DEAR MISS MANNERS: My sister-in-law sent my husband $1,200 and told him to spend it on clothes and stuff for himself.
It takes me one month to earn that kind of money working 40 hours a week. For the past three months, I have been working 80 hours a week to support us. I am stressed and tired to the max, but I do it so we can be comfortable. My husband does not work, which is an arrangement we agreed on.
We just got married and moved into a house that needs furnishings. I feel that he should not accept the gift if it is tied to how she wants it spent. I think that the money should be used to buy necessities. There are a lot of things we need and want. Clothes are not one of them -- especially $1,200 worth of clothes.
I feel disrespected by his family. I work very hard to support us, and to have them dictate how to spend a gift of cash is creating a huge rift between us. Am I overthinking this?
GENTLE READER: You are underthinking it.
Every time Miss Manners believes she has completed her list of reasons for disliking cash as presents, a Gentle Reader is kind enough to provide another.
Etiquette awards the choice of gift to the giver, but frowns on attaching conditions. (The difference between a suggestion and a condition is left to the reader to determine.)
Etiquette also recognizes the recipient as the beneficiary. Had your husband received a box of chocolates, it would have been considerate of him to offer you some -- precisely because there was no requirement that he do so.
As both you and your sister-in-law are at fault, Miss Manners will address herself to your husband, and suggest that it will be easier on him if, in the future, when his sister wants to spoil him, she precedes it with a private phone call so she can provide an actual present.