Problem Gift Giving

Q: My wife and I have three kids and have been married for 8 years. There are tons of birthdays, anniversaries and holidays to pay for in our lives. She always wants to do something for my birthday, and we often buy gifts and have nice dinners for each other's birthdays. We have been tight on money the past couple of months, and I don't want her to have to buy me anything for my birthday, especially since it's often things I don't need. Bottom line, I want to eliminate the expectation that we should be buying each other useless things without hurting her feelings. -Carl, 39

Dr. Anna: For some people, gifts are a form of expression of love. There are more ways to express love than spending money, though. Rope your wife in on the idea, and see if you can get her on board. You might suggest doing fun homemade gifts, a contest to see who can give the best gift for the least amount of money, or arranging time together in place of gifts. Talk to her about how you've been feeling and see if you can come up with a solution together.

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