If your husband doesn't buy you gifts, it's all too easy to blame it on his cheapness or thoughtlessness when he probably has his own good reasons for not shopping for you. Here are some common, albeit misplaced, beliefs of a non-gift-giving spouse:
He may feel that gift-giving is unnecessary and pretentious.
Some men think that gift-giving is part of the courtship/dating phase. Like dangling bait on a fishing line. What's the point of tossing out more bait when you've already got your catch? Men like this believe there shouldn't be any mystery to marriage. You should just go out and buy what you need. Neither of you need to impress each other anymore. Needless to say, men like this are of the practical sort.
Hints that help: Be sure to give him a gift he'll put to good use but if you prefer more romantic things, let him know that there are benefits to giving you gifts that make you feel young and pretty (wink, wink). Does he want to be married to an attentive, loving woman or to a dishwasher?
He does not equate gift-giving with love or appreciation.
To him, it's silly that you require a token of his love for every holiday or life event such as birthdays and anniversaries. He married you and to him, that was his ultimate display of love and commitment. His other everyday gifts include his fidelity, financial support and physical presence.
Hints that help: It's true that there is no material item that can equal his love for you, but when you love someone, you love to see them smile with joy. Be on the look-out for non-material ways he shows his love and go out of your way to let him know they are noticed and appreciated. When you give him a material gift, tell him that "this is a small token of my love and appreciation for you." Make it something that he'll really love and he'll begin to understand that gifts are tokens of love.
He believes that money spent on gifts is a waste.
Buying things you don't need seems like a waste of money that comes from both of your retirements or kids' college funds. He thinks of you two as a team that should pool your financial resources at all times. If he buys you a gift, it depletes your own funds. If he gives a gift to his wife, it is a practical item that needed to be purchased anyway.
Hints that help: He'll be more likely to buy luxurious gifts if you can convince him that they can be considered good financial investments (a vacation property, jewelry, anything that appreciates in value). Remind him that clothing, shoes, household items are necessary items that can double as gifts, and a little TLC for personal and marital satisfaction is far less expensive than counseling and divorce fees. The latter is not an empty threat. Many marriages die from neglect.
He always gets it wrong.
If he feels too much pressure from choosing "bad" gifts that don't meet your approval, he'd rather not try at all than to risk failure and criticism. Every wife wants to believe that her spouse knows what she likes, that he pays attention to her subtle hints but the truth it that most husbands don't know gift-speak, or the language that gifts convey; they are perplexed when what they thought was a well-thought out gift is met with disdain.
Hints that help: First, stop being overly picky and don't be critical with his choices. It's hard not to feel disappointed if he comes home with a 7/11 gift card for you when he spent hours shopping for the right gift for his mother. It's easy to take this as a sign that he loves her more than you but it might not be the case. He might still be fearful of her criticism while knowing he has your love and approval 365 days a year--gift or no gift. Many spouses, thinking of the marriage as a team, put each other at the bottom of the Christmas list. Talk to him about putting each other at the top of the list again and think of ways to exchange non-monetary gifts. Do so well in advance to lessen the pressure.
He's being passive-aggressive.
Sometimes, not buying a gift is his silent way of rebelling against his wife. If there is hidden resentment in the relationship, not giving a gift can be a way to say, "Look, I don't feel like giving you anything" or "You always get what you want so I don't need to get you anything." The dangers of a passive-aggressive marriage lie in what is unsaid so it is vital to bring buried feelings into the open. It's better to do this with a third party (counselor) because the passive-aggressive spouse avoids confrontation at all costs. He does not want to talk about his feelings because it would cause more problems.
Hints that help: If a man refrains from gift-giving out of passive-aggressiveness, there is no hint that will get him to put something under the tree for you. If you suspect this is the case with your mate, consider the gift of marital counseling. If this is not possible, consider giving him a homemade coupon book called, "A Better Marriage Coupon Book" filled with coupons for things you can do to help make him happier: Stop complaining, Stop nagging, etc. When he hands over a coupon, you'll know that he isn't happy with your behavior, and it's a good self-reflection tool for you.
How do you know that your husband's lack of gift-giving springs from one of the above beliefs rather than simply being thoughtless, uncaring or cheap? Usually, a man who sincerely believes that gift-giving is not about love will not be offended if you don't give him a gift either. He'll be happy without receiving anything at all or just some time alone together rather than a beautifully-wrapped material item. A thoughtless, uncaring, cheap man will be all too willing to accept your gift for him without giving you anything in return. Put him on your naughty list. But give him some mistletoe and remind him that kisses are free.