So, what did your spouse get you for your birthday last year?


You can get the perfect gift by simply being observant

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Are you one of those people that buy your husband, wife, or even friends and parents gifts that you think they will like because that is what you’d get for yourself?

I ask this because I have a friend who owns a sackful of necklaces that her husband has been buying her since they got married 15 years ago. Every year on her birthday, he gets her a necklace, and on Valentine’s Day, he gets her another necklace.

She has been promoted at work twice since they met, and she has two necklaces to show for it, and one more for when she got a new job six years ago. In other words, she can build a bedsitter with her mountain of necklaces.

If you rarely get any gift from your spouse or significant other, you are probably thinking to yourself, ‘How romantic…’

Unfortunately, for this friend, her many necklaces are simply a constant reminder of just how clueless her husband is about the kind of things she actually likes, even after 15 years of marriage. What makes it worse is the fact that the man has never realised that she actually doesn’t wear any of these necklaces he has bought her over the years, otherwise he would have stopped buying them, or at least asked her why she never puts them on.

I asked this friend why she couldn’t just tell her spouse that she doesn’t like necklaces and instead disclose what she actually prefers, but she was afraid that he would get offended and view her as ungrateful.

And so each year, she gives the oblivious man a wide fake smile and a lukewarm hug when he proudly hands her yet another box of a silver or gold-coated necklace, which she puts away with the rest.

Being the practical person that I am, I once advised her to sell the unwanted things and buy herself something that she actually likes but my good advice fell on deaf ears: “What if he finds out?!” she exclaimed. Women.

Need I point out what I have been leading to in this story? If you really want to give someone that matters to you a gift that they will cherish, get them something that they actually like, otherwise your money will be going to waste.

You can get the perfect gift by simply being observant – what kind of clothes does the person wear, what kind of jewellery do they gravitate towards? What about shoes? Do they like flowers, chocolates, sunglasses, movies, books, watches…surely there must be something that stands out.

As it is, because many of us are too lazy or too self-absorbed to put a finger on what our loved ones actually like, there are miserable wives out there with a drawer full of scratchy and impractical lingerie three sizes smaller that they got from their significant other and which they absolutely hate, or a conservative husband with a wardrobe full of flowered shirts or nursery school-coloured shirts (pink anyone?) and happy socks which his wife bought him because they are in vogue and all the men at her place of work are wearing them.

Wait a minute…it has just occurred to me that this article might have just saved a marriage somewhere. You people should pay me for this free advice…