Dropping hints to my husband is always something that I have been terrible at.  I am so bad at it that around the holidays I take his credit card and treat myself to a new something something.  I have resolved that my husband, "Isn't good at gifts" and I have moved on.  Well, Susan Jensen, group leader of PAX Programs Celebrate Men, Satisying Women Workshop stopped by to tell me that (a) my husband is good at gifts and (b) I was just asking him the wrong way.  Well, I am putting her tips to the test and will report back after Christmas!


Did Diwali turn out the way you wanted, or were you disappointed?  When it comes to gift giving, we are often upset with the men in our lives for various reasons.  Sometimes we wish they were listening when we dropped several “hints” about our gift desires, or we find ourselves wishing they really “got” us so we didn’t have to drop hints.  Sometimes we even wish he was one of our girlfriends at gift giving time, because of course, she would know exactly what to get and pick one up for herself too.  If you were frustrated this past Diwali, put it behind you and focus on these simple steps for a happy and very Merry Christmas.  

First, consider you might get just as much, if not more, from giving as you do from getting. Ask the man in your life what he would like for Christmas so he can feel honored and appreciated.  Men get a lot of juice from appreciation, especially in the form of small acts (e.g. like baking his favorite holiday meal/treat, or buying it if you don’t cook).  

Second, remember whatever he provides for you on Christmas or any holiday is a GIFT.  If you expect certain things or have standards above what he is capable of providing, it won’t turn out well.  Expectations turn receivers into takers. The giver can now only submit or resist.  Submitting will often shut off any enthusiasm, creativity, or romance.  

Third, give him very specific details on what you would like to receive.  Here are some examples:

  • Send an email with links to the exact product you want, including size, color, and any other pertinent information.  

  • Create a folder with magazine cutouts of things you would like.  

  • Women often believe men should already know what we want for gifts.  However, the problem is how we communicate the information.  We either drop “hints” that he doesn’t get, or we talk about it at a time when he isn’t listening.  For more information on listening, see this article on Single Focus and asking for a time to talk.

    Many women think telling him exactly what she wants takes all the fun out of gift giving.  Then, she is disappointed and unhappy when he doesn’t give her what she wants.  If he doesn’t know what you want, he will get you what you need, or what he thinks you need, like a new vacuum cleaner. We aren’t happy with that either and he is well aware that he has failed us.  Over time, a man will get defeated and feel like he can never live up to our expectations.  However, most of the time, this can be avoided by simply providing useful and specific information.  Remember that men are very literal.  You must be very specific, and I mean VERY specific.  I was very specific last year when I actually put the watch on hold that I wanted for my birthday.  My husband was working very hard and I thought I would save him some time and energy.  He usually spends more than the amount of the watch and I figured he would be creative and buy some additional presents.  On my birthday, I got the watch, just the watch.  After all, that is what I told him I wanted.  I should have been happy, however I ended up disappointed because I thought he would buy me something else too. I reflected and realized how literal men are.  Next time I will remember to tell him I would love to be surprised with some other gifts and give him a few ideas.  You can use this tactic if you are okay with your man being creative.  I happen to really like my husbands’ taste and trust his creativity.  If you don’t trust his creativity or you know being creative at gift giving is dreadful for him, do not torture him.  Make sure whatever you do, you set him and yourself up to win.   Men win when they have made us happy.  Set him up to win by making sure he knows exactly how to make you happy.    

    Fourth, when he provides you with a gift, express appreciation for his efforts, even if they aren’t perfect.  Let him see how happy you are and he will want to give again and again.  Remember, men get juice from appreciation. If it wasn’t EXACTLY the one you wanted, reflect on whether or not you communicated specifically what you wanted.  If you realize you did not, make sure to communicate clearly next time.  For more information on men making you happy and setting him up to win in all aspects of your relationship, join me in San Francisco, February 5th/6th, 2011 for the Celebrate Men, Satisying Women Workshop


    Until then,


    Maharani weddings_susan_signature copy 
    Susan Jensen


    Workshop Leader, PAX Programs