Tag Archives: Valentine’s gifts

Invest in experiences, not more stuff

They like signposts at Rum Point!

Find your next adventure.

Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays and other gift-giving holidays often have us wondering, “What would our spouse most want to receive?” At least within our budget. Sadly, most of us can’t recall the vast majority of gifts we have given or received. Ads bombard us with the message that the more we buy, the happier we will be. But there’s a better way. Research shows that spending on experiences rather than on things brings the most happiness.

The gift of travel is a great way to make lasting memories. My memories of fancy dinners in expensive restaurants pale in comparison to a long-ago simple Parisian picnic with my husband featuring baguettes, cheese and wine. Beach memories are another favorite. Having toes in the sand seems to lower stress levels and increase playfulness. I smile when I think of our beach rental houses with kids and not much on the agenda. Although it was more than 20 years ago, lounging in a hammock in Hawaii is the image I conjure when I need to relax.

Many people think they can’t afford to travel. Yet they spend hundreds of dollars each holiday on gifts that are soon forgotten. Many airlines offer credit cards that allow you to gain frequent flyer miles for spending a minimum amount. We have used them to take two overseas adventures for four people. Adventures can also be found much closer to home, such as in state parks where lodging and camping are very reasonable.

Travel allows us to try new things together—food, cultures, activities, adventures. Experiencing new things has been shown in research to be good for keeping our marriages strong.Whether your idea of fun is a pub crawl or foodie tour, learning to surf, reading a new book together, or taking dance classes, find something you’re willing to try.

Things don’t always go as planned when traveling, but these hiccups create challenges we can overcome together and become part of the memories we can laugh at later, like the very “rustic” lodge we stayed in while white water rafting with friends, or the seafood beach picnic that attracted hundreds of seagulls. Vacations (with kids or as a couple) allow us to have large chunks of time to focus on one another and away from our many screens and devices. Travel helps us experience nature in new ways and relax our minds and bodies away from the daily stresses of life.

Planning a trip takes time and effort, but from looking forward to the trip to the positive memories left behind, it’s worth the effort and creates more lasting happiness than buying more things. Forbes magazine suggests investing in experiences, such as dining out, a trip to the spa, or buying things for other people are a better investment in long-term happiness than buying things for ourselves.  Going to a concert instead of buying a new outfit, or choosing to rent a boat instead of buying one are examples of investing well in experiences.

“Nine times out of 10 you’re much better spending money on experiences and other people than on yourself. You’re much more likely to have genuine, fulfilling happiness as a result.”–Forbes contributor Ilya Pozin

What are the trips or experiences do you remember most with your spouse? What is your favorite travel memory?

This bracelet helps me remember my trip to Maui with sand from the Hawaiian island!
bracelet

Lori Lowe has been married to her husband, Ming, for 20 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.

Great Anniversary Gifts Ideas & What to NEVER Buy Your Wife

Wedding season is upon us, which means many of our anniversaries are approaching. I’ve been hearing some funny or not-so-funny horror stories of husbands’ gifts to their wives lately. So, as a courtesy, I just wanted to share a few warnings of what NOT to buy your wife for your anniversary, Valentine’s or other romantic holidays you celebrate.

Particularly if your spouse’s love language is gift giving, the present you choose may be seen as an expression of how you value him or her. In our culture, women tend to value romantic gifts from their husbands.

1.  Anything related to your wife’s weight. One friend bought his wife a digital scale with a fat measurement tool. In his defense, his wife had been talking about getting one. However, she was not impressed with the unromantic gesture. The same goes for workout tapes, weights, and even gym memberships. Women are just too body conscious in this country, and a gift from their husband suggesting they need to get in shape can bring out her insecurities.

2.  Any appliance. If your wife needs a new vacuum, please help her pick one out. But not for her anniversary! Again, this is not a good expression of your love and appreciation. Crock pots, washers/dryers, and anything else that is needed to run your home falls into the same category. I suppose a possible exception would be if she tells you what she really, really wants for her anniversary is a gourmet coffee maker, or something like that.

3.  An empty box, a piece of coal or other “joke” gifts. Seriously, I’ve heard of men doing this. They all have their reasons why it was funny to them, but trust me: Don’t.

4.  Skip it. If your wife says to skip the gifts this year, because you’re saving for a deck or home improvement, you can only half believe her. I’ve heard some wives or fiancées say this but not mean it. (I am a fan of honesty, since men can’t be expected to read minds.) A small, romantic gesture is much preferred over just skipping the event. Just tell her you couldn’t let the day pass without reminding her how much she means to you.

5.  Something you can’t afford. If you’re in debt or have upcoming financial obligations, there’s no reason to spend too much to show your love. Debt causes marital stress, increased arguments, and can lead to breakups.

Keeping the above list of no no’s will keep you out of the dog house most of the time. A few top gift suggestions for any occasion include:

1.  A love letter. Find tips here on how to write a love letter. It’s a free gift, and most appreciated.

2. Send flowers or a treat. I recently received chocolate covered strawberries for my birthday and loved it. If you send flowers, know her favorites. If she works in an office, send it there with a sweet note to put on her desk.

3.  Jewelry. This can be anything from costume jewelry to fine jewelry, and you can meet any budget. Be sure to check her style and perhaps ask her friends if she would enjoy what you’re considering.

4.  Pampering. You can splurge for spa certificates, or you can make up a coupon book offering your own massages or special services, a day to herself, or other activity she enjoys.

5.  Cards or notes. Leave notes around the house for her to find. One friend was going to be out of town on his first anniversary, so he had friends go to his house each day of the week to hide a love note for his wife to find. The great thing about writing a poem or note is it truly means speaking from your heart, and your spouse will really appreciate this.

6.  Travel or getaways. One of my favorite gift ideas is to secretly plan a get-away (including babysitting if needed). It can be for one night or a week away, depending on availability and budget. Consider it an investment in your relationship. While you’re together try not to let cell phones and other technology get in the way of your sharing time.

7.  Ask, or listen. Your spouse may be giving you hints or telling you what he or she would like.

8.  Create a romantic tradition for renewing your wedding vows. See anniversary traditions inspired by celebrities.

9.  If she enjoys sexy lingerie or perfume, by all means, indulge. But be sensitive to her preferences.

Read more ideas to show love in What have you done for your marriage today? Also, 7 free gift ideas.

Have you ever given a gift you regretted, or received a gift you couldn’t believe your spouse gave you? Share your experience, so others can avoid the same mistakes.