I was really looking forward to our second Valentine’s Day together, until I unwrapped my present. A blender. He knows that I like jewelry, and he’s the one who likes smoothies. I got upset that he was being selfish, and then he got upset and said he had seen me looking at that same blender in a catalogue so he picked it up at the mall –and only the day before, at that. Shouldn’t he have thought about what I would like, first?
Can I be honest? I think you should get yourself a dictionary and look up the word “gift.”
Your husband gave your gift enough thought to be watching for what you seemed interested in, and go fight the crowds at the mall to get it for you. I’m just guessing here, but I’ll bet he wrapped it up with the same eagerness and anticipation – and trepidation – he felt as a young boy when he nervously presented his mom the mis-shapen vase he made in art class. And if so, he felt the same hurt he would have experienced if his mom had gotten upset and said she really wanted a set of coasters instead.
Of course, you can’t control what your husband gave you, but you can control how you respond – and that includes in your thoughts. The main reason you are hurt has nothing to do with the gift: it is because you are assuming your husband has bad intentions. He only got me the blender because that’s what he wanted. In other words: he doesn’t care about me. And then of course, your husband is probably hurting as well, and could be thinking something like: I try so hard, but she doesn’t appreciate anything I do for her.
In my research for my most recent book, I’ve studied what the happiest couples do differently that makes them so happy. And one very clear pattern is that when they are hurt, they stop themselves from making those negative assumptions and instead remind themselves that their spouse cares. Which means they respond better, and they start a positive cycle that protects the marriage instead of hurting it. This short piece might give you some ideas for how to handle your feelings the next time you are hurt.
For now, go back to your man, apologize for losing sight of the big picture, and affirm that (contrary to what you said in the heat of the moment) you know he cares about you. Snap yourself out of your sulk, and go apologize to your man for letting disappointment blind you to the efforts he did make. Right away. Before he decides that it is safer to lay low and get you a gift card next year.
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Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage, and her newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.