When A Marriage Breaks Up, What Happens To The Wedding Gifts?


Last night at an Out Professionals event at the LGBT Center, I was on a panel of experts being tossed etiquette questions by Philip Galanes, who’s the Times‘ answer to Dear Abby and who has a book out called Social Q’s, about what to do in awkward situations.

And one of the premises we were asked to chew on had to do with a couple that had gotten married, but broke up only 10 weeks later. Their relationship in tatters, they desperately started wondering about the important thing: You know, what do you do about all those gifts?

I instantly screamed out, “Nobody wants their juicer back!”

I mean, it’s not like you’re going to regift it to another couple (especially if it’s been used). Besides, when you give it, there are no guarantees that the marriage will last a lifetime. Most people expect things to be kaput sooner or later, and whoever gets custody of the juicer/blender/clock is always fine with me, as long as it’s not sent back my way.

But Galanes said that’s not really correct. He had called Bloomingdale’s for some wisdom on this, and they said they will gladly take gifts back and give credit to the people who bought them, so everyone’s happy again (except the bitter broken-up couple, of course, who are suddenly without juicer or spouse).

The problem is I never buy my gifts at Bloomingdale’s, I buy them on East 14th Street–which might be why I don’t really want them back.