I am a bad, bad wife.

Yesterday (February 14) I woke up in my usual bad mood and grumbled through getting ready for work. All the while my husband was acting cheery and sweet. Right before I left for work he said “Wait!” and ran up to me, put his arms around me and kissed me. Made my knees weak. He said, “Have a good day, sweetie.” I am thinking “What could possible be up? Does he have to tell me I 'm dying or something?”

Well, flash to the drive to work. What’s that thing they keep mentioning on the radio? Some sort of celebration? Apparently, it’s Valentine’s Day. Oops.

I call Mr. Kat when I get to work and apologize for forgetting Valentine’s Day and just to say “I love you” and try to be sweet and make up for it. I don’t worry to much further about it because we never get each other presents for anything. For Christmas one year I got him a tire (hey, he needed it!) and other than that we generally pass on the gift giving and enjoy each other. I even looked at a coworker when she asked me what I was getting for Valentine’s Day and gave her a holier-than-thou response “We don’t exchange gifts. We just enjoy being with one another.”

Well, apparently I didn’t get the memo that suspended this practice for this “holiday.” When he came home from work what does he have with him? A shiny new cell phone for me! I have never had a cell phone before. It was the perfect present. After I got over the initial “Cool!” enthusiasm it began to sink in that I didn’t have anything for him. He tried to downplay the gift, saying it was more a gift for him because now he wouldn’t worry about me on the road and out by myself (I’m 8 mos. pregnant) but it was no use. There I was, empty-handed. I made a tasty dinner with real mashed potatoes (his favorite) and tried to be Mrs. Good Wife.

Later that night Mr. Kat ended up buying me a new pair of shoes and giving me a long foot rub. By that time I was too sore and tired for good Valentine’s lovin’.

I am such a bad wife. I am going to flog myself now.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. You’re a bad wife because you didn’t read your husband’s mind, couldn’t forsee a change in the way you celebrate holidays, and, being 8 mos. pregnant you were too sore and tired for good lovin’??!! I’m sorry, and this may just be the hormones posting, but what the hell definition of “wife” are you working from?

Your husband gave you no indication (AFAIK, which isn’t very) that things would be different on this holiday than the norm. You’re not a bad wife, for heaven’s sake, you’re human. The two, might I add, are not mutually exclusive.

You don’t have to be a “good wife”, just a woman. Your man obviously adores you and enjoys making you happy. You are carrying his child and deserve pampering. Enjoy the pampering and don’t try to live up to some stupid cultural stereotype of “appreciative wife”. I am sure your guy will agree with me.

(aside) Hey, Tiggeril, be my Valentine?

Never forget the Husband’s Creedo:

A blow job will make him forgive anything.

Guys on occasion play the game where there is a mutual understanding that there are no gift exchanges between them and the wife. Then they run out and get a few things as a surprise expecting the wife to be happy. I’m not married, I’ve just seen my brother and my father do this. Then the women get upset because they didn’t have the opportunity to give gifts.

I don’t think everyone understands that giving gifts to others is a pleasure to the giver as well. I love giving gifts! I adore spending money on my boy and my family. By going against the status quo, your husband is depriving you of the opportunity to give him something. It’s not your fault, you were following the rules.

Anyways, don’t feel bad and don’t put yourself out thinking you “owe” him a gift or two. (Eight months preggers? Sheesh, no.) I’m sure your award-winning mashed potatos (I call 'em mashies) were quite satisfactory and fit the bill perfectly.

Ellykat,

Two points to make:

  1. Have you ever heard the phrase, “The gift is in the giving”? Really, it’s true. People don’t automatically expect quid pro quo. I think people like to give pleasure, and hope (but don’t expect) that little surprises come their way once in a while.

  2. I can appreciate the practical nature of your gift giving aversion. However, I can attest from experience that you may be denying yourself a pleasure by focusing on the negative aspects. Gift don’t have to be expensive or important, I have a gift coffee cup that I would run into a burning building to retrieve because of the memories attached to it.

Think about it.

I keep telling mrs beagledave that…she remains skeptical…

First of all, tiggeril, don’t hose your shorts. I am working from my own definition of a good wife, which doesn’t imply the cooking, cleaning, barefoot-in-the-kitchen my OP may have painted it to be. Everything’s cool, I promise. Thanks for looking out, though. :slight_smile:

Racerx & Icarus, I agree that the fun is in the giving. Later on Mr. Kat said that my gift to him could be that I didn’t freak out and ask him why he bought me a gift, how much did it cost (I am a notorious money-worrier). I was genuinely happy and surprised and that was good enough for him. I just hate that I missed out on giving him something.

My main “bad wife” feelings come from the fact that I forgot Valentine’s day, and when I remembered, didn’t really care. Seems like the husband and I reverse traditional stereotypes sometimes.

I just am not the type of person to take well to pampering. I am one of those people who will refuse help with the groceries even though I am carrying 47 sacks of oranges and cried when my husband had to help me tie my shoes now that I have become too pregnant to bend that far (hence the new slip-on clogs from last night). And he just smiles and says “OK, whatever makes you happy.” And then he goes behind me and carries the 47 sacks of oranges and buys me no-tie shoes.
Well, maybe I am getting a little used to being pampered.

And while a blow job will forgive all sins, my mashed potatoes are pretty darn good. They will have to do until the massive swelling goes down. Later though… (hee hee, insert dirty thoughts here).

Got a question for the ladies on the attitude I perceive in the post above. (Not picking on you personally, racerx; your comments just gave me the jumping-off point for this question.)

I understand completely that gift-giving can be a wonderful thing. I love doing it. But why on earth do some women seem to have the attitude that an unexpected gift to them is a cause for alarm?

I’m a semi-romantical guy, as the Pres would say. I like stopping by the flower shop or the store periodically and picking up a rose, or a little stuffed animal, or some small token of affection to give to my wife. She appreciates these gestures, but occasionally she gets a little put out by them. Not much, but a little. And her reason is ALWAYS “You shouldn’t have done this because I didn’t get you anything.”

Well, hell, I didn’t expect anything in the first place. It’s not a special occasion. It’s not a holiday. I was just doing this to let you know I love you and I want to do things for you occasionally. Same reason I go downstairs at night and get you a Coke when you say you’re thirsty. Same reason I give you a backrub when you’re tired and sore. Same reason I agree to watch the Little Evil Wizard so you can take a long, hot bath. I know you love your baths.

And I’ll turn this around, so I don’t sound like some sort of weird chauvinist. I do these things for the same reason you bust your butt to make a great dinner for me every night. For the same reason you work so hard keeping the house nice. (She’s between jobs right now, and sees it as her duty to work around the house until she’s working outside the home again. Normally we split chores.) For the same reason you get up with the Little Evil Wizard some Saturday mornings, letting me sleep late. For the same reason you’re there to support me when I fall, guide me when I’m lost, and kick me in the can when I need it.

I do these things (and you do these things) because we love each other. I ain’t looking for no damn quid pro quo when I give you a rose. I’m just telling you “I love you” in a way other than saying the words. And when you get a little upset with me for doing nice things for you, it flies in the face of my efforts. If you’re hacked, just say “Thank you” and leave it at that. Don’t berate me for deciding to show you how much I love you.

Okay, rant’s over. I now return you to your regularly scheduled thread.

I had the exact opposite thing happen to me, albeit to a much lesser extent.

Read short thread here.

When Edith was pregnant, I was truly grateful for everything she did in the house. I understood that she was uncomfortable, often felt unpretty, tired easily, etc. I felt badly that I wasn’t able to do anything to alleviate most of this. I did as much housework as possible; I ran up and down the steps to get her the cordless phone; I cleaned up after dinner (that I cooked) all the while practically forcing her to sit with her feet up.

Why did I do this? Simply because I love her. Not for recompense (though CS has a point… :wink: ), not particularly because it was my way of trying to “share” in the experience. I would take a bullet for her. I would sacrifice my life if it meant that she would live. Rubbing feet (with peppermint foot lotion) ain’t nuffin’.

You are not a bad wife, by any definition. You are a wife who loves her husband so much that she wants him to be happy and therefore feels a touch of (dare I say) guilt-ish feelings when she thinks that she could have done more.

Your husband is very lucky, and he knows it. You are lucky too. (and you know it)

Sauron, I used to date a guy who would buy me stuff “just because.” And it did freak me out till I got used to it. My big problem with it was that I didnt understand that that was a way for that person to say “I love you.” When I understood that I was a little more at ease with it.

My other problem was that I wasnt sure if that was how I had to express my love, by buying gifts. I have other ways, like you just said making dinner for the boy, surprising notes and what not. I just wanted to make sure that he understood that, while that was how he expressed his love, that was not how I expressed mine.

I think guys have a harder time expressing them selves in general. They see gifts as an obvious way to say “I love you.” I dont know if women always understand that. On the same note, I dont know if guys always understand that planning a night alone is how we say “I love you.”

Most people do not know that presents and gifts are two different things.

Presents are given because you’re supposed to. Gifts are given because you want to. This is where women usually get confused, thinking that if they receive a gift, they’re a bad person if they don’t give one back.

Presents are given on occasions (holiday, birthday, wedding). Gifts are given out of love.

Presents are almost always things - something you go to a store to buy. Gifts can be non-things - special treats, concessions, experiences, etc.

Presents are often monetary in nature - they improve your “bottom line”. Gifts are almost never monetary in nature - when they are, there is also a non-tangible in the gift, e.g a cell phone gives security. This is where men usually get confused - they don’t understand why a washing machine isn’t a gift.

Presents are given with the expectation that you will get a present in return - sometimes offset, like with birthday presents. Gifts are never given with the expectation of receiving something in return. You may have two people who happen to give a gift to each other at the same time, but the gift given is not because of the gift received.

Presents make the receiver happy and fulfill cultural expectations for the giver. Gifts make the giver and the receiver happy.

Gifts are better than presents!


Research psychologists did a study of long-term successful marriages, and did a statistical analysis on common behaviors that the couples displayed. The result was 8 basic types of behavior exhibited. Giving gifts is one of the basic behaviors of a successful love relationship.

ellykat - your husband gave you a gift. Feeling guilty because “you didn’t have something for him” is what society tells you - but that is turning the gift into a present. The best thing you can give him back is to accept the gift as an expression of his love, and not try to turn it into a negative account balance somehow.


racerx - I can see either one of two things going on in your family.

  1. Your father would get angry if Mom did the same thing, in which case he is playing a game. He probably got taught that giving presents entitles the giver to expect something from the receiver (not a good transaction, even with presents). Of course, this may be happening even if Dad wouldn’t get upset.

  2. Your mother is too heavily enculturated in the recipricocity of presents - she needs to let go of the idea that presents have to be returned, and give gifts if she feels like it, rather than letting cultural mores dictate her actions.

Of course, it’s hard to give moms and dads advice (the closest I get is nagging), but I do give this advice to anyone who has ever felt pressured because they didn’t have a gift for someone.

I can see that I missed some exchanges typing this up!

I would agree wholeheartedly with this sentiment. And I’d be willing to bet that there are a ton of guys out there who, when confronted by the sight of their wife dressed up, candles on the table, and gourmet meal at the ready, would stop and say, “Thanks, but the game starts in 20 minutes. I’ll just grab a burger on the way.”

I don’t mean to paint all of femaleness with a broad brush, and I understand that people react differently to a small gift. (By the way, Zyada, I like your distinction between “gift” and “present.”) But in every single relationship I’ve ever had, from high school on up, I would occasionally get a weird response to a small gift. The worst about this was my first wife, who would complain about the money I spent on a single rose when I’d surprise her with it. (Yes, dear, I know we’re watching our funds, but since we’re both 30, we’ve got $30,000 in savings and mutual funds and $80,000 set aside for retirement, I think we can afford for me to splurge once in a while and buy a $1.98 rose for you.)

My mother taught me when I was eight to just say “Thank you” for a gift, even if I didn’t like it. (Which happened often; I had a few really old aunts who thought they were supposed to give me a pair of socks every time we visited them.) How hard can it be to say “thanks” for a little gesture by the person you love, who is making the gesture as a symbol of his love? Better to do that than to carp for not giving you advance notice so you could respond in kind.

True, so true…but a bit hard to do when you’re 8 months along.

ellykat writes:

Actually, you probably shouldn’t wait until the swelling goes down. My wife tells me that if you do, you’ll first have to…

Oh, wait, you mean the swelling of your abdomen.

Never mind. :o