Am I Wrong to Feel This Way?

becky_caDecember 26, 2002

I need to get some perspective on a problem.

Yesterday for Christmas I received photographs from my DH. That was all he gave anybody for Christmas, including his office staff. I thought it was a thoughtful gesture as he did spend quite a bit of time selecting frames, using the Kodak kiosk at Kinko's and selecting the photos from those he'd taken throughout the year (he's actually quite talented and has taken some wonderful pictures).

I also received a photograph for our anniversary, which I though was nice. I received photographs for my birthday a couple of weeks ago, one of which is a not too flattering pose of myself that my 7yo DS took. The other is a nice triple frame of beautiful Hawaiian flowers which I will hang with pride as soon as I can find some blank wall space.

Yesterday when I opened the first package I received yet another photograph. Okay. Package number two also contained a photograph. Okay. The third and final package contained another triple frame of three different prints of me, only one of which is remotely flattering.

I told my DH that my feelings were hurt that all I had recieved from him were photographs - that it kind of made me feel like one of the herd, and that as his wife I expected that he might put a little more thought and effort into a gift that was selected with me personally in mind. I guess not too surprisingly he became very upset and told me I was being ungrateful, that he had spent a lot of time selecting just the right (he felt) photos, etc. Just as a little background information - I selected three nice gifts for him that I thought he would use and enjoy: a lapdesk, a nice pair of slippers and a subscription to a diving magazine, as he's planning on becoming SCUBA certified next year.

He also made the statement that he didn't have much free time, which is only true up to the point where you realize that he has the time to nap every weekend afternoon, go to the gym and swim laps several times a week and go on hikes and bike rides with DS7 almost every weekend. In addition, he had both the day after Thanksgiving and December 13th off completely free of work.

So... Is it wrong of me to feel this way?

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Nope. I think that if you felt that these gifts were not inappropriate, but you wanted something more personal, you were right to suggest it. Maybe next year you could give him a list of things you would like for Christmas. Just my opinion.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2002 at 8:51PM
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Thanks for the feedback - I suppose you're right in that I should give him a written list, and I guess that's preferable to my first inclination which is to stop exchanging gifts at Christmas entirely.

I would think that he was just being clueless if I hadn't specifically told him that I would like a new bathrobe, a large wooden cutting board and some new potholders.

So, it's not like he wasn't given a brief list of items. He just chose to ignore the request.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2002 at 9:13PM
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Dear Becky,

It is very clear that your husband loves to give photos as gifts, and I was the same way until recently. I gave a few close relatives and my parents framed photos of myself and new husband this Christmas. However, I tried to include a small gift that the person could use. I was really glad I did this, because I was also given a photo as a present this year. As much as I love the person who gave me the photo, I was so glad another gift was included. In other words try giving your husband a photo for every gift giving occasion for a time and he may learn how you feel. (Or give him something you enjoy giving other people that he may not enjoy receiving evey gift giving occasion) Or like Sharoncrafts suggested tell your husband in advance what things you would like for Christmas.

Good luck

    Bookmark   December 27, 2002 at 11:59AM
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I think it's more important to give gifts that the receiver wants to get and not necessarily the gifts I personally want to give.

He wants to give photographs. You want to receive something else for Christmas. I don't think you're wrong at all, I think he's being a little lazy because he isn't taking the time to give you a thoughtful gift. I think the others are right, give him a list and help him out.

Or else you could always pick out things for yourself and give them to him - like some nice earrings in his stocking, a couple of new outfits (for you of course) given to him on his birthday. Those are gifts you want to give, right? So, he shouldn't complain. And, if that's not enough to get your point across, borrow his camera, take a few nice pictures and frame them for his birthday.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2002 at 1:44PM
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I think there are a few things going on here.

1. You feel like DH isn't paying attention to what you want. Which is true. You said that you gave him some ideas for gifts and that he ignored them.

2. Everyone else on DHs gift list got the same thing-pictures. On one hand, he did put a lot of time and effort into producing the pictures, but it seems like no effort was made in giving the recipients what they want. It makes you feel like you are on the same emotional level as the office staff, which you are not.

3. I don't think that the "gift issue" should be ignored. Perhaps after the holidays, and before the next gift-giving ocassion, you could talk to him about why he gives you photographs and nothing else. Mention that it makes you feel like he is not paying atttention to what you want or say. Also that you feel like he puts you on the same level as his office staff by giving you the same presents and them. Maybe he felt that money was very tight and he didn't want to overspend for Christmas. Maybe he felt that the photos were very special and they would be enough of a gift.

4. I liked akaDenise's idea about giving yourself presents through his stocking, if all else fails.

It seems to me that some men have a hard time selecting appropriate gifts. Perhaps a written list would help, being as specific as possible. For example- soft warm plush cotton robe, size medium, long, with pockets, in dark blue. That way, he has very little chance of messing up and can shop with confidence.

I don't think you are ungrateful, just rightfully hurt that he didn't try to get you something that you will be able to use and enjoy.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2002 at 7:01PM
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i dont know what i got my wife this year, she hasnt showed me yet.

    Bookmark   December 28, 2002 at 11:45PM
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Thanks to everybody for listening and responding with some advice.

While my feelings are still hurt, I have come to the conclusion that my husband was being more clueless than thoughtless. And I finally realized that I will probably have to purchase my own gifts from now on. Even though it takes the pleasant surprise aspect out of it, it also takes the UNpleasant surprise aspect out of it, which is much more important to me at this point.

I know a lot of couples who treat gift-giving occasions like this, so obviously he's not the only person (male or female) who struggles with finding an appropriate gift.

As for next year - I've already told him I don't want to exchange gifts, and that I'd prefer to apply any money we would have spent on going away for the week someplace in the mountains.

Like I said in my original post - I needed to get some perspective on this problem, and I feel like I've been able to do that. Thanks again.

    Bookmark   December 29, 2002 at 1:17PM
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Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

If you have doubt about someone else's view of a phototgraphic image, or some other situation; try to breathe and relax, and when feeling more relaxed do ask them.

You can ask your husband why he likes photography, or putting together particular images. You can find out directly from him in this kind of way, at least some of the whys. (He might have had some intentions which could help with your hurt feelings.) What do the photos mean to him, or what do they remind him of? (try to get his point of view about what he was thinking when he picked this or that photo).

Feelings just are, and the challenge is to manage them as they occur. Just knowing and being aware of them is a good first step.

P.S. New Years is coming up, and even regular days of the week in case that holiday is already spoken for; but you can share any ideas with him about how you can share some personal time-- or experience which could help a lot to reinforce that you are a unique and a valued person to him. (It's similar to that week in the mountains, but this kind of thing could be shorter and done for anniversaries and birthdays too-- or any time it is important to do).

    Bookmark   December 29, 2002 at 1:57PM
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I see your point,I had 4 photos enlarged for my husband this year anbd framed of him with his bear ,elk hunt and of him with his prized power wagon.Because I knew he would never do it. All his friends ask to see his pictures .so now they hang in his home office. But I got him other things.My husband use to buy me for instance a clothes hamper,sheets ok things we need but they werent for me they were for everybody. so as Christmas gets near just to help him a little I show him a picture or say Id like this. Did you ever watch men in stores at christmas its really comical.They are clueless although its alot easier buying for woman than men...

    Bookmark   December 31, 2002 at 8:37AM
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Yes, but remember, he got her pictures for her anniversary, birthday, AND Christmas. I think we're approaching overkill. I'd be kinda upset, too. ; )

    Bookmark   January 1, 2003 at 7:12PM
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I agree, if you want something special, drop lots of hints. Drop them everytime you can. If not, you will get the "proverbial tie" at every gift giving occassion. His tie is a photo. You have until valentines day to get your point across, if you don't get it across, get it for yourself and tell him, this is what I wanted, See? I got myself flowers once, it was right before a holiday. They were beautiful mini tulips. I put them in a wonderful crystal vase with a gold ribbon around them. All of my guests commented on them and each would say " did your husband pick these out?" I would reply with "no, he hasn't bought me flowers in years, I bought these for me because I knew that's the only way to get them". I have received flowers, for no reason at all, since then. I was not bitter with my comments when I talked about the flowers, I think that helped. I just smiled and told people where I got them and how much I enjoyed having fresh flowers and the chance to use the pretty vases that I have received for gifts.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2003 at 1:38PM
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You all seem like such wonderful loving women.. with beautiful hearts. Such nice responses about Becky's Problem. I can tell you I wish I had the lives some of your husbands have had. Your all too kind, and sounding like a dream to me.
If I gave my wife photgraphs for Christmas she would have broken the frames across my head, or there would have been a huge argument on Christmas. I have always had to come up with something very personal in clothing items for her. I am not rich by any means but the gift(S) had to be very special and elaborate. Elk hunting and Power wagons ?...sounds like these husbands are having such a wonderful life. I wish they would have married my wife. She would show them what to do with photographs. Hikes, Elk hunting and bike rides. Would be something they only dreamed of.

    Bookmark   January 12, 2003 at 6:21PM
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You sound so sad. I'm sorry. People can only treat you as bad as you let them. Could it be time for you to have a heart to heart talk and tell your wife everything you've told us in your posts?

Take care,


    Bookmark   January 13, 2003 at 10:10AM
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it would be so easy to give my wife framed photographs of myself. one (a smiling me) for her birthday, a second (possibly showing the counter profile) for our aniversary and yet a third (full face on this one - w/big toothy smile) for christmas.

the message this would convey would be not of my undying love/respect/closeness...

but, rather, of my cheap indifference of her importance to me.

may i rot in hell for doing something like that.


    Bookmark   January 25, 2003 at 2:46AM
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Sure, you had every right to feel a little ticked. He gave you the same gift he gave his secretary! Not to mention the birthday and anniversary photos as well.

I hope you've found a workable solution in buying for yourself or not exchanging at all. Even more important, I hope you were able to convey your feelings to your DH without him going on the defensive and refusing to listen to you. I'm sure, as you said, it was more a matter of cluelessness than thoughtlessness.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2003 at 12:23AM
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Me & spoucey exchange catalogs, items circled including size, color, etc... works perfect, but we're both over 50.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2003 at 12:33PM
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