Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Gifting the Queen

In this gift-giving season, I often feel like the Little Drummer Boy— too poor to buy a respectable present for the newborn King. Or, in my case, for my wife Queen.

I dream of extravagant romantic Christmas gifts for her. Like on the TV commercial with the new Lexus parked in the driveway wrapped in a red satin bow.

We have a friend who, on special occasions, has whisked his bride off to London for a theatrical opening, or to Paris for just a romantic weekend getaway.

What a rush that must be, for knight and queen! Like Sir Francis Drake returning from a profitable voyage and laying his treasure at the slippered foot of Queen Bess.

Romantic fantasyland, perhaps. But all of contemporary husbands have these opportunities in miniature, on holidays and every day, chances for gift-giving to our Queens. Gifts small and large. As one husband confessed to Lady Misato: “I'm always looking for ways to surprise her, from bringing home flowers or little gifts or taking her out to a play and dinner.”

But the grand gift—the airline ticket, the turquoise Tiffany box—are definitely off the menu for me and many other wife-led hubbies. It happened because we opted for another grand and extravagant gift—signing the paperwork to have our paychecks direct-deposited into our wives’ private accounts.

I will never forget the dizzying high of taking that plunge. One husband described it this way: “Relinquishing total financial control to a loving, trusted spouse provides a base thrill, like taking your hands off the steering wheel while going 75 m.p.h., knowing that your life will be controlled by another, to such detail as decided upon by the dominant partner.”

Some wives feel the same way. Beckie Sue, author of several guest posts here, confides her feelings after telling her husband that she wanted his paycheck deposited into her private account:

“After that conversation, my stomach was churning, maybe with some fear, but mostly with excitement. Total financial control over your husband is many times more powerful than control over everything else. I walked away with a real high, like on drugs.”

It is a grand gesture: “Take everything I have, my Queen!” That was my plea, and I was overjoyed that she accepted it. And I’ve never regretted it since. I’ve been inconvenienced, embarrassed, even shamed on occasion by a lack of funds. But no regrets.

Still, the question remains, what to do on my Queen’s birthday, and Christmas, and Valentine’s, and our anniversary? With the small occasional allowance I receive from my wife, even minor extravagances are impossible.

A work colleague gets two-dozen roses delivered to her desk every birthday and Valentine’s by her husband. They’re beautiful, she feels special, and I feel so envious! I can’t do that for my Queen.

Over the years, I’ve asked other wife-led husbands about this dilemma. Here are a few responses, starting with Au876 (from Lady Misato’s original Wife Worship Forum):

“This is in reply to your question of how I could buy my wife expensive gifts. I can't. There is no way possible because I do not have free access to any remotely large sum of money. Yes, if she wants something, she buys it and I must say she does not hesitate to splurge on herself. Before she took control of the finances I would buy her expensive gifts from time to time. She appreciated them but often exchanged them for what she really wanted.

“Now she buys what she really wants. But the big plus is how much more she appreciates the gifts I do buy for her. It may be an inexpensive sweater, some new underwear, candy or even flowers from time to time, but she knows I have had to save back from my allowance to make the purchase and she knows I have given up some pleasures for myself to please her. She seems to appreciate them much more than she did expensive gifts that caused me little hardship.”

And here’s another guy in the same financial straits: “Since I am on an allowance, it is difficult to save up to buy the presents that I’d like to get my wonderful wife, but the ones that I do buy, like flowers or other inexpensive items, makes her much happier. She sees me scrimping; trying to save over a couple of weeks to scrape up about $10, my efforts to keep the gift a surprise all have made her happier with what I get for her. And I get such a feeling of accomplishment, and pride at doing something to please her.”

Good advice, but I can’t seem to save back anything from my husbandly allowance. When I do have a $5 or $10 bill in my wallet, or even a $20, one or both of my kids will “need” it—and I’m back to penury.

So, I have to ask her permission to use the credit card which she lets me carry to buy her a present. But, with money tight, she usually vetoes any extravagance, suggesting practical and inexpensive items. A new art calendar from Staples for her office. A new pillow case cover from Target.

Get the picture. I kneel before my queen, sweep my plumed hat in a courtly gesture, and lay before her two gift-wrapped packages worth perhaps $10. This ceremony, thanks to her discretion, is usually performed in private, not when she is opening costly gifts from friends and family.

Of course, there’s the kind of personal gift that the Little Drummer Boy came up with—a gift of one’s talent. This is what I usually end up doing. Printing out amusing little coupons for her next pedicure or massage. Writing her a sonnet or creating her a DVD with love scenes taken from YouTube romantic video clips.

If I had other artistic talents—like ceramics and watercolors, say—I might give her one of those do-it-yourself “I Love You, Mom” pots or paintings that kids bring home from school on Mother’s Day.

Beckie Sue’s paycheckless husband came up with his own gift-giving solution. He volunteers to work occasional Saturdays, telling her that she should use the money “to buy something special, that I show him so he knows what his overtime bought me.”

A part-time job is another possibility for financing a special gift to one’s beloved. This method figured in a memorable letter to Elise Sutton some years back. Alas, the extravagant surprise gift backfired:

“Finally, to top off our perfect evening, I produced a small wrapped package; a gift I'd researched for a month and couldn't wait to give Her. She opened the package and found a diamond and platinum toe ring and a matching anklet, a perfect match to Her belly ring. She realized how expensive these were and asked how I'd gotten the money for this. My paychecks are all deposited in an account in Her name. I am given an allowance for expenses, especially when She travels, but she realized that even if I didn't eat for a week, I couldn't have afforded this. I proudly told Her that I'd gotten a part-time job at night in a jewelry store, which allowed me to buy the gift at a discount.

“It was a beautiful evening, which I thought was perfect but she didn't seem pleased with my gift. Her face registered first hurt and then anger… {In fact,} I'd never seen Her this angry. She told me of her displeasure with me for taking an extra job without her permission. So much for our perfect evening! She is still angry with me but I will do my best to make it up to her.”

Elise’s comment: “You should have realized that she would not be happy about you making such an important decision without consulting her.”

Go figure!

If all this seems slightly out-of-balance, I agree, it is. But not the way it might appear to someone outside a wife-led marriage. For husbands living this blessed life in the Queen’s service, it seems we have been given the ultimate reward. As one man wrote to Elise Sutton:

“By submitting to my wife, I have been given the greatest gift of all. Each day I wake up and thank God I am me.”