I talked the other day about how important it is that we communicate our expectations and feelings about holidays and other special occasions to our spouse in order to not end up disappointed and crying in the bathroom. You can read that post here. Today I’ll be continuing on with that theme with the practicalities of how that actually works out in our life!
For the record, communicating your wants and needs to your spouse regarding special occasions really works. I’m happy to report that I have not received one paper flower since stating that I didn’t want them anymore! What I do wish is that we’d have realized it earlier and we could have started the progression without it being a fight. That we could have simply started talking to each other about our wants and needs earlier on to save on the drama. But the bottom line is, we started and we’re better for it. I whole heartedly recommend not waiting for the fight before you start too!
There are a couple of ways that we determined we could help each other out when it came to holidays and gift giving. The first being – speak!
If there’s something you really want – say so! If there’s a play you want to see on your birthday – tell him! If you would like a new pair of running shoes – let him know!
I’ve learned that it doesn’t make the gift less special because your spouse couldn’t read your mind. In fact, if your spouse is listening to you and you’re listening to your spouse there’s something beautiful about that!
My husband and I now send each other online links all the time. I have a folder in my email account dedicated solely to things he’s sent me that he wouldn’t mind receiving at some point in his life and he has a file on his phone with the same for me.
So, I’m perusing etsy and I see some metal letters that I think would be perfect on the mantel? I send him the link. I see a necklace that I would love to own? I send him the link. I need a new pair of rain boots and I’d love for him to gift them to me? I send him a picture.
Now each of my links will have a little disclaimer with them. Sometimes it’s, “exactly this one!” and other times it’s, “just this idea, doesn’t have to be exactly this one.” For the rain boots I sent him a link to the website along with my size, which height and my top 3 colour choices. I don’t like to just demand my gifts, but leave some element of surprise to be had. So by allowing him to customize certain aspects or choose a colour I don’t truly know what I’m ever going to get!
Because I’m a fan of the surprise we always have a number of things on the go as far as what we’d like and we’re sure to tell our spouse if we happen to have bought something off of our list! Nothing worse than having him wrap up that book I claimed I wanted so badly only for him to find out I actually borrowed it from a friend and read it 3 months ago. I’ve also sent updated notes like, “Scratch that piece of art off my list. I changed my mind.”
The next practical way to ensure these days go down well is to listen.
My husband, years before the iPhone, started carrying a moleskin notebook around with him and would jot things down when I mentioned them. So if we were out one day and I picked up a mug and proclaimed my love for it, he would write it in his book along with where it was and how much it cost. Of course, he did this without me knowing!
Let’s be honest, by the time a special day is rolling around we won’t remember all the little things that our people have said they might want. Having this list meant he could look it over and choose something off of it and he’d know I would like it because of the way I had gushed about it right in front of him!
This, my friends, this makes me feel incredibly loved! When I open up a gift and it’s a beautiful journal that I had picked up months ago and then set back down on the shelf and walked away from, it warms my heart. Because he saw. He heard. He listened. He also knew that I chose not to buy it for myself which means it was likely not a necessity but something fun or special or expensive! He already knows I’ll love it and so even giving the gift is fun!
Another thing I do is act swiftly.
Quite often when my hubs sends me a link to something I’ll whip online and order it right away. A collectors book from Amazon could be long gone by the time his birthday rolls around and so if I like what he’s sent and it’s an appropriate price I’ll just order it and hide it away. When it came to his birthday this past year I had 3 different items tucked away and could choose which one I was going to give him. It was so easy and so fun!
Because really, gift giving should not be a chore and that’s what we have decided to take out of it. If we have to spend our days frantically running from store to store hoping that the perfect thing will pop out at us, we’re sorely mistaken. And if we need to purchase something just for the sake of handing it over on that certain day it’s also so much less fun. A gift is something that essentially should be given voluntarily not out of a compulsion, so having thoughts in mind of what will make your loved ones feel special and loved on their big day makes the giving just that. Voluntary. Not a stress.
Lastly, as we’ve gotten older we’ve realized which things really worked well for us. Our priorities have also changed somewhat and so keeping up with the communication and be willing to say, “you know what, I don’t need that anymore. I’d rather…” is okay and good and right.
So now for my birthday, more than one token gift I’d rather spend time away with just my husband. Maybe just a dinner out together and a play. Or a concert. Or a weekend wandering around the city. Time spent has become a bigger love language to me these days than gifts and so I’m sure to relay that to him. We talk now about how we loved that time we spent the weekend with all of our best friends or we tried that new fantastic restaurant. We also laugh about how we thought breakfast in bed might have been a good idea but really – it’s just crumby.
We’ve learned to talk and change our minds and communicate the goods and laugh about the bads. We’ve learned to not buy for each other what we might want for them or what we think they need but to really gift them with things that will make them feel loved. We’ve learned that explaining that pretty packaging is meaningful to you and newspaper wrapping is not something you find ‘cute’ is a good thing and we’ve learned that above all, our spouse really does want our good. Even when they’re making us paper flowers.
p.s. I’m not saying I want them, honey! Let’s keep not making them!!
Next week I’ll talk about teaching your kids how to celebrate occasions and how I announce my birthday is coming every day for a few weeks before it actually arrives!