14 years ago, I married a young man who barely knew me and I him. We were crazy in love and had the whole world ahead of us. Nothing was going to stop us!
Except for maybe…us.
I realize now that it takes many years and much humility to truly know a person. To predict their preferences, speak their love language, and read between their lines. I am still learning in leaps and bounds each year as we both daily strive to be a better spouse but we are nothing like that couple in the photo above. They were naive, selfish, and pretty full of themselves. They had way fewer scars and a lot less baggage. They were innocent and ignorant all at the same time.
One of the many lessons I’ve learned in our 14 years is why it’s important to be a grateful recipient — no matter what your husband gifts you!
He caught you a 30-pound sea bass which you now have to filet (YouTube?!) and prepare to freeze? What a guy! Be grateful that you are learning a new life skill that is reserved for professional chefs, fish mongers, and reluctant Master Chef contestants. You get a freezer full of awesome protein and you can pocket some of that grocery budget savings to put in your little slush fund! (I mean…I don’t know what you’re talking about. Slush fund? What?).
He was walking along the ocean and saw a piece of seaweed in the shape of a heart and brought it home because it made him think of you? How sweet! Forget that the thing smells like a mix between a rotting sea lion carcass and horse manure and hang that loving tribute on your wall for all to see(/smell)!
You opened his lovely gift box to find a bottle of unisex perfume/cologne that assaults your nostrils with an invasive pine needle poison so battering that you didn’t know such an offensive smell could be found? How romantic! You damn well better spray that putrid scent on just before he gets in the door each night and pretend you wore it all day!
Sarcasm aside, what I’m trying to say is that no matter the gift, we sow good seed when we show gratitude and kindness. When we go out of our way to look beyond the gift itself and instead, see the intention behind it. But we sow rotten seed when we reject our husband’s thoughtful gestures, even with good reason.
If you vocalize your displeasure with your husband’s gift, you are rejecting not only the gift but the gift-giver.
As with all good lessons learned, I had to learn this the hard way.
When we were first married, Timothy gave me a necklace for Christmas. It was this awful gold rope chain necklace that reminded me of all the East Indian douchebags that would come into my work when I was a teenager. I did try wearing it, despite thinking it was quite hideous, and I swear, it pulled out all the hair at the back of my neck! It was now inflicting fashion pain and physical pain! So naturally, I asked for the receipt and exchanged it for something else.
I can barely remember what I even exchanged it for — it was nothing special or memorable. And while Timothy may not remember that specific gold chain, I’m certain he remembers my disdain for such an apparent monstrosity. Because it sent a loud and clear message: you suck at buying jewelry.
Well that was 14 years ago — and never again has Tim attempted to buy me jewelry! Can you blame him?
In the ashes of our separation and looming divorce, I remember thinking back to that stupid necklace and realizing what an idiot I had been. Of course he didn’t know what necklace to buy me! We barely knew each other! We were two young kids just trying to figure out life and each other at the same time. I had rejected the gift-giver and in the process, aborted the natural trial and error process where he would have eventually learned what jewelry I do like.
As we celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary this week, Tim came home with the most beautiful bouquet of flowers. Even though he knows I don’t particularly like flowers, he managed to find a bouquet that took my breath away. The vase had understated elegance and was quite different than all the others. The roses were feisty red and the small touches of pink and white seemed to soften the bouquet’s larger than life presence. Come to think of it, the bouquet was just like me! But he knew that. Because we’re 14 years in — and after all the flowers he’s bought, he knows me. I’ve always thanked him for every bouquet and he’s had plenty of flower-buying experience over the years.
So I guess what I’m saying is…if I had been grateful for his kind gesture and worn that stupid hair-pulling gold rope chain, would I have pearls now?!?
I love you, Timothy! It’s been a crazy ride and gets better every year!