I always tell my wife I love her and buy her gifts I can’t afford. I know she loves me. She works so hard at school, and works to pay her tuition, and still washes my clothes, cooks and cleans. And I never ask her to. When I buy her things, I don’t expect anything in return; I just like to see her happy. I buy her roses for no reason. Recently, because her friends wear so much jewelry, and I know she wished she had some, I bought her a second diamond ring. For our four anniversaries, I’ve given her a gold bracelet, an iPod, a laptop, and most recently, a cell phone she really wanted. In return, she gave me a card with a letter promising to go to the gym and get back in shape. (She’s not fat, but knows it means a lot to me when she’s looking good.) I loved the commitment, but this is something she owes herself, not a real gift. I’m not materialistic, but it hurt that she didn’t take the time to get me something...I don’t care what...a couple T-shirts.
— Let Down

    What does this woman have to do to show she loves you, put a big red bow around your neatly folded tighty-whities? Leave a gift card floating in the sparkling bowl? Here she is cooking, cleaning and doing your wash while going to school and working to pay her tuition, to boot. Yeah, clearly she’s all take, take, take. You, on the other hand, went to the mall and got her gold, diamonds and portable electronics, and picked up roses on the way home. You are sweet to always be thinking about what she might need at the jeweler. But now, you’re actually feeling bad because she’s trying to look good for you instead of looking for a shirt for you? Hey, just say the word, and she could be waddling around Target.
    There are a lot of men out there who’d line right up to be taken for granted the way you are. Your mistake is expecting your wife to show she cares in the same way you do - tit for tat, iPod for iPod. If you think somebody is fundamentally cheap, that’s one thing. What you should look for is generosity of spirit. She seems to show it, and then some — even if “diamonds are forever” and those dinners she cooks for you are really just in one end and out the other.
    You claim you don’t expect anything in return, but it seems you do — maybe because you’re insecure, and your gifts aren’t just laptops and gold bracelets, but down payments on having her stick around. You might also consider the effect your giving has on hers. Buy a girl a diamond, and do you really think her first thought is “Wow! I can’t wait to dig through the clearance T-shirt bin and find something really special for him!”? You know your wife’s way short on time and money, and it sounds like she has a bit of a muffin-top. She can’t possibly do more for you around the house, so what better way to show you she cares than by offering to pick up a few things for you at the gym? You know, those 25-lb. iron things, 5,000 or so times.

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