Ally wondered what birthday presents to buy for Billy, her partner Tom’s son, whose ten year old birthday was in a few months. She often struggled to come up with the right gift and thought she had a good idea; she would buy him new sheets and a lighter blanket with spring coming. She thought it would give her a chance to bond with Billy if they picked them out together. But when she shared her gift idea, Tom said she didn’t need to buy them. However, he then went out and bought them himself.
Ally said “I thought Billy didn’t need them.” Tom responded, “Since the weather was getting warmer, I didn’t want to wait.” Ally said if she knew this, she would have bought them right away and would have considered them Billy’s birthday gift.
On their own, this conversation would have easily escalated. Discussing this issue in our counseling session, it was clear the issue was created by miscommunication. Because Tom didn’t share his plan, Ally didn’t have a chance to express her willingness to get the gift right away. Tom apologized, realizing that he could have made both his son and partner happy if he could remember to talk things out.