The true nature of gifts is to make someone else feel good and to remind them that we’re thinking of them.
And gifts absolutely should not carry conditions with them, stressed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor MILcoffeemachine was taken aback when her mother-in-law approached her, stating that she’d gotten her a gift she didn’t ask for but now wanted her to pay a portion of.
When her husband insisted that she pay the difference because he wanted to keep her gift, the Original Poster (OP) did not know what to think.
They asked the sub:
“AITA for not wanting to pay the extra money my MIL put for a gift I didn’t ask for?”
The OP’s mother-in-law (MIL) gave her a gift with a surprising twist.
“My MIL bought me a new coffee machine. I don’t why as the one I have is still working fine but whatever, I accepted.”
“Before leaving, she told me I needed to pay her 30 dollars.”
“I asked why, and she said that she planned on putting only 50 dollars into the gift, but the cheapest coffee machine she could find was around 80 dollars.”
“She said I needed to pay the other 30 dollars she added for the machine and wanted back.”
The OP was thoroughly confused.
“That confused me because if she planned on only putting a certain amount in the gift (that I, once again, didn’t ask for), then why not give up the coffee machine idea and buy something that actually was 50 dollars?”
“She said she didn’t care about paying more if it made me happy.”
“I said, ‘Well, clearly, you do care. Otherwise, you wouldn’t ask me to pay the extra 30 dollars?”
“She said it was just a matter of principle and that if I had manners, I’d pay her. She then left.”
The OP’s husband later got involved.
“She later texted my husband that she was waiting on the 30 dollars and would take back the coffee machine if I didn’t.”
“I told my husband to respond that she could come take it back cause I was not gonna give her the 30 dollars.”
“My husband is not okay with that because he got ‘attached’ to the machine, whatever that means, and to just give her the 30 dollars.”
“I told my husband if he wanted to keep the machine, then he should give his mom the money she wants.”
“He said I needed to do it because the gift was originally mine, even though I never asked for it.”
“He said I was making this harder than it needed to be and was selfish to not pay the extra 30 dollars for the coffee machine his mom got me, especially knowing that he likes it.”
The OP felt conflicted.
“I have a hard time seeing how I’m wrong, so I’m coming here because there might be a chance that I AM in the wrong.”
“Should I just give his mom the 30 dollars like she asks and be done with it?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some theorized that the OP’s birthday present was actually a gift for her husband.
“MIL got her son a gift that he likes but called it a birthday present for OP and now wants OP to subsidize the gift for her son.”
“She needs to ask her husband how often he is expected to pay for his own gift because she isn’t used to that custom.”
“Tell him it needs to go back or he pays for it.”
“She needs to give the coffee maker back to MIL or this will be how her gift always works.”
“Tell husband she is disappointed in him that he would think any of this is appropriate. Tell him she thought he cut the umbilical cord but apparently hasn’t.” – BlazingSunflowerland
“Husband clearly wanted the coffee maker and told MIL about it. MIL bought it for her son but gave it to OP as ‘Here’s a gift because I’m so nice to you, but it’s really not for you, but you owe me anyway.’ The money but is just strange, really makes me wonder what everyone’s financial situation is, if OP makes way more than the husband.” – Merdin86
“Tell your husband, ‘Your Mom bought a coffee machine, and I didn’t ask for it. She wants it back. I am giving it back to her.'”
“‘You want it? You can give her the money. She can sell it to you for that $30. Or she can officially gift it to you since you like it. Either way, I am giving it back to her and the two of you can work this out among yourselves.'” – catforbrains
“The nerve. MIL buys OP a gift that’s really for the husband, and then expects OP to pay…” – WeinerWrld
Others advised the OP against setting any kind of precedent with this situation.
“MIL is one of those regularly seen in the “Just No MIL” subReddit, and the OP’s husband is an appeaser. He’s been conditioned to just give in to his mother because he’s afraid she will throw a tantrum.”
“Saying that he’s ‘attached’ to it is just psychologically easier than saying, ‘My mother is an a**hole, please appease her because I want to avoid conflict.'”
“The ‘you’re making it harder than it needs to be’ aligns with this thinking, too. The husband is trained not to rock the boat. OP needs to jump ship or capsize the whole thing.” – JimWilliams423
“If the OP pays for this, she would be setting a precedent! She needs to give it back and tell MIL to give it to hubby for his bday, but let him know ahead of time how much he has to contribute to his own gift or if there is a bigger budget for her son. NTA.” – eightmarshmallows
“I would also wager it was a two-for-one deal on QVC. I was the recipient of way too many of those ‘gifts’ from my MIL. One year I was gifted an electric can opener for Christmas in front of the entire family.”
“I’m a good cook and rarely use canned ingredients and she knew it. I just cringed and said ‘Wow, it’s just what I’ve always wanted!’ while staring at her.” – kimsoverit12
“Even if OP did want it, she never asked for it. The MIL chose this gift on her own, she has no right to ask for any money.”
“If OP had asked for this gift it was on the MIL to communicate how much she was willing to spend.” – justwantedtosnark
“Step 1: Buy an unasked-for item.”
“Step 2: Give the item to a friend or family member.”
“Step 3: Tell them you paid more than expected so they owe you the difference.”
“Step 4: Profit!”
“I’m sure OP’s MIL wasn’t scamming and was just being a nincompoop, but this is fairly genius if your circle is a bunch of pushovers like OP’s husband.”
“NTA, OP.” – Rooney-Tuesday
“‘There will be none of this bulls**t in this house.’ Declare this, to both husband and MIL, loudly and clearly, right now.”
“This is precedent-setting and if you allow it, it will continue! Tell MIL that she is to never buy you another ‘gift’ ever because she clearly doesn’t understand how gifts work.”
“Tell your husband he needs to wrangle his mother back and lead her to understand that there will be NO manipulating of you or future situations similar to this and if it continues, there will be less and less contact. Draw a line in the sand and never back down from it.”
“I had a manipulative MIL who caused so much trouble and strife in my long, former marriage. If I had one word of advice for my younger self, it would be this. Take a strong stand that your marriage comes first, your husband backs you 100%, or it’s going to be a very short marriage. And MEAN IT.”
“They don’t improve with age, the demands and bad behavior only increase. I should have left that toxic stew of a family waaaay sooner.” – kimsoverit2
“This feels like she’s setting a precedent. If OP pays the MIL, she’ll likely get the same treatment again down the road.”
“Go to a fancy restaurant with a $200 bill? MIL only wanted to pay $100. you’ll have to pay the other $100.”
“Good for you to stand up to her.” – IWouldBeGroot
Some had petty revenge responses ready to go.
“I’m really petty. I would just take the machine back to the store, return it myself, and give the money back to the MIL.” – mrs_rabbit_o
“The best option: Return the machine without telling MIL. Give MIL the $30 she wants, and walk away with the other $50! And then spend it on something you actually want and MONTHS later, say, ‘Thanks, MIL, I love it!'” – Full-Zucchini-9417
“Pay her the 30, and ask her if she knows anyone who would want a coffee machine cause you’re selling one for a bargain price of 30.”
“Sell it for 30, and get your money back.”
“This is less about being petty and more about ‘Do not force my hand and gang up on me, it ain’t gonna go how you expect it will.'”
“NTA, OP.” – royalbk
The subReddit couldn’t stop side-eyeing this situation and wondering what the mother-in-law was going on about with this very conditional gift.
It seemed the most likely that the gift was really intended for her son, while under the guise of a birthday present for her daughter-in-law, but why she’d still want her daughter-in-law to chip in, and why her husband refused to help, were puzzling.