Thursday, June 22, 2006

Dads need love (and presents), too

Our first ever Basement Rant, by our first ever Basement Dad, who choses to remain anonymous.

If you'd like to use this space to vent or rant or tell the stories/secrets/confessions of your dangerous maternal - or paternal! - mind, send me an e-mail and you too can enjoy the refuge of the Basement...


Why Don't I Get Presents?

Ramblings from a disgruntled stay-at-home-dad...

I might want to bother you readers with more background info later ... but for this first vent, I just stick to the thing that bothers me most right now: I am not getting presents!

Take last year: Valentines Day. I gave my paycheck bringing wife roses, organized the baby sitter, took her to a romantic restaurant (paid by my shrinking savings) and had even designed and printed 2 t-shirts for her. What did I get? Nothing .. or the usual 'But I have nothing for you, sorry."

Mother's day I took her out to a special M'day brunch, where only the mom got a glass of champagne... Father's day: nothing.

Wedding anniversary: I got her a nice carved wooden statue depicting 2 lovers... Me? Well... you get the picture...

My birthday fell a bit flat since we were moving at the time and our kid's b'day is just a bit before and that of course was more important... I got her an iPod for her birthday.

Xmas... she offered to bring me a present of my choice from an upcoming business trip in January... how surprising... I even had to print her out the map of the store and the opening times... sigh...

New year, new start, right ???

Well .. Roses for Valentines and M'day ... I learned from last year and did not go overboard ...

Then comes the wedding anniversary ... I got her a nice silver bracelet with matching ear-thingies ... and again "oh, sorry, I do not have anything for you... " But a few minutes later: "Can this, our wedding anniversary trip be my gift to you?" ... uhm... sure I said yes, since I did not want to destroy the nice atmosphere ... but I think this is kinda lame ... sure it comes from the money she earns (while I do household and kid all day) ... and I was the one doing all the driving and luggage schlepping ... so why / how is that suddenly a present just for me? It is the same to her, no?

And then Father's Day ... I thought she had just forgotten ... since we both come from different cultures AND move around the globe a lot (and F'day seems to have different dates all over the world) ... but around 6 PM she suddenly says "Happy Father's day" ... maybe she had just received one of those many spam mails that advertize gifts for dads ... but the best was what she said just after that "Do you want flowers?"

Is it ok to be upset about that? I did not bring it up yet because I know it would create quite some friction ... but I am really not happy with this ... On the other hand she spends quite some time looking for gifts when she goes on business trips or when a distant friend gets a new baby ...

*sigh*

I think if this was role reversed than everyone would say what an ignorant piece of behind that 'husband' is ...
So... comments? advice? hugs?

Frusty, the snowdad

19 comments:

Sarah, Goon Squad Sarah said...

You have to tell her. That is the only way she will know.

Michele said...

Let me be the first:

"what an ignorant piece of behind that wife is ..."

Yes, you deserve presents and she is neglecting that need. And screw who works and who stays home. That isnt the point. The point is that you are giving her more than ample proof that gifts and giving are important to you and she is not taking the bait. I think Sarah is right and you need to talk to her about it.

I dont think that "forgetting" to get her anything for the next big day will work. I speak from experience. My husband comes from a family that gives little to nothing to each other. I was somewhat miffed at his choice of presents for me when I went overboard for him our first gift holiday. So the next holiday I just gave him something very small and minor. "I'll show him!" Instead of being disappointed, he was very happy because that took the pressure off of him to come up with something great. So I made a negative point with what I did.

He is learning, now, after 9 years together but I give him pretty clear hints. Does it take the romance out of it? Yes. But my mother and father, who have a great relationship, always said "you can't be angry at your spouse for not being able to read your mind!"

Damn, anonymous Dad, I wish my husband felt the way you do about gifts.

Andrea said...

I'm not going to start defending your wife because I think she's fallen way short in the gift giving arena. But I have a husband who is thoughtful and courteous and fantastic about giving gifts. He can find the gifts the I didn't even think to ask for but fall in love with. He's that good. And there have been years when I'm late with his birthday gift by a month. I'm ashamed to say it, but it's true. I've been better the last couple years because I put myself in his shoes and wanted to slap myself.

However, it seems your wife won't have the wake up call like I did on her own. You'll have to talk to her, as diplomatically as you can. My suggestion is to try to do it in some random day when gift giving is the farthest thing from her mind (and yours) so the hurt from it isn't as fresh. I know from experience that bringing up sensitive subjects with the emotions are still raw more often leads to fights than if you let the hurt simmer down some. I think when you said "I did not bring it up yet because I know it would create quite some friction ... but I am really not happy with this ... On the other hand she spends quite some time looking for gifts when she goes on business trips or when a distant friend gets a new baby ... " It seems it's not the gift itself you crave, but the thought behind it, some effort on her part rather than your having to hand her a map to the store with the store hours. I don't blame you one bit. Good luck and I hope you'll have the best Christmas ever this year (or whatever gift opportunity is next in your future).

mamatulip said...

Man, will you be my husband? You give great gifts -- better than the Winnie the Pooh mumu...er, nightgowns that I get.

Dude, I'd tell her flat out that you are expecting a bit more from her. I would love it if my husband told me exactly what I wanted so I didn't have to go out and buy him shit he doesn't end up liking or using. But I really think you gotta lay it on her and tell her that she's totally passing the buck on you. Because Daddy's need presents too.

mamatulip said...

Man, will you be my husband? You give great gifts -- better than the Winnie the Pooh mumu...er, nightgowns that I get.

Dude, I'd tell her flat out that you are expecting a bit more from her. I would love it if my husband told me exactly what I wanted so I didn't have to go out and buy him shit he doesn't end up liking or using. But I really think you gotta lay it on her and tell her that she's totally passing the buck on you. Because Daddy's need presents too.

bubandpie said...

Buy your wife a copy of The Five Love Languages - and read it yourself before you give it to her. It's written from a Christian perspective, but the main ideas in the book are applicable to anyone of any (or no) faith.

In a nutshell, the book argues that different people express and receive love differently - some people feel very loved when they are given "words of affirmation," while others feel loved through physical touch or acts of service. We have a tendency to express love the same way we like to receive it, and even to feel suspicious of expressions of love that aren't in my language (i.e. "Words are cheap," or "He's trying to buy me off with flowers"). Even more likely to be misinterpreted are requests for love expressed in another language.

When you tell your wife that it's important to you to receive gifts, she probably doesn't realize that this is a really essential way for you to feel loved. It has nothing to do with being greedy or wanting to change the way money is budgeted - it's about the thoughtfulness behind the gesture and what that says about your relationship. It may not come naturally to her to express love this way, but if she can realize how much that effort will do to make you feel valued and acknowledged, it may change her attitude.

kittenpie said...

You do need presents too, and she is totally slacking off or ignoring that. It's not, to me, even necessarily the size or cost of the gift, but what it represents. That she remembered the day, thought about it in advance, considered that it would be a nice way to make you feel recognized, and put some effort and thought into finding something that you might like. It could be 3 golf balls for $10 if you love to golf, but at least it says she's thinking of you and wanted to make sure you knew it.

Let her know how this makes you feel, and when she sees the impact that her thoughtlessness is making, hopefully she will step up.

Annie, The Evil Queen said...

As everyone else said, you need to talk to her. I agree that a neautral, non-gift-giving day would probably be best. The thought and care that go into gift giving are the important parts, not the cost. One of the best gifts I ever got from my husband was a handwritten ode to what he loves about me. I laminated it and take it everywhere. You obviously need to feel like you are important enough to her that she spends some time and thought on you for holidays. You said something about being from different cultures, so that may be a barrier you need to breach. Best of luck and hugs to you.

love and fear mama said...

A comment, because it is nice to have someone say something... Advice I just do not have at the moment... I can't seem to think of anything better than what has come before me! Sorry...
A great big hug too... because you certainly need it!

frusty the snowdad said...

Wow .. I am overwhelmed by the response ... thanks so much everyone .. yes .. i know I need to talk to her .. but that can be a problem in itself at times (we have some other issues that I will write about at some points .. like 'why does she never want to do anything with the kid without my involvement', but I keep that for later)

But I am gald, I thought maybe I am just greedy .. but as many of you said .. it is not about the money ... I still have some of my own .. so if I really need something (like that new computer I am typing on) .. I get it myself ... I just think that after 5+ years of knowing each other one can come up with gifts that the other would not anticipate ..

Thanks to everyone and big hugs back!!!

I will be back venting some more soon .. until then I will enjoy the comments ...

Anonymous said...

awww, man. that ain't right. you're getting shafted.

I think you should tell her. don't mince words. be honest. own your feelings.

(you did come to a bunch of chicks for wisdom, after all.)

*hug*

macboudica said...

You have to tell her. It is a big deal to you, she doesn't realize it, and you will continue to get more and more hurt until you blow up one time and hurt both of you.

Jenn said...

OMG is this my husband writting this? LOL Just kidding. But I didn't get him anything for father's day this year. *Cringe* HIS FIRST FATHER'S DAY EVER! I did buy a card. Does that count?

My ex didn't do gifts or cards, and I was eventually broken down and now that I'm with someone that actually cares about that stuff, I'm a little slow getting back into the game.

I'd say, first year go around on gifts, ok, you can understand. But second year.....whether you say it or not, if your giivin HER gifts and she's not responding? Houston, we have a problem.

Sharpie said...

No - you ARE NOT greedy - in fact I think a simple gift of appreciation is not only nice - its necessary. What would she do if you forgot?

Lotta said...

Big hugs for you! Nope, not right. Not right at all.

Anonymous said...

Don't be such a pussy. Gifts?!? That shit's material anyway. Shame on you. You should be treating your wife better than you feel like you should be treated yourself.

I don't get gifts on those days either. I just want more family time.

Gifts? Yikes! Shame on you. Wrong goal, brother.

Anonymous said...

I would not pay much attention to that last comment. You are obviously already treating your wife better than you are treating yourself and better than she is treating you. It's not as if you're asking for giant materialistic things anyway--just acknowledgement--which we all completely deserve.

Gillian said...

I am way to late to comment on this post and it makes me furious. I say bring on the friction! Stop biting your tongue and letting yourself be a martyr and make some noise. If you care about presents you need to be getting presents. If presents have meaning to you, you should also be receiving unexpected, romantic, thoughtful presents. But if you don't speak up, then your wife cannot know that. If you have spoken up, then you need to make yourself heard. It isn't about what either of you do with your days or who is bringing home what money, it is about love. One of the most fundamental parts of loving people is knowing what they need and being there in whatever way you can to meet those needs. Nothing should be more important in your house is everyone taking care of one another. Children get needs met but they also have to learn how to give to the people they love. You take them out to buy presents when it is appropriate or help them make them. The dynamics of your family have to revolve around all of you. Clearly your wife has a different understanding of what gifts are about. Until you talk to each other and create some ground rules you can't expect your wife to know what your expectations are.

Louisa said...

I am posting this FOREVER late but reading this has me wondering...have you heard of or read a book called "The Five Languages of Love". Sounds like you and your wife might find it helfpul to read...just a thought though hopefully 2 years down the track this is all resolved!