Here's the original post:
For starters, I absolutely adore my wife. She's my rock and has been an infallible beacon of light for me this year. I lost my job at the beginning of the year, and when things got tough she buckled up, got a part-time job to help us stay afloat, and didn't have a single negative thing to say about it all.
I finally got back on my feet again and wanted to do something nice for my wife once things settled down. She's a classic "girly girl" and loves to dress up, got out, etc. We really cut back this year, so when our finances felt stable, I wanted to splurge on something special for her.
I bought her a diamond necklace, nothing too extravagant (we JUST got out of financial straits, I'm not turning around and blowing money I don't have). It's a single solitaire diamond that IMO was classy and elegant, but something she could wear on the daily.
Cue to Thanksgiving dinner, and my wife wears the necklace to dinner. Her SIL (her brother's wife, I'll call her "Mary") notices the necklace and compliments my wife on it. My wife happily tells her how it was a surprise, and Mary agrees that it was a super sweet sentiment, compliments me on my choice, and overall the family thought it was a nice gift, especially knowing that we went through hard times.
A few days after dinner, I received a text message from the BIL calling me an AH for using Thanksgiving dinner to "show off" and make it "all about me". He said that I shouldn't have let my wife wear such flashy jewelry to dinner and upstage everyone else, and that it was super selfish and conceited of us.
I was stunned to be honest, because the necklace discussion only lasted several minutes, maybe 5-10, and the rest of the family only had nice things to say about it. They seemed genuinely happy for me and my wife.
I'm starting to feel like an AH because it's true that the family isn't incredibly well off, and something like my wife's necklace would be seen as something very luxurious. My BIL says that I'm now putting pressure on him to get his wife something extravagant for Christmas.
On the other hand though, I don't feel like it's really my responsibility to care about how BIL feels about a gift I got for my wife, and that if he feels "pressure" it's not on me. I don't know, was I the AH for talking about the gift during dinner?
Here's what top commenters had to say:
NTA. Your BIL's insecurities aren't yours to manage. You bought a common, typical gift for your wife.
NTA. And 🤣 at your BIL for the whole let your wife… comment. She’s a grown a$$ woman and can dress herself. Your BIL is the AH and apparently a misogynistic one to boot. Let her. 😂
NTA. His response says a lot about him and nothing about you. He's protecting his insecurities and jealousies.
NTA. You brought the necklace for your wife to be able to wear everyday..She wore it. It's not like you turned up to thanksgiving in white tie and a ball gown complete with The George IV State Diadem.
Thank you to everyone for giving me the confidence to move forward with the situation! There were a few questions in my last post regarding how my wife, BIL, and SIL were involved in the situation that I wanted to shed some light on. Unfortunately, the outcome isn't the best.
The first thing I want to clear up is that BIL is, in fact, my wife's brother. Secondly, the "allow" comment regarding my wife's choice in dress was from my BIL. I have no interest or power in dictating what my wife choses to wear regardless of the occasion.
Thirdly, while I won't reveal the cost of the necklace, I can assure everyone that it was in a reasonable price range that definitely wouldn't turn any heads if worn out running errands, but was still special enough to my wife and myself.
I initially wanted to keep the text messages from my wife in fear that it would sour the sentiment behind the necklace, but we're not the type to keep secrets from each other. When she read the texts, she was LIVID. I've never seen her so upset, especially at family. She immediately called her brother and just reamed him out for his insensitivity.
We were on the phone together, but I didn't really pipe up once they started arguing since I felt like they should work it out as siblings. The got in a long argument and her brother said he was worried that she was going down a "slippery slope" of becoming a "superficial bitch". And that we shouldn't "force" our financial success on other people.
That comment honestly shocked the both of us, because while they weren't close growing up he's never talked to her like that before. At that point, my wife told her brother that if he wasn't going to be happy for her, that she had one thoughtful treat from her husband after a really sh!tty year, then she had nothing to say to him.
A few hours later, my wife did get a text from SIL. Apparently she also heard the conversation and was mortified. She at least reassured us that she was happy for our success after working so hard and that she'd try to talk some sense into her husband (BIL).
Regardless, my wife and I decided to spend Christmas without BIL and his wife. We'll be doing it separately on Christmas Eve with her parents. At this point, there's just too much tension, and I didn't want to risk BIL ruining Christmas because I wouldn't put it past him to find the gifts we get her family "too luxurious" and pitching a fit in response.
Her parents are staying out of the situation for the time being but okay with meeting us separately, and I respect their decision. And this might make me the AH, but I'm going to take some advice from a few commenters and get my wife a nice matching bracelet for Christmas.
EDIT: I didn't include this before because my BIL didn't concretely admit to anything, but my wife speculates that her brother's behavior is due to a competitive nature. She said that he's always loved winning, even as a child. During my rough patch he started coming around to help out, but now I'm starting to feel like it just gave him some sort of twisted satisfaction to see me failing.