Something that totally surprised me in our marriage was our different presuppositions about special occasions, from birthdays to Christmas. Especially difficult is the gift-giving element. Pretty early on, Andrew and I noticed (through my tears) that we had different expectations for gift giving. We would both end up disappointed on holidays (but feeling guilty that we weren’t thankful for what we had received).
For example, in Andrew’s family, birthdays were not a big deal. They’d have a good meal, but presents were not too significant. In my family, my birthday was HUGE. This has to do, I’m sure, with being an only child who has a very creative mother and a spontaneous gift-buying dad. Let’s just say that I was used to getting a pretty significant present for my birthday.
So, a couple years into our marriage, when I got a CD I’d not heard of instead of the camera lens I was hoping for, it was a little rough. Andrew put a lot of thought into the CD. It was a style he thought I’d really like. And, I actually do like it. However, the problem was my disappointed expectations. Similar things have happened with Andrew. I would listen to offhanded comments he’d make about wanting this or that. Then, I’d get one of those things and save it for a few months for Christmas. The problem was that by Christmas, he would not remember that he’d ever wanted one of whatever I’d bought.
After a few too many special occasions celebrated in tears instead of joy, we decided to do something about it. We now discuss our expectations (in detail) for special occasions. When they don’t match up, we find a compromise. And, though it’s boring, we tell each other specific gifts we are interested in receiving.