by David Sisler

Working in retail can be a frustrating occupation at this time of the year, but it is the way I have chosen to earn my share of the Sisler family's income for 13 of the last 14 Christmas seasons. One thing that continually puzzles me, however, is the wife who greets her husband's "perfect gift" with the comment, "It doesn't go with anything else I have," or "It just isn't me."

As a husband, I will make an astonishing admission (for myself and every man who will allow me the liberty). Men are usually lousy shoppers and we frequently have lousy taste. I know most of the time the "bring-it- backers" swap their husband's gift for something else, meaning we still "make the sale." But as long as I sell to men, I will always remember one particular husband who, accompanied by his wife, returned the item he had purchased with enormous pride, not too many days earlier. He was so disappointed because she did not like it, that I immediately authorized a return. I made no attempt to show them anything else.

I thought, "Lady, would it have hurt you to have worn it once or twice and then lost it in the back of your sock drawer?" Evidently, her fashion sense was more important than her husband's ego.

So, for that husband, and husbands everywhere, I offer the following shopping list. It contains only three items, but I guarantee she will keep each of them.

This year for Christmas, give your wife your affection, and keep it up for the rest of your lives. For the guys who say, "I am just not the affectionate type," you may be telling the truth, but showing affection can be learned.

You can show affection with your words. Give her a steady diet of compliments. You say you are not good with words? Dust off your Bible. Turn to the Old Testament, the Song of Solomon, and read chapter four. If you don't get a few ideas there about how to compliment your wife, you may indeed be hopeless in this department.

You can show affection by your actions. Plan some things that show her you are thinking of her even when you are not with her. Slip a handwritten note into her purse. Interrupt her day with an affectionate phone call. She may be so overcome with joy and shock, that you'll have to send for the paramedics, but it will be worth the risk.

Gift number two: give your wife your honesty and openness. A good place to start is by determining that when you talk to her, it will be something more than, "Honey, get up and get me another drink." Your wife needs to hear the words which come from your inside, secret places. She should know you better than she knows anyone else in the world. An old proverb says, "An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips." Honesty produces closeness in any relationship, especially marriage. Solomon said, "The Lord detests lying lips, but he delights in men who are truthful." So do wives.

My third suggestion for your Christmas list is that you give your wife your total commitment. You had a score of friends and buddies before you met her, but you did not marry them. Your wife is, or should be, the most important person in your life. If you spend more time with your old pals than you do with her, you are hanging out with the wrong crowd.

You know that little cutie at work who thinks you are just so clever, so manly? You remember. She is the one who is always perky because she does not have a husband who pays more attention to other people than he does to her. She is the one who does not have a herd of kids clamoring around her ankles, demanding her constant attention. While both women are fresh in your mind, check in on another of the Bible's proverbs: "A man who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself."

The dictionary's definition of despair, anger, and hurt, will never equal the look in your wife's eyes if she learns that you did not mean it when you promised her, and God, you would forsake all others and keep only unto her. If you ever cross that line, receiving your wife's forgiveness will be one hundred times easier than forgiving yourself.

I have one other gift suggestion. You cannot buy it. You cannot give it. You can only receive it. And you do not have to wait until Christmas morning. This gift is from God, the gift of eternal salvation through his only Son, Jesus.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 11/28/98

Copyright 1998 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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