I happen to be married to a pretty amazing guy. He’s not perfect, but he’s pretty friggin close. He is the epitome of patience, has the kindest eyes I’ve ever seen and exudes this sort of considerate, warm, aura that you just can’t help but experience when you’re around him. And he’s thoughtful, like ridiculously thoughtful. His thoughtfulness is one of the things I love most about him. The point of this gushy rant is not to brag. I know how lucky I am to have this man in my life. But even though I realize that marriage is NOT a competition, sometimes I find myself falling a bit short in the relationship, and a tinge of self-doubt sets in as I wonder if I give enough….if I am enough.
We recently celebrated our 6 year wedding anniversary, and in true Steph-form, I left purchasing a gift to the absolute last minute. I knew my procrastination was me simply avoiding having to think of what to get him because the truth was, I had no clue what he wanted. I tried to rationalize that he is just impossible to shop for, that his gadget/electronic obsession was just too difficult for me to navigate through. My mind began to wander to all the generic gifts I had given him in the past; clothes, cologne, gift cards. And then it hit me that perhaps I was missing this thoughtfulness factor for gift giving that seems to be so effortless to my husband. I felt awful and I panicked.
This panic led me to do something really stupid and shallow.
I drove down to Ogilvy’s, marched into a high-end designer store that my husband cares nothing about and proceeded to buy him a wallet for an obscene amount of money. It felt so wrong and empty. Deep down I think I knew that my simple husband would HATE this wallet. But I managed to convince myself that he would appreciate this grand gesture and would be blinded enough by the extravagance to ignore the lack of thought that was put into the gift. Unfortunately, the excessiveness of this gift did not absolve me of my guilt.
Just as I suspected, when my husband opened the gift, his eyes grew big as he exclaimed, “Steph, why did you do this?” My instinct was to get defensive, to turn this around on him and blame him for being the hardest man on earth to shop for. I stuck to this argument for a few minutes as I accused him of not being appreciative. But the truth was gnawing away at me. I finally broke down and told him that I knew this wallet was a horrible idea, but that I was embarrassed that I could not produce a thoughtful, personal gift for him on our anniversary. He comforted me and reassured me and wiped my tears. And then he was really honest with me. He confessed that he had in fact dropped some hints that I just neglected to pick up on and that although he loves me with all his heart, that sometimes, I don’t really listen to him.
This hit me like a ton of bricks. I listen to people for a living and here I have my husband telling me that he doesn’t feel heard?!?! But the thing is, he was right. And although I felt wounded by his confession, I had to take ownership of it.
So I returned the wallet. And I listened to him. And I ended up buying him a drone that he had been eyeing for a while. It wasn’t fancy, but it was heartfelt. And he loved it. Who knew that buying the worst anniversary gift ever would have taught me so much.