Is it correct to write on the front of a Valentines card To our son and his wife?
I gave a Valentine to my son that only had 3 words on the front
Live Love Laugh I wrote on the upper part of the card "To our son Joe and his wife" My son's wife was offended because I did not write her name
I know when you have purchased a really nice card, it is nice to write on the back or the inside. So that a person can put it up on their wall, or frame it for decoration.
"and his wife" is a very impersonal, diminishing, and after-thought type reference to a woman that has a name and an importance of her own, besides that of Joe's spouse, lifemate, best friend, and partner. You use the proper noun "Joe" but only a pronoun for her, on the FRONT of the card in a large announcement to the world that Joe is important and she is not. It is abusive, because it is belittling (a definition of abuse) and very visible in its belittlement, being first thing on the front of a Valentine, meant traditionally to celebrate romantic love between spouses and couples. Now, saying you did not mean it that way is no justification or excuse. It was not a mistake. Perhaps you feel left out, or fear being left out in future, or do not like "her." Writing on the front of a card is very uncommon without a strong motivation. It may be petty or it may be pain, but only you know and can begin healing it.
I'm neither an etiquette expert nor a psychiatrist, so maybe I shouldn't be offering anything here, but I found myself being a little sympathetic toward you, based on your question.
I can see how she would be offended, and I don't think it was the "greatest thing in the world" to do; but (maybe I'm wrong, I know) I'm picturing that you had the card with so few words and wanted to "turn it into a son card" (like the kind that come with "to Son and His Wife" on them. I'm imagining how then, because you're a parent, it was just kind of automatic that you threw in "Joe" I (because none of those "to our son" cards are really personal enough for the relationship we have with our kids, but we overlook that if we're not the ones writing on the front of the card).
I'm picturing that because you were "designing" the front of the card as a way of adding something that would "turn it into" a more special "son and his wife" card; it was natural that you'd feel the need to throw in "Joe" but not as natural to include his wife's name, because you have a different relationship with her (and it just didn't come naturally to include her name the way it did with you son's name).
To me, your mistake wasn't so much not including her name, but in not thinking when you were "overcome with the urge" to add Joe's name. I'm also guessing that your wish to make the card more like an "official" son card (and therefore more special) was the primary thing on your mind, and your natural instinct to include your son's name (because it seemed to impersonal when it came to him) "just happened". In other words, I think you were so concerned with making the card a "son and his wife" card you weren't thinking. I'm also guessing you liked the "live, love, laugh" verse so much you wanted them to have it; but maybe, again, wanted to make it a "son and his wife" card.
I can see how Joe's wife (whatever her name is ) might be offended, but then again it wouldn't kill some people to lighten up and realize sometimes people just don't think (especially in the "hurry" of filling out holiday cards etc.). (Oh well, I'm guessing you won't make that particular mistake again. Good luck ironing out any hard feelings.)
I think it would have been best if you wrote both of their names. Writing Joe, was a personal touch whereas, including his wife, seems kind of impersonal. She probably feels she was slighted as kind of a second thought. After all she is your daughter in law.
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