The practice of borrowing jewelry and clothing from friends or family members is something that seems fairly commonplace throughout the world.
But when it comes to treasured items that hold particular cultural or personal significance that others may not even be aware of, does denying such a request cross any lines?
Redditor throwra_mangalasutra recently encountered this very issue after her sister-in-law asked to borrow a special piece of jewelry from her wedding, so she turned to the subReddit “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) to see if she was in the wrong, asking:
“AITA if I don’t want to share my wedding necklace?”
The original poster (OP) first explained about her heritage and how it had been incorporated into her wedding.
“Some background first. I (37F[emale]) have been married to my husband H (36M[ale]) for nearly two years now. We live in Canada, he’s Canadian and I moved here 3 years ago.”
“Prior to that I was born and brought up in India. Neither of us is very religious or traditional, and I’m openly deist.”
“Both our families are somewhat religious but not very devout. They had a few reservations about us but so far it’s all been great.”
“For our wedding, we had small wedding ceremonies in both cultures and a party afterwards. And my husband’s family quite enjoyed participating in all the pre-wedding functions for the Indian part.”
But there was one wedding tradition the OP wasn’t too keen on.
“On to the problem. As part of the Indian wedding, my husband had to place a mangalsutra around my neck.”
“A mangalsutra is a gold necklace with black beads and in our culture it’s equivalent to a wedding ring but only for the women.”
“I don’t like them, because they’re sexist, and because they’re chunky, ugly and don’t go with anything. I told my mother not to get me this, and not to include it in the ceremony because it’s an expensive waste.”
“I won’t wear it, and it’s like a white elephant, I can’t give it away or sell it. I have to keep it.”
Her mother was able to come up with a clever solution, however.
“My mother being the smart cookie that she is, worked with my cousin to have one with a modern design, custom made for me. It’s stylish, minimalist and goes with almost, everything and I love it.”
“I still don’t wear it all the time, but quite frequently. As a contrast I wear my wedding ring all the time. Because my husband wears one too and because I like wearing rings.”
But the wedding necklace’s appeal and beauty also caught the eye of her sister-in-law.
“The problem I’m having is with H’s sister E.”
“E and I get along quite well, and I’m quite keen on fostering a good relationship with my in-laws because all my family is back in India. E loved the design of my mangalsutra and wants to borrow it.”
The OP balked at the request.
“Now, I’m not religious at all, but no one can shed the influence of their culture completely and it’s the same for me.”
“For me the mangalsutra is a symbol of my matrimony and not something that can just be lent out, especially not to my husband’s sister.”
“I’ve offered to have something similar made for her, but she says she doesn’t want us to go through the trouble or the expense for something she only wants to wear once or twice.”
And while she understands where her sister-in-law is coming from, she hasn’t changed her mind.
“Why I think ITA is that I can see her point. I am a logical person, and logically I have no reason to refuse. And I can’t just pick and choose the things I want to be logical about.”
“But emotionally, for me, the necklace is like underwear. You may or may not wear it, but you don’t share it.”
“FTR (for the record) I’d have the same feelings about it, if it were of the traditional design and I didn’t like it as much as I do.”
“I’ve tried to explain this to her. It’s not something we’ve fought about, and she always accepts a refusal graciously, but she doesn’t stop asking.”
“It’s like she thinks after a reasonable time passes it’ll be okay for her to borrow it.”
“So reddit AITA?”
Redditors then gave their opinions on the situation by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
They let the OP know that she was well within her rights to deny her sister-in-law’s request.
“NTA – it’s yours and it means something special to you and your culture so why should you need to lend it out to someone who’s going to wear it once or twice?”
“Especially since your mother had it especially made for you.”
“You wouldn’t give out something so personal like your wedding ring or dress for someone to wear so it’s unfair that she keeps asking you to borrow it.”
“It may be inappropriate for her to even wear considering she isn’t Indian? I’m not sure.”—amys97
“NTA – Emotional attachment especially one that is also attached to tradition is hard to pass over to logic/reason.”
“It’s alright to turn her down because it is rooted to what you feel. You might end up regretting it.”
“I had an experience where in my feng shui bracelet was repeatedly ‘jokingly’ touched even though I said it shouldn’t be touched by others.”
“I’m not a devout believer by any means but at that time I felt like they ‘stained’ my bracelet and I had to control not to vent at them because they didn’t understand. Just retelling it makes me feel bad about it still.”—jinyuki_91
Many suggested reiterating the significance of the necklace to her sister-in-law until she finally gets the message.
“Fellow Indian here. Just ask your husband to get something made for her. Tell her next time she asks that her wearing it would mean that she’s married her brother.”
“It may sound harsh but sometimes it’s what u gotta do. And since u have politely declined, it doesn’t make sense for her to keep asking. That’s rude.”
“And since this is so personal, and cultural for us, even though I am similar in beliefs regarding the mangalsutra…I would be very very offended on some level that my SIL wants it and doesn’t give up.”
“Just ask your husband to get her a chain that’s a little similar for Christmas.”—SnooAdvice2768
“Sometimes, even if you are a logical person, things don’t depend on logic but on emotions.”
“The necklace has lots of value to you and that is all that matters.”
“Even if you love your SIL, you should set boundaries and ask her to never ask you for the necklace again as she is making you uncomfortable.”
“Tell her that even if you don’t always use it, this necklace is in your culture the same as wedding rings in hers.”
“And that you are not going to give it to her. You are not doing anything wrong by setting boundaries.”—littleOreo95
Luckily for us the OP posted an update as to what ended up happening next—and it turns out there were a quite a few factors involved that she didn’t even realize.
“So, my first post here a few days back received a huge response and I’m deeply thankful to everyone who responded. I had to wait a few days to post an update as per the rules, so here goes.”
“A few hours after the post went up I got a call from my other SIL C.”
“She came across my post and guessed it was me because I gave away too many details I guess, and just called me to ask straight out. And several details I didn’t know came to light.”
“1. During the wedding planning stages I had complained to E & C about not liking mangalsutras and not wanting one for myself and that I didn’t know how to explain that to my mom.”
“They didn’t understand that even though I didn’t like them as a concept, if I had one, it would still be culturally important to me.”
“2. I was laughing when I made the wedding ring analogy. They thought I was joking.”
“3. All three of us have borrowed/lent items to one another before, so really asking for something a second, third or how many ever times had never been an issue.”
“That combined with what they knew about my personal beliefs genuinely made them think that I would be okay with lending it out after an appropriate amount of time had passed, which is why E kept asking.”
“C realized the problem after reading both the post and mine and everyone’s comments.”
But, thanks to another Redditor’s insight, the OP has finally found the perfect solution.
“Another commenter mentioned to me privately in DMs that E actually probably really wanted one for her own, but was too polite to accept when I offered to have one made for her.”
“This turned out to be true. C told me, E really loved the design of the necklace but was too shy to say yes when I offered to get her one.”
“So we have made a plan. It’s too late to get it for her for Christmas but she has a landmark birthday coming up.”
“We’ve reached out to the person who made mine and are getting one custom made for her. We’ll change the design a bit to make it look like not a mangalsutra, and incorporate some elements that she likes and gift it to her for her birthday.”
“Thank you so much to everyone who commented, for your advice, kind words and support and I’m happy to report a very happy ending. 😃“
We’re delighted at such a positive outcome as well.
All’s well that ends well, it would seem.