No Gift Ideas for the Wife? Esquire Suggests a Divorce

This month’s Esquire features a gift-buying guide that manages to simultaneously insult men and their wives in one fell swoop.

Gifts That Will Keep You Married” begins by asserting that this year’s crop of cheating scandals might be making women question their husbands’ fidelity (because women only read gossip rags and, even then, preferably ones with one syllable words.)

So, what does Esquire suggest to solve your marital tension? Why, buy her things, of course.

Even if you’re not philandering, chances are good your wife is starting to look up from her tabloids with suspicion, if not outright terror. Let her know how much matrimony really means with these gifts to solve common male marital flaws.

The piece goes on to outline the “ideal gifts” to counterbalance your flaws as a husband. For the “oversexed,” it suggests a ladylike Kate Spade clutch. For the heartless cuddle-phobe, a really warm scarf.

Not much of a snuggler? I bet your girl could use a hug. But if you can’t put out, you might want to try turning to one of Yokoo’s absurdly cozy neck warmers and scarves.

And finally, the kicker. For the cheater: Get her a divorce.

You know, the one where she gets everything. Then you can both move on to more important things. Like buying gifts for other people.

What are they trying to accomplish? Not only is it suggesting that women can be “bought off,” it’s creating the illusion that material goods can take the place of honest communication and compromise in a relationship. Oh, and that human vice is as black and white as “you’ve cheated, let her go and move on.”

The story may have been able to pull this off if it had been written more tongue-and-cheek, but the whole thing reeks of honest-to-god earnestness. The overview boasts “seventeen fantastic ideas—no matter what kind of husband you are. Because a lady deserves to be happy for the holidays.”

To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with giving your significant other presents to help the process of healing. Gifts have symbolic power, and we dig that. Also, not all the suggestions on this list are totally off. They suggests a cookbook for the kitchen-challenged and a monthly flower subscription for the forgetful. Good calls in both cases.

But it’s when it tries to tackle truly complex problems—like emotional detachment or infidelity—where the article falters. Hell, if marital discord was as simple as buying a scarf, then divorce rates wouldn’t be sky high (and scarf companies would be making billions).

So, to the how-to-piece that bunches men and women into neat manufactured boxes: sorry, but we’re just not buying it.


About Lu Fong

Lu Fong was a staff writer and blog editor for the Good Men Project in its formative years. As the requisite woman on staff, her hobbies included cleaning, cooking, knitting, fainting, and childbearing. Follow her on Twitter @lufong.


  1. I have not read the Esquire article to comment, but it does sound problematic. In this article I find this problematic, “Hell, if marital discord was as simple as buying a scarf, then divorce rates wouldn’t be sky high.” You are assuming that this is a bad thing.

    Humans live a long time. Who we are, what we want, and what we value changes over the years. At times these things change differently and at different rates for each partner. It is ridiculous to demand a couple stay together when they have drifted apart, even more so when dysfunction forms a part of that relationship.

    Marriage started out as a property arrangement between families, then the church became involved, then the government. Living in Australia where many couples are “de facto”, living together without formal ceremony, I know that healthy long-term relationships are possible without receiving acknowledgement by religion or government.

    Having a ceremony is lovely. The benefits in personal development and fulfillment are great when a couple can manage to maturely stay in step with one another. Sadly, marriage is all too often used as a way to hold another hostage. Personally, I feel we should do away with marriage and have people learn how to interact with one another as free individuals.

    This would of course require that 1) our culture finally makes it possible for women of all ages to have the opportunity to make a self-supporting living (no pink collar ghettoes) and thereby can take more financial responsibility for themselves, and 2) that all parties are required to take responsibility for the children they create. I’m not pointing the finger at men here. Once upon a time it was more common for women to abandon their children to their father. I’m just saying that equality is requisite for the freedom of all parties.

    I can fully love someone who I can freely love. I cannot fully love someone to whom I feel imprisoned by tradition, expectation, and financial necessity.

  2. *gag*

    You know my favorite present? A hug and a kiss. Works if it’s from my sweetie or from my daughter. That may sound twee, but honestly, it’s the best thing ever.

  3. I’ve known women in very emotionally abusive relationships where the spouse cheats, degrades, and ignores. However if divorce is spoken as an option; they resist, build barriers, and make the relationship even more unbearable. You could take this as a round about way that if males take the article to heart and offer that divorce, it’s probably best in the long run anyway.


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