Dear MTN,

As I am writing this I realize it is not a huge problem however, it is something that has bothered me for years and I do not know how to approach the subject with my boyfriend. Every holiday and every birthday, I always spend time and money getting my boyfriend a gift that I know he will love, and every year my gift seems like an after thought. We have been dating for five years and we have discussed that we plan on getting engaged next year when we both turn 25.

As for the gifts he gives me, he obviously spends a substantial amount less than I do on gifts and I am not materialistic by any means, but it does bother me. It is not even the gift itself that bothers me but the lack of thought he puts into it. For Christmas this year I got him an expensive watch, his favorite cologne, a couple of sweaters, and a couple of his favorite cd's. He gave me a pair of earrings. I took the earrings to the store just to get an idea of how much he spent on me, and the clerk said the earrings were originally $100, but they were discounted 50% during December; so he spent $50 on me...How do I approach this with my boyfriend without seeming ungrateful or spoiled?

One more question. I am Irish American and he is from Ireland. My last boyfriend was from Ireland and he was the same way. Do you think it might have something to do with the Irish culture? Thanks for your help. I love reading your column. 

- Rita

Dear Rita,

I do understand how you feel. I can tell it isn't about the money being spent, it is the point of the effort that goes into buying the gift. You obviously are putting a lot of thought and love into buying his gifts, and he is not doing the same. This is something you want to discuss before you eventually get married. Whatever bothers you in a relationship, bothers you much, much more when you are married. The time to discuss it is now.

As for if I think it is a cultural thing? I am not sure. I know and am friends with many Irish guys and they are extremely generous with me, and we are only friends. However I did date an Irish guy once, and looking back I remember he would always say he never believed in giving flowers to a girl. He never realized how that was such a turn off to hear and made himself sound very cheap. Obviously our relationship didn't last long. Then again, my two Irish friends, both sent me flowers this Christmas, as well as beautiful and thoughtful gifts.

I think it depends on the guy. It sounds like you have yourself someone like I did that thought more about his own happiness than in making someone else happy. If that is the case, don't walk down the aisle, in fact, run as fast as you can and find a generous Irish guy. There are plenty of them out there, you just have to find them. Many of them are in my program as well. Good luck to you, and I hope your "talk" works. If it doesn't, call my office for a free consultation.

Happy New Year,
 - MTN