bad gifts

Hello Will,

My husband Jeff and I have been married for 12 years with two small kids and generally have a good relationship – but there’s one thing that drives me crazy. He’s the worst gift giver!

Over the years I’ve had some of the worst gifts ever – perfume I’d never wear, tacky lingerie, books I won’t read and terrible CD’s (Susan Boyle!)

It feels like Jeff doesn’t really know what I like or am interested in. Any suggestions Will on how I can get him to buy better gifts? I don’t want to literally tell him what to buy me!


Tanya, Seattle

Hi Tanya,

Susan Boyle, huh? Yeah, sound’s like we have our work cut out for us on this one.

Cool Hand Luke said it best: “What we’ve got here is a failure to communicate,” and even though I’m sure that you and most of the GEM audience want me to blame your hubby, I’m betting he’s not really the problem. Here’s how I know.

*MAN FACT* Men want to satisfy women. We want to be good providers. That means seeing to it that our other half’s needs are met. Why? Mostly because it’s how we show love and partly because we think it makes us better than other men. Either way, the reason I know Jeff’s not the whole problem is because even after twelve years, when a lot of men would have just given up, Jeff is still trying. He’s grasping at straws, but he’s still giving gifts. Here’s what’s wrong:

1. Jeff sees you looking at your body in the mirror or hears you say that you don’t feel sexy. You didn’t explain that what that really means is that he should take you for a really nice dinner (new dress) and maybe dancing (salsa lessons), so you can put your hair up (new earrings), show off your legs (gold anklet), and feel sexy (surprise weekend at a bed and breakfast). So… what does a man think makes a woman feel sexy? Tacky lingerie, of course!

2. Jeff knows you wear perfume. You’ve never explained that you only wear the smell of wildflowers (new flower garden) because your mother (plane tickets home) used to take you to a special place in the park (camping trip) and let you pick flowers when you were a little girl (hand carved keep-sake box). So what perfume does a man buy? A bottle of what ever the department store girl sprayed in his face, what else!

I won’t go on because you’re a woman, and you don’t need these things explained to you the same way that we men do, but in the interest of understanding (and because I’m a man and it’s springtime) let’s compare it to sex.

As I said; men want to satisfy women. So, why do some men know how and others don’t? Because the ones who know were TAUGHT! And just who taught (or didn’t teach) your husband to be good in bed? YOU did. We men, as the natural bedroom scientists that we are, love to experiment (at least in the early stages).

-We tried something…waited for your reaction… it was positive…we continue to do that thing.

-We tried that other thing…you screamed “What the hell!” and mule-kicked us off of the bed…we finally got our nose to stop bleeding…we’ve never tried that thing again.

So, over the years, if we’ve gotten honest communication, we’ve learned to give you the things you like; if you’ve been faking, we’ve learned to give you the things we THINK you like.

I’m not saying a bad gift-giver is also bad in bed (twelve years and two kids… Jeff’s doing something right). And while you don’t have to write a sexual to-do list with flip charts and pie graphs… give us real feedback as to what you like and why you like it, and when we do get it right, praise us and give us a treat.

The same goes for gifts. You don’t have to drag poor Jeff to the shoe store and put the Balenciaga’s in his hands, but if you mention how sexy you feel in leather, high-heeled boots, there’s a good chance that there’s a pair in your not-so-distant future. If you tell him that, when he wears a black t-shirt, he reminds you of the Jack Reacher character in the Lee Childs books, you’ll likely get more Lee Childs books. He won’t get it right every time, but he’ll do better. When he does, shower him with oohs and ahhs. He’ll try to out-do himself the next time.

Good luck, Tanya. And when/if you read this, I’d love to hear about the BEST gift Jeff has ever gotten you, and what made it so good.

As a matter a fact,  I would appreciate a comment as to the best and worst gifts some of our readers have gotten…  in the interest of experimentation, of course!

William Jones is originally from the tiny town of Alton, Illinois, and now lives in the tinier town of Reisterstown, Maryland. He is a happy husband and a proud father of three, and writes as a hobby, in those few, spare moments he finds between husbanding and daddy-ing.