Learn to wrap Christmas gifts

One of the surest ways to brighten your wife’s Christmas is to wrap her presents. Fortunately, the level of expectation for guys wrapping gifts is so incredibly low (think aluminum foil) that all you need to do is put forth a moderate amount of effort and she’ll think you’re friggin’ Santa Claus. Now, I am in no way even remotely competent when it comes to wrapping gifts, but I have picked up a few tricks throughout the years to at least be able to fake it. Here’s my standard method of wrapping, which definitely qualifies it for the ‘good enough’ category:

1. Roll out the wrapping paper and lay the gift face down on the paper. This way when you cut the paper to size the rough edges will be on the back of the gift, which she won’t see. If you’re really dedicated you can fold one side and then place that on top of the unfolded rough side to create the illusion of a smooth edge. Apply one piece of tape to hold the two cut ends together.
2. Cut off the excess paper on one end and push in the edges so you have two trapezoids sticking out of the top and bottom of the gift. Fold the top trapezoidal part in half (or however many times you need to make it fit), then fold half of the bottom edge onto itself and then fold that part on top of the first part. Again, the point is to create the illusion of a smooth seam. Apply tape and repeat on the other side.

OK, if you did everything right you should now have something that looks like a halfway decently wrapped gift using only three pieces of tape and with no visible rough edges showing.  Now it’s time for you to really prove your love.

3. Do something clever to decorate the wrapped gift. Either tie some ribbon around the gift, slap a bow on it, wrap some ribbon, just do something that shows you put some thought into it.  Don’t get too creative, just do something to show she is important enough to you that you’re willing to go the extra wrapping mile.
4. Put a label on it and write something cute. Don’t just put, “From Husband to Wife.” Put something like, “To a wonderful wife from a loving husband.” I guarantee she’ll start tearing up before she even opens the gift. (note: make sure the ‘to’ and ‘from’ line are appropriate to the gift. Don’t write something sappy if the gift doesn’t warrant it, otherwise she’ll end up expecting a piece of jewelry when you really got her a bowling ball.)

Finally, there is one cardinal rule that you must follow when wrapping gifts for if you violate this rule all your efforts will be wasted: Don’t mess up her gift wrapping kit. This rule will vary depending on how crafty your wife is, but odds are she has some sort of collection of wrapping paper, bows, ribbons, labels, etc. and since no married man has any of these things you’ll inevitably end up using hers. Make sure that when you’re done you put everything  back where you found it!  If your wife is organized enough to have a gift wrapping kit she won’t appreciate you messing everything up.  Many a Christmas’ have been ruined at the sight of ribbon being haphazardly placed in the bow tray. 

Well, there it is!  Everything I know about wrapping gifts.  Seriously.  That’s it.  Good luck to you and remember, unlike gifts, here it really is the thought that counts!

Published in: on December 14, 2009 at 11:47 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Buy her flowers when she’s not expecting them

Any putz can buy a woman flowers on valentine’s day or her birthday or your anniversary. It takes a real romantic to buy her flowers when she’s not expecting it! Did she have to go out-of-town for a last-minute business trip? Did she call you at work to tell you how bad a day she’s having? Where you coming home and saw a guy selling flowers by the metro and you just decided to pick up a bouquet? This is the stuff that women eat up! Remember, women appreciate the thought you put into something more than the actual product – it’s how we get away with doing a crappy job when doing the laundry! The key is to be spontaneous and unpredictable. If she starts expecting flowers every time she goes away on a trip you’ll find yourself trapped having to always buy flowers, and the one time you don’t she’ll wonder why, which leads down a road you don’t want anything to do with! Just make it a point to every now and then buy her flowers for no reason other than you want to show her how much you care about her. I guarantee you’ll find that her appreciation will be far greater than when you get her flowers because that’s what’s expected of you that particular day of the year. The flowers don’t have to be anything special – roses are nice and all that but they lose their value if that’s all you buy. Mix it up with seasonal bouquets (easier than you think – just pick up a pre-made bouquet at the grocery store on your way to the protein tub aisle) and you’ll keep the excitement factor where it needs to be, and then, once you’ve got her thinking she’ll never get roses again…Bam! Go ahead and hit her with two dozen long-stemmed red roses! (Note: don’t actually hit here with the roses, especially if they have thorns) She’ll go friggin’ nuts.

Published in: on December 8, 2009 at 2:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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Don’t take her for granted

When a married man starts to take his wife for granted he makes her feel unappreciated and unloved.  This can be a real problem as the moment a partner starts to feel that they are no longer loved they lose their motivation to put any effort into the marriage, which in turn angers the other partner, causing the other partner to grow more distant, and so on and so on.  The simple way to avoid this problem is, like most solutions, simply to not let it become a problem in the first place.  By continually reminding your wife that you appreciate all she does for you (and I guarantee she does more than you think) she will continue to feel validated, thereby ensuring she continues to do all those things that help your marriage run smoothly.  Showing your appreciation doesn’t need to take the form of any dramatic gesture (although it doesn’t hurt), it can be as simple as thanking her each time she makes dinner or does the dishes, publicly complementing her in front of your friends (“You should try [insert name of spouse and favorite dish here]!  It’s fantastic!)  Taking the time, even if it’s just a few seconds, to show her that you are appreciative of the time she puts into making your relationship work will go a long way to ensuring that she feels appreciated and loved.  No one wants to do the dishes, clean the house, or any of the other countless chores that need to be done, but those chores become a lot less of a burden if the person knows that their efforts are being noticed and valued.

Learn how to serve drinks

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A scene from "The Thin Man." Now that man knew how to mix a drink (and he got Myrna Loy as a result!)

Few things are more enjoyable or charming for a woman than coming home from a long, hard day at work, walking in the door, and finding you in the kitchen busily preparing her favorite drink. It conjures to mind images of 1940s glamour where every house came with a fully equipped bar and every man knew how to make his wife a good stiff drink. Now when I say ‘fix her a drink’ I don’t mean reaching into the fridge for whatever leftover beer you’ve got lying around. Any schmoe can crack open a beer, but it takes a loving husband to take the time to learn how to mix a cocktail. And no, that jungle juice crap you made in college does not count as a cocktail! A good cocktail, aside from helping your wife relax, serves the important purpose of showing your wife that you have moved on from the days when knowing how to fill a red plastic cup from a keg without too much foam was considered the height of class. Learning how to make a few simple cocktails will send a message to your wife that your sense of charm is maturing in a way that is appropriate for a married man. If your wife prefers beer to alcohol, fear not, just make sure that you buy good beer and serve it to her in a glass that you keep in the freezer, thereby ensuring the beer is nice and cold for her to enjoy. Regardless of what she prefers, the point is to make sure you serve it to her in a way that shows her that you are a sophisticated and caring guy, who just happens to know how to make a killer cocktail.

Published in: on November 2, 2009 at 5:06 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Always pour her wine first

Most women prefer wine over either beer or hard alcohol, in part for the taste but more so for the sophistication.  Women feel more cultured drinking a glass of wine than a beer and they feel that it’s more socially acceptable for a woman to drink a bottle of wine than a six-pack.  Add to that the fewer perceived calories and other ‘health benefits’ and it’s no wonder women prefer wine.  You can take advantage of this by educating yourself on the basics of wine and learning such basic skills as properly opening a bottle, decanting and how to order a bottle in a restaurant.  Doing so will give her the impression that you are highly cultured and sophisticated, which will increase her sense of attachment to you, especially when you go out with some friends to a nice restaurant and she can proudly hand you the wine menu and say, “Honey, why don’t you take care of the wine.”  Keep in mind that what she’s really saying to everyone at the table is, “My husband is more sophisticated than anyone else sitting here, so suck on that!”  

Now, if you’ve been guzzling cheep beer for the last five years you might find wine to be somewhat intimidating.  Fear not!  While wine can become infinitely complex, the basics are all you really need to learn.  Just familiarize yourself with the basic different pairings (white wine goes with fish and chicken, red goes with meat) and the major different types of grapes that are out there (pinot noir = light and fruity, cabernet sauvignon = heavier and fuller, merlot = middle of the road, shiraz/syrah = spicy) and the major different regions (France=old and heavy, Italy=old and heavy, Australia=young and spicy, California=young and flavorful) and the differences between them.  You don’t need to learn every single label, just know that if you’re having steak you want a heavy red from France, or if you’re having chicken you want a light white from Italy, etc.  If in doubt, ask the waiter what they recommend but make sure to lay out some boundaries, such as, “Can you recommend a good French wine to go with the Filet?”  This take the pressure off you having to decipher the menu but you still get credit for knowing something about wine.  As for ordering wine at restaurants, here are the basic steps:  

Ask everyone at the table what they are going to be eating, take the average (provided the foods are somewhat similiar otherwise you’re better off each getting your own glass), look on the wine menu, find the particular type of grape that will go well with what everyone is having, and pick the one that falls in the middle of the price range.  You don’t want to go with the cheapest but don’t pick the most expensive either.  Now comes the ordering part.  The hardest part about this is you have to walk a fine line between sophistication and total douche bag.  You have to take the tasting seriously enough to show the waiter you respect him and the restaurant, but at the same time you need to make sure you don’t give off the impression that you are a wine snob and are looking to show off your extensive knowledge of viticulture.  Here are the basic steps:  After the waiter brings the bottle he will hold it out for your inspection.  Look at the label, take no more than 3 seconds to make sure it’s what you ordered and give the waiter a slight, yet masculine, nod of the head.  He will then uncork the bottle and will place the cork on the table in front of you (not all restaurants do this, but if they do, it’s a good sign that you either have a really good waiter and/or are in a really nice restaurant).  Take the cork, wave it in front of your nose a couple times and smell it.  Provided it doesn’t smell like vinegar, place it back on the table and give the waiter another nod.  He will then pour you a very small amount of wine.  Place your fingers on the base of the glass and gently swirl the wine inside the glass.  DO NOT OVER SWIRL!!  Nothing will ruin your hard earned credibility like sloshing wine all over the table.  The point of swirling is to aerate the wine, which allows the wine to ‘open up.’  After a few brisk, yet controlled, swirls, lift the glass to your mouth and tilt it so your nose is inside the glass but not so far that you spill wine all over your shirt.  Pause for one second and then inhale the wine’s aroma.  Assuming you’re satisfied with what you smell, go ahead and take a sip but do not swallow.  Let the wine linger in your mouth for a second, swish it once or twice (keep in mind it’s wine, not Listerine!) so you can absorb the flavors, then swallow.  Assuming the wine doesn’t make you vomit, go ahead and put your glass back down on the table and give the waiter another nod.  He will then pour glasses for everyone at the table, starting with the ladies, and ending with you.  After he’s done pouring your glass, look him in the eye and say, “Thank you.”  While the whole process is quite simple, you can see how it’s very easy to end up looking like a total dick if you overplay your part.  Learn to walk that fine line and I guarantee you will forever own the coveted position of ‘sophisticated wine guy.’ 

One more thing:  Whenever you buy a bottle of wine for your wife try and default to a medium to heavy red.  These wines are loaded with what are called tannins, which have the wonderful effect of stimulating a woman’s libido far more than any other type of alcohol.  A well earned reward for the one hour you spent on the internet learning about wine.

Every now and then, recommend the girlie movie

This is an incredibly powerful man move, and as such needs to be used sparingly, but every now and then, on a cold, nasty day, recommend without prompting that you watch her favorite girlie movie.  She’ll go friggin’ crazy!  The trick though is to use this move, at most, two or maybe three times a year.  Any more and the effect gets watered down  and she’ll start getting the idea that you actually want to watch the girlie movie, which will inevitably lead to more girlie movies for which you will get no credit.

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 6:59 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Learn to pick your battles

Anyone who tells you that married life is pure bliss isn’t married.  Married life takes work.  Married life requires sacrifice and if you want to keep your marriage happy you need to learn to pick your battles very carefully.  Just as a good chess player knows they will have to sacrifice something minor in the short term in order to gain something major in the far term, a good husband knows when to give in and when to put up a fight.

 If you’re the type of person who always needs to get their way you may be in trouble as your spouse will likely either a) push back, or b) absorb your demands and vent her anger in unhealthy ways.  Marriage is not about doing what makes you happy, it’s about doing what makes you both happy.  Marriage is NOT a zero sum game; it is far more complicated than that!  There is no limit to the amount of happiness a couple can have so don’t think of everything as a contest.  If she really wants to do something and you don’t, before getting into an argument ask yourself how much this issue matters to you.  If the answer is, ‘not a lot,’ then don’t put up a fight!  Pushing back when the issue really matters to you is fine, but if you do it all the time you’ll end up in a never ending game of who can take a firmer stance.  Marriage may not be a zero sum game but you can accumulate points, and by giving in on the issues that don’t really matter you are laying the groundwork to win the ones that do matter.  By not constantly arguing your point you make your wife less defensive and less likely to push back on things she doesn’t really care about.  By letting her pick out the paint you increase the chances of her letting you pick out the 50” HDTV.

Published in: on October 29, 2009 at 6:35 pm  Leave a Comment  
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