The internet has slammed a “cruel” husband for not buying his wife any gifts this Christmas.
In a post on U.K.-based discussion site Mumsnet, user Albanyriver asked: “Am I unreasonable to be really upset that my husband has not bought me anything from himself or our pre-school aged child for me for Christmas?”
She added: “I know he doesn’t have any grand surprise planned, it’s not his style.”
Relationship expert and creator of interactive online dating game show The Game Show of Love, Emma Mankey Hidem, told Newsweek: “While it can be easy for those of us who don’t care so much about gifts to dismiss those who do as ‘materialistic,’ gifts are one of the five love languages. For those not familiar with the concept of the five love languages, the idea is that they are the ways couples give and receive affection in a relationship, and people have different preferences for how they prefer to give and receive love. The five love languages are: physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, quality time, and, of course, gifts.”
For this mom, feeling the absence of gifts during the festive season, the missing love language was clearly a problem.
“His reason is ‘I buy you stuff during the year when I see it,’ such as the odd pair of £20-30 (about $36) earrings, flowers when they are reduced in the supermarket,” she wrote. “We aren’t so hard up that he can’t afford to spend money on me at Christmas. He can afford to spend money on smoking and had over £600 ($720) in back pay in November’s wage….it isn’t he can’t afford to buy me anything.”
In comments on the discussion post, others sided with the mom.
“Did you not hint?” asked one Mumsnet user. “Disappointing yes.”
Another wrote: “I hope you aren’t giving him anything!! That is really cruel of him, surely he can get one small thoughtful gift.”
“Gifts aren’t just a material thing. A well-thought-out gift shows that the person knows you and cares enough to put in the effort,” said Mankey Hidem. “And then it’s a physical memento to remind you of that fact whenever you look at it. Just because someone prioritizes gifts as a love language does not mean they are materialistic.”
Another Mumsnet user recalled: “My selfish ex was exactly the same. Was happy enough to open presents and cards for his birthday or Christmas or Father’s Day but almost never got me a single thing.”
“He’s being thoughtless, especially because he knows it matters to you. The idea you should lower the bar because other men don’t do anything is awful,” said another reply. “We need to stop excusing men behaving like this.”
“Much like any other aspect of a relationship, I don’t advocate for any standard practice of gift-giving—it’s something the couple should tailor to their relationship needs,” said Mankey Hidem. “In this case, it seems that gifts are a very important receiving love language for this woman. However, people are not mind-readers and so she needs to express how she feels about the importance of receiving gifts during the holidays to her husband.
“As with basically all problems in relationships, it boils down to communication,” she added. “The more clearly you communicate, even though it can be awkward at times, the better. I saw some commenters saying, ‘did you not hint?’ Forget hinting. Seriously, be blunt. Don’t dance around it. Just because you understand certain social cues, doesn’t mean you can expect everyone to. Just be straightforward.”
Newsweek was not able to verify the details of the case.
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Update 12/27/2022, 7:23 a.m. ET: This article was updated to include a new picture.