Ask Doug: What do guys want for Valentine’s Day?

Helping to fix things or explaining why men still wear their oldest t shirt, Doug gives us the man’s perspective.

Most Valentine’s Day gifts are for women. What do guys want for Valentine’s Day?
Hoping for flowers at the office in Houston

One of my favorite presents was a trip to the grocery store.

I remember the clear, cloudless day, sun shining down on me proudly pushing my cart into Central Market. Rachel was with me, and some friends who came along.

I picked up a steak and set it in the cart. Rachel said, “That’s great, Doug!”

I grabbed some chips. Rachel said, “That’s really great, Doug!”

I picked up some really expensive jam. Rachel said, “Yum, that will be really great, Doug!”

In fact everything I picked up got the same response from her (or very close to it), and that was my present: I could choose anything I wanted, and she could only say how great everything was. [Note from Rachel: This was in the days when we were paying off debt, and we had a really tight grocery budget, if you’re wondering about this.]

So what did I get, besides some red AND yellow peppers?

I got what most men want. I was accepted.

This was a tough question. I could have handled tools, philosophy, or politics much easier than this one. Maybe the next question could be how many lights per foot do you plan for a Christmas tree.

What can you do to make a man feel accepted? I’ll suggest a few man-centric thoughts to you ladies out there… if you’re a man and reading this you can give me a silent fist bump.

It helps a man feel accepted when he knows that the things he has already done are more important than the things he has not done yet.

A guy likes it when a woman acts like she has everything she wants when she has him.

A man will notice if you listen to him.

I have no idea what it cost Rachel to make that trip to the grocery store with me. It was simply one of my best gifts. Find a way to make your man feel accepted, now that’s a Valentine’s Day present.

Have a question? Send it to Ask Doug.

Doug’s first job was in a meatpacking plant. He ran with the bulls in Pamplona. He’s read the works of C. S. Lewis. He’s manly, and he’s here to help.

About Rachel

I write about practical tips that will help you simplify at home. Connect with me on Pinterest and Twitter.


  1. That is such a thoughtful gift!!! I hadn’t even thought of one yet – I am always floundering with a man that gets whatever he wants himself… but it occurs to me to give him permission to get whatever he likes for dinner, even if its just steak and dessert, is a very cool gift – for all of us!!!

    se7en´s last post…Sunday Snippet: Three Special Stories – A GiveAway…

  2. I like this one! And I don’t care how much they already have–this gift still works. (And it always fits!)

    mrs.e´s last post…Ghost of Valentine’s Days Past

  3. I’m cracking up at this idea. Jimmy would totally love a free for all trip to the grocery store.

    While I’m not a naggy wife, I’m pretty picky about the food that comes into our house, so the frozen taquitos and soda he loves don’t often find their way into our shopping cart.

    I’ll have to start practicing, “That’s great, Jimmy!”

    Kat @ InspiredToAction´s last post…Squash Your Morning Excuses: A Purpose Greater Than Comfort

  4. I know what my hubby wants for Valentines and it ain’t groceries (wink,wink).

  5. Oh my lord! That is absolutely, without-a-doubt the very best idea yet!

    Being a grocery Nazi, this will work for me this year! Thanks!!!!

    Debbie Hudson´s last post…**UPDATE!!** 2nd Swagcode Available

  6. Denise C. says:

    These two lines:

    A guy likes it when a woman acts like she has everything she wants when she has him.

    A man will notice if you listen to him.

    So very true! Thanks Doug! :)

  7. My husband flipped over this idea. Although he questions if I can handle going with him and not rolling my eyes or even sighing, but I think I can handle it. Thanks for the idea!

    Lynn´s last post…Easy Peezy

    • Rachel actually pulled it off with no tone or eye rolling. We made an event out of it. She did so great I felt like I was in a Jane Austin novel. Actually, I have been living that Jane Austin epilogue for the last 6 years with Rachel, you know… the happily ever after part!

  8. What a great idea! My hubby would love this. We struggle with Valentine’s Day gifts and usually opt for some outing with each other, but this is a great alternative.

    Lisa @ lists in my pocket´s last post…Weekend in Pictures

  9. Oh Doug, this is fabulous. I have to say this is pretty much what I would like for Valentines too.

    Tepary´s last post…Cluck, cluck, cliche

  10. That sounds about right. Have you read the book “Love & Respect”? I can’t say that I remember agreeing with everything from it, but the basic principle that women need to feel loved and men need to feel respected has been really helpful. Now whenever we are struggling with communication or have some sort of blip between us we see things differently.

    This was cute. Thanks for sharing.

    Shannon´s last post…Giveaway Week, Day 3

  11. I LOVE this!! It’s a fun idea, and my husband will love it. He loves to cook (and is very good at it), but he likes to buy expensive, impractical ingredients (in my opinion). I’m going to be nothing but supportive the next time we are at the store together. ‘No sarcasm’ is key!!

  12. Wow, great response, Doug. I am absolutely positive that acceptance would be the greatest gift I could give my husband, and this is an excellent reminder of that. Thank you!

    Minnesotamom´s last post…This is my job.

  13. This is perfect advice for me, since we live in an unfinished rehab project that my husband is doing himself. It’s difficult sometimes to appreciate ALL that IS done, and not focus on all the unfinished aspects. Our home is live-able and it is the creation of our joint vision and of our making. Thanks for inspiring me to give him the gift of my understanding and contentment in the right here and now. Not quite sure how to convey this as a gift, yet, but I feel sure that as I hold it in the forefront of my mind, it will become apparent! Thanks SO much!

  14. Wow. what a thoughtful post that really gets at the heart of things. honest and thought-provoking. I’ll be thinking about this all day.

    quirkygranolagirl´s last post…Learning how to eat out of a bowl

  15. Aww I love it. Great advice. We women forget how important respect and appreciation is to our men. Thanks.

    Kait Palmer´s last post…Wardrobe Challenge Days 20-22 & Booooooom Auction

  16. doug – you sound like my husband. i do v-day for him every year. predator, ribs, shooting range, chicken&waffles. i just wrote a post with all the stuff we’ve done. we call it “Un-Romantic Valentine’s Day and i highly recommend it.

    jaime´s last post…Un-Romantic Valentines Day

  17. What an intriguing and transparent answer. You made me smile.

    Anna´s last post…And She Blooms

  18. What a great post! I love the line “A guy likes it when a woman acts like she has everything she wants when she has him.” In 8 years of marriage, I don’t think I’ve ever conveyed that to my husband. But when I stop to think about it, that’s exactly how I feel. Thanks for giving me the tools to be more loving this Valentine’s Day!

  19. Whoa, what’s with all the supermarket Nazis out there? :)

  20. Hey Doug!

    I just want to say I’m enjoying hearing more from you. Rachel’s awesome…and I think we’re beginning to see it’s not just her.

    You remind me of my husband too. Maybe all men really are alike.

    Thanks for sharing from your own life to make a difference in others!

  21. This literally made me laugh out loud. Hard. I love it.

  22. So well put Doug! I totally agree! Thanks for the reminder.

  23. That’s AWESOME! Wonder what Rachel’s inner dialogue was like while she was busy chirping “That’s great!”. LOL!

  24. sleepless in seattle says:

    I just read this post and it so timely. It made me cry. I know it’s supposed to be funny, but I just got into a huge argument with my husband over the silliest thing over food (Chick-A-Fill!) and vacations, and Doug, you couldn’t have made the situation any more clearer to me. I get it now. It seems like everything I convey to my husband is how much I don’t accept him. It’s not my intention, but I guess it’s the message he is getting. Why do I tend to focus on all that he is not? Rachel, do you have any resources/advice on how I can change? Thank you for writing this, I am a long-time reader and you both bless others in more ways than you know.

    • I know from my personal experience that an honest apology and asking for forgiveness is a first step that goes a long way. Hugs to you!

  25. I read this to my husband today ~ HE LOVED IT!

    Glenda Childers´s last post…Gg: on triple berry pie

  26. brilliant! i posted a link to this on my husband’s facebook page… and now he’s getting a steak in a red wine reduction for valentine’s day! (but no trip to the grocery store…but i did get the steaks there)

  27. Am I the only women here who lets her husband buy whatever he wants 365 days a year? I wouldn’t DREAM of rolling my eyes if he decided to buy cheetos. He’s an adult, he can make his own decisions, and I would never disrespect him by acting like I have the right to dictate what he gets.

    We discuss what to buy, of course. But if he wants something I don’t want, I smile, honestly hope he enjoys it, and buy something else for myself.

    I just read this to my husband, and he’s as mystified as me. Is this really a daily problem for so many people?

    • Can my husband buy whatever he wants at any time? Yes, of course.

      But grocery shopping is one of the tasks that I normally do for our family. I do it with a plan in mind for a week’s worth of meals, and I look for foods that give us the best nutritional value for the money. So it’s not a free-for-all trip, although I try to include a few treats, especially ones that I know Doug will like.

      The trip Doug described was one where he didn’t have to worry about the meal plan or the grocery budget, and it was fun for him to pick out food.

  28. I totally went with this idea, and it was a smashing success. We went to my hubby’s favorite restaurant, stopped by the book store and looked at all the books he wanted to look at (always a hit with him), then went to Whole Foods, where he picked out some really awesome stuff, and I told him how great his choices were. :)

    I’m incredibly thankful for a really wonderful husband, and this was a great way to show him that I love him. Thanks so much for the idea.

  29. Hurray! I love “Ask Doug”! Thanks so much for helping me see things from my husbands point of view.

  30. WOW! All I can say at the moment is WOW! I have totally missed the message he has been trying to deliver all this time!

    Thank you!