The Thought That Counts
Relationships and Random Acts of Generosity
By: L. Reed Walton
I know, I know. You’ve heard it before. Relationships take work, right?
Why does it always have to sound like a chore, though? Unless I’m gravely mistaken, you don’t get up in the morning, look across the pillow at your significant other and think, “What kind of work am I going to have to do today to make this partnership successful?” That’s pretty much the definition of overthinking.
Of course, then, there are always those who fall into the trap of not thinking enough about how to keep their relationship afloat. The balance is different for everyone, and I’m not saying that what’s right for one couple is best for another.
However, let me give a little advice on something that I’ve seen add dimension and depth to my relationships.
Give little gifts. It’s that simple. And by little gifts I do NOT mean gifts that are physically small but require a huge monetary investment. OK, yeah, even those of us who are not Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes want to buy each other the romantic equivalent of platinum replicas of Xenu’s spaceship—or whatever the heck it is the rich and terminally unoccupied purchase for themselves.
For most of us, though, that’s just not feasible. My boyfriend talked a lot this past year about how much he’d love an iPhone. Sure, I’d love to buy it for him, but with a car payment of about the same amount each month, it’s just not in the cards.
But I also didn’t despair about a little token of my affection being out of my reach—I bought him towels. Yep, bath towels. See, I noticed that when I was over at his house, he only had one or two hole-ridden terrycloth rags for after the shower. Since it’s in the male nature to forego the absolute essentials—such as boxers with actual elastic still in the waistband, or foods that don’t come in glass bottles—I decided to pounce. I “splurged” and bought him two luxe bath sheets and some Tommy Hilfiger washcloths. He was really pleased. I didn’t end up parting with a fortune, and I felt just as good about myself.
Of course, “gifts” don’t have to cost you anything. I was strapped for cash and feeling guilty last Valentine’s Day. The guilt tripled when my guy showered me with chocolates and roses, and went out of his way to pick up a top-quality bottle of merlot.
Luckily, I remembered he has a job that requires him to be on his feet all day, and a rock-hard mattress that does little to relieve aches and pains at the end of a long day. So, I schlepped some of my sandalwood-scented (ie: sufficiently manly) oil to his place and lavished him with a full-body rubdown with foot massage. Didn’t cost me a thing—other than aching hands—and he said it was the best present he’d ever gotten.
Ladies, the gifts you give this Valentine’s Day—or anytime!—don’t have to be costly or typical of the season. What they have to do is show that you are paying attention to your relationship. Chances are your partner will respond better when you make it more personal, and will in turn go out of his way to surprise you with gifts that fit your needs. …Uh, like jewelry. Yeah…. those needs.