43 answers

Am I Being a Bad Wife for Returning a Gift from My Husband?

I'm a new wife- I was reading your forums and thought all the wizened women out here might have some good help/opinions. My husband bought me some earrings for my birthday. They are the exact earrings I had just told him I really didn't like (I had been talking about getting earrings for an upcoming event). Is it wrong that I return/exchange them? I don't want to insult him and I want him to know how much that meant to me that he even got me a gift at all, but I feel a little annoyed that he wasn't listening to me (or heard the opposite of what I said). This is not life or death, but I do need some advice.

What can I do next?

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I'm only 44 - not that wizened yet!!! :) However, I've been married twice and have some experience under my belt!! I'd like to THINK I'm not wrinkled!! :)

I see that you have a lot of responses - I've not read them.

I think humor would be the best way to handle the situation! "oh honey (or whatever term of endearment you use) I must've been mumbling or you heard me wrong - these are the ones I didn't want!" this way - you aren't blaming him nor are you being rude - and then exchange them for the ones that you did want.

Hope that helps!!

1 mom found this helpful

I've been with my husband for almost 21 years. I would be honest with him. Thank him for the gift. Tell him it was thoughtful. Then tell him there is another pair that you absolutly love and they would go much better with outfits that you have (if that's the case). Tell him you are going to exchange the earrings when you get a chance. If he seems to be upset, just tell him that you think the other earrings will get more use from you (it sounds like that would be the truth)
I can tell you there will be more than one occasion where you say one thing and he hears another thing. That is life. Don't let the little things bother you. They are part of life, love and marriage. Congrats on being a new wife!

1 mom found this helpful

I would kindly ask you not to refer to the readers as "wizened women". I don't think that is what you meant to say...maybe "wise women"? I'm sensitive enough about my age, thanks :)

More Answers

This is a tough one and I am sure you will get lots of different answers. I guess it depends on your relationship, your husband etc. I don't think my husband would mind. We are pretty honest about what we like and don't like. I think he would rather I exchanged it for something I would truely like and wear. But my husband is not a super romantic, more of a realist. And a bit of advice . . . most men only half listen unless you are talking about man stuff. So don't take it personal, it's just how they are. Congratulations on your marriage!

2 moms found this helpful

I'm surprised at the number of women who say just to return them because he will never notice.
I don't think that's true at all.
I think that instead of telling husbands, DON'T get me this or that, we should say what we like. Men hear diamonds, rubies, pearls, crystals, birthstones and it becomes a jumble and all they remember is the mentioning of it sometimes. So, mentioning what you DO like as opposed to the other might stick in their brains better.
I don't think your husband was deliberately not listening to you, I think what he heard was not what you were trying to express.
How much were the earrings? Is there any way you can afford both? The ones he got you and the ones for a specific event?
I don't mean to offend anyone but sometimes being in absolute control of what your husband buys you can also end up in getting nothing but a gift certificate in a card for your birthday. I know one woman who said she'd prefer gift certificates and then her husband didn't get them for the stores she wanted so she wasn't happy with that either.
I have one friend who was mad her fiance didn't buy her an engagement ring but she also made it clear that if he got something she hated, she wouldn't accept it.
If you think your husband will be okay with you returning the earrings then talk to him about it and do it. But don't insult his intelligence as if he won't know the difference.
Men aren't on the same planet, but they're not completely stupid.
My son saved up his money from working in other people's yards and helping them with chores to buy me a pair of earrings for Christmas.
He did it all on his own and had the ladies at the store help him with how much they cost and wrap them for me.
I wouldn't have picked them out for myself if I'd had a choice, but are they the most precious earrings I've ever owned? YES! And he is so proud every time I wear them.
He's 14. I don't know. Should I be teaching him that if he doesn't get exactly what a woman wants he's not being sensitive enough to her needs and wishes? Should I start getting him used to women saying..."This is nice, but they probably have something I'd like better." ?
Whatever happened to it being the thought that counts?

Your husband may be fine with you being honest with him and didn't realize he focused on what you said you didn't want.
I doubt he'd like you having earrings you really can't live with or will never wear. I don't think his intention was to be insensitive.
You're a new wife so how you handle this will set a precident for how these things get handled in the future.
I just know that men who feel like they can't ever do anything right enough to please their wives quit trying and I don't think you want that to happen.
Your marriage is new and you're still learning each other.
Maybe you can find a compromise.
How ugly can a pair of earrings be? He might be thinking they would look beautiful on you.

I wish you the best with whatever you choose.

2 moms found this helpful

Golden rule: Never never never return jewelry given from your husband.... Unless of course you want him to stop buying jewelry for you.

He picked them out for you. He will be hurt if you return it and it may interfere with his future gift giving choices... (Hey, there are always small appliances, computer equipment and fancy bathrobes... Yeah, ask most women if they would rather get jewelry or household items... uh, jewelry!)

You don't have to wear them all the time; wear them a few times soon after they were given and maybe once a month thereafter, and on dates with your hubby. Keep in mind, that you aren't wearing them for a fashion statement... They are just earrings. You can buy other earrings...

2 moms found this helpful

I'm going to tell you a story about when I went shopping with my dad for my mom. He wanted me to come because my mom and I were really close, and he wanted me to check and make sure she'd like it. Well, we get to the store and the salesperson told him what everyone was getting that year and it was the hot item and every woman would want one. It wasn't the one thing I knew my mom really wanted-the one piece of jewelry that would really make her heart smile, and not just her face-a diamond ring to replace the one that was stolen over 20 years earlier. But, it was pretty, and I thought she'd appreciate the thought, and I knew I could explain to her what a good job the salesperson did-she even had me wanting them! So dad got mom these earrings. They weren't much to look at, really, small diamonds that fit my father's small budget. But he was so proud! It turned out he didn't ask for my input at all-he was already sold. And mom wasn't that thrilled with them-I could tell, but she said thank you and wore them occassionally. And she's gotten gorgeous jewelry every year since. She has yet to get another diamond ring, but she loves her pieces and dad is so proud for getting them "all by himself." (She also keeps saying she never wears rings and sometimes really doesn't wear the rings she has already.) All those who have said that marriage is about compromise and he should listen so take them back sound to me like they're saying marriage is about your man compromising, but don't you dare feel you have to. It's one gift. Try for something else in the future, but spare him this year. If my dad's gift wasn't accepted that first year, he would have been crushed. If I didn't accept some of the gifts my hubby gave me, he wouldn't have felt the confidence to buy me (I kidd you not!) a blanket for Christmas in 2008-and honestly, it was the single gift that showed he knows me best. I still thank him for it. It goes on our bed so not only do I thank him about once a week, he also sees me using it constantly, and knows I love it (it's super-super-soft like baby blankets). And we just celebrated our 5yr anniversary this past January, so it's not like it takes forever for a man to learn what you want. If you take the fall this year, relax, and teach him about your likes-sometimes by listening to his likes more, you'll get the gifts you want-even the ones you wouldn't dream of asking for. (What woman asks for a blanket for Christmas?-but it's the softest blanket in the world, and I love it.) My hubby knowing I'll accept whatever he gives me gives him the confidence to say no to salespeople (and trust me-he did that year he bought me a blanket!) and yes to what he knows I'll really like.

2 moms found this helpful

I know returning something that my husband bought for me would mortally wound his feelings.

The engagement ring he bought me had a much bigger diamond than I wanted. I asked for a simple gold band. But he was so proud of the beautiful ring he choose for me. I lost the diamond out of it 4 years after we married. I cried for a week! He bought me a pink diamond necklace for the very next Valentines day. It hurts his feelings if I wear pink and he even thinks I might not wear it.

He bought these earring for you. He will get enjoyment out of you wearing them. It makes him feel like he did something "right."

2 moms found this helpful

I've been with my husband for almost 21 years. I would be honest with him. Thank him for the gift. Tell him it was thoughtful. Then tell him there is another pair that you absolutly love and they would go much better with outfits that you have (if that's the case). Tell him you are going to exchange the earrings when you get a chance. If he seems to be upset, just tell him that you think the other earrings will get more use from you (it sounds like that would be the truth)
I can tell you there will be more than one occasion where you say one thing and he hears another thing. That is life. Don't let the little things bother you. They are part of life, love and marriage. Congrats on being a new wife!

1 mom found this helpful

Yes. You're a bad wife and you are most likely driving the bus to hell.
OK--Just kidding!
I think you are being practical. Unless you have a money tree in your yard that you can just go shake when you need some cash, exchange them for something else!
My MIL is a huge jewelry fanatic therefore my husband thinks ALL women must be too. I am not. I like a few nice pieces of jewelry for special occasions, but otherwise I'll take $20 earrings so I'm not upset when (and I will!) lose one. When we were first married it was jewelry for every occasion and I actually sent him to return a few things. He got the message and knows more what I like now.
Explain that you appreciate the gift but you feel it would be money wasted if you don't wear them so you'd like to exchange them.

1 mom found this helpful

yeah he must have heard the opposite of what you said, fun times. lol. I would not really want to hurt him either, but i am big on being honest so just tell him nicely and go to the store. good luck and congrats on being a new wife!

1 mom found this helpful

Nope, you're not bad at all. That's annoying! If anything, I'd pose the question: is your husband a bad husband for not paying attention to what you do and don't like? He bought you something you specifically said you didnt like . I'd be offended at HIM and would not feel one ounce of guilt for returning the earings. That's just my opinion though... I tend to be pretty outspoken and would not have a problem being honest. He should be paying attention. As women we tend to way too generous with our men and give them credit for "trying" and we say its the thought that counts. Well... what thought was that? "Let me give my wife these earings she hates..." ?? Or worse yet, completely tuning you out when you told him you didnt like them and then picking them out for you without the faintest clue about your taste. Believe me, you are completely justified in returning them and buying something you know you will like.

1 mom found this helpful

Return them! My hubby bought me a beautiful (WAY WAY too expensive) pair of diamond earrings for our 10th wedding anniversary. The other responses are correct - men really don't listen. I had been hinting around about pearl earrings for some time. I just told him they were way too expensive (plus my brother had just given me a pair of diamond earrings the previous Christmas) and I "asked him" if he would mind if I exchanged them for some pearl earrings and that I wanted him to come with me to help me pick them out (I really didn't, but wanted to be kind and throw that out there). When I mentioned "pearl" he did make a comment he remembers me saying something once about pearls. Once, HA!! it was way more than once. I have learned now, DON'T HINT just tell..LOL! He said he got carried away with the "10 th anniversary" thing and all. He opted not to go with me, I exchanged them for a beautiful (way cheaper) pair of diamond and sapphire earrings. I didn't find any pearls that I really wanted. Fast forward 2 more anniversaries to # 12...he got me a pair of pearl earrings!!

1 mom found this helpful


I'm only 44 - not that wizened yet!!! :) However, I've been married twice and have some experience under my belt!! I'd like to THINK I'm not wrinkled!! :)

I see that you have a lot of responses - I've not read them.

I think humor would be the best way to handle the situation! "oh honey (or whatever term of endearment you use) I must've been mumbling or you heard me wrong - these are the ones I didn't want!" this way - you aren't blaming him nor are you being rude - and then exchange them for the ones that you did want.

Hope that helps!!

1 mom found this helpful

I know my husband, and he would rather me get what I want than have something I will never wear. It is the thought that counts, so make sure that is the point you make when you tell him you're going to return them and make sure he knows why. When birthdays, christmas, etc come around, my husband gives me catalogs and has me circle the things that I like so when he goes shopping, he knows exactly what to get. This may be helpful fo the the future gifts he gets. I get exactly what I want and no one gets hurt!

1 mom found this helpful

My husband bought me a pair of earrings when I was deep in chemo a few summers ago. I HATED them and finally asked to take them back to the store where he'd purchased them. They asked if I'd tried them on or not, and I hadn't. When I did, I loved them.

My husband's feelings weren't hurt. He wants me to be happy with the gifts he gets for me, and I generally am. But, I am very particular on jewelry as well.

You will have many times in your marriage where a gift just don't hit the mark, and that's OK. I'd personally rather someone be happy with their gift (even if it means exchanging it) than to keep something they're not going to wear/use.

Because I'm such a bad gift-giver, I ask my husband to put together lists for me each year so I have an idea of what he'd like and try to get creative from there.

1 mom found this helpful

Return then. I wouldnt even tell him.......he probably wont notice anyway that you have different ones. Mine wouldnt.

No i don't think it's wrong to exchange them. in the end, he only wants you to be happy, so exchange them and get something that you like. i return jewelry that my husband buys all the time and he is fine with it. he realizes that we just have different taste in jewelry and that, if i was to keep it, it would neveer be worn and just money wasted.

It's fine to return, unless you make it a habit.

I think it's ok to return them for something you like instead , otherwise it's a waste of money!.....this is the exact reason why my husband always get's gift certificates for me lol!!!

I totally agree with Karen N! Don't return them unless you don't want your husband to buy you jewelry again.

Wow, your hubby got you a gift all on his own. My hubby needs a list and lots of reminders. Usually I just buy my own gifts! Don't be annoyed that he wasn't listening because he was. The fact that he heard the opposite is neither here nor there. It doesn't mean he wasn't paying attention. It just means the message of "look at those ugly earings" was heard by him as "look at those earings."

Take the earings back and get some you want. No big deal. If he asks (I'll be surprised if he notices!) why you don't wear the earings tell him the truth. Tell him you took them back because you didn't like them, but you didn't want to hurt his feelings by telling him because you appreciated the gesture so much.

No worries. He's a guy, he'll probably laugh the whole thing off.

You know him best. Don't be annoyed he didn't listen to you, he may have just heard something else. Because honestly when mine talks about the golf clubs he would like, it just doesn't mean anything to me. If it is not expenisve then I would say keep them. But larger gifts, I believe you should be honest with him. It could heart his ego a bit, but this is your partner, he should be able to handle it.

I had to exchange a necklace. His feeling were hurt a bit, it took awhile before I got anymore jewelry, but honestly, I deserved something that made me happy. Sometimes marriages are about compromise. And while it may sting a bit, in the long run you marriage will be stronger if you honest.

I heard a phrase once and it stuck with me.

"Feelings are more important than objects." Meaning you should always put the person's feelings first and your objects second. I think about this and try to be patient when my stepdaughter breaks or loses something!

I think you should turn to a Miss Manners type of response. Either keep the earrings, buy yourself the ones you want and be more specific to your husband in the future OR you could tell your husband that you really appreciate them but they are uncomfortable (or bother your ears or whatever) so you are going to return them and get something different.

I just wouldn't tell him the total truth. Spare his feelings :)

You know what, the same thing happened to me. My hubby and I were watching tv about 4 years ago...and I had mentioned (subtly, I now know) how the certain necklace in the commercial was so popular and overrated........which I then got as my next anniversary gift (and it was expensive)........I didn't take it back because after getting it, I realized he was excited to think he got me something I wanted, and was thrilled that he thought he was a "good husband" for listening to me (even though what he heard wasn't really what I said...he was still listening....sort of) I still wear it (often) to this day.....and never mentioned any of my silly feeling to him. We've been married 12 years. To this day, if I really don't like something, I make a bigger point to say something about it that will get his attention better, and for that matter...if I see something to die for.....I make an equally big point about it.
On another note, sometimes I like when he picks things out on his own. Even though most of the time, they aren't things I would have picked for myself......they are from him......and they are more special than I could ever imagine.
Just a little food for thought.

he won't even notice if he's anything like my husband.
in all honesty when my husband and i started dating he'd get me jewelry which to this day i cannot wear. they weigh a ton and is a very old lady style. i cannot pull it off wearing those with my 105 frame and dainty neck. so i asked him to never ever buy me jewelry. and he hasn't. honesty is best policy in marriage. i think i would upset my husband if i wore something i totally didn't like and was just doing it to please him. we're honest with each other.
oh and i forbade him to buy me purses as well. i don't know where he gets the advice but the purses he would bring me are wayyy to flashy for simple me. i asked him to never ever buy me purses again. and he hasn't.
(yes, i get pots and pans now from all the bans i have made :).

This just made me laugh and I had to enlighten you -
I'm sure it wasn't intentional, and that your true intention was to indicate 'wise' women, but 'wizened' actually means 'shriveled' or 'withered,' often to indicate someone who is wrinkled with age.
I'm pretty sure that, children notwithstanding, most of us haven't hit THAT point yet :)

Take 'em back! You don't have to be ugly about it, but if he asks just tell him, "Those were the ones I didn't like -remember? I'm delighted that you got me earrings, but I want to be sure I'll wear them a lot!" He needs to learn to listen better anyway ;-)

I've never heard of any "golden rule" about not returning jewelry. If he gets pissy about it and you want more jewelry, tell him EXACTLY what you want -with an email and a link! I don't see how getting jewelry you hate and never wearing it is any different than exchanging it. I think my husband would say, "Well, you never wear it, so I didn't buy you anymore," instead of being pissy about me getting something l liked!

After being married 20 years next month I'll echo what Karen said as well. You're saying "bye-bye" to future jewelry gifts if you "lose", return or otherwise not wear the earrings he purchased for you.

Next time, point out thing you *like* not things you don't like.

I agree with the ladies who say it will affect the gift giving if you return them. My husband would be sooo pleased if I wore them when we went out together and around the house men do notice if we wear what they buy and they do have feelings that we can hurt. I guess it's up to you to decide if you want to risk hurting him or not.

I would tell him thank you for the earrings but tell him the truth as to why you are going to exchange them for something more appropriate for the event. My husband and I have been married for 16 years and he is always in trouble for not listening to me or buying me gifts he thinks I will enjoy and most of the time he saves the receipt because I will exchange them for what I really want and what I told him to buy me... Hopefully your husband gets better at listening then mine did! LOL... Good luck

If he is not listening he is probably not paying attention either...so he won't see that you have a new pair hehehe ;)
Ok, in a more serious note, I think you can talk to him and explain that you are grateful for the gift but these are not the ones you wanted. If he bought these in the first place it's to make you happy so at the end of the day if another pair is what will make you happy, my guess is, he will probably be OK with it.
The lesson there is: point out what you like instead of what you don't like...gives better direction. Works wonder with kids too.

Sorry I would return them, why have something that cost good money be wasted sitting in a jewelry box if you will never wear them? I wouldn't be offended if I bought Andy something ( we have been together for 11 years) and he didn't care for it. Just be honest and not hateful about it, sometimes men are a lot more sensitive them we give them credit for.

I would kindly ask you not to refer to the readers as "wizened women". I don't think that is what you meant to say...maybe "wise women"? I'm sensitive enough about my age, thanks :)

Hi J.,

If he wasn't listening in the first place, he probably won't even notice you exchanged the ear rings. If he does, just tell him, they weren't the ones you favored and you figured the sales person just made a mistake.

Can't wait to hear how this turns out.


All he knew is that you talked about them, men often do not really hear us when we talk about things that are of no interest to them. I do not think he would be offended if you exchanged them, in fact I am sure he would rather you had something that you will wear, otherwise it would be a waste of money.

I've read a couple who wouldn't return them as they don't want to hurt their husbands feelings. Which I do get as men can be over sensitive about gifts sometimes.

Do you have any idea how much they cost? If it is a good amount of money and you will not wear them, then I would nicely talk to him and explain that you won't wear these and would much rather exchange them for a pair you will wear. Maybe he can help you choose between a couple of styles. If they were inexpensive I might keep them if you think he will be offended if you return/exchange them. But higher dollar amount would definitely be exchanged.

I've had this same problem with my husband. He thinks that it is ok to sell, trade, or get of rid of a gift that someone has given him without asking the other person how they feel.

(I bought him an ipod for his birthday a few years ago he lost it, purchased something similar. The old one was returned and he wanted to give it to our son. I said I paid for it give it back to me if you don't want it)

I think you should tell him how you feel about the earrings and ask him if you can exchange it.

You can return them and make sure you tell him how much you appreciate the thought and effort and such. The price will be that he will probably feel inadequate at buying you future jewelry and will give up on trying to.

Depends how much you value jewelry gifts really.

Not a bad wife but I do think it would be rude. Plus, I'm sure your hubby put an effort into getting you this gift (even if it was wrong) and I'm sure you would hurt his feelings if you let him know you didnt like his choice.
I would NEVER return a gift from my hubby...even if it's the ugliest thing I've ever seen, I would love it because it was from him...

I don't agree with returning them. Men are sensitive and it will hurt. Even though he may say otherwise. You can just wear them around the house. You don't have to go out in them if you really don't like them. He did try and that is a plus :)

well, i don't think i'm actually wizened, but i'll take a crack at this one. i'm a little taken aback at how many women have very fragile men and advocate 'sparing their feelings'! i absolutely think the situation calls for tact, sensitivity, a LOT of humor, and most of all honesty, especially from a new wife. this sort of thing sets the stage for future interactions, and i just don't understand why honesty would not be appropriate. for starters, take the burden of *blame* on yourself for pointing out what you didn't like rather than being clear about what you do like (not that this is a situation where blame is implied.) do NOT be annoyed with him for 'not listening', he was indeed listening, he just missed a word or two. and don't bury him in fluffy angst either. adults should be able to be frank with each other without having to tiptoe, and with an expectation of courtesy.
i bought my husband fishing gear for father's days for years. he finally 'fessed up to me that he doesn't really care for fishing (the gear got used by the boys and me so i just figured he was using it too.) i was horrified, not that he told me, but that he had suffered for so long under unloved gifts and hadn't felt comfortable enough to let me know. would you want him to do that with you?
assume that he's a grown up and that if you broach the subject with a degree of appreciation and love (and humor! lots of humor!) he can take it.
another quick anecdote, i REALLY love coconut cream easter eggs, and my husband got me one every year. one year i was having an off day and rather abruptly expressed my preference for a particular kind of confection, not the 'bargain basement' one he got me that year. boy howdy, i've NEVER heard the end of that one! it's still a family joke that you'd better get mom high quality candy or you're going to hear about it!
naturally i apologized profusely for my choice of words, and i'm happy to say that he was amused and didn't sulk or get hurt. but not only do we now have a long-standing family joke, i'm happy to say that i ALWAYS get really good candy these days.
honesty is the best policy.
:) khairete

I agree with Shane B. 100%. Your husband may very well have listened but picked up the wrong message. Is there any chance you will or could find chances to wear them? If they were expensive and you don't think you will wear them, be completely honest with him - tell him how much you appreciate the gift, but that you must have given him the wrong impression and you were really hoping to wear that other pair to the event. Even if his feelings are slightly hurt, he will appreciate your honesty in the long run. Honesty and trust are key to a great marriage. I would not take them back and hope that he doesn't notice.

Return them. You are a new wife and so this gesture won't scar him for life or anything. Unless he is ultra sensitive, then gently say, honey, remember I told you I didn't like this kind and I was hoping for this kind to wear with my dress?"

Ask him, if you got him a bowling ball for example, even though he hates bowling... how would that make him feel about you not taking his feelings into consideration?

My mom got me this fake flower arrangement the other day, even though she knows I absolutely hate them (and has known that for the past 15 years). So, instead of asking what she was thinking, I chose to ignore it and will just give them to goodwill instead. But, husbands are different, they should know!

Really though, I return lots of things, and my husband, when it's gift time, he goes shopping with me! And sometimes, I even end up returning something I picked out myself.

one time i bought my ex some clothes all of which we ended up taking back. he said something along the lines that i should never try to buy him clothes. i was hurt and i am not a very sensitive person.

It's better to be safe than sorry, keep them and smile.

Because you are new at this, you should know that
MOST ~ not all ~ but MOST men do not listen to their wife.
They listen to everyone else but not the wife.

Good luck.

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