Dynamics with one’s in-laws are difficult enough, but what happens when the spouse passes away?
Reddit user ParisAITA experienced a wonderful relationship with her in-laws for many years after her husband passed away unexpectedly.
However, a new relationship and other life changes caused her to post on subReddit “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) to inquire:
“AITA for not giving my late husband’s belongings to my in-laws?”
The Original Poster (OP) opened up about why she felt the need to shield her late husband’s things from his parents.
“I [Female, age 33] lost my husband very unexpectedly 7 years ago. We knew each other from a very young age and married when we graduated college.“
”I have known his family for almost my entire life, and they are the closest I have to actual family (my own family situation has always been difficult).”
“I became very close with his parents in particular (I will still call my “in-laws” in this post), and we supported each other heavily through the grief process.”
“We didn’t have children before he passed, but we were trying. I still miss my husband every day.”
“I began slowly dating again 4 years ago – mostly casual dates and nothing serious. In-laws were broadly supportive.”
“I told them I was ready to date and they said OK, but didn’t want to know the details. I only ever spoke about my dating life vaguely and infrequently to them.”
“Around the same time, I got a big promotion and began to spend a couple of months a year in Paris for work (pandemic permitting). Then 1 year ago, I met Armand [Male, age 38] and started my first serious relationship since being widowed.”
The shift begins…
“Given Armand lives in Paris, our relationship is based there, and while we have traveled quite a lot together, we haven’t been to the US together yet. He hasn’t met my in-laws, but I have told them I am dating someone.”
“Around Christmas, we found out I was pregnant. This was a total surprise as we weren’t trying.”
“We have since decided that I will move to France permanently instead of splitting my time between the US and France so that we can raise a family together.”
“It isn’t really possible for Armand to move to the US – he works in the art industry, and his studio and backers are all Europe based.”
“I told my in-laws, and they were deeply upset. They said I was depriving them of their only opportunity to have a grandchild (my husband was an only child).”
The OP’s in-laws did not stop there.
“They then accused me of moving on too quickly and not loving my husband. In the end, we had a huge argument, and they have demanded that I leave all my husband’s belongings from our apartment (his clothes, personal effects, etc) to them when I move to Paris.”
“They also demanded my engagement ring, which is a family heirloom. They said they should have these because while I have moved on, he will never stop being their son.”
“I said no, these things are all treasured memories from my life with him that I never want to forget.”
“They have threatened legal action to recover the ring in particular. I’m not sure they have a proper legal right.”
“But I can see the hurt I’m causing them with my choices, and maybe by giving them what they ask for, they will be able to have closure.”
“AITA for continuing to refuse?”
ParisAITA went on to clarify her original post.
“After the funeral, I already gave many of my husband’s possessions to my in-laws.”
“What I kept were some clothes that reminded me of happy times, things with his handwriting on them, memories from trips, etc. I want to keep these. It’s not like I will be lugging a huge amount of things to Paris.”
“I don’t think it’s unreasonable that I keep these. They’re memories WE made, not with his parents.”
“The ring is trickier… but it is the biggest reminder to me of the relationship we once had. It really breaks my heart to give it away.”
“A few [clarification] points in response to messages I’ve received (both posts below and DMs):”
“A poster below pointed out it was worth clarifying that I don’t have a separate wedding band.”
“We couldn’t find one we liked which matched the ring, so my engagement ring is also my wedding band, which my husband put on my finger in the church.”
“I really don’t want to lose the relationship with my in-laws.”
“They have always been so kind to me (before this all happened) – for example, I’ve been spending every major holiday like Christmas, etc, with them for the past decade.”
“But neither do I want to bend to their unreasonable behavior. Moving to France and going completely silent isn’t an option, I do want to repair the relationship in the long term. Ultimately, I’d love them to visit us.”
“The argument happened over the phone as I have been in Paris since we found out about the pregnancy and I didn’t want to delay telling them the news.”
“I am due to fly back for a month or so to get my affairs in order soon. I intend to meet them in person then if they agree.”
“A few posters were concerned about what Armand thinks, which is very kind of them. Armand and I have a strong relationship, and he has known about my husband since the beginning.”
“He respects that I want to keep a piece of the marriage with me and has encouraged me to bring anything I want over to help with the transition.”
“We are also not engaged, nor do I expect to be in the immediate future, and I’m in no rush on that front. We’re comfortable as we are.”
“Finally, there were some concerns over if I use the ring. I do wear the ring frequently, and it’s the only ring I wear with any regularity.”
“Someone also suggested that I might need to sell the ring in the future for the benefit of my new family.”
“Without going into detail, both Armand and I earn more than enough for this to never be a necessity or an option.”
Redditors offered their thoughts by voting:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Reddit’s judgment has been passed, and they have deemed the OP NTA.
“NTA. You didn’t divorce your husband, he passed away. The person you chose to spend your life with, and that was taken from you way too soon. He was taken from them too soon as well.”
“Personally, I would try to find a compromise, which may be giving them the ring and you keeping the rest, or finding a couple of things of sentimental value and giving them those.”
“But ultimately, this was your husband, these are your memories with him, and you will never stop loving him just because you have found someone else to love as well.”
“I’m so sorry for your loss and wish you all the best in your new chapter.” – ashleyrwells00
“NTA. I may have taken some of their concerns more seriously if they hadn’t come out with this BS: ‘They then accused me of moving on too quickly and not loving my husband.’”
“How are you supposed to take someone’s feelings seriously when they spout such cruelty so readily?”
“Regarding the ring: if it’s been in their family for generations I can see why giving that back to them would make sense.”
“Any future kids that you have will not be part of their family so it will no longer be a family heirloom if you keep it. It’s your choice, one way or another, but I can see why they would want that.”
“[You said:] ‘I can see the hurt I’m causing them with my choices and maybe giving them what they ask for, they will be able to have closure.’”
“If they wanted closure they’d have it. You can’t give someone else closure, and it’s not your responsibility.” – Sandlicker
“NTA I can sort of understand the engagement ring since it was a family heirloom, but because you are now happy again doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten your husband or don’t love him.”
“But he is gone, and if he was a good person, he would like to see you happy again. The only ones “depriving” them of a grandchild are they themselves, as you seem more than willing to keep them in your life.” – Infamous_Control_778
“NTA. You were part of their son’s living memory. The ring is just pettiness” – StillHere_420
“NTA here, but do you really want to haul your late husband’s stuff to Paris?”
“Let them have his clothes, but keep the things that actually mean something to you. Maybe that’s the ring, some pictures, and mementos.”
“Armand and you will be navigating a life together combining your households, etc.”
“[You said:] They then accused me of moving on too quickly and not loving my husband.”
“We all know this isn’t true. They are just [in] shock, and, I’m sure, wrapping their head around you having a baby with someone who is not their son.”
“Congratulations and good luck, OP!” – meganwithaness
Congratulations to the OP and her new partner, indeed!
Bringing a new baby into the world is challenging enough.
Hopefully, the OP’s in-laws will change their attitude to a more supportive one given some time to adjust.