You’re online or in a store shopping for a present for your partner and you don’t have a clue what would make a good gift. Maybe you don’t know what he or she wants. Maybe one of you is out of work or you are feeling the recession in some other way. Maybe there’s a chill in the relationship and neither of you is feeling particularly motivated to buy a gift. Whatever the case, you want to get something and you want it to be something that your partner will appreciate.
I’ve written before on how to find the perfect gift. If you are looking to buy something for your partner you can:
- Do the re-romanticizing exercise to get a list of the exact things your partner wants.
- Listen closely to what your partner says when you’re out at a store, reading the paper, or out with friends.
- Find out if your partner keeps a file of wish list items (on paper or stored with online retailers).
- Ask your partner’s friends, or the kids, if they know what your partner wants.
But you don’t have to spend a lot of money to give your partner a meaningful gift. How about a gift that is thoughtful rather than material? Have you ever received a gift that was created by someone that reflects the relationship, history, or values that the two of you share? These can be the most precious gifts of all. In a culture marked by consumerism and disposable goods, gifts like this can be a welcome departure from buying more THINGS and spending more MONEY.
To create a meaningful gift:
- Create an album of photos of the good times you’ve shared together.
- Do the Flooding Exercise to shower your partner with appreciations.
- If you’re artistic, draw, paint, or sculpt a symbol of your union.
- If you’re musical, compose something for him/her.
- If you’re poetic, personalize lyrics of an existing song and sing it (or have it sung by a professional if your singing sounds like nails on a chalkboard).
- If you’re physical, give your partner an amazing massage on a date night that you’ve planned. Include massage oil and music in an uninterrupted and relaxing space.
- If you’re visual, create a paper chain and write the name of a special place, a memory, or a joke the two of you share on each link.
What if there IS tension and distance between the two of you right now? Sure, it’d be emotionally easier to give a new tie or even a new car. For one, at least you got them something. Secondly, a hot new toy can serve as a distraction from what’s going on in your relationship. I want you to consider going out on a limb instead. If you create a meaningful gift, it will be as if you’re extending an olive branch or peace offering to your partner. Even if your partner has been giving you the cold shoulder or has been nitpicking at you, underneath their hard shell, he or she is likely longing to be close to you. You partner may have difficulty admitting it, but it’s likely that he or she is dying to receive your love and attention.
Imago therapists like to say, “The conflict is a cry for connection.” A meaningful gift can be a great way to help move past the conflict and connect with one another. Be the one to extend your hand to connect – even for a moment. Be the person who is brave enough to admit that, you too, want this closeness. Be the change you want to see by giving a truly meaningful gift.
To learn more, schedule an appointment here at Couples Therapy Center. Call 908-246-3074, email GetSupport@CouplesTherapyCenterOfNJ.com or go to www.couplestherapycenterofnj.com.