As various gift-giving occasions come and go each year, I can’t help but contemplate the pressure to give that perfect gift. Unfortunately, this is not just based in our desire to show love. Our society piles on the pressure, throwing suggestions our way through advertising or taunting us with the “what did you do this year?” queries.
Whether it’s the perfect Valentine’s gift, the best birthday surprise, the most meaningful Mother’s Day or Father’s Day treasure, or the grandest Christmas gift, we can be easily left feeling like failures in the gift-giving department – even if our loved ones truly delight in their gifts!
As Christians, we are called to stand out. To be set apart. To be different. What if we were to practice that in gift-giving as well? What if we were to ignore society’s expectations and give gifts according to a higher standard?
When you look at your husband and say, “Let’s just go small this year,” what exactly do you mean. Do you mean no gifts, just time together? Do you mean only $100 each instead of $500? Or do you mean those small diamond earrings you’ve been eying for months rather than the new mattress you’ve discussed?
Offer your husband the gift of clarity as gift-giving occasions roll around. Don’t drop hints or remain vague in hopes that he will think of the perfect gift all on his own. Communicate! And encourage him to do the same. You might be amazed by the gift ideas that arise through communication.
Which leads to the next gift…
Okay, ladies, let’s get real. It might be the cultural norm to look at your husband and say, “You don’t have to get me anything this year,” while inside you’re thinking, “Yeah, right, you know me better than that!” But, if that’s the culture norm, then we are a culture of liars.
And that’s not okay for general life, much less for marriage. And it’s definitely not okay for believers to automatically distrust one another’s words because lying has become the norm in relationships. (Remember the whole “set apart” concept?)
Years ago, early in our marriage, my husband got me an awesome kitchen appliance for Christmas. It had a wall-mounted charging base that held a hand-held mixer and several attachments. I loved that thing! But Doug was raked over the coals for his “horrible” gift. In fact, a pastor and his wife informed him in no uncertain terms that I might have asked for that mixer, but it was NOT appropriate for a Christmas gift. Then, when I told them it was exactly what I wanted for Christmas, they assured both of us that I was lying just to keep from hurting his feelings.
Right then and there, Doug and I committed to honesty. Period. There are few better gifts we’ve ever given to one another, in my opinion.
The last one is, yes, freedom. Not freedom from one another, but freedom from those cultural norms established by society and perpetuated even by believers. Give your husband freedom from the expectation to do things just like everyone else.
Just because jewelry and power tools are the societal norm (at least, according to the advertisers!), don’t force one another into that mold. Instead, share your hearts. The resulting gifts might still come in the form of a piece of jewelry or a power tool, but it might also come in the form of time or words or energy or activity.
But also, be patient with one another while you figure it out. The pressure to give – or share the receipt of – that perfect gift is still strong. Take a breath, enjoy one another, and give to each other based on that enjoyment.
And see your relationship grow because of it.