The Psyche of Gifts

10 Jun

I was trying to explain to my husband the difficulty in buying men presents. Besides for the obvious lack of gift items, and options in the gifts themselves, there is a much deeper psychological reason.

Rabbi Akiva Tatz in one of his speeches on marriage makes a point that is backed up by a lot of mystical resources. Skipping the resources and going to the practical, he basically says women think about their husbands all the time, and their love and relationship is constantly on the surface of their mind. Men, while they love their wives very much, do not think about them on a constant basis….and therein lies the issue.

People often say about gifts, “It’s the thought that counts”, which as I will explain, only applies to gifts bought by the husband. You see, because men don’t often dwell on thoughts of love and devotion for their wives, any gift, from the trivial to the absurd indicates to a woman that “Wow, my husband actually thought about me today!” And a woman will get a warm and fuzzy feeling over her husband’s attentiveness, that he was able to go beyond his natural tendency and focus on her more than, well, expected.

On the converse, because women are constantly thinking about their spouses, a lousy gift, is just that a lousy gift, the thought doesn’t count because the wife would have been thinking of her husband even if there was no occasion, or no gift was purchased, so a gift is nothing more than it is.

In “Men are From Mars, Women are from Venus” John Grey explains the “point scoring system” in relationships. Simply, for men, the bigger the item, the more points a woman will earn. For women, everything is worth one point, no matter how small (bar of chocolate) or how big (a car). This fits right in to what I was saying before…women just want the thought behind the gift, and men just want the gift.

So what it comes down to, is that besides there being few gift options for men, whatever you get has to be really good, or you might as well not get it. With that, my first anniversary is next week – HELP!


Posted by on June 10, 2010 in Uncategorized


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5 responses to “The Psyche of Gifts

  1. Shimon

    June 10, 2010 at 6:57 pm

    First of all – wow, time flies. It took me few times to recount to confirm that you got married almost a year ago! Mazal tov!!!

    Now about gifts. See I am a guy and I feel useless here in making suggestions. Let’s try quizing here: did he mention anything specific that he wants? Like some interesting seifer? There’s a nice one (and expensive) about Beis HaMikdash – it costs about $75-100 but worth for people who are really interested in discovering more about it. May be iPad? (corny example i know). After all it feels nice to get a present regardless of what it is too – after all it’s a warming feeling of care.

  2. Princess Lea

    June 11, 2010 at 11:36 am

    That is not how I roll at all.

    I have a mother who spent years programming my father not to buy her gifts; she has very specific taste, and having to pretend to like/use the gift in question is wasteful. In the end, modern gift giving is about the giver’s feelings, not the receivers.

    I don’t get warm and fuzzy. I’m thinking: “How much was spent? With that money, I could have gotten something AWESOME.”

    So my father simply pays the bill on the gift my mother bought herself. I like that system.

    As for your guy . . . a dinner of every cholesterol clogging item he enjoys? No return policy needed.

  3. Shimon

    June 11, 2010 at 12:23 pm

    @Princess Lea
    There’s a point about who’s feelings it’s for – giver or receiver, but I would go for the opinion where receiving a gift is a generally nice feeling whereas just going and buying one for oneself is boring – it doesn’t add happy feelings, it just fulfills need in the item.

  4. hardworkingmom

    June 13, 2010 at 11:31 am

    I know just what you mean, men are so hard to shop for!!!

  5. Princess Lea

    June 14, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Shimon: that’s my problem; I’m too practical. And I don’t feel so giddy when I get a gift; I just feel pressure that I have to pretend that I enjoy it. As a professional shopper, I have euphoria at something I buy for myself on another’s generous tab.


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