thu Jun 2, 2011 6:50 AM
LW2 - When you packed the gift you could have included a note explaining that you found this in a lovely antique shop and thought of them, blah, blah, blah.... However you didnt' and what they did (the couple and the father) is pretty damn rude. You did nothing wrong other than being born into a petty family. Nothing else you can do.
Comment: #26
Posted by: Rick
Thu Jun 2, 2011 6:54 AM
Re: Rick

Yeah, well, this is it. Exactement! It's all very nice for people to suggest that she '"make' him go, but how does she do that? We're not talking about a tantruming toddler you can bundle up and pick up, will-he, nill-he. Of course he needs help, of course there clearly is a mental issue here, but he is also an adult and, unless she knows how to have him declared mentally incompetent, there is no way she can force him to make him do something he refuses. I think the poor woman has suffered long enough, time to get some fresh air.

Comment: #27
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Thu Jun 2, 2011 7:01 AM
Re: Rick

LW2 - I believe she owes it to her husband and herself to at least try. Presumably she loved him, once upon a time. If she tries to get him help and he refuses, then by all means, she should decide if she'd be better off leaving (probably she would be). Depressed people HAVE been successfully helped by caring family and friends; LW2's husband could be one of those people. She won't know if she says "you stink" and leaves. The husband she knew and loved could be right there, desperate for someone to say "you need help".
Comment: #28
Posted by: Zoe
Thu Jun 2, 2011 7:25 AM
LW1: This is almost certainly depression. I can tell you from personal experience that when you lose a job (which is what it sounds like happened a couple of years ago for this guy) and can't find one right away (remember, commenters, the job market has been VERY depressed the last two years), your self esteem hits bottom and you can retreat into safe places, like TV and internet. And why should you shower if you're not going to see anyone?

Not to go off topic here, but I have to wonder how many people are in the same boat as "Evan". They may already be pre-disposed to depression, but the current economic situation may have tipped them over the edge. Without the discipline imposed by a full time job (be here at 8, must dress professionally, etc) these people's worlds just fall apart. And while we can all sit in judgement about the bathing thing, it is also a classic symptom of depression.

My advice: if Evan is collecting Unemployment benefits, you may want to contact the local Worksource office (or whatever it is called in your state: it's basically a job search resource center for people collecting UE or really almost anyone who is looking for career advice or to change careers). The people who work there are well aware of this type of depression and also have extensive knowledge of the social services available to people on UE. If he is collecting UE, then he HAS to be making an effort to look for work (most of which can be done online), so encourage him to make it down to the center once a week if possible.

If Evan is not collecting UE (and even if he is), I would think it's time to do several things. Does he have family/friends that he's in contact with (likely over the phone at this point)? I would loop one of them in and ask them to talk to Evan with me. You see, LW, he probably looks at you as somewhat of a nag. He's hanging out all day, living in his fantasy world and then you come home, (heaving heavy sighs "Evan, what did you do today? Why can't you take a shower? Man it smells in here!") and kill his buzz. In order to get through to him, you will need to shake his world up a little and a trusted friend or family member may be able to get through to him where you cannot.

Before you do this, have the name and an appointment with a GOOD doctor set up. Likely, Evan is also suffering some health problems that he doesn't even know about: he's not taking showers, how is he EATING? SLEEPING? These things affect your health. Before you take him to the doctor, make sure you have a pre-meeting with the doctor to prepare her/him and also to discuss your suspicions of depression.

I am going to be frank with you LW. If you leave, he may go completly over the edge. This is a man crying for support and help. For your own peace of mind, please try to help him and understand rather than to judge, before you leave him. Good Luck.
Comment: #29
Posted by: nanchan
Thu Jun 2, 2011 7:38 AM
Re: nanchan

Great post. Very well said.
Comment: #30
Posted by: Zoe
Thu Jun 2, 2011 7:47 AM
LW2 -- The Annies are correct -- theoretically, you could have given the newlyweds a big bag of dryer lint and toenail clippings, but etiquette holds that they should thank you graciously. However...

You can see here that many people are unclear from your description what you gave. If you want to give something unusual, be it antique found in a pricey shop or a quilt handmade by a great-great-great grandma, part of the gift , IMO, should be the story of why you're giving it, to help the recipient understand why you valued it and thought it appropriate for them, either related in person or else added to a card tucked inside:

"George & Holly --
John and I spotted this three-piece holiday tea service in the most charming shop while antiquing on vacation in the Catskills last summer. We thought immediately of you two--like us, you both love a good cup of tea! The artist who created the pattern even came from your hometown, George, only about 150 years earlier!
It's a token of our warm wishes as you begin your marriage, and in anticipation of the many happy holiday seasons you'll enjoy together. --Fondly, Aunt LW & Uncle John"
Comment: #31
Posted by: hedgehog
Thu Jun 2, 2011 7:55 AM
The tea set was a serving set, not a place setting. Meaning it was the tea pot, sugar bowl and creamer. And I would stop apologizing for choosing a unique and tasteful gift (antique, not simply used from a goodwill shop for goodness sake) AND I would stop purchasing gifts for that branch of the family. Their reaction was horrible.
Comment: #32
Posted by: Su
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:00 AM
Re: hedgehog

EXCELLENT! I was thinking the exact same thing.

re: Zoe: thanks! Unfortunately, I know this one from personal experience, it's no fun to be in Evan's shoes either. Thank GOODNESS for my daughter, kids have a way of creating boundaries for you and making you stop feeling sorry for yourself. otherwise I could have easily fallen into that same pattern.
Comment: #33
Posted by: nanchan
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:07 AM
Re: Zoe

That's a good point, although I wonder if the couple received a thank you note? That might make it clearer about who is really offended by the gift and who shouldn't get anymore. I think I still might have put in a call to the niece (although, thinking about your point, I would not be so irate with her). That may very well clear things up depending on the reaction; if her response is "My goodness, I can't believe my dad DID that" then you know!

Re: Lise

Well of course, no one can make this guy go to the doctor. But, when I was depressed, I was encouraged for awhile by those who loved me to go and get help, and I finally did because a friend stood over me while I made the appointment. If would have flat out refused then it would have been a lost cause, but sometimes a little effort in these matters chips away at the depression enough to get someone the help they need. It was for me (it took them about 8 weeks to convince me I should go; I thought it wouldn't help because I was sure the only reason I was so sad was because I was a worthless human being who didn't deserve to be happy. See what I mean?).
Comment: #34
Posted by: AgLee16
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:08 AM
The couple who received the antique wedding gift and the father sound like my ex-husband. He thought antiques were tacky junk! I grew up with grandparents who were antique collectors and had many valuable -- and not so valuable, but unique or lovely -- items. When they moved into nursing homes, they gave me many of these pieces.
After I got married, my ex started griping about many of these things. I had several antique Wallace Nutting hand-colored photographic prints, beautiful and worth several hundred dollars apiece. He griped that they looked old and ratty. He insisted that I had to have them rematted and reframed, because the mats were discolored from age. If I had done so, they would have lost all their value, especially because the artist had signed them on the mats, and the signatures would have been lost! So I refused, but he kept complaining and nagging about how it was HIS house too, and he didn't want to have to look at such old, grungy-looking stuff. Finally, I told him I'd sell all but my favorite one if he'd give it a rest and stop complaining about that one. At least I made some money off them, and I still have that one, but since the marriage didn't last, I regret that I no longer have the others.
Another thing was some antique lace I had. He constantly complained that it also looked dingy and ratty, because it was an old ecru color, and insisted that I needed to bleach it or get rid of it! He said he was embarrassed to have people over with all the old, dingy, ratty-looking stuff in the house -- which was mine before we got married, so it was decorated with my things including many antiques when he moved in. But of course he never mentioned his dislike of any of this BEFORE we got married and were still dating.
Then there was my beautiful carved antique sewing machine cabinet. A piece of hideous junk in his eyes. Finally tired of hearing him complaining on and on about it, I wound up selling it for a pittance on craigs list, and to this day my poor sewing machine sits on the dinner table when I need to use it. He would rather have ANYthing that was brand new, no matter how drab, boring, or ugly it was, so long as it was new. So if these people were anything like him, I can understand why they thought the way they did.
Comment: #35
Posted by: Joyce
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:11 AM
Hedgehog: you said: theoretically, you could have given the newlyweds a big bag of dryer lint and toenail clippings, but etiquette holds that they should thank you graciously. However...

Thanks for a great laugh....and the LW SHOULD send this off as a replacement gift...wouldn't that be a hoot?
Comment: #36
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:26 AM
If the depressed husband won't go to a doctor, perhaps there's a local authority that could send a social worker by to recommend something? In that case, the issue of competency can be established--or not--and maybe he can get help in spite of himself. The wife is right there, so she's the best to speak for him, even if she does want out. Nothing stopping her from leaving, but at least help the poor guy.
Comment: #37
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:30 AM
Re: AgLee16

Of course I see what you mean, but that one may not be quite so compliant. Also, anyone who hasn't showered or changed his clothing in MONTHS will be so obnoxiously redolent that the doctor may well refuse to see him, and I can't say I'd blame him or her. There is only so much you can ask of a perfect stranger.

Comment: #38
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:54 AM
Re: irene & hedgehog ~~ Bitey Fish thinks the couple should enclose a lovely note with the gift explaining that the items are Elvis Presley's toenail clippings and Marilyn Monroe's dryer lint.
Comment: #39
Posted by: Piranha in Pajamas
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:58 AM
RE wedding gift. I re-read her letter again x 2. They bought it, they took it to the wedding. B-i-l (pissed off) sent it back in the mail. IT ARRIVED BROKEN. SO maybe it was not broken when the couple opened it??????
I chuckled this morning, remembering that we had gotten an 'antique' serving dish for a shower gift. A (poor) lady whom I did not know, knew my inlaws. She was about 80 years old. She must have taken it from her treasured cupboard and wrapped up. At her age, sight an issue, there was still dried food scraps on the fancy dish. I thanked them all, put it away in my drawer of things and never used it BUT everytime I opened that drawer and saw it, (and wisdom comes with age) I remembered that this old lady, whom I did not know, gave me what she felt was treasured to her. And the reason I can't use the dish is the memory attached to it of is more value than the fact of using it.
My husband's favorite (never married) aunt collected things-did garage sales, bartered/exchanged, etc. We got interesting things from her, but she gave me an ornate tea cup and saucer one time. I put it in my china cupboard (not a coffee/tea drinker) BUT everytime I open that door, I see Auntie Helen's love--that was how she gave it to me. Over the years some very precious items were handed over. A Barbie wind up alarm clock from BARBIES FIRST YEAR--and I had all boys so she said THAT WAS MINE. Silver dollars from 1850, etc. Never knew what treasures she stuck in your pocket for the ride home.
At her family only estate auction when she died, I put dibs on a 2" diameter pin. Rhinestones, etc perfect piece. IT was not the fact of any value, but it reminded me of how Aunt Helen shined in our lives. That has been a piece on my dress church coat ever since. More people have admired that and the beauty of it. I don't know the value of it, but I knew HER value.
Watching national news of the flooding in my home state of SD. The Missouri River has so much water and the snow pack in Montana is not even begun to melt to add to it. Rainfall and watershed has put a time table of at least July before thousands of people ordered to evacuate could return home. The river flows from Montana through ND, then SD, Nebraska and all the states south, meaning they will deal with loss of crop land, infrastructure, etc.
Huge sections of the country that FEMA can't do anything about.
Lise--I bought a outdoor portable greenhouse (garage sale) and have started some plants in it. Squash, eggplant, zucchinis, flowers. Have the rest of my seeds in a box ready to go out. I am an ebayer as well, got 2 new pear trees planted, seeds from around the US to try to grow. My neighbor and I dig up and share with each other--got dalias and cannas to put in. At the store the cannas wer $10 per pot and I got about 30 from her. Got bit up from the giant misquitos last night pulling weedy flower beds. Supposed to have some nasty weather in the forcast tomorrow. Had some tornadoes north about 100 miles this past. Seems every weekend they hit somewhere in our state. I keep praying NOT US!
I brought home my dad's ashes on Saturday. My mom had not seen the box, was put into the safe. She clung to the box and sobbed. She wants to bury it in the plots we have, but I want to keep it to put in her casket when she dies. My sister agrees with me, and I said I would keep it here. Will see when mom comes for graduations here this weekend. I won't get the permit to bury it on purpose so we can have time to convience her. Our state does not require a vault for ashes and it breaks my heart that this box will disintegrate in a short time. In her casket, the time frame is longer.
Gonna go pick up my clothes lines to restring--ordered 200 feet of special wire--SMELL THE FRESH AIR--sleep on fresh sheets! DEEP BREATH---AHHHHH.
Peace to all of you.
Comment: #40
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Thu Jun 2, 2011 9:02 AM
Re: Joyce

Yeah, my late ex was like that too. Wheh I was pregnant, a young woman I met on the bus offered to give me an antique English pram - all wicker and with the big wheels, really nice. All I had to do was go get it. Unfortunately, my husband was the on with the car and the driving license and he flat-out refused to bring '"that olf piece of junk" into HIS house. I suppose I, who was also living in that house, was only one of the appliances.

He too, wouild rather have had anything-anything-anything cheaply made and tacky as long as it was new. In his case, I believe it had to do with a childhood spent in dire poverty, but it also has to do with abysmal ignorance and a refusal to learn anything. Valuable antiques, broken down garbage by the side of the road, it was all the same to him. But then, his mother was one who didn't make the difference between spoiled and edible food and threw everything out of the fridge every three days. There were a lot of people in that family who couldn't sort apples from oranges.

Comment: #41
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Thu Jun 2, 2011 9:04 AM
Joyce # 35 is not the same Joyce that posts all the time.
Joyce post #4, etc is the MN Joyce
Comment: #42
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Thu Jun 2, 2011 9:04 AM
LW1 - "Honey, you haven't bathed in a month, you just sit and watch TV and have only worked 6 weeks in the past two years. I'm concerned and think you need to see a doctor'.
"Really? Okay. I'll make an appointment and go right now because all I needed was for you to tell me that. Thanks"!
Ain't gonna happen.
Comment: #43
Posted by: Rick
Thu Jun 2, 2011 9:13 AM
Re: Rick

Why are you against the attempt? No, it is not going to happen the way you sarcastically put it, but there are people out there who suffer from depression and no longer do (or it's to a lesser extent and they can function). How do you think that happened? It wasn't magic. In some cases, people got better because their friends and family didn't give up on them, saying "whatever, I'm not going to try to help, it's not going to work; what, do you think he's just going to waltz into the doctor's office for a check-up? Pah!"

I went through a period of intense, chemical-induced (we didn't know at the time) depression. I felt so awful. In the time between the onset of the symptoms and my family realizing what was going on, I really wanted to someone to fix me. I didn't know what was wrong, but I knew SOMEthing was. But I didn't have the presence of mind, will power, self-confidence, etc, to call up a doctor, or even to tell my family I felt bad. When my dad finally sat me down and talked to me it was like, thank god, someone thinks that I need and deserve help.

This may not happen with LW1's husband. I don't think anyone is saying he will be cured by next week. But what does LW1 lose in the trying? A few more weeks with the man she has been with and, presumably, loved for 30 years? A few hours on the phone making appointments, talking to doctors? Golly, what a chore. IF he gets better, then it was worth the minor effort on her part. If it doesn't, she can leave knowing she did all she could to uphold her wedding vows.

I really don't get this attitude of "why bother; it probably won't work."
Comment: #44
Posted by: Zoe
Thu Jun 2, 2011 9:45 AM
@Piranha: and watch for them on eBay! :)
Comment: #45
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 10:04 AM
Hi Joyce in MN! I used to post all the time here (months and months before you arrived on the scene) but gave it a rest for a while. I was sort of shocked when you showed up using my same user name! I was very surprised didn't tell a new person if a name is already in use when they're signing up. But anyway, since I hadn't been posting for a while, I figured you had no idea someone already was on here with the same name. And since I'd been posting here for a long time before you showed up, I didn't think I needed to change my user name or explain who I was. Sorry if it caused any confusion!
Comment: #46
Posted by: Joyce
Thu Jun 2, 2011 10:09 AM
My in-laws pretty much hate all antiques and anything used. They buy brand-new cars, houses, furniture and household goods. When I give a gift to them, I scrape the price off the gift but leave the tags on because otherwise they will think it is not good enough.

They grew up dirt poor and have earned everything they have. Although, they are in debt up to their ears at times. But in their eyes, money comes, money goes. My MIL has a thrill when she goes into a store and buys something in front, off of an elaborate display, pays full price and walks out with it wrapped in tissue in a fancy bag. It makes her feel like she is a Vanderbilt or Rockefeller. Good for her, she's a great MIL, a loving woman and means well.

I love buying something in the back, off a clearance rack that has been marked down 80%. I know good fabric, colors and good workmanship. I don't buy crap. My in-laws marvel at some of my finds, but have zero interest in it themselves.

They consider the story of my father's family getting their everyday dishes from a gas station that gave away points with every tank purchased an embarrassment. No matter that the dishes are now worth a mint. They were the Wallace china plates with the cattle brands around the rim and either a covered wagon or bucking cowboy in the center. Or the painting my Uncle bought for $200 that turned out to be a "Ziem" and turned out to be worth around $100k. This was long before Antiques Roadshow.

But as far as the BIL and the wedding couple? Talk about ignorant. Lise is right, "it also has to do with abysmal ignorance and a refusal to learn anything". Some people have ZERO desire to own something that isn't right off Macy's shelf.
Comment: #47
Posted by: Chelle
Thu Jun 2, 2011 10:09 AM
Rick, in one way you have a point: a depressed person is NOT motivated to seek help. But why the negative attitude? Depressed people are also listless enough to NOT fight when someone piles them into a car. Their lack of fight can make them compliant if someone helps them to help themselves. It happens all the time.

Anti-depressants make up a huge share of the market when it comes to pharmaceuticals. Those patients are getting them in they are getting prescriptions that are written by doctors and I don't think these doctors are making house calls.
Comment: #48
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 10:10 AM
Re: Zoe - The LW already indicated that he's a hypochoncriac yet refuses to see a doctor therefore I doubt that he's going to see a doctor about depression or whatever. She should certainly bring it up but I hope she doesn't spend a whole lot of time and energy trying to convince him. My larger point (although not well made) was that it's always easy to advise that someone tell soemone else to seek help but one can never force anyone to do that and what then? Adice givers never answer the "What then?" part.
Comment: #49
Posted by: Rick
Thu Jun 2, 2011 10:13 AM
Re: irene - That's my point Irene. Is she actually supposed to physically put him in a car and drag him (literally maybe) into a doctor's office? And then what? Force feed him Prozac? Really? I'm sure there are some shrewed attorneys out there who would disagree with you. By the way, I am on depression medication and it was me who ultimately had to make the decisions to go that route not my well intended loved ones. I went to the doctor. I went to the pharmacy. I take the pills on my own accord. I realy don't know how anyone can actually, physically force another adult to seek help. I'm not trying to be a smart ass here. I really don't know how it can be done with out taking some very extreme steps.
Comment: #50
Posted by: Rick
Thu Jun 2, 2011 10:19 AM
Rick, you are hysterical! I love it.
Comment: #51
Posted by: Chelle
Thu Jun 2, 2011 10:28 AM
Re: Rick

I don't know how it's done, either, but I'm sure there are avenues to look into. My point is that she should explore those possibilities to a reasonable extend before saying "well... see ya later, I'm outta here!" If it doesn't work out, so bed it. She can't make magic happen and she deserves to be happy.
Comment: #52
Posted by: Zoe
Thu Jun 2, 2011 10:37 AM
Rick, I meant comment #43 was hilarious.

Good for you. I used to go to a psychiatrist who identified that getting help and following through with medication is a quality of life issue. Initially, my brother was skeptical of my decision to take medication. But I told him, isn't is worse to know something is wrong and not do anything about it?

These comments I made to him came into play years later when he was being sued. He was a police officer and the worst family EVER were informed by a shyster attorney that they could claim my brother violated their civil rights and get a ton of money. The union representing my brother made a hard decision to settle because this family and their attorney had no shame and even if my brother won, everyone still would have lost. It bothered my brother for YEARS and it took a toll on him. He went and got help on his own.

What Zoe is talking about is a whole different animal. I had an episode like this that lasted a week. What Zoe had lasted longer and was much more serious. My episode was based on an event and I could not function the way I normally did until the shock of what happened wore off. Then the grieving process began and I got on with things. With certain depressions, the sufferer literally has no ability to act on their own accord.

Personally, I would contact social services and have the husband placed/committed to a mental facility. LW1 sounds like she is low-income, I base that on her comment that she is struggling to pay the bills. It starts with a call to an attorney who can advise her what steps to take. If she is working, then possibly she has health insurance and that opens up other options to the care of the husband. I can't imagine how LW1 is feeling, but I wish her the best of life's blessings.
Comment: #53
Posted by: Chelle
Thu Jun 2, 2011 10:48 AM
LW1 -- Yes, this guy is obviously suffering from sort of mental illness, most likely clinical depression. And yes, wife owes it to her husband of 30 years to try to help him before she gives up on him. BUT -- he has refused to see a doctor about any of the various and sundry symptoms/diseases he apparently believe he has (remember the hyphochondria reference?). I am assuming this means the wife has, in fact, tried to get him to go to a doctor. And while it's not clear from the letter what she has and hasn't tried -- begging, threatening, nagging -- I can't imagine that she has literally done and said NOTHING in all this time. Is it possible that her leaving him will send him over the edge, as nanchan suggested? Yes, that is possible. It's also possible that her leaving will finally give him the impetus he needs to make a change. If the wife has already made a sincere attempt to get him to see a doctor (and I'm betting she's made MULTIPLE attempts already), then it's time for her to attend to her own sanity and get out of there. But I hope that if she does that, she will remain open to helping him if he finally does reach out for help. But certainly, if she hasn't tried to get him to get help, then she needs to do that first.

LW2 -- I agree with all those who said that no matter what you gave as a gift, these people acted reprehensibly -- you get a gift, you thank the giver, whether you like the gift or not, period. And I also agree with all of those who questioned just how "thoughtful" your gift really was. Even so, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter -- you gave them a gift, the only proper response from them was a thank you, period.

But there is something to be said for thinking of the recipient when you buy a gift (since, after all, it's supposed to be the thought that counts). YOU loved the cute little town, YOU loved the cute little shop, YOU loved the antique. It might have been nice if you'd considered the couple's tastes (something you could easily have gleaned by looking at what the registered for, no?). I don't think people have to buy something a couple has registered for, but if you don't really know the couple well, sticking with money or the registry is the right thing to do.

When I got married, some of the best wedding presents we got were things that we had NOT registered for -- but I would also have to say that the "worst" gift we got also was something we had not registered for and was, quite frankly, the most bizarre of gifts, under the circumstances. It was a porcelain Nativity scene.

Now, that might be a FANTASTIC gift for someone who: 1) is Christian, 2) is having a winter wedding and/or 3) is known to be a big fan of Christmas. I like Christmas just fine but: my father is Jewish and my mother is Catholic. Both of them had extremely bad experiences with their respective religions, so although I was taught the basics of both religions so that I would know my heritage, I was not raised to be or practice either of these religions, and I do not. My husband was raised 7th Day Adventist, but he also had a bad experience with his religion and had left the church years before I met him (as had his parents and two brothers). My wedding was in May, so it wasn't a Christmas-themed wedding or anything like that.

You might be thinking, "well, perhaps the person who gave you this gift didn't know all that." But not so! This was the mother of one my best friends who, ironically enough, refers to religion as "fairy tales for adults" -- and we have had many, many conversations about our issues with organized religion, she knew about my family's history and had even asked about my then-fiance's religious background when she first heard of the engagement, specifically because she knew it was unlikely I would do well with someone who was a devout practitioner of an organized religion. So, in a lot of ways, her giving us this gift was downright bizarre.

BUT -- she loves to decorate (though she nows I do not share her passion for this), and even though she doesn't believe one word of the Bible, she loves to decorate for Christmas, and her daughter's wedding was in December, just months before my own wedding in May, and although it wasn't TECHNICALLY a Christmas-themed wedding, it basically was (the bridesmaids wore green velvet, for example -- it definitely had a Christmas feel to it). And someone (I'm not sure who) gave her daughter a porcelain Nativity scene (no, not the same one she gave me, so no, it was not recycled), and apparently she thought that was a FABULOUS gift and decided to get me one.

So, in my 16 years of marriage, I have never once put out the Nativity set, because it's just not my thing. As I have no idea from where it was purchased, there was no way to return it. But I can also assure you that:

1) I thanked her for the gift and have NEVER ONCE said anything about not liking it, not using it and thinking it a most bizarre and inappropriate gift to have received.

2) I thanked her not only because that's what you do, but because I really do think that in her mind it was a great gift, even though she of all people should have known better. So, if it's the thought that counts, I believe she thought it was a great gift, and I so I am truly grateful for that, even if I don't much sound like it.
Comment: #54
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Jun 2, 2011 10:51 AM
@irene, sure, I completely agree that gifts should be about the thought, and really the only thing that I think I'm trying to say is that weddings are different from birthdays or Christmas or Hannukah or other holidays. It's supposed to be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion that has a *lot* of pressure involved in it. So it may not be the best time to get "creative" with a gift, because emotions are running high and the lucky couple are often completely fried by the time the event is over.

For all we know the couple had a tea set in their registry already, in a completely different style. Also, in the letter, LW2 gushes about how meaningful the lakeside trip with its artsy atmosphere was to her -- but there's no indication that the bride and groom are artsy, quaint lakeside, antique-y people. She "imagined" it might be used only during the holidays, but again, there's no indication that this is something the couple was asking for, hoping for, or would have worked with their style.

It doesn't sound as if the LW really knew the couple well enough to judge what kind of gift they would appreciate, either, or she didn't really think enough about what they would want, and only imagined what she would like to receive and assumed from there.

None of this excuses the rudeness of the response the gift-givers received, of course!
Comment: #55
Posted by: Mike H
Thu Jun 2, 2011 11:24 AM
On gift-giving, thanking people and other such issues of etiquette... Here is a two-part truism for you that sounds like I'm just trying (too hard) to be clever but really is true when you think about it:

1) If it were always easy to do the right thing, everyone would always do the right thing.
2) If everyone always did the right thing, it would always be easy to do the right thing.

So, the bride and groom SHOULD have just done the right thing and written a thank you note and left it at that (why the father of the bride stuck his nose into it, we'll never know, and there is NO excuse for his behavior -- clearly, he's an ass). But it would have been "easier" for the bride and groom to do the right thing if the gift giver had also done the right thing in the first place. To my mind, there are two possible "right things" the LW could have done:

1) Included a note in the card explaining why the gift was so special, something along the lines of "I know this isn't a typical wedding gift, but when we were in this quaint little seaside town, we came across this fabulous antique shop where we found this very special holiday tea set. We hope you'll use it at Christmas time and remember your wedding -- and that the best gift you have ever gotten is your love for each other."


2) Realized that a gift requiring such an explanation may not be such a great idea unless you are darn certain you know the recipients well enough, etc., and instead purchased a gift with the recipients in mind.

If the LW had done strategy #1, the couple STILL may not have liked the gift, but they would have recognized the thought and care that went into it, and it would have been EASY for them to do the right thing. If the LW had done strategy #2, she likely would have purchased something off their registry, and it would have been EASY for the couple to do the right thing.

Let me be clear, I'm still with everyone else that the couple should have just thanked her and been done with it (and, frankly, that would have been an easy thing for them to do) -- but all of this stuff works better when BOTH SIDES are doing the right thing in the first place.
Comment: #56
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Jun 2, 2011 12:08 PM
LW2: I thought it interesting that the explanation for returning it was that the couple "didn't know what it was." For some reason they were from a subculture that had no interest or experience with formal entertaining? Nor with traditional etiquette either. We tend to assume that most people share some basic common culture, but ... Sounds like the father was clueless as well. Some people just know better, and some don't care to know..
Comment: #57
Posted by: partsmom
Thu Jun 2, 2011 12:22 PM
@ Rick -- you're right, it might not happen.

Then again, it just might. Especially if LW says, "I am worried enough about you that I am making your getting a doctor, a diagnosis and treatment a condition of us staying together. I can't just watch you self-destruct. Yes, you have the right to do that -- but you don't have the right to force me to watch at close range."

At least this way, if he refuses, and if she leaves, she can do so with a clear conscience, knowing there was nothing more she could have tried.
Comment: #58
Posted by: hedgehog
Thu Jun 2, 2011 12:28 PM
Hi, got ahold of the website master and I formally am now known as Joyce/MN. So doesn't matter how many times the other Joyce and I post the same time, you will now know which thoughts are mine.
Comment: #59
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Thu Jun 2, 2011 12:28 PM
@partsmom -- well, their not knowing what the gift was may be an indication that by the time they opened the gift, it was broken to such a degree that it was unrecognizable. Of course, if that were the case, the couple still should have thanked her and perhaps explained what happened to the gift -- and, more importantly, had it been broken so as to be unrecognizable, the father of the bride still shouldn't have written a nasty letter to the gift-giver (and apparently it wasn't so "unrecognizable" that it wasn't clear that the item was not new, or he wouldn't have referred to it as a yard sale find).
Comment: #60
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Jun 2, 2011 12:51 PM
Lisa advocated (as an option to explaining the gift):
2) Realized that a gift requiring such an explanation may not be such a great idea unless you are darn certain you know the recipients well enough, etc., and instead purchased a gift with the recipients in mind.
It's for sure the easier way -- not that there's anything wrong with that.

I think, though, that a good story/explanation can make a gift much more esteemed,, even if it's not to the newlyweds' immediate taste. Had LW mentioned, as in your comment and mine, that this was an antique tea set, even a coffee-loving couple who envision an entire home decorated in ultra-mod would recognize that perhaps they should take their set to Antiques Roadshow, or at least look it up on eBay -- and not dismissed it as "yard sale junk".

(While I appreciate the experiences here of everyone who's dealt with or lived with antique haters. I think the prevalence of TV shows like Antiques Roadshow and American Pickers and the rise of eBay, are making it more & more obvious these days even to people who don't want antiques in their own home that there are lots of other people who prize them, and will pay good money for them. )

And others, like me, are a sucker for a good story that could easily outweigh an item's visual appeal or practicality!

Comment: #61
Posted by: hedgehog
Thu Jun 2, 2011 1:59 PM
Oooh, Bitey Fish at #39 -- devious. I like it!
Comment: #62
Posted by: hedgehog
Thu Jun 2, 2011 2:02 PM
Rick, you\d be amazed at how often the threat of a spouse leaving can propel the other spouse into seeking help. I know because when I volunteered at a drug and alcohol facility, at least half the people in there were on their verge of losing their loved ones. Even for people in the depths of depression and/or addiction finally reacted when their husband or wife packed up and walked out.

You're making it sound as if this man will never change, like he's a lost soul and that his loss is a done deal. That's just not true. As I said earlier, the fact that anti-depressants make up so much of the pharmaceutical market belies this. A lot of people, even those suffering severely, can and do get help everyday. And yes, their loved ones are usually the ones helping to make that happen.

When it comes to mental illness, we may not be able to force sufferers to get help, as you suggest, but we also can't speak for all of them, as you seem to be doing. It's up the wife, really. We can hear she's fed up, but she might change her mind if she sees a light at the end of the tunnel, whatever that light may be. (And no, not the train.)
Comment: #63
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 2:03 PM
My apologies for the sentence structure up there: It should read: Even people in the depths of depression and/or addiction finally reacted when their husband or wife packed up and walked out."
Comment: #64
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 2:07 PM
@hedgehog - I loved your big bag of dryer lint and toenail clippings comment. Very funny. I also liked your example note.

@Nanchan - I am with Zoe, excellent comment.

@Chelle - I was thinking along the same lines. I don't know the process but I thought the wife could/should have her husband committed. He would have no choice in whether or not he would go and he would have access to the intensive therapy as well as healthcare that he seems to desperately need. But if she did go that route, I would hope she did it out of love and would stay close to monitor his progress and give him loving support - and not try to leave him while he was being treated. She sounds frustrated and as if she has truly bottomed out in what she has left to give him. I feel for both of them.
Comment: #65
Posted by: sharnee
Thu Jun 2, 2011 2:21 PM
Re: irene - I'm not speaking for anyone. I'm voicing an opinion. And yes if getting up and walking is what it's going to take then that's what needs to happen. This notion that someone like the Annies can just say he's depressed and she should make an appointment for him is only half the answer. When he refuses to go then what? Like I said no one ever addresses the "then what". The man clearly needs help but tell me, after all the pleading, cajoleing, threatening, whining, nagging etc. what is the next step? I think this lady is probably at that next step.
Comment: #66
Posted by: Rick
Thu Jun 2, 2011 2:27 PM
I agree. The people who rec'd the gift just should have thanked the gift giver and left it at that. It is highly rude to criticize what you rec'd. If they didn't like it and it was not broken, they could have put it up for sale and ebay. Somebody would have liked it and bought it. The best thing is to smile and say to one's self, I am grateful for being alive instead of nitpick over the small stuff. The father was extremely rude to criticize the gift. I would consider writing him out of my life if I were them.

As for the depressed man. He probably won't go to the doctor on his own. An intervention seems like that might help. Otherwise she might as well tell him she is leaving unless he shapes up right now. Not a month from now, but right at this moment. Otherwise walk.
Comment: #67
Posted by:
Thu Jun 2, 2011 2:47 PM
@hedgehog -- Actually, I'm with you -- I'm a sucker for a good story, and when a gift comes with a great story, that definitely enhances the gift...for ME. But I realize not everyone feels that way. That's why I said that if you're going to give a gift that requires a whole bunch of explanation, you need to ask yourself whether you know the recipient well enough to be sure that it's the right way to go. I have a friend whose entire home is decorated with stuff that has a great story behind it. She'd take a true yard sale find (and I mean REALLY something from a yard sale with little monetary value -- not necessarily a pricey antique) over something brand new any day of the week and twice on Sunday. For that matter, she'd take the cheap yard sale find -- if it had a great story -- over the pricey antique that doesn't have any real story or sentiment behind it. So, if I were shopping for her, I'd know that she would actually PREFER something a little off the beaten track if it came with a good story. On the other hand, I have a cousin who is all about modern, minimalist art and decor. If it's not streamlined and shiny, he's not interested. I'm not going to buy him something antique or rustic or what have you, no matter how fabulous of a story there might be behind it, because I know that's not going to appeal to him.
Comment: #68
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Jun 2, 2011 2:52 PM
Then she enlists others to help her before she gives up on the man. At the very least, she alerts a social worker from the local authority if she leaves so that this person can check up on the husband.

If she stays, she gets him tested for mental competence (I suggested this in an earlier post). His hygiene and unwillingness to see a doctor for his "supposed symptoms" might be enough to get him to a hospital for observation, even for 48 hours, where a more thorough evaluation can be made. He may have to be restrained in order to get him there, but if he's in deep psychological trouble, this is an option. If his "symptoms" prove he is delusional, he may be institutionalized briefly and/or treated with medication. A lot of people have episodes of deep psychological distress once or twice in their lifetimes and they still recover.

That's the "then what?"

I once escorted a student of mine, who was hallucinating in class, to the emergency room of the university I was teaching at at the time. (The hospital was attached to the university.) I waited there with him for a few hours, spoke to the psychiatrists about what I observed in his behaviour, helped them get his parents' contact information from him (with a social worker). I spoke to his parents on the phone and told them what had happened. We didn't leave this young man to flounder without help. There are always steps that can be taken to escalate the level of help an individual needs.

It turns out he had one of his first episodes of schizophrenia, and of course, his parents came down from up north to pick him up, take him home and help him get treatment in his hometown. It was heartbreaking, of course, but at least he landed in a soft spot. Between myself, the doctors and social workers and other medical staff, this young man got good help and quickly.

I think some of us are responding the the hopelessness of the picture you're painting.
Comment: #69
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 2:53 PM
@Rick -- I also am assuming that the wife in LW1 has begged, pleaded, cajoled, threatened, nagged, whined -- and may even have tried having a loving adult conversation with him. Assuming that is the case, then I'm with you -- she has done her best to help him, and now she needs to tend to her own sanity. But I also agree that both for his sake AND HER OWN (because trust me, if he kills himself or even just continues to let himself deteriorate, she's going to feel guilty about it, whether she should or not) she needs to make sure that she really has exhausted every option for trying to get him help. Once she has done that, she's at the next step -- and the next step is doing whatever she needs to do to tend to her own sanity, which sounds like leaving him.
Comment: #70
Posted by: Lisa
Thu Jun 2, 2011 3:01 PM
Hi Joyce in Marvelous Minnesota, I mentioned a while ago that my older sister and I were responsible for picking up my Grandfather's ashes from the funeral home. My parents had gone over early to his parents home and were getting ready for the wake. My Grandparents lived on an island and with the ferry schedule, sometimes it was hard to coordinate things. It holds a special memory for me because I never considered that there would be life after the death of this great man. You are very lucky to still have your mother. I now look back and see the ashes as a step in the grieving process. Plus it's the only time I have been able to pick him up. He was 6'4 and 225 pounds. A big guy with a big heart. There are days when I still can't believe he's gone and that he's been gone for 10 years now.

So we showed up at the funeral home, identified ourselves, waited while the mortician verified with my father that he wanted us to pick up the ashes. Signed the release papers and an assistant walked in with a cardboard box. She handed it to my older sister who stood there numb. I took the box from my older sister who quickly gave it up. My sister and I both said a simple "Thank you" and the mortician and his assistant watched us leave. I put it in the backseat of my car and contemplated putting the seatbelt around it. I could not put him in the trunk.

Is this all that 77 years here comes to? A cardboard box? Neither my sister and I could talk about picking the ashes for a year. But talking about him and my Grandmother (who died two days later at 84 years old) takes some of the shock away. They were here and while some of their belongings give us comfort, it's how they treated us, talked to us and lived their lives that still gives us happiness.

The fact that your father had wanted to be with you is something held in the heart for the rest of your life. And I wish you and your mother nothing but peace and happiness in the weeks and months to follow.
Comment: #71
Posted by: Chelle
Thu Jun 2, 2011 4:16 PM
Re the really bad wedding gift and the psychotic response of the husband's brother. I'm enjoying all the people posting their views here. This is fun!
Comment: #72
Posted by: LouisaFinnell
Thu Jun 2, 2011 6:09 PM
Lisa ---The guy's wife has NOT pleaded, cajoled, etc. to get him to a doctor for his depression, because she's not even entertained the possibility that he may be depressed. He is "a lazy slob" and a "hypochondriac" who won't go see the doctor, she says, and I'd bet my house that it's for physical symptoms that include stuff like insomnia, back ache, joint pain and maybe racing heart and indigestion.

Given her angry tone, I'd be surprised if she's even responding sympathetically to those complaints or begging him to see the doc for them -- more like "well, then, make an appointment if it's so bad." She's fed up with him (and it IS tough listening to someone complain endlessly about complaints -- but a lot of people are afraid to go to the doc for fear it will confirm that it's something terrible. Irrational, of course, but happens every day.) She hasn't had it easy...but she doesn't realize that he's not liking the way he lives now any more than she is.

I hope that when she reads the Annies' answer (and maybe comments here) that she realizes the importance of getting him a diagnosis and treatment and helps him do that -- first by asking, then, if necessary, offering to help him follow through or even offering up her only real weapon: her willingness to leave him if he won't get treatment.

Comment: #73
Posted by: hedgehog
Thu Jun 2, 2011 6:30 PM
@Chelle, my father's ashed arrived in the mail, without warning. Totally threw me for a loop. The funeral home told me they would phone when they gave it to the courier company, so I would know when to expect it. They didn't. They dropped it into Canada Post. No call, no warning, no nothing. I was shocked when I got it. I had to sit down for quite a while while my blood pressure stabilized (or something...).

I don't have a lot of respect for the funeral industry here in Canada, I'm afraid.
Comment: #74
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 6:41 PM
@Hedgehog: i agree with you about "what's come before?" I mean, the LW sounds more angry and disgusted than anything else. She also doesn't mention any strategies she's used to remedy the problem. She may just be finished with the marriage and is exaggerating the situation to rationalize walking out on him (although, that's just speculation on my part). But her anger is remarkable in that it's not balanced by much sympathy. Editing on the part of the Annies, or is she really that cold?

Of course, he must sense how she feels. But I do wonder what, if anything, she has actually said to him.
Comment: #75
Posted by: irene
Thu Jun 2, 2011 6:55 PM
LW1--Okay, your solution is simple, really! Inform hubby that you have certain standards when it comes to your spouse and your marriage. Those include full time employment (or some mutually agreed upon equitable contribution to the household such as cooking, cleaning, and maintaining the household;) good personal hygiene, personal accountability to life and health, and finally commitment to the marriage and all that entails. If you truly love your husband, you'll give him one chance to seriously shape up. If you've already considered your options and found you're better off without this lazy, disgusting lump of nothing in your living room every day, then serve hubby with divorce papers and tell him to get the hell out or you'll have him removed by force. Then do it.

LW2--Upon receiving my thoughtful gift returned broken and a rude note from my brother-in-law, I would have immediately called the moron and invited him in no uncertain terms to kiss my ass! I would then have sent a similar note to the "happy couple." Then, I would forget about ever sending another gift for any future event for any of these ungrateful bunch of greedy snobs.
Comment: #76
Posted by: Chris
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:06 PM
Re: Chelle You are a sweetie!
Not all can go smoothly as we wish for it, but making the bumps in the road as little as possible is something to strive for.
It got to 85 degrees here today, and the wind is at 25 mph. I am in the house, heating it up (no AC yet) making cookies for graduation on Saturday, my great nephew. And according to the family potluck thing, you don't come to a party without a food package. Really they begged for the peanut butter cookies--whip them up and bake right away. Looking at my recipe, I was thinking double, then I quaded it! I was watching the national news and went on auto pilot. So my house will be hot, will open everything for all night, hope it cools to 55. tomorrow to be in the 90's with high humidity.
So far got11 dozen done and packaged up. About 3 inches across. Supposed to very warm on Sat but not miserable.
Hubby came home and said LET"S GO EAT, so went down to the local sports bar, had a mushroom/swiss/beef burger. Had half to go, staying in the calories since I probably snitched some cookie crumbs along the way. They cleaned road ditch tonight, 2x a year and your name is on a road sign that the 2 miles (so 4 miles cleaned) is yours. My son's TKD gym had about 50 volunteers to do it up right for spring. YECH, but no panties, body parts, a few dead animals my husband said they left.
Comment: #77
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:28 PM
I forgot to say, we had the funeral first, then cremation. The box was a rosewood, I had my jeweler create a gold on black tone plaque. The box was $200, I saw many more that were up to $700+. The funeral director took care of all the things BUT having an a h nephew, he went and picked up the ashes, brought them to my mom's house, slapped them on the table and said HERE THEY ARE. She cried all night and did not sleep. The funeral director was under orders that only myself or my sister would pick them up. The nephew lied and said HE HAD TO PICK THEM UP. The director said NO he insisted on taking them. This is the beginning of teaching my mother (80) to stand on her own 2 feet and telling HIM NO. First was to remove him from her checking account and YES!!! my sister and I are on instead. We don't care how much she has, never asked, but since I dealt with my inlaws, documented to the penny, and they had much more than my mom has--anyway, time to pull the knives out of her back and wait for them to be slung in my sister and mine. She kicks A fairly well, and I head for the lawyers. Stay within the laws and does not matter how many tantrums others throw--do the best we can for mom. Yep, mom will become a new independent person who knows she can handle things in front of her. She is coming for the weekend and she just wants to sleep on my couch--not pulled out. Feels good she says. O.K.
Comment: #78
Posted by: Joyce/MN
Thu Jun 2, 2011 8:38 PM
Re: hedgehog
There is a lot we don't know for sure here and have to surmise on - as usual. A man doesn't behave like that for years without his wife never voicing a complaint. If she states he "won't go to the doctor", it's evidently because she's tried to get him there many times. It is entirely possible she has not considered depression as a cause and nor should she be expected to - she is not a professional in the field, how does a diagnosis become her responsibility? Considering the situation from her vantage point, all she sees a someone who stinks to high heaven, funking up the entire house, living at her expense and apparently not giving a sweet damn whether she lives or dies, sitting around doing nothing all day while she's working her butt off at her age. I'm surprised any of you would blame her for being angry.

After putting up with the unacceptable for long enough, there comes a times when the sympathy that used to be there has been all used up and there is nothing left but anger. Been there, done that, or should I say, AM there, knows exactly how she feels.

And trust me, even if she HAD considered depression and was even knowledgeable enough to come up with a pre-diagnosis, all the chances are that it wouldn't change anything. STILL, he would refuse to go to the doctor and she wouldn't be able to force him, while he's busy destroying his life and his relationship with her. Don't ask me how I know this...

Comment: #79
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Fri Jun 3, 2011 3:37 AM
@Lisa-I wish I could say the same about some of the items I received that were not on the wedding registry. I still scratch my head over the beat-up wooden ducks one person gave us. Neither my husband nor I are cash over ducks nor have we ever collected anything with ducks.
Oh well, I just smiled and thanked the giver. :)
LW3-I really do not advocate lying to children. I think it's important to tell the truth but only provide details as appropriate to the child's age. My mother didn't necessarily lie to me but she would with hold info. It really back-fired on her once and I learned at a young age that I couldn't trust her. I understand she was trying to protect me but I don't think she fully considered what would happen if I found out from someone else.
Comment: #80
Posted by: LibraryKat
Fri Jun 3, 2011 6:27 AM
Re: Chris - but Chris, she must make an appointment for him to a doctor and then magically transport him there and then make him participate in his therapy and take his pills. It's all up to her becuase he's sad and unhappy and can't take any responsibility for his own damn life. You just don't get it. (sarcasm off)
Comment: #81
Posted by: Rick
Fri Jun 3, 2011 7:56 AM
Re: LibraryKat ~~ Bitey Fish hates wooden ducks! Bitey Fish broke a tooth on one once.

Comment: #82
Posted by: Piranha in Pajamas
Fri Jun 3, 2011 6:01 PM
You guys are too nice. I would have sent them a second gift... a book of etiquette.
Comment: #83
Posted by: Julie
Fri Jun 3, 2011 6:57 PM
Lise, I don't blame her for being angry -- but I do think that she's not looking at the forest because she's caught in the trees, and I think that's something she may come to regret later.

Too many people are exactly where she is -- they see "lazy slob" and "his choice" without ever stopping to consider that depression and anxiety are huge possibilities, ESPECIALLY if this was not the person's MO for many years beforehand. She says he didn't work last year or the year before, and has been stinky for months. They've been married 30 years. He apparently wasn't stinky for years before that, and worked for years before that.

No, she can't make a diagnosis. She can, however, insist that he go SEE a doctor to GET a diagnosis if he wants to stay married to her -- and she might feel differently about leaving if it turns out that this is something that can be addressed fairly easily and he takes those actions. If instead he says, "back off, witch, I don't need no doc...I just need a little more time" then she's free to leave knowing that she put forth a good-faith effort to save him and save the marriage.

Her proposed alternative --just leaving him and never looking back -- actually looks to me to be a lot harder on her than it seems, particularly if it involves him blowing his brains out shortly after. That will open her up to "how could you not SEE that he was depressed?" and "why didn't you insist he go for treatment?" from friends and family, and possibly her own self questioning "what if I HAD said something to him before leaving?"

I've seen people whose sympathy for their partners had died in anger wrestle with these kinds of situations -- not played out exactly like this, but close enough that I can say it's overwhelming to think that while you ultimately were not responsible for the horror, you'd have had an easier time believing that had you stopped to consider everything might not be as you assumed, and covered your bases.
Comment: #84
Posted by: hedgehog
Sat Jun 4, 2011 8:49 AM
Re: LibraryKat: Antique wooden ducks can be worth astonishing amounts of money. Odds are, yours aren't! But I thought it was worth mentioning :-)
Comment: #85
Posted by: Van Wickle
Sat Jun 4, 2011 9:38 AM
Re: hedgehog

You say you don't blame her for being angry, but when you say "Given her angry tone, I'd be surprised if she's even responding sympathetically to those complaints or begging him to see the doc for them", it sure looks like it.

It can be pretty hard to differentiate the forest from the trees or vice-versa when your brain cells are being clogged up with a toxic stench. If the man hasn't showered or changed his clothing for months, then he pretty much smells like the vagrant sleeping in the park, who hasn't either, and refuses to, because otherwise he could go to the shelter. My first reaction to one of those is to RUN - angrily. In some people, extreme body odour is a form of passive aggression.

For all the insensitive clods who be so callous as to utter, "how could you not SEE that he was depressed?" and "why didn't you insist he go for treatment?", let THEM deal try to deal with a stinky jackass who refuses to help himself and see if THEY can successfully 'insist' he does anything. I am not saying you're doing that - but I am SO tired of people making women responsible for what men do.

As for her "own self questioning "what if I HAD said something to him before leaving?", I'm sure she's said plenty already. Men like that don't listen, they always think the threat is empty and that things will never change. For her to leave could be the wake up call he needs and she certainly needs the change of air.

Comment: #86
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Sun Jun 5, 2011 6:12 AM
[apologies if this posts twice]
Lise, you're reading tone into my words that isn't there.

I'm not blaming her for being angry because I don't think it's occurred to her that this could BE mental illness. And if she hasn't even considered the idea that this is mental could she have suggested/insisted that he go for treatment of it?

Once you know that there's a possibility that this is being caused by something other than the spouse's choice, then you owe it to someone you promised to "love honor and cherish" to insist they talk to a doctor about it-- to the point where yes, you'll leave if they do not, because this is THAT important to the continuation of the relationship. THAT is her leverage, THAT is how she "insists". Family and friends don't have that capability to leave -- a spouse does. The "stinky jackass" may be only a stinky jackass who may value his stinky jackassnes more than his marriage. Or he MAY say to himself, "OK, I don't think the doc can help, but I'll go show her that there's nothing they can do" and then be pleasantly surprised to get his drive and ambition back -- and she may be pleasantly surprised to get her husband back. OR the leaving may be the wakeup call that the threat was not. But at least giving the warning she's given him the chance to rectify things.

And that would be the same if the genders were reversed.

By the way, it's not always "insensitive clods" -- it's family and friends who have NO idea that something was that wrong,pa rtly because he never let on anything was wrong and SHE never said a word to them, either.

I saw someone close to me die, after a diagnosis of 4th stage prostate cancer obtained in the ER (he should have been dead at that point). I was ASTONISHED -- prostate cancer generally is slow-advancing, and has symptoms that allow diagnosis and treatment much, much earlier. So yeah, I asked. And, go figure -- there HAD been multiple bathroom trips in the night that she was aware of (and was angry about because they woke her up).
For months. And months. HE was terrified of what he might hear and didn't see a doc. SHE was martyring herself because of broken sleep and long anger, assuming this was a UTI he was too stubborn to get treatment. Neither of them, of course, mentioned the symptoms to anyone else.

They both spent that last year with a lot of regrets. It's such a waste that I hate to see anyone else go down that road.

Lastly, your description of him as "stinky jackass" and "men like that don't listen" indicate, too, that this is all a matter of his choice rather than possibly illness or chemical imbalance that are more appropriately addressed medically than by sheer will. This guy is a person, possibly like some other guys, possibly not. His wife married him as a guy she loved. I think she will feel better about herself if she takes the high road, is all I'm sayin'.
Comment: #87
Posted by: hedgehog
Sun Jun 5, 2011 11:22 AM
Re: hedgehog
Everything you said was right of course... but it may not change the fact that his stench is so unbearable that her senses are obscurated to anything else. Not that I would blame her. Anyone who's taken one shower and changed his clothing once in fours months will be offensive enough to make anyone angry.

Of course it is likely that she has not considered mental illness. However, she has tried to get him to the doctor for other reasons and he refuses to go - once at the doctor's, S/HE would see right away that some mental problem is involved. But he won't go. She's at her wit's end and I can hardly blame her. This is definitely one instance where an ultimatum is in order, you're sure right about that.

The case you described is very sad. My ex-husband died of colon cancer, which is supposed to be highly curable when taken early enough. And that was the problem - he mistrusted doctors, hated doctors, wanted nothing to doctors. By the time he finally went because the pain was unbearable, it was too late to do anything. Idiot. He was always stubborn and convinced he knew better than anybody

Prostate cancer is generally slow-advancing, but it sometimes comes in a very aggressive form. My father was diagnosed early and got all the treatments currently available. To no avail, he was gone within a year. If it's any consolation to you, if the cancer advanced so fast with your friend that mere months of neglect did him in, chances are that it was the kind my father had, and that it would have done him in anyway. They might have had a few weeks or months more had it been taken earlier, but not more.

As for the insensitive clods, it's normal to be shocked when a death occurs without warning, but it all depends on the way questions are asked, of course - which is the difference between someone sensitive and a clod. "Couldn't you SEE he was depressed?" would phrase it in a way that puts the blame on her, even unintentionally. Not cool. Of course there are differences in tone, but I for one would be very careful about asking about symptoms that may have been present - the survivor feels bad enough as it is.

P.S. BTW... I see the reaction of people (and my own) when a stinky jackass gets on the bus and uses his BO as a weapon to get in for free. I see the smug smile on his face when the stench of him carves a wide berth of avoidance all around him - even in a crowded bus. For some people, this is a tool of power - which doesn't rule out mental illness, of course.

Comment: #88
Posted by: Lise Brouillette
Mon Jun 6, 2011 8:00 AM
My husband and I would have been thrilled to receive such a unique gift. First off,I would think that since you and your husband drove to the wedding, that the gift arrived in good condition and was not broken, in transit. A person would wonder if it somehow was dropped between the wedding/reception and the time the gifts were opened.

I do not think the gift was inappropriate. It beats some of the gifts we received. His sister and brother gave us a cheap set of glasses and a couple dish towels. My cousins, all of whom are older than I am and who had received very nice gifts from my parents when they got married gave us a couple small jars of bath soaps, a small bath rug (about the size of a placemat) and a couple other junky things which I'm sure was a collection of gifts they'd gotten out of their closets. My Father was livid since the total amount the 3 of them gave was about 1/3rd of the total that the 3 of of them, together received.

The couple was definitely rude to return your gift and to criticize the item. I think all of us have received wedding gifts that weren't what we expected. But the proper thing is to say thank you and deal with the undesireable gift in whatever way you choose: regift it, return it to the store (if it is returnable) throw it away or give it to Good Will.
Comment: #89
Posted by: Dianne
Thu Jun 16, 2011 11:42 AM
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