I grew up with two brothers, so I know chances are you haven't done your Christmas shopping yet.
That's OK; my husband hasn't done his yet either. One of my brothers still does all his shopping on Christmas Eve.
I also happen to know men who long to get the perfect gift for their wives. The challenge is, you may not know what that is.
Stakes are high. I've watched my brothers gaze across at the jewelry store, and even the lingerie shop, trying to screw up the courage to go in. Sometimes they've messed up.
The new vacuum cleaner and the big television set just didn't cut it. I must say, though, that my nephew really scored when he bought a pink .22-calibre rifle for his new wife — but she's got to be one in a million.
The most luxurious gift your partner will ever receive from you is your full and loving attention. Believe it or not — that's what your wife wants more than anything in the world.
She wants to hear that she's the most important person in your life. Oh, and yes, she'd probably appreciate some help with the dishes, too.
Here are some things you can do to have your partner swooning in your arms this Christmas, and all year long. These ideas are rooted in the work of leading marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman, who has identified what successful couples do that sustain their relationship over many years, even in times of stress and conflict.
• Appreciate her — notice all of the things your partner does, and tell her. Simple expressions of appreciation, like, "thanks for making these yummy Christmas cookies," "you really look fabulous tonight," and "I really enjoyed our conversation at dinner" go a long way.
• Stay emotionally connected – Every day, ask her something like, "How was your day today?" No need to give advice, or try to fix it for her. Just listen to her successes, concerns, stresses, and frustrations. Show genuine interest, let her know that you understand, and express affection. Let her know that you're on her team.
• Make some memories – Cuddle up with your partner, make some popcorn, and watch your favourite old movies. Grab some skis or snowshoes and head up the mountain together. Take a thermos of hot chocolate, and go for a long walk at the beach. Make breakfast in bed for your partner. Cook a special dinner together.
Sing an old love song to her. Not a singer? Even better — she'll love that you're singing especially for her.
• Ask your partner what her dreams are — We all have dreams, but sometimes they get lost in the business of everyday life. Ask her, "If you could do anything — or go anywhere – what would it be?" What are the most important things in your life right now?" Then begin helping to turn her dreams into reality.
• Help out at home — There are lots of practical things you can do to show your partner how important she is to you. Offer to help with the Christmas baking (even if it's just the tasting!), wrapping presents, and shopping. Carve the turkey. Fill her car with fuel, and run it through the car wash. Scrub the toilets and take out the garbage — without being asked.
While you're at it, show some affection to your partner. Hold each other, laugh together, have some fun with even the everyday tasks.
What your wife wants is really very simple. She wants you to appreciate her, understand her, and show her how much you love her.
These are the gifts that money cannot buy. They are the gifts that create relationships that last a lifetime. The jewelry, crystal, and comfy pajamas are wonderful gestures.
Just remember to wrap them tenderly with love. Along with a handwritten note listing 10 qualities you love and cherish about your partner.
Ladies, just in case you're reading this article — these suggestions are just as good for husbands and partners, too.
Wishing you all a very merry Christmas,
Frances Ferguson, MEd, is a registered clinical counsellor in private practice in Courtenay who specializes in working with couples. You can reach her at 250-871-7303 or firstname.lastname@example.org.