Q: Dear Meredith,
I was hoping you could advise how I should handle a Christmas present from my husband. My husband bought me a lovely necklace for Christmas, but it's not something I really like -- and he spent a small fortune on it (far more than he's ever spent before). I'm concerned that by suggesting that I exchange it for something I love, I will cause more harm than good and deeply hurt his feelings. Usually, he picks out pieces that I love and cherish, but this year it was a miss. Any suggestion on how I can approach this with him and make him know how much I love and appreciate the effort and time he put into this gift ... but that this year was a miss and I'd love to find a piece together?
I'm writing you as I'm really on the fence as whether to bring this up. I know it's a gift and perhaps I should just accept it even though I don't love it. I don't want to cause an insult that may leave a lasting impression. Thanks for taking the time.
– Christmas Gift Conundrum, Boston
A: My official opinion, CGC, is that if you buy someone clothes or jewelry, you have to know that they might want to trade it in for something else. Returns are not rejections. Gift givers should know that.
There are a few exceptions to that rule, of course. If your significant other is an artist who made the wearable item, you should probably keep it. (If your boyfriend happens to be David Yurman and he gives you a necklace, please just wear it.) And if you've received a piece of jewelry that's a family heirloom, you must hold on to it and wear it on appropriate occasions.
In your case, you can absolutely say something -- and you should probably do it soon, before returning the gift is no longer an option. Tell your husband that you're having trouble wearing the piece and that you want to make the most of his generosity by finding something you really love. Explain that you trust his taste and that you'd like to pick this item out together.
He might get a little sad about your request, but only because he's usually so good at finding something you like. Those bad feelings should vanish once you guys find a piece you love. Trust me, he doesn't want his money to go to waste. Just be honest.
Readers? Should she say something or just keep the gift? If she speaks up, what should she say? Ever had trouble telling a partner that you didn't like a gift? Help.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.