A few months after we’d been married and our hearts had finally stopped racing like thoroughbreds let loose on a racecourse, the stars in our eyes having relocated to the sky, we sat down to make a list of do’s and don’ts for the sake of our marital wellness. It’s not as if we had any prior experience of being married to know the rights from wrongs. But, we did have our parent’s sterling example to know exactly what not to do to avoid ending up as squabbling siblings. Our parents may openly think that they know better than us but we all secretly hope to be better than them. After all it is from their mistakes we learnt our life’s lessons.
My Dad had a penchant for surprising my Mom with gifts. He’d return home like a triumphant warrior and reverentially place the spoils of his conquest at her feet. He had a special affinity for raiding the newly opened Vimal sari store and picking up their shiniest and brightest specimens for his missus. He mostly bought gifts according to his sunny demeanour and not according to her taste. Initially, she’d indulge him and look suitably surprised and happy which was soon replaced by dismay and later alarm at how much money he’d spend on stuff she’d never wear!
Armed with this precious knowledge, I looked deeply into my newly minted husband’s eyes and said – Darling, promise me that you’ll never surprise me!
Men. If you’re planning to surprise with a green handbag that she’s been craving for months – don’t even attempt it. There’s no way your untrained eyes can differentiate between sea green, emerald green, blue-green, deep green or plantain leaf green! Plus you have no idea, if she wants it for leisure, pleasure or work. Whether she wants a clutch, a hobo, muff, saddle, satchel, a roomy shoulder or a no fuss messenger bag!
For her, everything she acquires, is a quest for perfection - soft but supportive with just the right feel, accommodating and sensitive to her changing needs, complementing her image and not too demanding, just like the man she’d hoped to fall in love with. What she wears, what she adorns herself with or even what she buys for her house is an extension of her personality – cheerful, vibrant, no-nonsense, earthy, indecisive… One look at what she’s wearing, how her office desk looks like or how she’s kept her house can tell volumes about her. She has colours and outfits to complement her gloomy days, happy days, ‘no one understands me’ days or even fat days.
Yet, for some strange reason she has to put with accusations of being tough to understand, a mystery that no man can unravel. The bitter truth is, she knows exactly what she wants, but what she wants is too complicated for your simple mind to process.
Which is why, she can spend hours at the mall and still come back empty-handed because she refuses to settle for something unworthy of her attention. For you it’s a chore, for her it’s an expedition to explore and study the terrain, survey her many options, make careful sometimes heartbreaking decisions before going for the kill. If there are days she couldn’t be least bothered, it’s because she’s terribly bored. The days she’s feeling adventurous, she will surrender to her instincts and end up buying something deliciously sinful to pamper herself.
For her, his ‘surprises’ are not merely gifts. They are manifestations of how much you understand and cherish her. So, even a bunch of Frangipanis you scooped up from the garden for her because you know how much she loves their fragrance, can make her giggle like a school girl and the most expensive perfume you picked up from Duty Free can make her frown because you have no idea how much she hates musk.
And you still wonder why she’s so difficult to please?
If you still want to take the risk of surprising her, I suggest you look at her not as a wife, mother of your children or a daughter to your parents but as the woman you fell in love with.
She's perfectly capable of taking care of her needs. So, he shouldn’t give her what she needs but, rather, give her what she wants.
Thankfully for me, the husband never paid to heed to my diktat and keeps surprising me with his deep understanding of me. The gifts are incidental.