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chelle21689's avatar

Is it normal to not give gifts to "in-laws"?

Asked by chelle21689 (7706points) December 14th, 2014 from iPhone

Is it normal for guys that are in serious relationships, engaged, or married to not buy gifts for your family but only his side? I notice women tend to do more gift shopping for everyone than men.

It kind of bothers me, and it’s not about money. That he only spends his time buying gifts for his small family and nothing at all on my parents, my little nephew whom he gets along great with, etc. not saying he should spend a lot or get everyone a gift but I feel like maybe he doesn’t see them as part of his family. I get his parents and sisters gifts.

Another thing is that his sister will only buy gifts for everyone in the family except me during Christmas. I’ll get a card and a single piece of chocolate instead with her extended family. The other sister seems to try to treat me more like a “sister” and gives me a gift too.

Maybe cuz I am closer to his family than he is mine. But I get his half brothers gifts on birthdays even though I never really see them. He’s never gotten my family a gift except one time he did for my dad cuz he felt bad for missing the birthday cookout and chipped in on my cousins gift for her birthday. That were the only times.

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10 Answers

hearkat's avatar

Every family is different. If your family expects each person to give and receive presents from every other person connected to the family, that should be communicated. Similarly, if you plan on buying gifts for each member of his family that should also be communicated, since if they aren’t expecting gifts it could make them feel awkward. Communication really is the key to successful relationships, and all these intricate details should be discussed and an approach decided upon before hand, rather than placing expectations on someone of which they may be completely unaware.

When my fiancé and I moved in together, we decided together to not engage in gift-giving for the winter holidays or birthdays because we hate the stress of coming up with ideas of what to give people – especially when most of us already are fortunate enough to have everything we need and want. We communicated that to our families and friends, and the holidays have been much more enjoyable than they were when we felt obligated to to something. Instead, we get together with those we love and let them know that we value each other throughout the year in ways other than gifting material goods on predetermined dates.

SQUEEKY2's avatar

@hearkat I totally agree 100000000% excellent answer.
We stopped the gift thing a few years back and what a stress relief ,just rather get together,and Mrs Squeeky really likes to work on Christmas because she gets triple time.

Coloma's avatar

I agree with @hearkat as well. Everyone is different and one should never expect someone to buy gifts for others. I too prefer to not feel obligated to “give” as obligation cancels out giving.
I have the opposite issue, telling people, explicitly, to NOT give me gifts and them doing it anyway.

I have downsized markedly in my living arrangements the last year and a half and do not want or need more clutter and trinkets. Perhaps your fiances family and he also cannot afford to buy for extra people outside their own family or they don’t want the pressure.
You really need to just ASK him how he feels about this before you build up resentment which is not ever a fair thing to do if you have not communicated your feelings to someone.
I spent decades feeling obligated to buy for 17 members of my ex husbands family, man, the last 10 years has been such a relief not having to put out the time, energy and cash out of a sense of obligation.

chelle21689's avatar

Thinking it over I never really felt this way previous years. Sorry for tmi but I think me being pissed off, annoyed, and sad at everything is because it’s near that time of month lol.

I’m over it now. Perhaps in an hour I’ll be annoyed at something else in life
To be honest I hate the holidays now because I feel like it seems to be about gifts which I agree makes it stressful

Coloma's avatar

@chelle21689 Nah…tis the season for expectations and emotions for a lot of people. Just talk to your fiance and tell him how you feel. Maybe he feels unsure of what to do too.

LuckyGuy's avatar

It is normal for guys to try to avoid the whole issue. They wait until the last minute. In case you think I am making broad assumptions check out the malls the night before Christmas. It will be loaded with guys wandering around. Until then it will be mostly females.
I am way older than you and have learned that one of the best gifts I can get is the gift of not having to give a gift.
Most adults already have what they need.
I now give my brother in law a box of Hickory Farms meat and cheese and he gives me the same. We used to give each other $50 but the rest of the family did not get the joke. (and some might even have been a little bit offended.)

zenvelo's avatar

Once again another issue to be discussed with your boyfriend and his placing his family of origin well ahead of you, and they all considering you an outsider.

His sister’s behavior is consistent with other behaviors you ahem told us about, and your boyfriend’s lack of support of you is consistent to his treatment of you as being well behind his family members in importance.

People in healthy relationships actually talk about this kind of thing, whether to get presents for the in laws, the siblings, whether for birthdays or Christmas. If you are a couple (and I know that is a big if) then why aren’t the gifts coming from both of you?

You will always be last in importance with this guy. When you have kids you will come after the kids in importance, but he will never help you with them. You deserve better.

chelle21689's avatar

So my family doesn’t give him gifts either only to married couples. Like I said his sister gives me gifts and so does his mom but his other sister doesn’t. So it’s not like they all do it.

I don’t think he treats them better than me. I mention all the questions I have issues with on here but never do u see the resolved issues or good stuff. I mean what reasons do I have to ask a question about good things if I don’t need advice? He has taken me out to dinner and movie turning down his family and friends to spend time with me and take me out. So there’s just one of the few good things I’m tellin you about.

It never came to my mind to give gifts as one because I’ve never done it that way. Just never occurred to me until now that you’ve mentioned it for some reason but that’s a good idea.

chelle21689's avatar

I just want to add that previous before I did mention about the not being invited to dinners when they go out but now me and the significant others are invited now. So that’s one resolved issue I never came back to update you guys on really because who the heck visits my old posts? More than likely, very very few. So after expressing this to him it’s changed so no, he doesn’t ignore my feelings and does what he can to compromise or fix things.

bossob's avatar

I strongly agree with @hearkat and @LuckyGuy . I’ve resented the gift-giving obligation most of my life. Giving gifts is important to my wife and SIL, but nobody else in the extended family feels that way. The rest of us go along with it, very begrudgingly, for their sake. None of us ‘need’ anything, and we all can afford what we ‘want’ throughout the year.

I’m making an attempt this year to begin changing our family culture. When my son asked what I wanted for Christmas, I told him to put a twenty dollar bill in the kettle of 5 different Salvation Army bell ringers.

Most of his life I was too busy surviving, and I didn’t set a good example for giving back to those less fortunate. I’m hoping that my Christmas gift will be a learning experience for him, and the two of us can influence the rest of the family next year to do something similar.

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