Karen Gless, Ph.D.
As Valentine day approaches, men especially are troubled by the question, “What shall I get my sweetheart?” I am reminded of an acquaintance of mine who bought his sweetheart an expensive diamond pendant on a beautiful gold chain. He looked forward to how pretty it would look on her neck and how much the diamonds would impress her.
When she opened her present, she did a good imitation of being pleased and excited. But he sensed that she was being polite and really didn’t like her gift. He hadn’t noticed that she wore silver and turquoise almost exclusively. He could have made her much happier at one tenth the price.
When it comes to gifts it really is the thought that counts—the thought that goes into being aware of what your lover really likes and values. Not everyone values the same things or feels loved in the same way. Make the effort to learn what makes your valentine feel loved.
One of my friends told me that she felt loved when her husband came up behind her, held her and kissed the back of her neck—especially while she was doing dishes. And that’s how he gave her a present for Valentine’s day last year. He hugged her from behind, gave her a gentle kiss on the neck and handed her a box wrapped in a dish towel with a beautiful, ornate watch in it that she had been eyeing.
One man I know said. “I just need to hear her say ‘I love you.’” His girlfriend knew that and gave him an MP3 player for his birthday because he likes to exercise and listen to music. There was already a mp3 inside that was a heartfelt recording of her telling him how much she loves him.
It isn’t enough to say “I love you” in good times. The good times are warmed even more when in the rough times your partner experiences your caring. A touch of the hand, a sincere look and saying “I love you” from the heart when you give a gift means much more than any object.
Notice what specifically makes your partner feel loved and do that. A valentine, flowers, chocolate, these are all nice. You can get those presents, but what else can you do that is really special to make your valentine feel loved?
John knew his wife really wanted a new bedset. He bought the one he knew she wanted, put it in the bedroom all fixed up before she got home, and placed a box of chocolates in the middle of the bed. She let out a squeal of happiness when she saw what he had given her and it took them a long time to get out of the bedroom—and they didn’t spend all of the time eating chocolates!
Another woman got her boyfriend a really beautiful card. He smiled when he got it, but he went wild when he opened it and season tickets to the home team ball games fell out. If a clean kitchen is important to your lover, then imagine her reaction to coming home on Valentine’s Day to a clean kitchen and beautiful flowers on the counter.
It’s said that the best gifts come from the heart. And when you get inside your lover’s heart and find out what he or she really wants, that’s when the gift is heart-to heart. It’s noticing what is really special to your lover that makes the difference.