“The supreme happiness of life is the conviction of being loved for yourself, or, more correctly, being loved in spite of yourself.”
I am not writing this because I think I am God’s gift to women. I have just done hundreds of hours of counseling with women and I hear how they see things. Then, I interpret them for men so you can know too.
There are three main features to giving a gift to a woman.
What every gift (including dates, by the way – anything you pay for is a gift, but more on dates later) must say can be summed in the statement: “I know my wife and I am thinking about her even when she isn’t around.” Or to put it more succinctly, “I know my wife and I remember her.”
1. Know your wife – it actually is the amount of thought and preparation that counts for her. It was not a man who said “it is the thought that counts.” However, I often hear about dates and gifts that husbands thought were huge flops, but the wife was overjoyed with!
Once when I challenged a husband to take his wife on a special date. So, he remembered that she had always wanted to visit a restaurant just outside of town and there was a concert he knew she would enjoy. When he came in after the date he was crushed – they drove way out to the restaurant only to find weeds growing in the parking lot. It had been closed for months! Now they had to rush back to town and ended up eating fast food. They got to the concert to discover it nearly sold out and they had to get seats not next to each other, if I remember correctly. They ended up sitting at a coffee shop to discuss their individual experiences of the concert!
He was almost too embarrassed to tell me about it.
She came in a few days later and described the same date as one of the best events of their marriage! She loved it and gushed about him taking her to the restaurant she had mentioned long ago – and never mentioned to me that it was closed! Then she was so impressed that he had researched the concert and she loved it, and she loved debriefing everything after the coffee shop too!
Why was their experience so different? Because their definition of what made a good date was completely different.
His was: did it go as planned? Was it a date he could brag to others about it?
For her, it was: “Does he know me well, and was he thinking about me when he planned it?”
So, how do I learn about her?
Imagine that I decided to buy some flowers for my wife. Now, say I wasn’t sure what kind of flowers to get her, so I gathered together a bunch of my buddies for ideas. One says “roses” another says “daisies” and another says “carnations.” Whose input is best? None of them are any better than another. However, this is one person in the world who can tell me exactly what kind of flowers my wife would prefer (and I don’t mean her best girl friend, though I will mention her later in gift giving). Answer?
My wife. (incidentally, this analogy works well for explaining why all religions aren’t equal either.)
Only my wife knows what kind of flowers she likes best, right? But how uncool would it be for me to call her from the store, “Hey, honey, what kind of flowers do you like?” If you don’t know, then you might need to do exactly that, by the way, because it is much cooler than not getting any or getting something she hates, but there is a better way.
Listen and learn.
Earn a PhD in your wife – become the world’s expert on her! It might happen this way… you get her a rose and bring it home. She loves it, but mentions that iris’s are her favorites.
Don’t be offended (“see, I get her flowers and she still criticizes me.”) Grow up, and take note.
Hmmm. Iris’s. Got it. She is just helping you be great at what you are obviously trying to do – love her – so don’t be offended. Maybe she says “Roses are my favorite – especially the yellow ones.”
Good job with roses. Next time, remember, yellow, like a Vogon Warship, or a bulldozer is yellow.
Women will generally make comments about their favorites all the time. Watching TV, commenting on other women’s things, (BIG HINT) when she shops for other people’s gifts or sees other people opening gifts!!!
Also, make it a habit to shop with them and listen. Stop whining, and don’t sit in the middle of the mall in one of those husband benches – go with her and begin to understand what she likes best. Here are some areas where any great husband must know her favorites:
Know her favorites, and weave them into the gifts. Here are some examples of favorites you must know:
Animal (real and stuffed)
Candy and/or chocolate bar (unless she is seriously dieting)
Flower (more on flowers later)
Restaurants (and meals at those restaurants)
Jewelry (favorites stones, metals, and symbols)
Personal feature (and least favorite)
Least favorite chore
2. Listen – and don’t wait. When she notes something that catches her eye – go back and get it asap if you think it is something that will be meaningful to her. I am telling you that this is one of the most important skills for getting good, meaningful gifts (for anyone). Do not wait until it is near an important date to get a gift. If you are out and spot something that she might like, go ahead and get it. You won’t regret it.
Give yourself plenty of time to purchase gifts – if you have done II – it should not be a problem. Be sneaky about things – know her better than she even knows herself if you can get away with it. The best is when she had mentioned something to you and then forgotten it herself!
Also, I am sure you would never forgot a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion, but if you did, having a small stash of gifts hidden in your closet that is a good gift rather than a lame gas station gift or (cringe) the old “hey, I gotta run a quick errand uhhh suddenly today…” Put all important events on your calendar, your work calendar, your phone, and anywhere else you can put it. Make sure your friends have them on their calendars too, and that they remind you! Remember, we are all in it together!
3. Know what each gift means to her – if the thought counts, then it is not the gift, but the message it sends that is valuable to her. Do flowers say “I have screwed up again, please forgive me?” or do they say “I was thinking of you and wanted you to know how special you are to me.” (if it is the former, then you have taught her that meaning and you need to begin to give them to her randomly when nothing is wrong, or you lose flowers as a gift)
Know what meaning she attaches to different things and communicate the right thing.
Remember – no strings attached, or it only communicates “he wants something from me” and then you have shot yourself in the foot.
Let me reiterate this – if a gift is merely meant to put her in your debt, or to put things out of balance so that she has to work to bring things back into balance, then at some level she is going to feel that you are trying to prostitute her to something.
So, listen so that you can know. Use that knowledge to tell her you love her all of the time.