Married to an Awful Gift-Giver?
Good gifts make me feel loved. But they don't have this effect on everyone. Some claim there is no good gift: if they really wanted something, they would have already bought it or made it. Others receive gifts and feel long, uncomfortable strings attached. They feel indebted, and almost no gift is special enough to welcome this feeling.
People who cannot imagine a good gift or receive a gift without feeling bad give awful gifts if they bother to give any at all. To them, every possible gift looks the same, so they buy the first thing they see or they agonize over the choice for days and still end up buying something unappreciated most of the time.
We who give gifts to show our love feel loved when we receive most gifts. Not only can we rate every object we see as a potential gift, we can tell you which of our loved ones would most appreciate it. We can picture the look on the face of each possible recipient, imagine the joy it will bring.
Ask us to teach someone else to do this, and we have no clue how. We cannot imagine not seeing the joy factor in an item. We can help someone who sees it refine their skill or encourage them to consider more possible items. But we cannot list the things we consider in the moment before our flash judgment, so we cannot teach it.
The best we can do is to give an unskilled life partner a list of what would bring us joy. But, of course, much of the joy comes from surprise.
So, what can we do with an awful gift-giver? Give the gift of understanding. Already under pressure to do something they have no clue how to do, adding pressure to do it well to prove their love won't work. Instead, we can help them make their own love language—read Gary Chapman's The Five Love Languages if you are unfamiliar with love languages—feel more like ours.
Invite them to frame or engrave their words of affirmation. Suggest they create coupons for their acts of service or tickets for quality time activities and wrap them. And if they show love through physical touch, suggest they purchase clothing, bed sheets, a comforter, or lotions that will make you even more touchable and make a big deal of letting you open the box or the door to them.
This way, they will actually feel loving when you feel loved. It's a powerful combination.