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Woman refuses to return heirloom ring to her late wife's family. 'AITA?' UPDATED

Woman refuses to return heirloom ring to her late wife's family. 'AITA?' UPDATED


"AITA for refusing to return my late wife’s ring to the family?"

Here's the story:

I (F30) married my wife (F36) a year ago. We had been together 6 years, married for 1 before she passed away. It has been a really rocky time for me and I am still struggling but getting there, day by day.

My wife had been close with her grandmother when she was growing up and when she passed away her grandmother left a beautiful ring which had been in the family for generations. My wife used this ring to propose to me and it also became my wedding ring. I have worn it everyday since she gave it to me, and it is truly my most precious item from her.

It feels like she is with me always and when I look at it, it brings my heart some happiness to remember our time together. My wife even spent money on the ring to get it restored as it had a few cosmetic faults, but by doing this it more or less doubled the value too.

It is very unique and shaped like a snake with a diamond in its head and rubies for the eyes, the diamond was cracked and the blue enamel needed repairing which she did before proposing.

My BIL has now decided to propose to his girlfriend and he wants to use the snake ring as their grandmother wanted the ring to be used as an engagement ring for when one of her grandchildren wanted to marry, a first come first serve situation, although, it was never really expected her granddaughter would be doing the proposing.

It was always assumed the boys would offer it to their gfs but my wife got there and did it first and that was that. It was never really questioned either as my wife and she had been so close too. Nobody had any objections at the time as the ring was still within the family and neither of my BILs were anywhere near getting engaged.

I refused to give the ring back and now I have caused a huge rift with my family in law. My MIL and BILs are all calling me an AH as they want the ring to continue being part of their family and to be passed down in the generations as it was expected to. I am distraught, my wife and I were not big sentimental gift givers and this is honestly the only thing she was truly proud to gift me, it was a huge deal for us and meant the world to both of us.

My family in law have also thrown in my face that the grandmother wouldn’t even have wanted me to have it since she was Russian and would very much be against a same sex couple. This really hurts and feels like a low blow as although it’s definitely true I was accepted by my family in law. The grandmother had long been gone before I met my wife. They are now saying that it should go to the boys as she intended.

It’s all got really nasty and I just don’t know what to do. The family have even offered to buy the ring off me for the full value of the ring with the repairs but I refuse. It is the only thing I have of my wife and parting with it feels like the only piece I have left of my broken heart being taken away. AITA?


I just wanted to give you all a bit more information based on some of your comments, No my wife and I did not have children. Grandma definitely wouldn’t have accepted the relationship. She was very old fashioned shall we say.

There are lots of comments about leaving the ring in my will which I think is a great idea. I hadn’t been able to think clearly since this all happened because I felt stricken with grief again after the shock of being asked.

I am going to speak with MIL and BIL ASAP and see if I can offer the ring to BIL’s future children in my will, I don’t want to part the family from the ring but I don’t want to part with it in my lifetime so I’m hoping this can be resolved. I will post an update as soon as I have spoken to everyone.

For those who have mentioned about giving it up if I remarry. I couldn’t possibly answer this question at this point in time. My grief is blinding. To think about loving anybody else in this world feels absolutely impossible.

Here's what top commenters had to say:

srslyeffedmind said:

NTA I’m sorry for your loss and this additional pain on top of it. Widows aren’t usually expected to return their wedding ring.

Panaccolade said:

NTA. It is YOUR ring. Not theirs. The moment your wife gave it to you, any rights they had to it disappeared. A widow is not expected to return the ring, and that's what you are. Especially with the homophobic comments, I'd tell them to beat it. Your wife would be ashamed to see them acting so horrifically.

CakeisaDie said:

NTA The Family in Law turned into a TA by their low blow attack even if it was true. I would keep the ring for now and give the ring (when you are ready) to the children or grandchildren of the in-laws.

manofmatt said:

NTA - maybe offer to leave it to the family in your will so it goes back to them. But your wife gave you it, it's yours, you don't need to do anything and your BIL can get his own ring. Don't let them guilt you into anything, stay strong! 💪

Agreeable_Hippo_7970 said:

NAH- this is ultimately your ring but I do understand wanting it to stay in the family. That doesn't mean it has to serve as a wedding/engagement ring twice in one generation. It's overall very complicated, the ring belongs to you and you shouldn't be forced or pressured into giving it away.

The ring has also been in the family quite a wile so I get that there's a deep connection with it. Maybe it would be possible for you to pass it on later. maybe for your nieces or nephews etc. As long as you have a connection to that family I'd say it's okay for you to keep it

NoGuarantee3961 said:

Everybody is an a**hole. Family heirlooms are weird, but IMO should be kept in the family, and allowed to pass down another generation. If there is an unbroken line, its easier, but where one aunt or uncle does not have a child to pass it on to, it should, at some point, go back to the family line.

Now, it is your BIL asking for it, which is the same generation, and I'd think that is a little weird, since it obviously still has meaning for you, especially if you still wear it. I would expect someone in the next generation i.e. a niece or nephew of your late wife to be the recipient, and leaving it willed to someone in the family to make the decision in the case of your passing.

He's an a**hole for asking for it now, but it sounds like you're keeping it from staying in the family line, which is also an a**hole move.

Months later, the woman posted this UPDATE:

Since my last post my SIL and I have talked regarding the ring. She has been my mediator and we were always good friends. She agreed from the beginning I should keep the ring. We met up to discuss things and face to face, without the pressure of the rest of the family breathing down my neck we were able to discuss the ring and it’s future.

I told her about my Reddit post and the advice I had been given and that I would be very happy to leave the ring in my will for the first niece or nephew born to the family. So that it’ll go back to the family eventually. I told my SIL between her and I that if I remarry at some point and I feel I am able to part with it then it may be sooner but I definitely didn’t want that in writing.

I said I am happy to draw up said contracts/will and relevant copies for this agreement before my departure. SIL totally agreed with the proposal and once the business side of convo was out the way she told me what was the spark that lit this horrendous fire.

FIL never got on with my late wife and especially not me, the ring is from his side of the family. He has a very greedy nature and although he despised his mother, he despised the fact that something of value that he deemed his inheritance has been taken away from him.

That, and he is openly homophobic too. He hated my late wife for it, and apparently when he found out what his mother’s wishes for the ring was he lost his mind, even though he is an only child and inherited a small fortune from her.

After my wife passed he saw it as an opportunity to get the ring back and harassed the family to "get it back no matter what it takes" SIL said BIL doesn’t even want it for his fiancé but they are all scared of FIL and he would make MIL’s life hell.

SIL said she is so glad that I am moving home to be with my family. We shared a lot of tears and it was so so good to talk about my wife with her. Luckily and hopefully for all of us SIL shouldn’t be too long before she has her first child with her husband as they’ve just started trying.

SIL and I talked again over the phone after the relevant information was relayed to the family. Apparently FIL is still raging but she said she could see in her BIL and MIL relief on their faces. Apparently FIL really lost his mind when she told him I’m moving back home believing the ring will be lost forever, even though the paperwork etc is all getting in order nicely now.

Here are some responses from commenters to this update:

tiny_lolita said:

FIL is the type of people who’ll drain you physically and emotionally. Nobody need such toxicity in their lives, especially not after a loss of a love one. I hope the next chapter of your life will help you heal and best wishes to your future.

Queen_Dare_Bear said:

I just read your original post, and WOW - your FIL sounds like a raging narcissist. I hope that you find peace and solace after moving back home, as I am sure your late wife would have wanted for you. Good luck, OP!

Elegant-Reason2689 said:

To lose a partner and then having to deal with this. wow. I couldn't. You resolved this brilliantly, and also managed to stand up to someone who hated your wife for who she was. I'm sorry you had to go through all this, the very best for you in the future :)

What do you think? Should she have given the ring back? Or was she within her right to keep it to memorialize her wife?

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