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Guy Shamed For Correcting MIL About Why He Keeps Vaseline Next To Bed After Snarky Comment

fingers scooping petroleum jelly
michaldziki/Getty Images

In 1859, 22-year-old chemist Robert Augustus Chesebrough traveled to Titusville, Pennsylvania and found oil workers using rod wax—an unrefined form of petroleum jelly that was a byproduct of oil drilling—to heal wounded or burnt skin.

In his Brooklyn lab, Chesebrough worked to refine the petroleum byproduct and in 1870 Vaseline was introduced for sale to the public. For over 150 years, petroleum jelly has been used for a multitude of purposes: health, beauty and household.

So finding petroleum jelly in someone’s home shouldn’t be a shock or a reason to question anything.

A man whose mother-in-law assumed having petroleum jelly indicated one thing only turned to the “Am I The A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for feedback.

Aita-vaseline asked:

“AITA for telling my mother-in-law (MIL) why I have vaseline next to my bed?”

The original poster (OP) explained:

“Okay, so, my MIL—or actually I will start with my wife ‘Tara’. Tara is lovely and wonderful.”

“Tara also escaped from her little midwestern hometown and  that personally her mom was born and raised in and around that small town)

“So my MIL. She is emotionally immature. Tara read that one book about immature adult parents and she finally understood her family dynamic in a way she never did before.”

“MIL is not a bad or evil person, she usually means very well. But she’s kind of, I don’t know how to put it, self-centered? Like her first thought process is always ‘how do I feel about this new information’.”

“Tara and I bought a little starter home last year (f*ck interest rates but we’re hoping they come down and we can refinance, the place was too good to pass up) and her MIL invited herself over last week. This is something that is extremely on brand for her, and we like to pick our battles in this family, so we just let her.”

“Her mom (who again is not terrible, just has bad emotional regulation and boundaries) shows up and drops her stuff in the spare room and just immediately starts giving herself the tour. Again, whatever, we actually hired a cleaner before she arrived so we wouldn’t worry, annoying but that’s life.”

“So she’s wandering around and comes to our bedroom. I have a jumbo-sized tub of generic Vaseline next to my bed because I use a nose CPAP, and my lips get chapped.”

“So she picks it up and makes this really weird face and says, almost direct quote, ‘well I know what THIS is for!’ And I respond, ‘oh that’s for chapped lips, I don’t jerk off with vaseline’ .”

“Apparently, my timing was good because my wife laughed, but my MIL did not laugh at all. Then, for the next three days, she kept asking me ARE YOU GONNA BE GROSS AGAIN when I tried to make normal conversation.”

“I said over and over that she was the one who made the joke, and her response was always ‘yeah, but that was a JOKE!’ like what I said was totally serious? And I guess it was, I mean, I was telling the truth, but I was only bantering because she started it.”

“I didn’t even invite her into our bedroom.”


The OP summed up their situation.

“There is a chance that I should have just kept my mouth shut. Maybe discretion was the better part of valor even though my MIL started it.”

Redditors weighed in by declaring:

  • NTA – Not The A**hole
  • YTA – You’re The A**hole
  • NAH – No A**holes Here
  • ESH – Everyone Sucks Here

Redditors decided the OP was not the a**hole (NTA).

“NTA. She was the one who first insinuated it was for sex. You just said it out loud.”

“She’s got the dirty mind…” ~ RoboSpammm

“NTA, she tried to make you blush, but then gets mad because you made her blush is what this basically boils down to.” ~ slackerchic

“NTA, you didn’t do anything wrong. Anyone with even a slight sense of humor would find that funny. And you’re right, she’s the one with her mind in the gutter in the first place!”

“She goes to your house uninvited, goes into your room without permission thus invading your space, makes a sexual innuendo of something as innocuous as Vaseline by your bed, which you then smoothly brush off and make (admittedly) a funny joke about, and now YOU’RE the one who owes an apology?” ~ LoudCrickets72

“NTA. I’m only sorry you didn’t keep up the banter every time she asked you if you were going to be gross: ‘Only if you want me too. Is it called for? You mean talk about jerking off? I won’t be gross if you won’t be nosy. etc…’.”

“Don’t apologize, don’t encourage your wife to apologize. If she brings it up in the future in front of other people be sure you let them know she was snooping around and quote her exact words.”

“She’s an adult for gods sake she can dish it out but can’t take it. Also, include a small pot of Vaseline in future gifts.” ~ Firm-Molasses-4913

“NTA. I read that book. My mom does this. She wants you uncomfortable so she has the upper hand to step on your boundaries and make you feel dirty.”

“She was going to weaponize your reaction that entire trip if you had one and bring up the tub of Vaseline to get a reaction at every chance she got.”

“You took that power away, turned the tables and didn’t give her the reaction she wanted (embarrassment) and now she’s pissy because you embarrassed her, she can’t take it, and she has no emotional power over the situation.”

“Let her be pissy. F*ck around and find out.” ~ mamblepamble

“NTA. Not only does MIL not deserve an apology, she ought to be offering one for going into your bedroom and making jokes about your sex life. If she doesn’t, let her be offended and let her pound sand.” ~ rockology_adam

“NTA. You weren’t the gross one here. It’s time you teach your wife that she is old enough to stand up to her mother.”

“99% of the time I’m all about letting people make their own choices as adults, but this is quite an opportunity to HUSBAND UP.” ~ Petefriend86

“NTA. MIL should apologize for barging into your bedroom (a PRIVATE AREA) picking up your personal items, making wild assumptions, and generally being a poor guest.” ~ AethericOwl

“MIL was rude. You called her on her rudeness and she got embarrassed.”

“Now she’s trying to cover her embarrassment by.. blaming you? No. NTA.” ~ zippy_zaboo

“NTA tell her to stay out of your bedroom and go back home. She tried to make a joke and you one upped her and she can’t let it go.” ~ mcindy28

“NTA. She shouldn’t have been snooping. I had a very similar experience.”

“My feet get really cracked and dry so I keep lotion in my bedroom. My son had some friends over and my door was open. The lotion was next to my bed.”

“They gave him a hard time about it as he tried to explain it was for my feet it’s a running joke. I always yell ‘I’m using my lotion!’ and it cracks up my son.” ~

The OP provided an update. 

“I took the advice of a couple people in the original thread and I talked to my wife about (1) what happened while her mom was there and (2) how we would manage similar situations going forward.”

“I think the commenters were mostly right, and that my MIL was using what I said as a cudgel to get ‘the upper hand’ (I don’t know how else to put that) in conversations.”

“We talked it out and agreed that we would let it go. But if she brought it up again, or if she tried something similar again, we would present a united front and we would refuse to engage with her, I guess, ‘attention-seeking’ behavior?”

“Again I find this all weird and don’t know how to really talk about it or phrase it.”

“Well, you can probably guess what happened.”

“She was on the phone with her mom just catching up and her mom brought up me being ‘gross’ again. I wasn’t on the call or anything, but I could hear her in the other room.”

“For context, Tara finds it very hard to set boundaries with her mom because her mom will just not let some stuff go. She will just keep bringing it up and talking about how bad she fel6t, or WHY would she do X or Y, etc…”

“Honestly I am so proud of her for what she did: she hung the f*ck up!”

“She said ‘mom we’re not gonna talk about that anymore’ and then ‘mom, we’re moving on’ and then I just hear her phone get set down on the bedside table. I walked in to check and she had this great little ‘defiant’ face on, like she was proud of herself too.”

“I hope that the little rush she got from saying no to her mom is encouraging to her going forward!”

Part of having boundaries is maintaining them. It isn’t enough to say “no” or “stop” if you aren’t willing to enforce it with clear consequences.

Kudos to the OP and his wife for holding firm on their newly determined boundaries.

Written by Amelia Mavis Christnot

Amelia Christnot is an Oglala Lakota, Kanien'kehá:ka Haudenosaunee and Metís Navy brat who settled in the wilds of Northern Maine. A member of the Indigenous Journalists Association, she considers herself another proud Maineiac.