I spent several of the early years of our marriage a prideful, arrogant, self-centered person. What does this have to do with gifts, you ask? Well, in that selfishness, I had very strong opinions of how gift-giving needed to occur in our house. I made it very clear that I wanted us to give each other surprise gifts for birthdays and holidays. My rational behind that…I believed that we should know each other well enough to pick out the perfect gift without the other person telling what they wanted. Yep, that was me.
Don’t get me wrong, I love surprises and I am blessed with a husband who enjoys surprising me. And there is nothing wrong with wanting to be genuinely surprised. But I set an expectation–an unrealistically high expectation–that ultimately set us both up for failure.
But I set up an expectation—an unrealistically high expectation—that ultimately set us both up for failure.
So, every year, we were trying to outdo the last year. Or if we really bombed a gift (for example, the seven-person tent with pet cabin that I received for my birthday when he was the only one complaining about the current tent we used…just sayin’), then we were working overtime to try to make up for it at the following holiday. So, pressure. LOTS OF PRESSURE. At a time that we were supposed to be celebrating. What a drag.
I also set the stipulation that I never wanted to just get a gift for both of us. So, if we both really wanted a new camera but it’s pricey and we can only afford to get it if we forego giving each other individual gifts? No way! I was not willing to “change the rules.” So, no camera….and instead something that has a 50/50 shot of being “just what I wanted.”
What caused me to change the rules, so to speak? Well, when our marriage started to get rocky, I read The Five Love Languages. (If you haven’t read this book, please click on the link and get it!).
When I took the test to find out what my “love language” was, it came out as GIFTS. At first I was like, duh, of course it is. But as I continued to read and really think about it, I realized that our current circumstances were actually skewing the results of my test.
Hear me out. I realized that the only way I was experiencing “love” from Steve was when he gave me gifts. At the time, things were rough, and so the gifts–for a short amount of time–made up for the things that were missing in our marriage.
Then I had to go back a bit further…into my childhood. LONG story short, the only “love” that I received from my biological father was gifts. So, as an adult, I was placing an extremely HIGH VALUE on gifts because they represented love when actual love was nowhere to be found.
Bring it home, Lisa….what does your personal childhood journey have to do with a gift for my spouse? What is this BEST GIFT I can give to my spouse??
The best gift you can give your spouse is:
LOWER YOUR EXPECTATIONS.
If you have a spouse who cares for you and loves you and provides for your needs, you are so loved and THAT is a huge gift. Stop setting standards that they cannot ever reach. Use your heart of gratitude (that you hopefully cultivated during last month’s “attitude of gratitude”) and be grateful for the little things. Be grateful for the moments. Be grateful for all of it. Even the 7-person tent with pet cabin. Because your spouse spent time to pick that up JUST FOR YOU. It IS truly the thought that counts. And if you have a hard time lowering those expectations…then MAKE THEM KNOWN. Don’t be like me in those early years, and expect them to guess what you want or need. Just tell them. (I am especially speaking to you, ladies!).
Don’t be like me in those early years and expect them to guess what you want or need.
And if you are looking to those gifts as the only way you experience love from your spouse, you may want to spend some time in prayer contemplating why that is. Because you may be putting a lot of weight on those gifts because something else–something important–is missing from your relationship. In that case, a diamond necklace or fancy tv will not solve it. Get to the root of that. (Check out Five Love Languages or Rescue Your Love Life)
During this Christmas season, when we are inundated with marketing tactics advertising the “next best gift,” resist the urge to EXPECT that perfect gift. Instead, lower those expectations and focus on more important things….like the Messiah whose birth we celebrate and the wonderful spouse He gave you.