Gift-giving can be one of the best ways to keep the love strong in a relationship.
Unfortunately, in our consumer-culture, most people think this means “buy them something nice.”
Giving gifts can be not only meaningful but absolutely free in terms of money. Once you learn how to give time, attention, effort and thoughtfulness, even the most materialistic heart can be moved with the real connection it generates.
Today, I’ll be sharing the 5 best gifts I’ve ever given or seen given in a relationship.
Before I do, it’s important to understand the principles behind authentic gift giving that makes it such a powerful thing to do.
You must give gifts freely
This gift cannot be used as currency to get something from the other person in return or to be given just out of obligation.
I recommend focusing on giving gifts without any “reason” like birthdays or anniversaries. They don’t have to like your gift.
It’s the giving that counts.
Try giving without being there when your partner receives it, so you can enjoy not knowing how they reacted to it.
Put effort into your gift rather than just money or time
A gift must be meaningful and thoughtful if it’s going to have a positive impact on the relationship.
It must show that you care, that you’re paying attention to who they are, you consider them unique person, and that you prioritize the relationship over other things like watching TV.
Do it more for you than for them
I know, this sounds counter-intuitive or even selfish, but it’s vitally important to remove the neediness from gift-giving for it to become a truly loving act.
When you do it for you, it becomes satisfying just to do it, so they really do get the gift for free, and they don’t feel obligated for having to reciprocate the gift. In simple terms, make sure you enjoy the process of giving as much as they enjoy receiving it.
These principles will make more sense as I explain my examples:
1. Treasure hunt
Experiences are more meaningful than possessions.
And the most meaningful experience is the one you created yourself as opposed to just paying for them to experience someone else’s creation. A cheap and fun way to do this is a treasure hunt.
They come home, and there’s a note on the door. You’re nowhere to be found. The note has a clue, leading them to a hiding place where there’s a small treat (e.g., a cookie) and another note.
Whatever bad day they were having is forgotten, and the situation just got interesting for them.
Did the clues lead them around in circles, with the final destination being YOU?
Not only can this be done any time, but it’s also free to do and will be fun to create for you. Extra points if each clue also includes something personal they can remember fondly (e.g., “Your next clue will be found where we had our first kiss in this apartment”).
2. Make a scrapbook out of memorabilia
My girlfriend and I both dance, and we often record ourselves dancing. We have dozens of videos of us dancing, spread around various folders and internet storage.
So for one of our anniversary presents, I’m downloading them all onto a USB stick so she can watch them non-stop, in chronological order. It’s like a mixtape but much more personal.
You could do the same with photos or make a scrapbook out of memorabilia (e.g., movie stubs). If you’re an editing whizz, make a compilation video of their favorite movie crush’s most romantic scenes.
3. Give the gift of being the surprise sex starter
One problem at the heart of many modern long-term relationships is sexual leadership.
Sex is a battle of wills over who should initiate.
Modern men often remain sexually passive, and women are forced to wear the pants unwillingly. With kids and work and daily stressors, the idea of being the one to start up the sex process feels like a chore to many. So give the gift of being the starter.
Light candles and incense, put on some corny music, get naked and wait for them to walk in the room. Even if they’re not feeling up to it, have massage oil ready to give them at least a relaxing time.
4. Be the artist without being an artist
I like to draw, while my fiancée loves to do those adult coloring books to relieve her stress.
So, for her next birthday, I drew her a cartoon book of us doing our favorite things (e.g. “I love going to the beach with you” with a funny picture of us getting sunburned), and I left the coloring for her to do.
You don’t need to be an artist of any particular skill. Make them a card, or a funny note on the mirror before work.
I once just typed out a list of all the things I liked about my girlfriend. It looked just like a boring meeting agenda, but it was so meaningful and surprising that she cried. She once made me a little booklet on everything I needed to know to please her in bed – a most helpful book I’ve ever read.
If you can build stuff, make her something. If you can cook, feed her. If you can sing, write her a song.
Use your skills to benefit the relationship.
5. Small unexpected things
It’s not really the big events and gifts that count the most. It’s the small and unexpected ones.
I’ve made my girl’s day with a $3 flower pot from the supermarket, simply because she didn’t see it coming. I’ll leave chocolate hidden somewhere that she’ll find on her own (like folded up in her bath towel).
Sometimes I like to pretend I’m reaching past her to grab something but then I suddenly grab her and kiss her for no reason. She LOVES when I do things like this.
6. Put in that extra effort
Giving is about putting thought and effort into making it fun, interesting and playful to be in a relationship with you.
It also causes you to stop the busy hectic-ness of your life for a moment and focus on your spouse.
If you’re like me and get carried away with your mission and life in general, to the point of forgetting these things, then do what I do and create reminders in your calendar like-
“How can I give to my girl this week?”
Make it fun and relaxing for you, and you’ll both win from it.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
More by Dan Munro