How to show appreciation to a husband?
August 9, 2006 6:20 AM   Subscribe

What can a wife do to demonstrate appreciation and affection for her husband?

I'm looking for the equivalent of sending surprise flowers or other romantic gestures for my husband... but everything I can find seems to be with a female recipient in mind. Guys, what sweet or thoughtful or otherwise nice things can the girl in your life do to show you she cares? Actions large and small, simple and extravagant all welcome.

Here's my deal: I'm closing in on the last couple of months of pregnancy with our second child. My husband has been a real hero in terms of coping with my hormonal irrationality and fatigue-driven uselessness. Seriously, the man is a real star. How do I make certain he knows how much I value him, and what he's doing, and our family in general?

We've been together for around ten years. The marriage isn't in any trouble, but having a baby is a big stressor, so I think it behooves me to work hard to keep it that way. :) Ideas that would work both now and ongoing into the post-pregnancy future would be very welcome.

My limitations: Ugh, time, energy, money. My present state of soul-crushing fatigue makes it hard for me to get through a simple trip to buy a loaf of bread, so bear this in mind (though it will go away... eventually.) We also have obligations to our jobs and to our older child. Finding babysitting is really hard for us. We do usually have a few hours together after kiddie bedtime, but suggestions like "surprise weekend getaway" aren't really viable. I can certainly spend some money, but we're talking nice-dinner-out money and not fantasy-baseball-camp money.

About my husband: He's... a fairly normal family man, I think. :) Definitely on the geeky side, though not so far-gone as I am. Likes baseball, poker, sundry Xbox games. White-collar office job, something of a musician. Not so much into tools or suchlike.

If anyone has questions for me, I've set up a throwaway account at Thanks!
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (53 answers total) 34 users marked this as a favorite
A pair of Baseball tickets. If you want them delivered to his office, then arrange with a local delivery restaurant and send over some lunch or a snack platter that he can share.
posted by Gungho at 6:29 AM on August 9, 2006

A hand-written note detailing what you've written here. Emphasize how much you realize how hard he's been working, and tell him that you're looking forward to having husband-wife time once things get back to (reasonably) normal. Maybe get a little naughty in what you say. He needs to know that you still think of him as a man and husband, not just as a great dad and the guy who's keeping the household shit together.

Then mail it to him, stamp and all, either to his office or to your home.

Oh, and good luck!
posted by shallowcenter at 6:33 AM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

The way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Make a special meal, or bring him an unexpected ice-cream sundae. I would love you if you did it for me.
posted by Roger Dodger at 6:36 AM on August 9, 2006

Does he have any "guy" interests that he wishes you shared but didn't? I'm a big movie buff (I know that's not traditionally just a male thing) and my wife is less so. But when I go to see a movie, I really want her to come with me, because if I'm really enthusiastic about about something, I want to share it with her. So it thrills me when she says, "let's go see a movie." I know she's doing it mostly for me. So maybe you could go to a game with your husband, play poker with him (or let him teach you poker, if you don't know it), spend a day playing xbox games with him, etc.

Another thing I LOVE is when my wife gives me a gift certificate. My guess is that more men like this than women. (Please, don't throw stones -- I know I'm generalizing.) Most of the women I've met would rather know that someone spent a long time picking out a gift for them, and I understand why that's nice, but I would rather get a gift certificate to CompUSA, the Apple Store, or some other geeky paradise. I guess it's some male "I must be in control and independent" thing, but I love to pick out what I want myself. And I also love not paying for it. With an Amazon gift certificate, I got the complete "New Yorker" on DVDs. And -- even though she didn't pick it out -- I think of my wife every time I use it.

By the way, I also like getting flowers. They're not just for girls.

If he's stressed, why not buy him a massage?

If you're liberal enough (and he's into this sort of thing), you could buy him a stripper.
posted by grumblebee at 6:42 AM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

I second Roger Dodger's "stomach" remark. I love it when my wife cooks me all my favorite foods (especially since I usually do the cooking). If she doesn't feel like cooking, I also like coming home to find all my favorite store-bought treats laid out on the table.

But I REALLY second shallowcenter's comment. Write a note! Write a not! Do this in addition to anything else. It's rare for most guys to actually hear -- or see in writing -- that they are appreciated and loved.
posted by grumblebee at 6:45 AM on August 9, 2006

I think the letter idea is really nice enough.
posted by chunking express at 6:50 AM on August 9, 2006

Flowers. I love them. Notes. I love them. If you can find a way to get two hours totally blocked out, do the things that you would like to have done to you. More than anything, with a man, the best thing you can do is tell him how important what he does is. Guys are suprisingly good at direct communication when prompted. He'd love to hear how important he is.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:50 AM on August 9, 2006

posted by orthogonality at 6:51 AM on August 9, 2006

It should be a suprise, whatever you do.
posted by Ironmouth at 6:52 AM on August 9, 2006

I hope not to offend you, and I'm not kidding: A blowjob says it all.
posted by poppo at 6:55 AM on August 9, 2006

There are good ideas in here but everyone is missing the obvious.
It's difficult for women to understand this: While flowers, gifts and compliments make a woman feel how they want to feel - appreciated and loved, there is one simple thing that makes a man feel how we want to feel - appreciated, loved and desired. And that thing is sex.
Do something you have never done before, but you know he wishes you would do. If you don't have any ideas, watch a porno.
posted by bradn at 6:56 AM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Well, I wasn't going to say it but I was thinking the same thing as poppo.

That said, I second the idea of cooking him an awesome meal first. Then what poppo said.
posted by Justinian at 6:58 AM on August 9, 2006

Believe me, my mind was in the gutter right alongside poppo's, bradn's, and Justinian's, but if anon is anything like Mrs. Shallow Center, the last couple of months of pregnancy aren't very conducive to that kind of action. Hence the notion of reminding anon's hub that even though she can't these days, she misses it and looks forward to it in the future.
posted by shallowcenter at 7:00 AM on August 9, 2006

A hand written note would be best. Since nobody writes anymore it would be quite special to receive such a note.
posted by caddis at 7:02 AM on August 9, 2006

(You didn't mention alcohol, so skip me if it doesn't apply)

My ideal thank-you gift is a nice, aged bottle of scotch, a unique scotch glass to sip it from and a handwritten note telling me why I am receiving such a gift. I love to sip the scotch before bed and relax into the love of the person giving it to me, better than most massages.
posted by iurodivii at 7:03 AM on August 9, 2006

Order nice stuff to be delivered to his work - a CD or a book or something. Small, random stuff that he would probably want to get for himself if he thought of it (DVDs of TV series you used to watch, stuff like that).
posted by handee at 7:17 AM on August 9, 2006

Justinian has it.
posted by bshort at 7:19 AM on August 9, 2006

I must say, a blowjob sprang/launched itself/leapt to mind for me as well.
posted by pollystark at 7:22 AM on August 9, 2006

I went through the same thing last year with my wife, and if I can provide a semi-rant, then a suggestion ...

I bristled at the suggestion that "I was doing such a good job" dealing with the pregnancy. Why? That's my fucking job! It's what I'm supposed to do. That was my son incubating in there and my wife that was doing the vast majority of the heavy lifting, physically and metaphorically. My support was minor compared to what she went through. If my seven-months pregnant wife felt compelled to reward me for such actions, I'd be downright embarrassed.

That said, tell him how much you appreciate all that he's done to make you feel better, if you haven't already. Get him a massage at the local spa. If he turns it down, don't force it on him. You could probably use it yourself in a few months.
posted by clearlynuts at 7:37 AM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

This might be getting too philosophical, but before I recently got married I read a book called the Five Love Languages. It talks about how to express love properly. If you can figure out your husband's language it will help to properly express your appreciation. The only reason I thought of this is that if my wife bought me flowers I would think "neat, but I wish she wouldn't have wasted $50" because that's not how I want to feel appreciated. For you and him, maybe it's a gift, maybe it's a romantic night out, maybe it's a BJ...
posted by cebailey at 7:38 AM on August 9, 2006

p.s. I can't believe I'm trying to give out relationship advice.
posted by cebailey at 7:38 AM on August 9, 2006

I think a lot of people are forgetting that the OP has trouble just getting out to the store to get a loaf of bread (as she put it).

The two things I appreciate about getting flowers (or any gift) is the delivery, and the ability to say "Look what I got! I'm loved and appreciated in a visible way!"

Remember, presentation is key. And you are the one who knows your husband best.

(Congrats on the future-sprog!)
posted by cathoo at 7:41 AM on August 9, 2006

Let me ad another vote for a massage and a note.
While I agree, that it was my job to be there for my Wife when we were having our son, it's nice once in a while to get a thnk you :-)
posted by niteHawk at 7:53 AM on August 9, 2006

I hope not to offend you, and I'm not kidding: A blowjob says it all.

I agree, but in the interests of not being glib or flippant, I'll elaborate. :)

There's an author who has an interesting theory with a stupid name. He calls it "The Five Love Languages". His theory - in a nutshell - is that different people receive love in different ways. There are different things that make us feel loved. His five categories are:

1. Words of Affirmation: Compliments and verbal assurances.

2. Quality Time: Focused time with your loved one.

3. Receiving Gifts: Gadgets, basketball tickets, etc.

4. Acts of Service: Having his car detailed, etc.

5. Physical Touch: The aforementioned blowjob, and so on.

The trick is to figure out, based on what you know about your husband, which of the five categories he falls into. Once you've done that, it becomes easier to figure out the sort of thing that would make him feel loved and cherished.

Like I said, it's an interesting theory with a stupid name. Applying it in my own marriage yielded many positive results.

Good luck!
posted by DWRoelands at 7:53 AM on August 9, 2006 [4 favorites]

...and dang. CeBailey beat me to the punch while I was prattling on. :)
posted by DWRoelands at 7:54 AM on August 9, 2006

Tell him. Be frank and honest and tell him how much you appreciate his help when you're incapacitated/whatever. So much more meaningful than $$$ in the form of a gift.
posted by The Michael The at 7:55 AM on August 9, 2006

baby's due in two months, right?
the PS3 is due in little more than three months, November 17. get him a gift certificate for a console and a couple of games -- he'll look forward to it, and he'll be more motivated to stay up all night playing + changing the baby while you get a chance to sleep.

congratulations for the new baby and good luck

also I'm not suggesting the blowjob because I'm hoping it's not something like a rare incredible unexpected treat for your husband, but more of a normal activity

if it's not, then a blow job. it's certainly cheaper than a PS3
posted by matteo at 7:58 AM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Nth-ing Flowers. The guys at work will tease him a little and he'll love every minute of it, because he knows they're jealous. Make sure you enclose a nice card explaining why he's awesome.
posted by desuetude at 8:04 AM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

How about a handwritten note and a $20 gift certificate for something he really enjoys that you don't particularly care for. (A restaurant, an online music or other service, etc.)
The idea behind the gift certificate is that it's a way of pledging your joint funds to something just for him, and that can be a nice gesture. Wherever you want the certificate from, you can just call on the phone and have it mailed to you or a helpful neighbor or friend (to keep it a surprise).
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 8:10 AM on August 9, 2006

I don't want to speak for all men, but sex is clearly at the top of my list of things that make everything else right. It wraps up all kinds of feelings of affirmation and appreciation in one handy package. I certainly enojy tokens of appreciation like kind words or notes, but I have to admit that sex is much more effective. For good or bad, feeling that my wife lusts after me signifies all the other good feelings in my simple-minded brain. If you are going to go for words of appreciation instead of blowjobs, I think a written note on a card conveys much more of an impression than just saying it. Flowers do nothing for me, personally.

For instance, if I was attending some lame function with her that I might not pick for myself and she whispered "You are such a great guy, thanks for supporting me." in my ear, I'd be pleased. If she whispered "You make me so hot. I'd love to get out of here and boink you until you forget your name." in my ear, I'd feel just as pleased about my good deed and better about everything else besides.

If I force myself to think about things other than sex, I'd say that I value acts that enable me to do things I love would be more appreciated than things. Freeing up time so that I could indulge in my hobbies or making arrangements to get my friends together or something of that ilk. The key is my wife going to some trouble to make sure that something I enjoy happens. The details come from her knowing me and what I like to do, so I can't help you beyond that.
posted by Lame_username at 8:12 AM on August 9, 2006

Not flowers, for me; they're too boring and a waste of money, so if my wife gave me a bunch I'd assume she wanted the flowers herself.

... just so you know not everyone agrees over flowers. But I'd love a plant to grow in the garden, or tools, food, some music, or a massage, or most anything else.
posted by anadem at 8:16 AM on August 9, 2006

How about a gift certificate for a massage, with a note that says "PS - Come home for your happy ending."
posted by Sprout the Vulgarian at 8:23 AM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Give him a good day when he can have some quality alone time. Write him a note saying basically everything you've said here, and put together a lavish but not necessarily expensive gift basket containing all his favorite treats and munchies (Trader Joe's is good). Make him a huge sub with his favorite meats and cheeses, have an ice cold six-pack of his favorite beer in the fridge, and an Xbox game/CD's that he's been pining for. Then kiss him, tell him you're going to be spending the whole day with your parents or friends, and you're taking the kid with you. Let him kick back, be lazy, and enjoy his goodies all day without worrying about any responsibilities or chores. When you're kissing him goodbye, bite his ear lobe, and whisper something dirty in his ear; tell him he's going to be getting some extra racy loving at a specific time that evening (and stick to it, on time!). Oh, and for bonus points, go all out to make yourself look extra hot that night, with thick almost trashy make up, sexy hairdo, negligee with stockings and suspenders etc., and even heels. Rowwwr!
posted by Devils Slide at 8:28 AM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Show him this post - His head will explode with pleasure at the fact that you are thinking about him and spending time and effort to show him how much he means.

Bonus is he can pick from this list!
posted by twistedonion at 8:39 AM on August 9, 2006

Not just a blowjob, a blowjob in the morning. Like, wake him up with it. That's the best thing ever.
posted by borkingchikapa at 8:50 AM on August 9, 2006

I asked a similar question just last year, and loved the responses I got. A lot have been covered here, but in case you want to read through them here it is.

I usually leave little notes, or send him cute emails. Food is definitely big for my guy, I left him a short limerick once with a bag of his favorite candy, he absolutely loved that. But even suggesting I order us some take out from his favorite place gets him excited, so...

I think little surprises are the key though, do something nice that he's not expecting and I'm sure he'll appreciate it.
posted by sarahmelah at 9:06 AM on August 9, 2006

Anonymous: My wife and I also have 10 years and 2 children. But you know your mate, and I don't. DWRoelands is probably right: You'll want to try to identify the things that your mate will value, rather than hear about the things that other mefiers would want.

As for me, I can't think of any material gift that I've ever received that means as much to me as my wife's written or spoken appreciation, stated plainly and directly. Of course oral appreciation (rather than verbal) is also fun, as some are suggesting, but, after 10 years, you might easily feel that it's not especially novel, or not a signifier of the message you want to convey. I suspect that some of the posters here have not been in a 10-year relationship.

I would be pretty unhappy to see my third-trimester-pregnant wife in the kitchen slaving over a dinner for me. And that's even if she could find a baby sitter, which you say is not easy in your case.

For purchased gifts, if that's where you're going, I'd most appreciate something out of the ordinary, something that wasn't on my own to-buy list: An old, out-of-print book on a subject that interests him; a framed New Yorker cartoon that resonates; tickets to a concert for the two of you, if that's something you never do; a guided tour of some historical district for for you and three other couples, on a date to be determined; professional portrait photographs of you and your child.

But these sorts of things take the time, energy, and/or money that you say are in short supply. You should not feel that they're necessary. They're not.

Similarly, my feeling about gift certificates is different from some of the others here. My wife and I can each spend our money without the other's permission (at least for ordinary-magnitude expenditures). Why on earth would I want a gift certificate paid for with my own money?

On the other hand, it can be fun to make your own gift "certificates" for things such as One Night Out At the Movies By Yourself (if he'd like that), or Three Saturday Mornings to Sleep Late While I Take the Kids Out Of the House (I'm sure he'd like that).

I'd go with the note, with or without anything else that you think he'd appreciate.
posted by Dave 9 at 9:06 AM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sarahmelah reminded me: geeks often love candy and junk food. How about some of the candy he ate as a kid?
posted by wryly at 9:35 AM on August 9, 2006

Depending on quite how geeky he is-- get him a toy. Like, a Star Wars action figure, or a Bionicle (sp?), or whatever. Whenever I get my husband stuff like that he's pretty psyched. And I don't get the vintage stuff, just whatever seems cool that's at Target.
posted by miss tea at 9:51 AM on August 9, 2006

I keep a note my wife wrote me in my wallet... a sincere note and whatever sexual acts you know will delight him seem like a great pairing. I know a lot of the guys in this thread are either being crass or embarrassed, but you're married for pete's sake -- expressing feelings sexually is completely appropriate.
posted by anildash at 10:30 AM on August 9, 2006

Not flowers, for me; they're too boring and a waste of money

In Toronto there's a company that delivers "cookie bouquets". Apparently they have one called a "menage a trois" and I am DYING to see what that looks like. If your husband likes sweets having something like that might be more up his alley than flowers.
posted by orange swan at 10:47 AM on August 9, 2006

If you're short on money and you know there's something small-ish that he's been wanting but hasn't had the heart to buy (sometimes I agonize over buying books or CDs or video games -- I think we all do), order him a few of those little somethings off Amazon and have them sent to his office with a little note.

You could just spend, say, $40, and yet get him a nice assortment of two or three little things he likes.
posted by brina at 11:06 AM on August 9, 2006

My honey is a geek & introvert and really appreciates his alone time. One of the best presents I could give him is a drink and two hours' alone time.

So I guess that'd trasnlate to a "Babysit the kids so they stay outta your hair" coupon.
posted by Pocahontas at 11:15 AM on August 9, 2006

I want to third cebailey and dwroelands' suggestion on The Five Love Languages and frankly wish I'd been the first post of all of them to say it. I can't tell you enough how incredible my sense of love perception has been transformed because of this book. In fact, you two reading it together to discover your own languages, as a team and for good discussion, might even make it really hit home.
posted by vanoakenfold at 11:50 AM on August 9, 2006

Food. Sex. Ask him.
posted by JamesMessick at 11:52 AM on August 9, 2006

and a handwritten note telling me why I am receiving such a gift.

Whatever it is you do, don't forget this part. You don't have to be flowery and syrupy; understate it (while clearlynuts is clearly nuts, understatement goes a long way, at least with me), but do make sure the message isn't missed.
posted by baylink at 11:54 AM on August 9, 2006

Ask him

I have to say I'm divided on that sentiment. Part of the *point* of this sort of thing is the subtext that you know your partner well enough to *know* what would ring their chimes -- though perhaps women appreciate that aspect of it more than men; I know *I* pay attention to it.
posted by baylink at 12:04 PM on August 9, 2006

Rather than a bouquet of flowers that will be gone within a week or twos time, I've found that a beautiful potted orchid is so much better. They bloom for months, are unique and it's something he'll literally have for years.
I sent one to my then new boyfriend some eight years ago and he still has it, and several others, to this day. Each time he looks at it he'll think of you with a special memory of your pregnancy with little (insert name).
This, and a loving note should express exactly what you want to say.
posted by SoftSummerBreeze at 12:41 PM on August 9, 2006

In my experience, it's the one thing that he asks you to do regularly despite knowing it drives you nuts and that you hate doing.

Just once, do it without being asked and with a smile of love on your face and you'll be there.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 1:27 PM on August 9, 2006

I was going to chime in with what brina said.
I think everyone has a few things they'd love to have but would never spend the money on themselves because of perceived value or whatever.

As an example, I recently got my wife the remaining pieces of her 1976 McDonalds plastic plate collection.
She had Summer, but she needed Spring, Winter and Fall.
Now, she'd have never bought them herself because she'd have never spent about $8 each on some plastic plates, but clearly, since she'd kept the one she had since 1976, it meant a lot to her, and having the other ones just show up mid-week made her day.

Similarly, say your husband had a complete collection of Transformers (or whatever) when he was a kid. Complete for all but one. Find that one(it doesn't have to be mint condition or anything), write a loving note, and get a co-worker to drop it on his desk.

It'd be really great if you could tie into the new baby somehow. Maybe call his parents and see if there a particular rattle he has fond memories of, or a security blanket, or something.

Other things that would make me smile -
My wife buying me Cookie Crisp. It's one of my favorite cereals, but I won't buy it because it's overpriced. If a box showed up in the house, and my wife just said "Well, you deserve a treat", I'd be happy for that whole week(until the cereal ran out.).
My wife also bought a box of Thin Mints and stashed them until Girl Scout season was long over. Then one day, they showed up in the snack drawer at work with a note attached.
posted by madajb at 1:37 PM on August 9, 2006 [1 favorite]

If I could have my choice of gifts, it would be time off, alone. An afternoon, an evening, a whole day, whatever you can manage. I know that this is a very personal thing and some people seem to have no need for alone time at all, but it's what I would want.
posted by teleskiving at 6:58 AM on August 10, 2006

How about a Snack Bar Bouquet?
posted by caddis at 9:05 AM on August 10, 2006

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