Log on to Facebook any day and you are bound to see a plethora of photos of gifts that men sent to their wives and girlfriends. “Isn’t he the sweetest?!” the captions read. Maybe he is. Maybe he is the best boyfriend in the world. But maybe he’s not. These photos tell us nothing about the truth.
For many women, gifts from their spouse are the ultimate love expression. They love getting jewelry and flowers and candy, and to them, that makes a good husband. I don’t begrudge those women the way they experience love. We all have our different ways.
But it’s when social media gets involved that things start to get weird.
Facebook on Christmas and Valentine’s Day features scores of women gushing about the watches and scarves and purses and boots their husbands got them. Then, in equally gushing comments, their female friends chime in: “You are so lucky!” “What a good husband!”
And of course, these gushing posts are not limited to the holidays. Every time a woman posts photos of the flowers her spouse or boyfriend bought her, everyone goes on and on. It is sweet. And thoughtful. But I also know some of these couples in real life. I know the way he ignores her needs or the way they go to bed at different times or never have sex or fight with no resolution. Flowers on Facebook do not equal a happy marriage.
They don’t equal a happy marriage in real life, either. That’s the thing about money and gifts. While some people might need them as their “love language,” the reality is much murkier. There is a reason why flowers and jewelry are almost always an apology. Real love and support and honesty are things you can’t post on social media, but they are also the stuff that true connections are built on.
My husband and I gave up gifts long ago. Sure, he will come home with a necklace or bracelet or book for me every once in a while. But for the most part, he expresses his love in other ways. He listens when I talk. He splits everything in our house 50/50. He supports all of my endeavors and interests. He could do all those things and buy me flowers, but just flowers without all the rest would be nothing special.
When it comes to gifts, presence always count for a lot more than presents.