Inside His Head: Wife wants a Valentine’s Day gift, please

Dear Inside His Head,

Valentine’s Day is coming up and I know I shouldn’t care about whether I receive something — or what it is — but I do. I would appreciate a modest gift from my husband, that’s the honest truth. How should I approach this with him? I always give him something nice, but he doesn’t always reciprocate. I’m left feeling a little under-appreciated. Your advice?


GRAY: Nothing makes me cringe more than hearing a woman talk about how the ostentatious bundle of flowers delivered to their office desk “displays how much he loves me.”

Just because a dude can read a calendar and call a florist might make some women feel appreciated, but it makes me feel ripped off.

This is the problem: forcing a guy to pony up an expression of love on demand is difficult enough already, let alone for a holiday he has no appreciation for in the first place.

valentines01If you want it to work I think you need to make it personal and mutual. Also, it needs to be different from what you might do for your anniversary, birthday, Mother’s Day (you know, all those other days we’re expected to show how much we appreciate you). Just pressuring him to buy something will land you a box of chocolates or something equally trivial.

Maybe you pitch it to him as a night in February (not necessarily Valentine’s Day) that the two of you get a babysitter and eat at that new restaurant. Maybe it’s letting the grandparents take over so you can have a 3-day weekend to decompress from the Christmas season. Maybe it’s even making it a special family event for the kids too.

Sharing something together will make the celebration about the two of you and not about the trite symbols of love bought for a few bucks at a florist or store. Because of this, he’ll be inclined to get behind idea and the day is more likely to become an event he’s willing to put some effort into.

MAVERICK: This is the time where honesty is the best policy, but timing and delivery are important if you want the best results.

If you always get him something nice, and he’s generally not inconsiderate or uncaring at other times, he clearly doesn’t realize how important this is to you, or that he’s disappointing you in the arena of gift-giving.

I realize it’s part of the fantasy of a perfect relationship many women  have — the ultimateman will be able to read their every thought and desire and will act accordingly. In reality, we’re not psychic and if an otherwise good husband is falling short in an area as simple as gift giving, he’s either a moron or much more likely, he’s unaware of your desires and the importance you place on it.

Barring the fact that your husband is an dolt, he’s simply clueless.

So, clue him in.

  • But don’t just hint or expect him to magically know what’s bothering you and what you want to change.
  • Be honest, be direct, do it well in advance of the time you want a present. Don’t ambush him, that never works.
  • Find a time when he’s not distracted or really relaxed and lay your cards on the table.
  • Tell him you’d appreciate a little more forethought in the next gift he chooses for you. Tell him it you feel a little cheated when you go out of the way to get him something nice and he brings you something from the dollar store or the quickie mart.

Do this without accusing him of being thoughtless or cheap or inattentive. Do this without whining or complaining. This is a simple fact, like the reality that it’s raining outside, he needs to buy better gifts, period.

If the situation makes you unhappy or you feel unappreciated, you have every right to speak up. Do it honestly, without a bit of hostility or finger pointing, and likely as not you’ll both be on the same page in no time.

MICHAEL: Why shouldn’t you care? There’s nothing wrong with with expecting a gift from your husband on Valentine’s Day.

What’s wrong is expecting a gift and not making it clear to him that you do. Some guys just aren’t gift givers. They may show their affection in other ways.

However, if you don’t make your feelings known, you can’t expect his behavior to change. Just lay it out there for him. It doesn’t have to be a demand, but it does need to be clearly said.

Try something like, “Hey honey, I really appreciate everything you do for me all year, but I’d really like it if you’d put some thought into Valentine’s Day each year. I know it’s corny, but it would really make me happy.”

Good luck.