One of the realities of our society is that, so often, money is a sign of status and legitimacy. Careers are often judged as being worthwhile in connection to how high the salary is. Gifts are often judged by their lavishness.
Indeed, a costly gift is often seen as “proof” that someone truly loves you. A good example is what I see among newlyweds in my neighborhood. Often, they compare their rings, and the young ladies with bigger, more expensive rings often feel more loved than those with smaller rings.
We often see parents try to buy their kids’ affection with the purchase of expensive toys, or quarreling couples “make it up” to each other with the help of expensive peace offerings. Unfortunately, these tactics often backfire. “I had a client who, after every argument with his spouse, would run out and buy some type of bling in the hope of improving the marriage,” says Christopher Dukes, a Certified Senior Financial Planner. “It had the opposite effect. His spouse actually started finding more to argue about in order to get more jewelry.”
Whether you are trying to placate a child or a partner, or whether you are just trying to show affection to a good friend, it’s tempting to just throw a lot of money at the situation in an effort to “prove” that you care. Unfortunately, this doesn’t actually do much to truly show love to the people who are most important to you.
Money is the Easy Solution
The reality is that money is the easy solution. I’m guilty of this sometimes. It’s much easier to just buy a gift card than to take the time to pick out a meaningful gift. Sometimes it’s easier to buy a bauble than it is to spend an hour or two engaged in a meaningful activity.
Money is often the easy solution. It’s easy to write a check to a charity. It’s much harder to actually go down to the soup kitchen and spend time serving out the meal. It’s easy to buy your child a new video game. It’s harder to carve out 45 minutes from your busy day to sit down and play a board game with him or her. It’s much easier to say sorry and present your significant other with an expensive gift than it is to say you’re sorry and then talk through your issues and feelings.
Give Your Time; It’s Irreplaceable
I actually think that giving your time is a better measure of affection than how much money you spend on a person. When my husband buys me a piece of jewelry, I think it’s a nice gift. However, when he accompanies to the annual jazz night, with dinner and dancing, I feel truly loved. He is not only taking time out to spend the evening with me, but he’s doing something he doesn’t particularly enjoy just to make me happy. (I also do things with him that I don’t particularly enjoy, just because it’s nice for him.)
Your time can’t be replaced. Even the time you spend thoughtfully picking out just the right gift is likely to mean more than a hastily bought gift card. In a world where so many of us feel pressed for time, the true measure of affection is your ability to spend time thinking about your loved ones, and taking the time to be with them.
Because your time is irreplaceable, it’s much more valuable than money. I can always earn more money to buy an expensive gift for someone else. It’s much harder to make up for the time I spend with someone. And I’ve come to view time spent with loved ones as time well spent, rather than time wasted. You never know how much time you’ll have to spend with a loved one. If you want to develop deep relationships that are more valuable than any amount of money, you have to put in the time. Those are relationships that can’t be bought with any amount of money.
I totally agreed with you Miranda! Some people think that money is everything but the tragedy that just happened to my country Philippines where money is useless because all they want are foods and water to drink because all the stores and malls was extremely damaged.
I’ve been following what happened in the Philippines, since we have Filipino friends with families affected. It’s definitely important to take into account more practical needs at times. Sometimes you can be more helpful by taking action, rather than just throwing money at the problem.
My son just got his report card for the first quarter of the school year – he did very well. We give him a pat on the back and a “good job,” whereas one of grandparents gave him a card with $20. I’m not about to tell her to not send her grandson a card with money in the mail, but I think there’s a lot better ways to reward someone for a job well done than with money.
That’s so true! We try to do other things to reward our son, since we don’t want him to get the idea that nothing’s worth doing without the money attached. We want him to feel pride in what he does, and to do things for reasons other than a paycheck.
I would much rather have time from my husband than a gift or money. I have all the material things I want and need already!
I totally agree! No amount of money can replace the time we give to those we want to share it with. Money is important when we help other people, but when we do more than just open our wallet to show our support then it’s the time it becomes more meaningful not just for the recipient, but also for us.
I like this idea of making sure that it’s meaningful for the giver as well. It’s easy to just give money and forget about it. Doing more forces us to think about the situation, and give more thought and attention.
Growing up I equated money with affection. In my household we never really were affectionate to each other. So we showed each other affection by buying gifts or cooking dinner. Now that I’m older I feel differently then I used to about money and affection.
I’d much rather spend time with someone then receive an expensive gift from them. And I hate how women equate the size of their diamond ring to how much they are loved. I’d rather have a healthy, happy relationship than any amount of bling.
I’m with you there. I live in an area where women constantly compare their massive rocks. I feel bad sometimes because they are the same women who bemoan the fact that their husbands don’t understand them or respect them. I may not have a huge diamond as “proof” of my husband’s love, but he is always supportive of me and my efforts.
Ugh, I hate the “money=love” sentiment. One of my favorite gifts ever was something the guy I was dating picked up just because. It was three glass flowers from the dollar store. I loved that he was thinking about me and loved that he didn’t spend a bunch of money.
While I do like “things” I also like spending time with people I care about. Experiences make an impact on your memory that a lot of gifts don’t.
I love the “just because” gifts. A small token that you’re in his or her thoughts is far more valuable than something expensive and cold.
Most of the things we do together are free or really cheap. He is generous and often gets me small gifts but it doesn’t make me feel as loved as when we spend quality time together.
Most people value spending time with a loved one better than receiving gifts. Some people have nothing materialistic to give but love and companionship and they are doing just fine.