As part of my recovery from depression, Adam and I sat down and made of the sacrifices he would like me to make. (At my most depressed, I was making many unnecessary sacrifices for him because I thought my needs were unimportant.) We came up with a list of five real needs that I can meet by giving something up–whether it’s time, privacy, or control. That way a sacrifice is a selfless gesture oriented around his needs, instead of a self-centered gesture focused on my thoughts and feelings.
These aren’t presents treats to give my husband on special occasions. (We do have suggestions for that, too!) These are needs my husband–and many husbands–has that I can meet with a little thoughtfulness and a giving attitude.
Gifts for Your Husband
- Time to decompress. For those of us who spend afternoons alone with the kids, 5:30 can be that magic time of night when relief arrives at last. But as eager as I am for help and company, by waiting for just ten minutes I give my husband a chance to transition from his role as a provider to his role as a husband and father. The extra ten minutes doesn’t make that much of a difference to me, but transition time can change his well-being an attitude for the rest of the evening.
- A regular night out.As much as spouses need special time together, they need time to be alone, recollect, and reflect, too–especially if they have children. When that “alone time” is regularly scheduled, he can look forward to it and plan to do things with friends. Perhaps your husband is an introvert or a home body like mine sometimes is–take the kids out for a “Mommy” date and let him have the house to himself.
- Freedom to do things his way. Chances are, your husband wants to help you with the house or with your children. But if you frequently tell him he is doing things incorrectly or go back and redo things after his is finished, he’ll eventually stop trying. Accept his contributions with love and gratitude, only correcting when it’s absolutely necessary. (Be sure you accept his guidance with grace, too.) Letting him do things his way with the children is especially important and one of the most important things you can do to help your husband be a great dad.
- Respect for his emotions. Like many women, I’m in the habit of saying “Don’t be angry, but…” or asking “Would it make you upset if…?” These kinds of statements imply that I have control over my husband’s emotions or, worse, that I don’t think he has a right to feel negative emotions toward me every once and a while.
- Clear communication.If I’ve learned anything from months of treatment for depression, I’ve learned that suppressing my needs, feelings, and desires doesn’t make them go away. And hiding them from my husband isn’t a noble sacrifice. Being open and vulnerable takes a lot more courage and is a greater gift of self. In our marriage, clear communication means standing up for my own opinion until we compromise instead of backing down and asking him questions directly, instead of being passive aggressive. It’s hard, but Adam has said time and again how much easier and more loving our marriage has become as we’ve worked on communication together.
Over the past few months, I’ve realized that my attitude about giving has actually been corrosive in our marriage. For one, the things that are sacrifices for me aren’t necessarily sacrifices for him. For example, Adam thinks of washing dishes as the man’s job. I recently washed up from a dinner party, even though I hate dish washing. To me, the thirty minutes I spent washing were a big sacrifice. But he barely registered the gesture.
More importantly, Adam didn’t marry a slave or a robot. He doesn’t want a subjugated wife who never considers herself or her feelings worthwhile. A generous spirit may mean putting others’ needs before my own, but it doesn’t mean putting their desires before my needs.
By identifying what Adam’s needs and strongest desires are, I am able to be generous where it counts and sacrifice to give him what he needs the most.
What gifts do you give your partner? What gifts would you like him to give you? Let us know in the comments.
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