Our friend Katie, from the popular blog Marriage Confessions, drops by twice a month to share her take on Southern married life. We hope you enjoy, and be sure to visit her at her blog for regular doses of humor and adorable-ness!
The first Valentine’s Day my husband and I shared as man and wife has become legendary to our family and friends. Why? Because Chris gave me Tupperware. Seriously.
His birthday that year was not all that great, either. I gave him a vacuum cleaner. It was a very nice vacuum cleaner… but still. I had a friend whose husband (who shall remain nameless to protect the stupid) gave her a lightning rod for their house for their first anniversary, and I had another friend (who shall remain nameless to protect the cheap) who gave her husband a rice steamer for his 30th birthday.
It’s not that these are bad gifts to give (I had a rice steamer on my Christmas list last year). It’s more that they are such easy gifts to give. Sort of thoughtless, mindless presents. Presents that come out of conversations about budgeting and home repairs, instead of out of conversations about our wants and our desires.
Before we were married, Chris used to give me the most thoughtful presents. Nothing too expensive (we were broke college kids), but always something that took his time and attention. One time in the mail, he sent me an index card that he had taped a bunch of pretzels to that spelled out, “I love you.” I still have that, almost ten years later. Another time, he sent me on a scavenger hunt throughout our hometown for no reason at all. At each stop there was a rose with my next clue. At the twelfth stop (that’s a dozen roses, for all you English majors out there…) he was waiting with a homemade picnic dinner. All because it was a Tuesday and he loved me.
When you get married, you sort of go into business together. You manage your household and your finances, your careers and your heath, your family and obligations. So, I understand the giving of practical presents. Your business has a need, so why not use Christmas or a birthday as a time to meet it? But just like there is a line between your business and home life, there should be a line between your practical needs and your relationship needs in your marriage, and gift-giving, in my opinion, should always fall in the relationship category.
Gifts tell people that you are thinking about them, that they are important to you, that you are proud of them, happy for them, celebrating with them. Vacuum cleaners, while certainly a gift someone would use, don’t really send that message. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever give a practical gift. One year, Chris and I were really struggling for money and we both really wanted a new grill. We both love to grill, and our old one was about to fall apart. We decided that we would get a new grill as our present to each other that Christmas, and it was a gift that we both still enjoy together, years later. But in addition to giving that grill, Chris and I also exchanged gifts under $20 each. These gifts had to express something we loved about the other person. He gave me two books I had really wanted to read, and he said he loved watching me read because he knew how happy it made me. Before then, I wasn’t entirely sure Chris even KNEW I read books, and come to find out, it was one of his favorite things about me.
Another trick to gift-giving when you are married is to make sure that the random, just-because-it’s-Tuesday gifts keep coming. In the first year of our marriage, Chris and I used to leave each other little gifts all the time, for absolutely no reason. But as the years went by, that slowly stopped. I was thinking about it a few months ago, and I couldn’t remember the last time I’d bought a card for him or picked up a little treat for no reason at all. With two little kids, a lot of our attention goes to making sure they have everything they need, but I think that it then becomes really easy to overlook the needs of our spouse. And a need we all have is to know that we are loved and thought about.
Now, any time I’m at the drug store or grocery store, I pick up a little something in the check out aisle, just for Chris – his favorite candy bar or a magazine I know he likes or a card. One of his favorites is when I splurge and bring him home the really good, expensive ice cream when I go grocery shopping. None of those things costs too much and I’m already out when I decide to bring him something, so it doesn’t even mean I have to DO anything extra, really. It’s just picking up a little something to tell him that I was thinking about him, even while I was at the grocery store.
Just as in your everyday life you have to learn how to balance home and work, you have to learn how to do that in gift-giving when you’re married, too. There can be a time and a place for practical gifts, but they should never take the place of a thoughtful, unique, personalized gift that tells someone how much they mean to you. Gift-giving, when done correctly, can be one of those little things that make a marriage feel fresh and new and passionate, no matter how long you’ve been married.
P.S. All of these photos are from Josh McCullock, one of our fabulous Blue Ribbon Vendors! See more from this wedding on his blog here!