Gift Giving for Couples

Giving gifts is one way to demonstrate love for your partner. Gift giving has the potential to bring joy or hurt, disappointment and friction in your relationship. Whether it is gifts of love or material gifts, putting some thought into the gift can result in enjoyment rather than disappointment.

The following are some thoughts that may be helpful:

1. Spending more on a gift does not necessarily make it more appreciated or memorable in a positive way. An example comes to mind of a client who was furious that her husband had purchased a big-ticket item for her birthday because the cost was not within their budget and would put additional financial strain on an already dire situation.


2. Gift giving may not be the best way to make up for bad behavior. Apologizing and changing your attitude and behavior would probably go further. Be aware that the gift will be an ongoing reminder of the misdeed. Our mind tends to fuse things together and each time your partner sees, uses or thinks about the present, the memory of the hurt will also be there.

3. Give what your partner wants rather than what you want to give. Just because you would like to receive something does not mean that your partner will be excited about receiving it. Practical gifts like winter tires for the car or a new appliance may be treasured by some, but to many people, these kinds of gifts do not have the personal touch that makes a gift special. Your choice of gifts says a lot about how well you know your partner, how closely you have listened to them and whether you are aware of their preferences.

4. It is okay to ask for what you want. Some people are resistant to this idea and think a gift does not count if you have to ask for it; however, the best way to get your needs met is to make them known. If there is something specific that you want, let your partner know. Help them learn how to be a good gift giver for you.

5. If your partner does request a specific gift and it is within your means to give it, then do so. I remember the year I requested a specific perfume as a gift (it was the only thing that I requested that year) and my husband instead purchased the perfume recommended by his office staff. We can laugh about this now, but it was disappointing, to say the least. Sometimes we can avoid unnecessary disappointment by giving our partner what they have requested.

6. Consider giving the gift of an experience rather than material gifts, especially if the receiver is someone who already has too much stuff. In this way, gifts can become a way to build memories. I still remember many years ago, looking out the kitchen window to see that my husband had rototilled “I love you.” in the garden. The only cost for this gift was his time, but it was a pleasant surprise and left a lasting impression. Perhaps your partner would love to go to a concert, on a road trip or take a cooking or dancing class together.

7. It is also vital to practice graciously receiving gifts from your partner. I remember my mother receiving a rather hideous looking wrist watch from my father one year. She smiled and wore that watch for years because he had given it to her. We can be generous to our partner by being good gift receivers as well as good gift givers.

You have probably heard that it is the thought that counts in gift giving. But, if you cannot remember what you gave your partner for their birthday or other gifts throughout the year, perhaps you did not put enough thought into the process. When you give a gift that demonstrates that you know what your partner likes, you are more likely to get a positive response from your partner.