My husband and I are not exchanging major gifts this year. There's nothing we need, so why waste our money?
On the other hand, I do want Bob to know that I love him and care about him, and that I put thought and effort into making him happy.
What I'm giving instead: A series of homemade coupons for priceless gifts that I know he will love. The "gifts" I've chosen play either to our appointed roles around the house, or to my quirks (or should I say annoyances) that he has grown to tolerate, if not fully love. Each coupon has seven redeemable tabs. For example...
- 11:00 Bedtime: I tend stay up until 12:30 or 1:00 AM doing work, paying bills or taking care of other chores around the house. Bob prefers to be in bed by 11, but he usually stays up with me to keep me company and because he has a hard time falling asleep when I'm not next to him. (After nearly 18 years of marriage, I still feel like a newlywed in this regard!) While the to-do list in my head makes it hard for me to stop until I've finished, I will gift him his schedule and preferred sleeping time.
- One-Hour No Questions Asked: I don't know if this is a female/male thing, or a Margie/Bob thing, but I am constantly peppering my husband with questions when he is trying to relax while watching a football game or is engrossed in a movie. With this gift, I will shut up for one hour. I'm a little nervous about how I'll get by on this one (write things down???), but my husband will enjoy the peace.
- Take Out the Trash: Bob usually brings our garbage and recycling cans down to the foot of the driveway for pick-up day. This chore only takes a few minutes, but neither of us likes it in the winter, when it is dark and cold.
- 30-Minute Clutter Clean-Up: In our dual-working, sandwich-generation marriage, "stuff" rapidly accumulates around our home. We're busy. We have other priorities. We're tired. Secretly, this gift is for both of us -- we both would far prefer order to chaos. Taking care of him is the motivation I need to attack the piles.
For most of the couples I know, spouses allocate chores between them rather than sharing them. Does yours tend to do most of the cooking or grocery shopping? Change the sheets? Do laundry? Clean up dinner? Pay bills? Walk the dog? Imagine how happy you'll make your honey with these gifts of time and ease.
Maybe there are aspects of your relationship that you could cede control of such as choosing what you watch on television, deciding on what you'll have for dinner, making plans for Saturday night or planning your vacation.
Maybe there are activities your spouse has wanted to do with you but you've resisted like reading (start a book club for two!), exercising (train for a 5K race?) or attending lectures.
And then, of course, there are the intimate pleasures. Let your imagination go wild.