I want to share a little story with you. At the time of writing this post, Christmas is just a little over a week away. Over the past 11 Christmases spent with my wife, I have made every attempt to get a gift that meets her approval. My wife is notorious for returning gifts of mine that don’t quite meet her expectations. In fact, I have a hard time remembering a few examples of a gift that she has kept. This year, I had hoped that things would be different. This year, I got her an air fryer. To some of you, I imagine that this would sound like a total flop. However, I had put a lot of time and effort into this gift. This has been something I have been working toward for months. I found something that she would find a practical use for. Check. I had her try using an air fryer to see if she would even want one. She did. Check. I let her in on the plan, to make sure that she was on board and would appreciate the item. Check. I had her pick, specifically, the exact air fryer so that there was no logical conclusion why the item that showed up at our house would not meet her every expectation. Check. I made sure that we got an air fryer that wasn’t the cheapest but wasn’t the most expensive one on the market. Check. What could go wrong? Well, she decided to pull it out early and give it a try. After one brief examination, she concluded that she was going to take it back. NOOOOOO!
It took her a little time to realize that I was upset. Once the ball got rolling, I explained to her that I was hurt by the fact that I had played by her rules for getting a gift to a “T.” I had done all that I could think of to give this year the best possible chance for success that I could. I was feeling very defeated. I explained to her that I wanted her to feel that she had the ability to get what she really wanted. However, I also explained that she was not understanding that I was emotionally invested in the gifts that I was giving her, and it bothered me that she would so easily dismiss them away. You see, one of my love languages is “Giving Gifts” (from “The Five Love Languages” by Gary Chapman). To me, one of the most meaningful and loving things that I could do for my wife was to get her something that she would not consider buying for herself, that would benefit her specifically, and would demonstrate that I have come to know and appreciate her tastes and interests. As the years have gone by I have tried many things: surprise or not a surprise; expensive or inexpensive; she picks it out or I pick it out; practical or impractical. I thought that I had finally solved the equation. But, I was wrong.
Heather explained to me that, though I had put my best foot forward each year, I was missing one essential point- I was loving her using my own love language, not hers. Instead of buying my wife more stuff, she went on to explain that she would rather that I do things for her around the house or set aside time to do a fun activity together, just her and I. That means that she wanted me to appeal to two of her love languages, “Acts of Service” and “Quality Time.” In other words, I was utilizing my resources in an ineffective way and was not meeting her needs because I failed to pay attention to what I was doing. I was running into a brick wall and refusing to change my course. And so, my wife is currently reconsidering if she would like to keep the air fryer. In the meantime, she is going to put together a list of some things she would like to do together and some projects that I could do around the house. Finally, I think that I will be giving her a gift that she won’t take back. I’m happy, she’s happy. No one was the bad guy and we realize that we are just coming from two equally valid viewpoints. We came to a compromise and moved on.
I share this story with you because I imagine that there are other dads like me striving desperately to show love and affection to someone, but doing it in the wrong way. This story was a good reminder to me, and hopefully to you as well, that we must learn to protect our noses from constant, unnecessary encounters with brick walls. If you haven’t read the last article where I discussed the 5 Love Languages, then I encourage you to check out Gary Chapman’s website HERE. At the site, you and your partner can take the Love Languages quiz to determine what your love languages are, order Chapman’s books/resources, and see upcoming events related to the 5 Love Languages material. I have found the concept to be very helpful in our marriage, and I often find that others can relate their needs easily to their partners using the terms Chapman provides.
Have you found yourself in a similar situation before? Have you realized that you and your partner were coming from polar opposite points of view? Please share your experience with us in the comments.
And, as always, stay Rock Solid, dads!
Brian Faust is the Fatherhood Program Coordinator of Rock Solid Fatherhood in Warsaw, IN. He is the husband of the world’s best wife and father of three beautiful girls. He has nearly a decade of mentorship and mental health experience. Brian has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and a Masters in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Grace College. It is his desire to come alongside men of all walks of life as they embrace their role as partner and father with rock solid strength.