Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the gifts you give me – really, I do. You’re a thoughtful, sweet guy (otherwise I wouldn’t have married you, right?), and your gifts are carefully selected. But the truth is, I don’t need another heart-shaped necklace or cashmere sweater or pashmina scarf. Forget salon gift cards or dinners at fancy restaurants, or even that designer handbag I’ve been adding to my online shopping cart and then deleting over and over.
The truth is, I’d trade all those things for clean baseboards. Or weed-free landscaping. Or – and we’re getting crazy here – a blissful, uninterrupted nap.
Here’s what I actually want (and, if we’re being honest, it’s what most women want):
I’d love it if you did the dishes without me asking. So simple that it sounds ridiculous. But I’d probably jump up and down for joy, maybe even throw a parade in your honor, if I found the sink completely cleared and all the dirty dishes scrubbed, washed and in the drying rack. You wouldn’t even have to put them away.
I’d love it if you took the dogs for a long walk after dinner. They have so much pent-up energy after a day spent indoors, and sometimes their barking and racing around make the house feel like it’s going to explode. Bonus points if you remember to feed them afterwards.
I’d love it if you volunteered to do the bedtime routine. Picture me, lounging in a chair, reading a magazine, while you negotiate with our 3-year-old to wash his hair, wrestle him into footie pajamas, brush his teeth and read him precisely three bedtime stories. Ahhh, bliss.
I’d love it if you wrote the grocery list. Because sometimes my head is filled with so many deadlines, dates and reminders, I just cannot remember if we need more milk.
I’d love it if you helped out more with the laundry. Exhibit A: putting your clothes in the hamper, not just on the lid or the floor. Exhibit B: moving the wet clothes from the washer to the dryer. Exhibit C: folding that basket of towels that’s been sitting in our bedroom for three days.
Do I sound ungrateful? I don’t mean to. It’s not like you don’t participate in the day-to-day grind that comes with being a parent and a partner. But if we’re talking about gifts – true, meaningful gifts from the heart – these simple tasks are way more valuable than any gift card, any bottle of perfume, any massage therapy session. They’re the things I want the most.
From now on, when you ask me for gift ideas, I won’t just tell you to get me some flowers and call it a day. “The dishes,” I’ll say. “The next time they need to be washed, just wash them. Don’t wait for me to ask.” Simple, but oh-so-appreciated. And no giftwrap required.
Rachel Randall is a full-time wife, a mom and an editor in Cincinnati. When she’s not chasing her 3-year-old through the house or editing copy for clients, she’s daydreaming about her husband Swiffering the kitchen floor, completely unprompted.