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Tiffany dome, Preston Bradley hall.

Tiffany dome, Preston Bradley Hall at the Chicago Cultural Center, a popular venue for weddings. Sometimes with cheap presents.

One of the ways that bloggers get ideas is to look for things that people search for. One day, in my site statistics, I found that someone had found this using the search terms “cheap married people poor gift giving -wedding”. The searcher ended up at this post on the economics of gifts.

Those search terms were too good to ignore.

Are married people cheap? Do they give poor gifts? Does it matter whether or not it is a wedding?

There are a few things going here. The first is the distribution of major life events: things that are singular to us are also more or less universal. Your baby is a big deal. With seven billion people on earth, babies in general are pretty darn common. Likewise, your marriage is a big deal, but most adults get married at some point. Your parents deaths are big deals, but everyone else’s parents will die some day.

So that may be why people who are a little older and who have lived through more babies, weddings, graduations, and funerals find them less emotionally charged. They appreciate the significance but not the singularity.

Then there’s the effect of inflation. When we were married, my husband’s grandparents thought they were being generous with a $50 check. And there was a time when that was a huge and generous wedding present – just not when we were married. We weren’t upset about it, although we did think it was a little funny that the grandparents thought we’d be thrilled by the amount. Several years after that, I took the same grandmother Christmas shopping; her budget for her great-grandchildren was $5 each. She was in the early stages of dementia and probably thought that was a fine amount. I am still proud of the fact that I helped her find $5 presents, mostly in the form of Target’s seasonal t-shirts. (She was a widow at this point, so maybe this example doesn’t fit the “cheap married people poor gift giving” theme.)

Many married people have lots of demands on their income, even if it is a high income. Besides celebrations on both families, they may have mortgages, car payments, and kids. It may not be cheapness so much as too many demands on their disposable income.

Finally, it is always the thought that counts. Is someone being cheap out of spite, or because they are simply thinking about the gift-giving occasion in a different way than you are? If it’s the former, you don’t want to be friends with them. If it’s the latter, a little grace is in order.