He's Had It With Buying Her Jewels

Q: My wife and I are about to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary. She has always appreciated expensive gifts like jewelry and trips, but I thought it might be more meaningful to make a significant donation to a local charity that we have supported for many years. We live very comfortably and the idea of buying one more "thing" feels frivolous when we could make a real statement to honor our marriage. I'm afraid she won't feel the same way. — Charles, 56

Dr. Susan: I am so fully with you on this, Charles. I find it obscene that people spend endless sums on things they don't need while there is so much misery in the world. As the two of you have already been supporting this local charity, it makes sense to find a way to combine your happy celebration with additional support for the charity. Perhaps there would be a way to buy the charity something solid for the office, or in some other way have the anniversary honored concretely? I'm thinking of the way people install a bench with their loved one's name engraved on it. That might ease your wife's potential disappointment that you don't want to buy her an expensive gift this time. After 30 years together, it's certainly time to talk openly about your values. At the very least, she might propose a compromise, something she could enjoy and show off that is much less pricey than usual, the rest being shared with your charity. Better to talk ahead of time so she knows what's in your mind. It's not as if you're suggesting she give a kidney to a needy person.

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