If you’re a people watcher, you might want to check out the discount store the evening before Valentine’s Day. There’s a good chance that the local card and gift aisles will be dominated by men in the last hours before the holiday begins.
Many women will be disgusted that the guys wait till the last minute. “Doesn’t he care? Couldn’t he plan ahead? If he loved me, he’d put more thought into the gift.”
I’m not a man nor do I play one on TV, but I’ve been married to a guy for nearly 34 years and have raised six sons to adulthood. I’m not trying to justify selfishness or difficult situations. And I’m truly sorry for those who are involved in sad marital situations.
But let’s face it girls, sometimes we read into a situation motivations that just aren’t there. We immediately jump to a conclusion and assume that our husband’s actions are a commentary on our entire marriage relationship, when in reality the guy just doesn’t have a clue about small affections or romantic gifts.
It’s also possible that some men have been so shamed in the past for the gifts they have tentatively given that they dread trying again, so they wait until the last minute.
Nobody likes doing something they’re not good at, especially when they have been criticized and ridiculed for their previous efforts. And especially when the response was accompanied by rolling eyes or the silent treatment.
Men are often at a loss for how to express their feelings. In her book “For Women Only,” author Shaunti Feldhaun surveyed men for honest answers about relationships with their wives. At the end of the survey she asked an open-ended question about what men wish they could tell their wives. Their overwhelming response was “I wish she could know how much I love her.”
What appears to be lack of care or consideration could actually be a profound sense of inadequacy. Men want to solve problems and fix things for their women. They don’t want to feel helpless and incompetent. And gift-giving occasions are all too likely to end painfully.
If there were something you could never get right, why would you want to try to do it again and open yourself up to the possibility of shame?
There are no blanket answers. Hurt feelings can run deep on both sides.
But women can tend to want things and people to follow their imagined scenario, and when they don’t, they feel entitled to their disappointment.
Someone once said to me that disappointment is a choice. That smarted. But as the old saying goes, “The truth will make you free but first it will make you mad.”
Has my heart fallen a little at a gift I’ve received from my husband? Of course. Last time I checked, we’re both human. But it helped me to recognize his intent and to try not to analyze his motivation with my female perspective. Most guys are pretty simple, and he wasn’t trying to be neglectful or hurtful.
He was trying.
Love and grace cover a multitude of misunderstandings. If you really wanted flowers, go buy some and enjoy their beauty without resenting where they came from. Accept less-than-fabulous gifts with eyes that see the heart. There may come a day when you look back fondly on his efforts because he is no longer there to try to please you.
And choose a Happy Valentine’s Day.