Here's the original post:
My (36F) fiance, David (34M) (name changed) and I have been together for about 6 years now. His family is very wealthy. Although I'm very successful and a high earner, my fiancè works for his family's business and makes more than I do.
I never want to be perceived to a "gold digger". Which is why I try to keep my expenses strictly separate from his. I pay for my half of everything, if he ever gives me a gift I make sure I get him something of equal value. David has often insisted on "treating" me but I always refuse.
I really don't feel comfortable letting other people pay for me. My fiance has learned to respect this. After we get married, we will split all household expenses on a 50-50 basis. Our wedding is in October. His parents insisted on paying for a grand wedding for us, but David and I convinced them that we'd rather pay for it ourselves.
The other day, David's mom showed me a diamond and sapphire necklace and earrings set that she had kept for David's future wife. She said she wanted me to have it and preferably wear it on our wedding day.
I felt very uncomfortable with this. I never accept any presents that I can't afford on my own. I told her I was flattered, but that I can't accept something so expensive. I told her I won't be able to give her something equally expensive in return and I'm not ok with that. She said she didn't want anything from me and that David's sister in law had also been given similar jewellery when she married his brother.
I told her I understand its their tradition but I can't compromise on my principles. She said "ok, fine" but I could tell she was unhappy. Later on David told me I should have just accepted the jewellery because it would make his mom happy and because I'm "part of the family now".
I explained to him that 1. No, I'm not really a part of his family, not the way he is, and 2. Being part of the family doesn't mean that I'm going to mooch off of them". He told me I should compromise and at least wear the set on the wedding day. I refused again as, for my wedding, I would rather wear jewellery that I have bought with my own money. David said he understood and will speak to his mother.
However, Davis's SIL called me this morning and told me his mom is still upset and that I she just accept the gift and that I'm "going too far with the independence thing". I have a feeling that David's mom is the one who put her up to this. I do want to know what people think. Are they right? Am I going too far with this, or are they crossing the line? AITA?
Here's what top commenters had to say:
YTA. For your score keeping and rigidly transactional relationship with money. It's understandable not to want to appear to be a gold digger, but marriage is a partnership and sometimes you have to pick up the slack for your partner. What would happen if your or your husband were unable to pay exactly 50% of the bills? Would you divorce?
Why would you assume that you would owe your FMIL for a wedding gift? It's to welcome you to their family and give you something that could be passed down to your kids. It was very hurtful to refuse a gift from your FMIL. You could have worn it once and then put it in a safe deposit box.
YTA. And this is a very unhealthy way to live life where you are constantly going is everything 50/50. You have hurt your future mother in law that wanted to show you love and acceptance.
YTA! Receiving is an art. Do it graciously.
And Traveling-Techie said:
YTA - according to Shirley McLain (the unofficial female member of the “Rat Pack”), Frank Sinatra would never say thank you, and if anyone gave him a gift he would immediately get them one of equal value. He didn’t want to owe anyone anything. His buddies thought it was an a-hole move.
I read all of your comments and advice about not thinking of gift giving as strictly transactional, and would like to thank you for your help and your honesty.
Anyway, my partner, David and I got married just 3 days ago. After posting about the necklace incident and after seriously considering all of your comments, I decided to speak to his mom. The next time we met in person, I sat down with her and told her I was sorry if I had hurt her feelings. I told her that I was honoured to know that she considers me a part of her family.
My MIL took my hand in hers and told me that she respects me a lot for being so independent. She said one of the reasons she's so sure that her son made the right choice is because it's clear that I'm not with him for his money. She said she was proud of me for all that I've accomplished and the hardships I've had to overcome.
She also said that it's ok to accept gifts from those who love you. I nodded. I had never really had a "heart to heart" with her before. Up until this point, our interactions had always been very formal. I never really knew that she felt any affection for me. I didn't know how to react.
She then gently asked me why I was always so distant. Why i still felt like I needed to prove that I'm not after anyone's money. She told me I didn't have to. That everyone already knew that I'm more than capable of pulling my own weight, paying my own bills etc. And that it was time for me to relax and let my guard down a little.
I was tongue tied, as I usually get with emotional conversations. I thought about telling her all about my childhood, my traumas etc etc etc. But I didn't as I did not want to burden her. I haven't even told David. As it was time for me to leave, we hugged awkwardly. For the first time. I just nodded. If I had spoken, I might have cried.
A few days after that, my MIL came over again. She brought with her the necklace and earrings that I had refured to accept. She offered it to me again. I still didn't want to accept it. But I also didn't want to reject it again. I was just trying to figure out what to do. I must have looked stressed, because my MIL told me I didn't have to give myself a headache over it. She said it good naturedly, with a laugh.
She then asked if I would like to just wear the earrings to the wedding along with my own necklace that I had bought for the occasion. I was so relieved. I excitedly said "yes, I love that idea". I thanked her. She had taken a huge weight off of my shoulders.
Later that day, David told me his mom was very happy that we could work things out. The wedding was beautiful. A quiet, intimate affair with lots of fun and laughter.
I still haven't worked out all my issues. But I'll continue to try.
I guess it's true what everyone says, internet commenters make the world a better place.