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Unwanted Anniversary Gift

Unwanted Anniversary Gift


Dear Rachel,

My husband bought me a necklace for our 1st anniversary, and while I appreciate the gift very much, I don’t really like the necklace. I know he put a lot of energy and money into choosing something special for me, and I don’t want to hurt his feelings, but it’s really not my taste in jewelry. Any advice?

Las Vegas, NV

Dear Sabrina,

I know of a woman whose husband gave her a ring for her birthday. They had been married for a number of years and she felt very comfortable being honest with him about her feelings. She kindly told him that while she appreciated the gift, it didn’t suit her style and she would prefer something a little different.

He was very understanding and told her where he had purchased the ring and suggested that she look for something else she liked there. When she went to the store to exchange it, she learned from the jeweler that her husband had spent weeks designing her ring. He had brought pictures and drawings, to illustrate how he wanted it done. Her husband had overseen every detail in its making.

When she understood the investment her husband had made in his gift to her, she realized that she had made a big mistake. She felt awful. She realized that she had been so focused on the practical side of the gift, she had overlooked the most precious part about it—the love and devotion that had created it. After understanding the effort her husband had made, and the meaning behind the gift, it became the most beautiful ring and precious gift to her. But, her response was too late and the damage had already been done.

The Chassidic Masters describe beauty as “the result of harmony.” When there is a fusion of two separate, independent entities and they find symmetry and harmony, the bi-product of that symmetry is beauty. In Jewish thought this is called “Tiferet.” The ultimate expression of “Tiferet” is the fusion of a two opposites, namely man and woman.

This is the very beauty you and your husband are celebrating on your anniversary—your fusion and harmony together. This is the kind of beautiful expression that matters most in a relationship. The gift is simply a symbol of something much deeper.

It sounds like this gift you received was given from your husband with a pure heart and with loving intention. You don’t have to love the necklace, but love your husband.

You can save it for “special” times if you’re not comfortable wearing it on a regular basis. But, unless he offered you several choices for your 1st anniversary gift, my advice is that you embrace what you have. In the future, you can point out the things that you do like when you are together. You can also have a friend let him know about that “something special” you’ve had your eye on, before a birthday or anniversary comes around.

When you look at the necklace, try to look beyond the style and see the meaning behind it. If you look at it with the right focus, it just might become beautiful before your eyes.


“Dear Rachel” is a biweekly column that is answered by a rotating group of experts. This question was answered by Sarah Zadok.

Sarah Zadok is a childbirth educator, doula and freelance writer. She lives in Ramat Beit Shemesh, Israel, with her husband and four children.

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further, provided that you comply with's copyright policy.
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Samantha Houston, tx January 11, 2017

Not a fan of jewelry Today is my 35th birthday and my husband bought me a Pandora charm bracelet with 4 charms. I was so disappointed, I cried. (Backstory) He keeps buying me jewelry! I have told him numerous times that I don't like a lot of jewelry, it's not my style. I've worn the same earrings for 5 years. He did buy me a nice pair of black diamond earrings and matching tennis bracelet, which I wear on date nights. But other than that the only thing I've EVER mentioned wanting was pearls. Fast forward to today, it really hurt his feelings when I gently told him I didn't really like the bracelet. I feel horrible but I can not bring myself to lie to my husband. I think that's most important. Reply

Anonymous July 17, 2015

I bought the unwanted gift. I picked my partner's brain and even took him to a jewelry store to try to figure out what he liked. But the only jewelry he likes are men's wedding rings and we aren't married so.... I thought I'd buy him a nice emerald pendant and chain since it symbolizes unconditional love and strengthens bonds in relationships. (I'm not sentimental like him and thought he'd love it if I were) I thought he would love the meaning enough to love it. Plus I got a long chain so he could wear it underneath his shirt if he didn't like the look.

He didn't. He was very gracious and told me he loves the thought behind it, but he wouldn't wear it. It broke my heart and felt like a rejection of my love. And even though he tried to take it back after I told him so, the damage was done. If someone gives you a gift from their heart, you should love it even if it isn't your taste. Don't believe me? Ask your mom how much gross perfume she wore because you bought it for her as a kid? Reply

Anonymous Madisonville, Texas April 1, 2014

Unwanted Anniversary Gift I stumbled upon this b/c I'm so upset w/ my husband's choice for our 20th anniversary. He bought me a charm bracelet for my 38th birthday (which I absolutely hated b/c I'm 38) but I smiled & even wore it a few times after he asked me why I hadn't worn it. It's a little tight & girlish looking. But I smiled and wore it. For our 20th anniversary he bought me a charm for the bracelet. I'm just devastated. I hate charm bracelets, to my taste they are juvenile & the charms get in the way of household duties. i'm quite angry that he thought this was appropriate for a 20th anniversary. Should I just smile and wear it a few times. I'm certain he has found he go-to gift for me (more charms!). His eyes lit up as he told me about the charm but I feel as though he can't know me at all if he thinks I like this! And I can see the look in my friends eyes when I show them my bracelet . Help! Reply

Anonymous Long beach April 10, 2012

Be happy that your husband bought you a beautiful gift even if it is not to your taste. Many of us older weds wish our husbands would surprise us with gifts still. I was always taught to appreciate any gift and make sure the giver sees me using it/wearing it. Reply

Jayne Sydney September 6, 2011

I first read this question when I was newly married and was dealing with this problem.
My husband likes to buy me gifts. Overtime he has developed an understanding for my style and taste, and I am happy to say that I now like most of his gifts.
However, I have learned that when he gives me a gift, whether I like it or not, I incorporate that item into the outfit I am wearing in the next few days, even if I only ever wear it once.
Many gifts have grown on me by doing this.
I make a point to emphasise which gifts I like the most. This way he feels good knowing that he has bought some of my favourite pieces of jewellery. This also helps him to know what I do like.
When my husband gives me a gift, it is an act of love, the worst thing I could do is to reject that.
Its true that wearing an unwanted item of jewellery can make a person not feel happy about how they are dressed.
But once you are wearing it, you don't see it, and it will make your husband feel good. Reply

Anonymous Roanoke, VA January 31, 2011

Start out right. I will start by saying I'm bad at faking that I like gifts.

However, the first piece of jewelry my husband bought me, I was honest with him. I told him that I absolutely loved the time/effort/money that he had put into it, and that it truly was a pretty necklace, but that I honestly would not get much wear out of it and I didn't want his thoughtfulness to go unappreciated.

Because we would be together for a great many more years to come, I thought maybe it would be a good idea if we went to the store together so he could pick my brain about stuff I liked/didn't like or would/wouldn't wear much.

We had a wonderful time together on the shopping trip, and ever since he has picked things that I could truly be ecstatic over.

I am glad that I handled that the way I did. Because it is your first anniversary, I would say that now is the time to help him out. (BTW...most guys find jewelty shopping bewildering, so you're prob. doing him a favor anyway.) :) Reply

Lisa Providence, RI January 13, 2011

Exchange It Many people receive gifts they don't like or they try out the gifts they're given and it doesn't work out.

You can tell your husband you love the fact he remembered your anniversary, but you don't like the necklace and want to exchange it for a necklace you DO like. Reply

Rebekah January 29, 2009

Wear It I would wear such a necklace with pride, knowing that my husband invested time, money, love and effort into buying it for me. Reply

Anonymous November 19, 2008

So true... I've been married for ten years and my husband loves buying me presents. it's true, all of them are not really my taste and I wouldn't buy them on my own, but one thing I've learned from experience is that you can hurt your husband so deeply, even in one look... But if you understand, as Rachel explained so well, a gift is mainly an expression of love, than not only you will "force" yourself to appear as if you like the present you got, but you will learn to love it more and more, as time goes by. believe me! A jewelry or anything else is not worth hurting your husband's feelings... Reply

Anonymous November 15, 2008

did not like the anniversary gift Since the person did not like the gift, perhaps she can wear it at home when she has company. Of course it depends on what kind of necklace and if it is appropriate to wear when guests come over. This way, she would not hurt her husband's feelings by not wearing it. It could be the "hostess" necklace. Reply

Anonymous Shreveport, louisiana July 22, 2007

The unwanted gift What a beautiful response. I remember a story my father tells about when he and my mother were first married. He bought her a pair of house slippers for their first anniversary. He was a young man right off the farm and did not know much about such things. He was so proud of his gift and stopped at his sisters house on the way home to have her wrap it special. When my mother saw the beautiful paper she was so excited and quickly grabbed the gift and tore it open. When she saw the slippers she started to cry and told my dad he was a dumb old farm boy and that those slippers looked like something an old woman would wear. She gave them to her grandmother the next day. He laughs today as he tells the story but I can still see the hurt in his eyes. My mom says that this is the one thing that she wishes she could take back in her life. That it may not bother dad so much today but it still brings tears to her eyes. Be gracious to the bearer of a gift. You hold their heart in your hand. Reply

Anonymous June 2, 2007

This is my first time ever reading "Dear Rachel". After having read through several questions that interested me, I must admit to being surprised and confused at Rachel's advice for women to be compliant, timid, accepting and (almost) subservient. And the readers responding to this particular question scared me. "Bask in his love" if he gives you something you don't like?! C'mon, ladies! You should never strive to hurt his feelings, but there is always a tactful and subtle way to let him know what you like. Just because he buys you gifts/jewelry, it doesn't mean there was much thought behind it. Most wonderful gifts are the little things, like a love note under your pillow or a carefully planned trip. If he doesn't undertand your taste, he doesn't understand you, and there's no reason to bask in the glow of expensive jewelry. Reply

Mia August 29, 2006

Gifts Rachel,

What a wonderful, wise answer you gave. So often, the emphasis is placed on 'me, me, me' to the detriment of our husbands. Over the last 18 years of marriage, I have learned that my husband's feelings are important, too. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. Reply

Ilene Shurek Lawrenceville, GA August 9, 2006

Unwanted Anniversary Gift A gift from your husband is a blessing. You are only married for 1 year and hopefully will be together for another 120. You should spend some time with your husband and give him a chance to learn more about you and what you like. Try showing him some jewelry in stores or magazines. Wear what he gave you even if you don't like it. It is a gift from the heart. I was married for just under 30 years when I lost my husband. I have some really ugly jewelry from when we were first married and a lot of beautiful jewelry from later years. When I look at it now, it is all beautiful. I would give anything and everything to get another piece of ugly jewlery from him. Count your blessings and put on the necklace. Reply

Jane NY, NY June 30, 2006

A gift is the thought Ask your husband if he would go with you to return the necklace because it is not your taste, pick out another piece of jewelry together. I am an older female. Reply

Anonymous June 23, 2006

touched This article really touched me. I recieved a gift from my husband for my one year anniversary as well and it had a lot of sentimental value and beauty to it (it was a sta of david diamond necklace that cost him a lot of time energy and money) and because of this article not only do I love the necklace more but I now understand the true meaning and Torah view of these types of gifts. THANK YOU for making this gift even more meaningful! Reply

Anonymous June 19, 2006

I love your answer Rochel, it's a deep one. I agree with you.

To the writer: I'm married for 5 years to a loving husband who still doesn't know how to choose a birthday/anniversary gift for me! (He has me choose)! Your husband will come around, and even if he doesn't you'll feel comfortable guiding him!
I have friends who still 'ooooh and aaaah' everytime my husband buys me a gift, and not because of the money value (they're not always jewelry), but because of the thought. Some of their husbands don't even have the 'tact' (harsh term I used..) to buy something special for that occassion. Bask in his love! Enjoy it! Your'e a lucky wife, and you must've earned it! Reply

Robin A. Egg Harbor Township, NJ June 19, 2006

Response to this question Having had a similar experience, my husband knows that if we're in a jewelry store and I say "I like that piece, or that piece", he will remember that and we go to a particular jeweler who knows me and my taste, he has made me a very happy woman. I prefer gemstones in a piece such as amethyst or blue topaz. We will be married 13 years come December and I have never been disappointed in his selection. Reply

A Husband NY, NY June 18, 2006

Surprises Talking from experience, I would like to give advice to all the other guys snooping around this section of the site:

While it is great to surprise your spouse etc. it is painful for her to own an expensive piece of jewelry that repulses her. She will either have to force herself to wear it, or live with the fact that you spent precious cash on something that will end up sitting in the closet.

My advice: Make your rounds to a few jewelry stores, when you find a suitable place, arrange with the sales person to show a selection that fits your budget when you bring your wife, have her choose the piece she likes.

It may not feel as romantic as having the jewelry brought to a candle-lit restaurant table, but if it’s not her taste, the romance will be no more than a one-sided illusion.

If your making the investment for her, get something you know she will like.

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