Don’t Get Me Anything = You Better Get Me A Gift?

Posted on November 3, 2007 by Melissa 
Filed Under Relationships, Shopping

That’s IT?This weekend is our first wedding anniversary.  I guess we can no longer call ourselves newlyweds.  Eric says I’ll be an old married hag after the weekend.  Well, at least officially now.  :-)

An interesting thing happened when Eric was traveling for work recently.  He had dinner with several co-workers that he doesn’t see very often and they remembered that about this time last year he was getting married.  Eric confirmed that our anniversary was approaching.

“So, what are you getting her?”

Eric said “Nothing, we decided not to give gifts for this anniversary”.

“You’re kidding, right? Did she say it was ok not to get her a gift?”

“Yes, we both discussed it and decided that we weren’t going to exchange gifts”.

They couldn’t believe it and refused to accept that I didn’t want anything for our anniversary.  All four of them promptly informed Eric that he better get me gift and that it better be a good one.  “Jewelry is a clear winner” one of them said with the others nodding in agreement.  Another talked about how he had to get his wife something really nice for their first anniversary.  They even called over the waitress to ask her what she thought (for a woman’s perspective) and she said “That’s code”.  They all felt Eric was making a grave mistake.

Eric, feeling pressured, said that we were going to go out to a nice dinner instead.  That seemed to placate the group as they responded that nice dinners are good and that should help.  But they still stressed that he better also get me something nice. 

When Eric told me this story a few days ago I felt a little insulted.  They assumed that I would say one thing while meaning the opposite and that I would be disappointed when he actually did what we agreed on.  And they implied that Eric was naive and didn’t understand what I really wanted if he didn’t get me a fancy gift.

Surely not all of these guys got into marriages with women that expect gifts despite saying the contrary.  I have to hope that this conversation was some sort of guys-against-girls bonding episode using the stereotype that women always want (and expect) sparkly things.  Eric says they were dead serious, though.

I told Eric that he should’ve replied “For our anniversary we are buying a home”.  I think that is a damn good gift!

I think the best gift he could give me is working together as a team to buy this new home.  Not buying me a present is exactly what I want.  It shows his level of commitment to our goal and his ability to avoid social pressure. 

If Eric had bought me jewelry I would have been mortified.  That may be hard for some people to believe but it is the honest truth.  I would have felt betrayed because buying me something like that goes against everything we have been working so hard for this year.

What we are doing to celebrate our anniversary is using some gift certificates we got from cashing in some credit card points to go to dinner.  This will give us a nice evening out without affecting our pocket book.  I think that is lovely and very appropriate.  It makes me smile to think we are celebrating our first anniversary on a dime to help us meet our goal.

Besides, isn’t the first anniversary the “paper” anniversary, anyway?  Shouldn’t a card be enough?

Update: Even as I prepare to post this Eric is still asking me if I really am ok with no gifts. Before going to that dinner he never questioned if he was doing the right thing by accepting my wishes at face value.  Societal norms can really mess with you, huh?

Image Source: Swamibu


29 Responses to “Don’t Get Me Anything = You Better Get Me A Gift?”

  1. Clever Dude on November 3rd, 2007 10:55 am

    Happy Anniversary! A few months back, Stacie said we could get ourselves a Nintendo Wii for our anniversary. I went right out and bought one.

    But then, knowing that the excitement of the gift fades over time, I bought her a MINI Cooper :)

  2. Louise on November 3rd, 2007 11:49 am

    Happy Anniversary… and it is nice to see another lady who doesn’t NEED gifts to know that her man loves her. When my hubby was alive we never exchanged gifts… we decided right from the first that we were our gift to each other. We had 25 happy years and if he hadn’t had a fatal heart attack we would still be together today.

  3. Amanda on November 3rd, 2007 12:05 pm

    I love that you decided not to get each other anything, instead saving up for buying your first house. My husband and I always put a limit on our gifts–$20 or $30. Our first year he got me $15 earrings and I was thrilled! I’d rather get something small, or nothing at all, as opposed to getting a bill every month to pay off!

  4. Chief Family Officer on November 3rd, 2007 1:41 pm

    Happy Anniversary! It just goes to show what good communication and shared priorities can accomplish – a house is a wonderful gift to each other!

  5. plonkee on November 3rd, 2007 4:29 pm

    To be fair, it’s not uncommon for the couple to agree that they don’t want gifts and then for one (say, the woman) to go out and buy a gift for the other.

    Anyway, happy anniversary.

  6. Jennifer on November 3rd, 2007 5:46 pm

    Just because other people play games in their relationships doesn’t mean you have to!

    I am very honest with my DH about what I want, or don’t want. One year, I said I didn’t want anything, and guess what I got, a candy bar! It was great-he didn’t forget my birthday, but acknowledged my request to not buy me anything.

    I’d be really embarrassed if I asked for nothing & got something, having not bought something for my husband as per our agreement.

  7. Louise on November 3rd, 2007 11:43 pm

    Congratulations on your anniversary! Sounds like some of those friends are the ‘Joneses’ that we feel pressured by.

    My husband and I are about to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and we have never bought each other anniversary gifts. We’re still married because we like each other and would hang out together, married or not. Just be yourself and do what’s right for you.

  8. The Dividend Guy on November 4th, 2007 8:58 am

    My wife and I have often agreed not to buy each other gifts, but for awhile it was a joke as both of us ended up getting the other one something. What we do now is save up for something we both want (i.e. a new bed) and do that instead.

  9. Melissa on November 4th, 2007 1:35 pm

    @Clever Dude – hehe, Eric says to stop making him look bad. A Wii and a MINI? Nice! It’s good that you discussed the splurges so everyone is happy.

    @Louise – Welcome! Thank goodness for the wonderful years you had with your husband. It sounds like you had a very special relationship.

    @Amanda – Small things are nice, too. I think it’s important to discuss the gift thing openly and honestly. Welcome and thanks for commenting!

  10. Melissa on November 4th, 2007 2:42 pm

    @Chief Family Officer – I’m glad you commented! Good communication is very important. Without it Eric might not have trusted that I was telling him my real wishes because they went against the norm.

    @Plonkee – You are right; they might have been trying to help Eric based on the fact that I might get him something on the sly. I would have been alright if he gave me something small (out of fear of me not keeping our promise) but they were suggesting he needed to buy me jewelry to be safe. That’s a bit extreme and completely out of scale.

    @Jennifer – Amen! I like that your husband still acknowledged your birthday with something small. I think that is very sweet. Last night, my husband did the same thing by pre-ordering two glasses of champagne at the restaurant as a surprise. That was his way of acknowledging the occasion while still honoring our agreement.

  11. Melissa on November 4th, 2007 2:57 pm

    @Louise – Welcome! That’s awesome that you are coming up on 25 years together. I love hearing these stories of couples who give gifts on their own terms instead of simply following social norms.

    @The Dividend Guy – I guess at that point the no-gift agreement becomes an inside joke. :-) I like the idea of working together to get a gift that benefits you both. Saving towards getting a new bed is a perfect (and awesomely appropriate) anniversary gift.

  12. Pinyo on November 4th, 2007 4:31 pm

    Guys, the DEED is written on paper. What a perfect paper gift!

  13. wealthy_1 on November 5th, 2007 12:08 pm

    Happy Anniversary!

    My husband and I haven’t exchanged anniversary gifts in 24 years of marriage. On the special ones that end in a 0 or a 5 we usually go out to dinner. Every year we do exchange cards. One year the company he worked for was involved in contract negotiations with the union around the time of our anniversary. He was working around the clock and getting little to no sleep. He happened to come home for a shower and change of clothes on our anniversary. I gave him a ce always agree that we don’t need gifts since we both earn moneyard and said, “Happy Anniversary.” He looked mortified. Later that day he sent me flowers. He said he was sorry that he forgot. I was very appreciative and told him that I totally understood what had happened.

    It’s good to see that the two of you are starting your lives together with communication and mutual respect.

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  15. debtdieter on November 6th, 2007 1:36 pm

    Happy Anniversary, and congratulations for being in such a healthy, honest realtionship!

    I’m with you you on this one. I’d also be insulted that others automatically thought that what you say and what you mean aren’t the same thing about something as important as how you will spend your money and build your future together.

  16. Melissa on November 6th, 2007 3:18 pm

    @Pinyo – How clever! I didn’t even think of that. I joked around that paper meant money (or divorce papers, depending on my mood) but the deed is a good one. :-)

    @wealthy_1 – Wow, 24 years, that’s awesome! It’s nice to hear that many couples feel the way we do. I like the idea of going to dinner on the 0 and 5 years. I will probably always want to go out though since it is an excuse to have a nice dinner (my favorite splurge).

    @debtdieter – I did feel angry about it at first but then felt a little sad. I hope it was mostly just teasing but I wonder if any of those guys don’t enjoy a truly open relationship and have to interpret “code” a lot. I know it happens.

  17. Pamela on November 8th, 2007 8:48 am

    Yes, there are some women who want sparkly things for any gift giving opportunity, and then there are those of us, like you, who’d rather use the money that would go for a gift that we may or may not use. I’ve been married forever and in the first couple of years my husband bowed to societal pressure to give me gifts – now he knows that his undivided attention and doing something we both think is fun (browsing thrift stores occurs to me) is the best present he could ever give me. It IS insulting for any man to think all women are speaking in “code”…

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  19. Melissa on November 8th, 2007 2:14 pm

    @Pamela – I agree! I would rather get or do something that we both can enjoy. It’s the little things that make me feel special everyday anyway, not some grand gesture once a year.

    Stereotypes are pretty annoying, huh? Thanks so much for commenting!

  20. jj on November 8th, 2007 2:34 pm

    I am a woman and totally agree with you about the anniversary gift. First of all, a one-year anniversary gift isn’t a big deal in the grand scheme of things. that’s why the traditional gift is something paper. I think jewelry should be reserved for a substantial anniversary. Secondly, I think the pressure is so insulting. Like all women are like children who like sparkly things. Granted there are some women like that, which I don’t understand. If you’re on a tight budget or in debt even, the husband’s gift of jewelry is taking a whack out of your joint household income!

    And I’ve heard that now many men give gifts after their wives give birth. That’s just odd to me. I know you go through pain but you both get the little bundle of joy.

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  22. Melissa on November 15th, 2007 9:39 am

    @jj – Welcome! That is a really good observation! I never made the connection with the first anniversary being less important so the traditional gift being paper. Interesting…

    I also think the gifts after giving birth is strange. Maybe it’s a guilt thing. Is that really popular now?

  23. Pancake on November 15th, 2007 12:18 pm

    I wonder what the age of these people was, and the socio-economic background. I tend to think that younger people are actually more frugal and don’t adhere to the “traditional” rules of obligatory gift-giving.

  24. Melissa on November 15th, 2007 8:03 pm

    @Pancake – Interesting comment! I asked Eric and he said all the guys at the dinner were in their late 40s and the woman they asked was in her 20s. They were likely upper middle class. Eric was the youngest at the table. That certainly would fit your theory.

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  26. Kim Diamond(new comment) on September 2nd, 2009 11:22 pm

    I have found that the older I get the less I actually want gifts be it for birthdays or anniversaries, I don’t know why this is maybe it just that having to think about what you want gets to me.

  27. Kim Da Cook(new comment) on September 3rd, 2009 12:18 am

    My other half and myself just get small gifts and things that we appreciate a little more for me its not the value of the gift but the thought that has gone into it.

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  29. gifts for men(new comment) on August 11th, 2010 10:58 pm

    My husband and I are about to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary and we have never bought each other anniversary gifts. We’re still married because we like each other and would hang out together, married or not.


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