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I am just thinking about it. I've got it pretty good. I don't know if it's a 'western woman' versus eastern woman thing, but I don't have to buy my wife gifts. I'm not 'in the dog house' if I don't get an anniversary gift or something like that.
My anniversary with my wife is coming up really soon. It's right around her birthday, Christmas, and one of our children's birthday. With Christmas, we have both forgotten our anniversary before. We were going to a cell group at a friend's house one year, and I realized it was the 18th and told her. Nobody was upset. We'd have chosen to go there rather than go out for dinner. The couple who hosted had a bunch of maids, and the one doing the cooking or in charge of the cooking was an awesome cook, better than most restaurants. It was also energizing being around our friends every week. So it wasn't a bad way to spend an anniversary, except that's what we always did.
But I don't really give my wife a lot of anniversary, Christmas or birthday gifts. We don't do the gifts much. I have bought her things, though. Usually, I take her out to dinner. But when I was a poor grad student for way too many years, we just couldn't afford much of that. One year, we had a home-cooked steak dinner and went down to the beach at night with a blanket to hang out, right before I got horribly ill and had to be rushed to the hospital that night (for an internal problem, not because something was wrong with it.
Writing this, I would probably feel like a tool if I were telling a bunch of American women about this. But my wife, in Indonesia, didn't grow up with a lot of Christmas gifts. I think they got new clothes. Christmas wasn't about gifts. Materialism and the obligation to spend so much money on gifts was strange to her. When we were in Indonesia, we probably spent less money with helping her parents and other relatives out financially than we sent on Christmas in the US.
I do take my wife out for dinner for birthdays, anniversaries (if we remember it), etc. now that I can afford it. We do a night out, usually, and not gifts, usually. But I don't feel obligated to because she's going to be hurt or angry. I might get her a gift from time to time, too. But I don't have to.
What do you American men experience with girlfriends, or wives, in terms of a sense of entitlement to get a gift?
I met her when she was a college student. Before we started dating, I called her on the phone, and we could talk for an hour. But she'd say we shouldn't talk so long, because it would cost me money. She was in school, so I guess that was a lot of money for her. I was making an expat English teacher's salary, so it wasn't that expensive, considering. Indonesia charged in three minute increments for local calls, if I recall correctly.
When I started taking her out, she'd try to talk me out of spending too much money on her. When she saw I could afford to go out and eat with her (food was cheap), she'd look for economical deals. We lived near a mall that was full of all kinds of great food. I remember a buffet for about $2 if turned into US currency, that had Italian food and pizza, the all-you-can-eat sit-down deal at the Chinese place that actually had hot and sour soup, which I don't think I've seen elsewhere in Indonesia. She liked it too, and learned to make it after we got married.