Wedding Woes

You're putting a lot of pressure on yourself.

Dear Prudence,

I have a low-stakes, probably silly problem. My wife and I (both women) are very happy together, and our anniversary is coming up. I want to get her something special but am incredibly stressed about finding her a gift. My wife is amazing at gift-giving. She’s an artist and often puts a lot of time into creating beautiful things for people. Sometimes her gifts aren’t homemade, but even the store-bought ones are carefully selected (plus she’s quite generous). I don’t have a talent for making or painting things, but I’ve tried having craftspeople hand-make personalized gifts for her in the past, like jewelry boxes. But I don’t have the same knack, and it always looks like I’ve made less of an effort for her than she has for me.

For example: Last year, I bought her a necklace. She got me an antique guitar that she’d restored and decorated herself (I’m a musician). She seems to genuinely like the necklace (it was expensive, and I’d really tried to find a unique design for her), but it was clear my gift had required much less effort and time than hers and I felt really guilty. In previous years she’s given me: an oil painting of my favorite view, a ring she designed herself, and a jewelry box she made from scratch. Meanwhile I have given her: jewelry, clothes, books, ornaments. Again, she has always seemed to like them, but they are clearly the less exciting and thoughtful gifts. I had been planning to get her concert tickets this year to try to up my game, but that obviously isn’t happening with COVID. Can you advise me on what to do? I’ve been stressed for ages and trying desperately to think of something as amazing and personal as the things she gets me, but already feel guilty knowing that she’ll get me something better.

—Endless One-Upswomanship

Re: You're putting a lot of pressure on yourself.

  • Talk to her! Ask her what she wants and also mention that you are truly appreciative of the gifts that she gives.  
  • Your wife’s love language may be giving gifts (in how she expresses love) but that doesn’t have to be yours! Talk to her about how this is making you feel. I love the concert tickets idea but covid ruins everything. 

    My husband is not the best at gifts but he’s amazing at acts of service. I love presents but recognize this isn’t his strong suit. If something is really important to me I need to be clear that it’s what I want. 
  • To play off Charlotte's comment, just because your wife's giving love language is Gift Giving doesn't mean her receiving love is. My DH loves to give gifts but doesn't really care about getting them. He is much more a time spent person. 
  • You are inventing a problem. You already get your wife lovely gifts she enjoys. 
    Exactly this.  It sounds like the LW's wife really enjoys gift giving.  I'm sure she also realizes that most people don't have the talent and/or desire to give intricate, handmade gifts in return.

    The LW definitely makes an effort and does get their wife lovely gifts.  They need to give themselves a break.

    Though one suggestion I would make is, are they able to write songs?  Writing a song for their wife and then playing it for her on that beautiful guitar she gifted to them would be...AMAZEBALLS!!!!
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • If your wife enjoys the gifts you get her, that's what matters. Continue being thoughtful, and when concerts, etc. are possible again, get her tickets to one or to another event she'd love, and I'm sure she'll really appreciate it. In the meantime, quit being so hard on yourself.
  • Yep, this is a love language thing. I suck at gift giving, but I will make you a lovely dinner and clean your bathroom. People show love in different ways.
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