As a result of a combination of me being out at sea a lot during our early years as a family and the fact that I have absolutely no sense of fashion or color coordination, my wife and I have evolved a system of gifting whereby my wife tells me exactly what she wants, and I get her those things, or else she just buys them herself and lets me know what I got her.
My wife's birthday and Mother's Day are always close, occasionally on the same day. She's always been very insistent that she get separate gifts for those two important days, which I think is reasonable and fair. Since this is her 25th Mother's Day as a mother (she was carrying our first child on Mother's Day 1987) I thought I should get her something special. [This should set off alarm bells already among experienced husbands.]
She had given me a list of exactly two things she wanted, so in an effort to surprise her I decided to spend the same amount of money and get her one of the things she wanted (but of lower quality), and one item that she has always kind of said she wanted but never really asked for. She was very surprised at the "bonus" item and seemed very happy, but now, a couple days later, she's saying, "I love it, but why didn't you just get me what I asked for?" I don't really have a good answer; it just seemed like a good idea at the time.
So what do you think? Should husbands just get the presents their wives want, or should they try to surprise them?