Year after year the same question comes up for Father’s Day, birthdays, or Christmas…
“Honey, is there anything you’d like for [fill in the blank holiday or occasion]?“
“No, I don’t really want or need anything.“
It took a few years but I’ve finally come to the very simple solution to this problem of gift giving to my husband…I listen to what he tells me and I, in fact, gift him nothing. I know, I probably deserve some judgey glances, but I’m serious.
Oftentimes we, us mothers, wives, and significant others, place a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform and out-perform our gift giving abilities year after year. We also give in to the mass media telling us that we need to be shopping and buying gifts for the special people in our lives. Now, I’m not saying to completely ignore your partner or to not do something nice for them on these special occasions, but it does take some listening and reflection to really gift our men things they’d appreciate.
After thinking this over, I asked my husband his thoughts on giving gifts and here’s what we came up with together. This is why men don’t want gifts and the ways we can still appreciate them in the process.
“If we want something, we typically buy it for ourselves.”
When men see something that they want, let’s face it, they go ahead and buy it (within reason). There’s no waiting for a holiday or making a list to share with their partner…they just go ahead and buy it.
“Although thoughtful, we’re not that interested in [fill in the blank] gift you got us.”
Yes, there have been times where I got my husband gifts that I thought would be so sentimental but turned out that he didn’t much care for them. Don’t get me wrong, he was so appreciative for the thought, but in the long run it wasn’t something he necessarily wanted or needed. I then realized that the gift I was giving satisfied more of my own needs than that of him.
“We don’t really care about holidays and birthdays the same way as you.”
This was actually something pretty profound for me. I had a hard time wrapping my mind around the fact that my husband honestly told me that he didn’t care about holidays like Father’s Day or even his birthday. Not that he doesn’t appreciate the thought (anyone else sense a recurring theme here?), but in his world holidays and birthdays are low priority and I can’t blame him.
So, you really want to love on your partner and can’t take all of this in? I was in a similar boat, but it was then I had a very honest conversation with him about what he really wanted or needed from me. Here’s a few takeaways from that talk:
Listen to what they’re saying they’d like. Even if it’s nothing at all.
My husband and I find ways to appreciate each other throughout the year. This goes back to the sentiment in any relationship which should be to appreciate each other constantly and consistently; not waiting for a holiday or special occasion to do so.
This also means actively listening to each other. If your man says he doesn’t want anything then don’t get him anything. See if there’s some other way you can show your love and appreciation. For me, it’s as simple as helping with the household duties like taking out the trash or vacuuming.
Discuss gifts that are experiences over things.
We are a family that loves to travel and so we are always discussing the next trip. Knowing how we could use our money and gift each other with experiences allows us to make travel a mutual priority. Once we’ve set this goal, it’s easier for us to not spend money on trivial things like holiday or birthday gifts.
Sometimes the gift is very simple.
Going back to the actively listening piece of this conversation, the gift our men typically want are very simple and often relate to offering them some kind of convenience. Offer to have the kids (or yourself) to take over the chores for a while like taking out the trash. I know Philip appreciates it when I try to do thoughtful little things around the house because it means he doesn’t have to worry about it.
All in all, I don’t claim that every man doesn’t want to be gifted for special occasions or birthdays. But, I am sharing a perspective that there are a lot of men, husbands, and fathers out there that don’t want their significant others stressing over what to get them. Oftentimes the most meaningful gift is just time spent with each other doing something he enjoys.
Happy Father’s Day to my hubs as well as the other men out there who answer the call of ‘dad’!