Nina Smith

Spending Money on Same-Sex Anniversary Gifts

Filed By Nina Smith | November 05, 2007 7:20 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: anniversary, finance industry

“True love comes quietly, without banners or flashing lights. If you hear bells, get your ears checked.” – Erich Segal

My partner and I celebrated our fifth anniversary recently. We never had a commitment ceremony and although we consider ourselves married, neither one of us ever had a burning desire to stand up in front of our friends and family and profess love for each other. Quite frankly, we both think the white dress ritual is a bit much – especially knowing that my family would wince at the spectacle of two lesbians exchanging vows in wedding gowns and boycott the entire event. Even I sometimes think queer ceremonies seem nonsensical. Some people want one and that’s fine for them… but it’s unlikely we’ll ever have a “wedding”.

That said, I thought it was important to have a fortieth birthday party and we’ll do the same for my partner early next year. We spent a small fortune on mine (done fashionably at the Avalon Hotel in Beverly Hills). I paid a handsome sum for my outfit as well. My birthday budget was very unNina-like, but I justified the expense by saying that we never had a wedding so I thought we should make up for it on our milestone birthdays. A life event like this has a way of marking time and is money well spent. Of course, next time I’ll think twice about hosting an open bar. Beer and wine only for those lushes. Anyone want to guess what a martini goes for at the Avalon?

Back to our anniversary. This was the year that we planned to buy each other rings. The real McCoy… the tens-of-thousands-of-dollars kind of commitment rings. That was our hope but the baby-making costs put a kink in those intentions and rings are on hold until a healthy baby is growing inside my partner.

My practical side wondered if we really needed to even exchange gifts this year but I knew this wouldn’t go over well with her. While I’m the expressive one in the card department, she is better about making events “special”. Holidays are a good example: I’m fine shutting the porch light off on Halloween and reading in bed. My partner will have none of that. We carved pumpkins and had friends over for autumnal stew… on a school night. Our kid is going to love holidays.

So while I wanted to say that the money we’re spending on IVF should be our gifts to each other, my partner had a better suggestion. She knows that the only kind of shopping I like to do without freaking out is when we spend money to make our house and living experience better. The things we wear on our bodies (and our typical anniversary options: jewelry, perfume, clothing) don’t fall into this category.

However, house items do. It’s odd, but spend $1000 on a new jacket and I’ll have remorse for days and ask repeatedly, “Do we really need this?” Even Joe Lupo’s handy “cost per wear value equation” can’t defend the purchase of overpriced clothes… in my humble fashion-challenged opinion.

But apply the same formula to a house item and I’m all for making the justification. My partner was very clever with her anniversary suggestion. She’s known for years that I’ve wanted nice wine glasses. Whenever we have a dinner party with seating in the range of eight to ten, I’m always super agitated that the table is a hodgepodge of stemware.

Isn’t that something that straight people get at their wedding? The wedding we’ll never be having. So we decided to spend money on nice wine glasses. I was giddy with excitement. She was just pleased that I was willing to traipse around South Coast Plaza on a Saturday afternoon even if it was in search of Riedel crystal and not clothes.

The outing was a success and we even bought some other household incidentals… the Wusthof paring knife that had mysteriously disappeared, the coffee carafe that leaked with every pour and a few other items. All these purchases brought us pleasure. They say things can’t make you happy but I disagree. Sometimes things can and for me personally, these types of things making day-to-day living more beautiful are worth every dime. Do you agree?

So my queer coupled readers, how do you celebrate anniversaries? Do you give each other gifts? Are they simple? Are they extravagant? Do you talk about them beforehand? Have the gifts been different in year one vs. year five vs. year ten and beyond? Do you think our choice was practical and lacked romance? How did you pick your anniversary date in the first place? Comments welcomed below.

One final note, since the wine glasses were a bit higher on my list of wants than on my partner's... she had a separate anniversary request: She wanted our closets and drawers to be better organized. Now we're sounding like we’ve been together twenty years and not five. So after the housewares were loaded up into the car, we drove across the street and got de-clutter religion. Is it really possible to spend $300 at the Container Store? It is. Believe you me.

And that weekend we spent the evening organizing the kitchen drawers while sipping vino out of our new Riedel glasses. Life and love is grand!

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Nina blogs about money over at Queercents.


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Hmmm... Having only been in relationships that were measured in months and not years, I can't say that I've ever celebrated any sort of anniversary. Or even one of those one-month anniversaries, as we usually forgot the day we met.

Gawd, how stereotypically gendered can you get?