I’m so tired of yelling at my husband every December. I’m the one stuck buying all the gifts, even the ones for HIS family, then sticking his name on and letting him take the credit. It bugs me to no end, and every year we have the same fight.
I’ve tried so many ways to get him to do his half of the Christmas shopping. Being nice doesn’t work. Nagging doesn’t work. Sticky notes don’t work, and yelling doesn’t seem to be working either. No matter what approach I take I end up giving up and getting it done myself. At least his family seems to recognize my efforts, and tend to thank me first when they open their gifts.
Don’t get me wrong, he’s actually amazing in so many other ways and I truly do appreciate him putting up the lights and whatnot every year. And he’s a great dad and husband all other 11 months. But I’m just really tired of this particular fight and want to find a way to resolve it once and for all. Any advice?
Sometimes we can train our men, and sometimes we just need to find a deeper level of acceptance. In this case, I’m going to point you towards the latter.
As you might have realized by now I’m all into understanding fundamental differences between men and women, then using that knowledge to help couples fall deeper in love with each other. Because as I like to say, with understanding comes compassion, and it’s pretty hard to feel angry and compassionate all at the same time.
Men aren’t quite like us.
See, the sort of qualities that make you a great mom don’t exist the same ways in the man you love. In fact, he’s got some ingrained traits which make him a great dad that you don’t quite possess on the same level either. Why? Because we’re supposed to be puzzle pieces, rather than mirror images of each other.
That’s why certain things that come easy for you, like noticing fine details or being able to think about a bazillion things at once, seem more difficult for him.
Now that being said, why do I hear so many women with the same complaint every Holiday season? I think it comes down to how men are built. Practical, minimal, and with a knee-jerk reaction to “being told what to do.”
My husband is this same way. He’s anti-establishment to the core when it comes to gift giving, and hates those dates on the calendar that carry a “buy something because we say so” connotation. You guessed it, we don’t do Valentines or Christmas in this house. And I’m okay with that.
Why? Because there’s so much more to his generosity than this one time of the year. He’s always looked after his loved ones regardless of when, and all he ever wants in return is appreciation and consideration. Sounds simple, doesn’t it? No having to remember things that are insignificant to him, like trying to figure out what bauble someone might want. No having to fight crowds on the roads, crowds in the parking lot, and crowds at the mall. No taking time away from what he truly values to try to fill a void others have imposed on him.
Now, I don’t know if your man is as anti-Xmas as mine is, but if he’s consistently resisting this aspect of the season chances are there’s a part of his mind that just doesn’t believe in the value of the effort, hence the difficulty you have trying to get him to conform more. I understand that you see this as “help”, but he might be seeing it as “kinda useless”.
Maybe railing against this one topic when so much else seems to be A-Okay might be counter-productive to that Christmas spirit you’re trying so hard to achieve. Maybe, for everyone’s peace of mind including yours, it’s best to interject some understanding towards his heel-digging and redirect your focus from what you wished he did, to what he’s actually doing.
Wouldn’t your brain feel more relaxed if, come November, you made your shopping list and got it done without trying to delegate parts to him that you’re just going to angrily take over anyway? If the best predictor of future behaviour is past behaviour, it seems like the best gift you can give him this year is NO requests to buy gifts. Seriously, you can actually do that! Here’s your script:
“Baby, I know we’ve fought every year for the past (fill in the blank) years about you buying gifts for your family. I’m actually going to give you the greatest gift of all this year… I’m going to do all the shopping and wrapping, with no complaints, and I’m going to do it with love! Just so you know, this is actually your gift, from me to you. I love you!”
Be genuinely kind, sweet, loving, and open about it. Let your vibe and tone tell him this is a sincere, non-sarcastic-reverse-psychology move on your part. Let him understand through your absolute lack of asking, combined with your loving efforts and sustained affection that this is indeed a new way of tackling this particular Christmas duty for you.
“Yeah but Chantal! I really need the help shopping for his family! It stresses me out so much.” Okay, but let me ask you this: What’s stressing you out more? All the anger you generate trying to get him to do something that he never does anyway? There’s nothing worse than having the same fight year after year, as you try to mold someone into the final product you wish they were instead of loving them with the quirks they came with.
So finally, what’s my advice on all this? Here it is:
1) Start meditating, so you can shrink your physical capacityfor anxiety and anger. This will help you deal with the stressors of Christmas, not to mention make life easier to handle in general. Your brain, heart, and relationship will thank you.
2) You’re seeing a pattern, so learn from it. Stop asking him to do something he hates and see if you can find another thing to unload from your “To Do” list. Or you can even take a longer look at all the things he does do and find a deeper sense of gratitude for that.
3) And here’s the thing – it’s quite possible that you taking “Shopping”off his plate will generate a sense of gratitude inside him, and he might start doing some unexpected things for you in return. Because if there’s one thing I know about men, it’s that they never let a feeling of gratitude go unrewarded.
So go ahead. Stop fighting, start accepting, and watch this good man of yours find other ways to make you happy because you found one more way to love him more.
Chantal Heide is an Author and Motivational Speaker, focusing on dating and relationship building. Her books Dating 101, Comeback Queen, Fake Love Need Not Apply, No More Assholes, After The First Kiss, Fix That Shit, Say Yes To Goodness, and Custom Made (available on this website, Amazon, and your favourite online book retailer) . View her BOOKS page for more information. Be sure to sign up for her mailing list (scroll all the way to the bottom to join, and get a free book!) and check out more free advice on Facebook, YouTube, and Itunes, as well as fun tidbits about her life on Instagram and Twitter.