Intentions never matter, grrr

About 2 years ago, my MIL gave my (then 3 years old) kids some 12"x12" handmade tiles, one-of-a-kind, absolutely beautiful, and exceedingly heavy. Also, they don’t match the decor of my house in the least. I don’t know how to hang them (too heavy) and don’t match the house anyway (parrot and fish pictures). So they laid around just inside the door where I put them when we got home that day…ever since then. They were a beautiful, expensive, but really unsuitable impulse purchase. I wasn’t ungrateful, but I couldn’t use them.

Well, at the time they were given us, we were at my sister in law’s house. She has fish decor. And her father (who was there, and is in the fish business) absolutely swooned over the fish one. Dilemma: to keep what is utterly useless to me around the house, never displaying it…or to give it to a relative (or her father) who would adore it? I talked to SIL, she said she’d like to give it to her father.

So, when we were told to bring our kids up at 8pm on Friday night, I thought that would be when SIL would be there, dropping off her kids also. Only they weren’t there, and the tile was in a plain paper bag. In all the commotion - unloading the van, managing kids, I failed to communicate why the tile was there, or for whom. Then my husband and I went away the next morning early, for the day. My MIL found the tile in the bag and jumped to what I believe was the only logical (to her) conclusion: that I didn’t like it and was giving it back to her without saying a word.

Now, MIL doesn’t communicate very effectively. If I found such a thing in my house, I might well be offended or hurt, but at least I would be careful to ask “I found this, what did you want to do with it?” or something. But she makes assumptions and doesn’t attempt to clarify their accuracy. When my husband and I got back, I couldn’t find the bag, so asked where it had gone. MIL got testy: “I’ll just keep it here.” Testy-like. And I got up my courage and said “But I already told SIL I was going to give it to her.” Well, MIL brightened up a bit and said that was okay. Except I know it wasn’t, and this family has a policy of making the past something that CANNOT be discussed again. Ever. It’s in the past, it’s over, we won’t speak of it ever again - even if it was yesterday, and still bothering somebody. So if I try to “bring up the past” and discuss it, there will be even greater hostility, making things worse.

I hate it when my intentions are irrelevent. They weren’t irrelevent to me. I was trying to take a good gesture on MIL’s part, and turn it into a good gesture on my part. Instead, I’m the bad guy. Maybe I should’ve just given the tiles to a thrift store, thrown them in the garbage, or…yeah, that’s it…stored them in my house for 20 years. :frowning:

Maybe they could have been used to decorate a “kid’s garden” and brought inside when the weather got cold? :frowning: That isn’t cool, that you’re not allowed to mention things to work them out that are bothering you. Wish there was a way you could have a family session with a counselor who could address the issue of good communication. Not, you know, becuase they’re sick, (which they aren’t exactly, just horrible at intrapersonal communication.)or that there’s anything wrong with THEM, just that your styles clash, and a middle ground needs to be found.

I’ve heard it said that we tend to judge ourselves by our intentions and others by their behavior.

I think if given the two extremes, of constantly bringing things up and never bringing things up, I’d choose the latter. Living with the former SUX!

Well, this is only natural, isn’t it? We can only see the actions of others, yet it’s our intentions that most flavor our memories of our own lives.

Of course, our own intentions aren’t always clear to us, not at the time and not years after the fact, either. So our memories of our intentions, like our memories of everything else, are merely patchworks of what little we do recall, what we’d like to be able to recall, what we’ve told others, and what we’ve been told by others. Memory is the worst way of remembering things.

You said MIL, right? Your hubby lose his voice? I’d say that the season would be a really good time for him to note in passing that he hoped the SIL and her father enjoyed the fish that you both felt were wonderful but simply could not find a place to display in your house. Even if your MIL wants to hold a grudge for a few millennia, it would seem to me that her son should be stepping up to shoulder the “blame” while attempting to reduce or remove all the bad feelings.

Sounds like you’re blaming her for your fuckup.

IIRC, Tom, hubby has some occasional difficulty not falling into his family’s somewhat dysfunctional dynamic. He’s working on it, but he’s not totally reformed yet. Most of the time he seems to be pretty good about supporting Chotii when there are issue with the MIL. And near as I can tell, there simply is no removing all bad feelings with MIL. Hell, there doesn’t seem to be any reducing bad feelings with that woman, since she refuses to discuss anything. She’s a real piece of work, that one.

On the bright side, though, at least you don’t have to worry about her dredging this incident up to illustrate what an asshole you are the next time she’s feeling aggrieved. It could be a whole lot worse. I used to have a friend who refused to discuss anything she’d done to upset you because “the past is past.” Last year, last week, didn’t matter. The past is past. There was, however, no statute of limitations on stuff you did to upset her. Shit that happened in elementary school was fair game for dredging up as evidence of your utter assholishness when she was the aggrieved party.

They sound lovely!
My rec-room in the basement is like my own personal Margaritaville.

My solution… send 'em to me and I’ll give them a place of honor.

Think the Cleveland area is far enough away to keep them out-of-sight/out-of-mind?

You might’ve saved some trouble by just talking to your MIL before the fact. I’m pretty sure we’ve had this kind of conversation in my family - “Blank is lovely, and was so thoughtful, but I just don’t have a place for it in my home right now and soandso was absolutely drooling over it. Would you mind if I let soandso have it? I don’t want to offend you. It’s just too nice an item not to be displayed prominently.”

Yeah, your MIL is being a bit silly but this was the right way to do it. And your husband should speak up, too.

Interesting pearl of wisdom there. I think its validity ranges wildly though, depending on the situation (and the fact that sometimes people don’t have intentions that they’ve thought through, like Derleth noted.)