Have you ever needed to buy a gift for someone and all of a sudden the best idea came into your mind and you were so excited about the gift you could barely wait to give it to your partner? But then when you actually gave the gift it seemed to fall very flat and your partner gives you that thanks for trying look. This can happen a lot as we seem to think that we can mind read your partner’s desires and your partner can mind read yours. Or how about when it is a special occasion and you have given many hints as to what you want for the occasion and when you unwrap or find out what the gift is you are so disappointed but try to put on that smile that says I love you but this isn’t what I wanted.
I had a guy friend who was dating this woman he really liked. He was excited one day to come to her door and surprise her by having flowers. He thought it was a nice romantic gesture and was very excited to see her reaction as this was the first time he was bringing her flowers. When she opened the door and saw the flowers she got very upset and started crying. My friend was confused and disappointed and at a loss as to what had gone wrong. When the woman calmed down she told the guy that when she was growing up her dad would come home and bring flowers whenever he had an affair. So for her flowers equated to a bad thing. Now even though the man before her wasn’t her father and most likely hadn’t cheated flowers held so much negativity for her that the gesture thoroughly upset her. This is an example to show you that your idea of a great romantic gesture may have a completely different meaning to the other person.
So how do you get the gift you really want and give the gift that knocks their socks off?
The exercise is called Roadmaps to the Heart. You set aside time for both of you to work on this exercise. You make a list of all the things your partner could do that would show you that they love you. Basically this means what your partner can do for you that will make you really happy. These items can be anything from a wrapped present, to chores, to physical affection, to a vacation, to a date night, etc. Then what you do is come together for a quiet evening and exchange your lists. I recommend reading them out loud so you make sure each person understands each item on each list. Keep these lists handy and when you feel moved to do something special for your partner you can look at it and give your partner exactly what they desire.
Stephanie Mintz M.A., LMFT
Marriage and Family Therapist Counseling Playa Vista, CA