Military source for advice on Valentine’s Day?

It’s LOVE DAY out in the world, and all heart week at Military Success Network. We are introducing new guest bloggers on the soul of resilient military to civilian transition and a NEW ADVICE COLUMN. 

TO THE RESCUE today, is the 1st of many valuable columns to come! Reprinted with permission of  GUIDON in Ft. Leonard Wood. They are graciously sharing the HE SAID SHE SAID advice column, written by our own new dynamic duo of guest bloggers and veterans Pam Collins and her partner in life and practical advice prose, Shaun Collins. (Formerly, Mr. and Mrs. Smith, till both officially retired from military service and entered civilian life, with resilience!!)

Today, they address a universal quandary. Oh, I hope it’s not too late for you today. Our MilSuccessNet editor was found this morning, way past deadline,  hunched over, asleep and clutching  a half empty heart shaped virtual box of chocolate… on the screen.

He Said, She Said: Husband stumped at what to buy wife for Valentine’s Day 

He Said She Said








He Said, She Said: Husband stumped at what to buy wife for Valentine’s Day

By Shaun and Pamela Collins

I have a problem. It’s not a big issue, but it is to me. My wife is a saint.

I got her stuff for Christmas, and I could tell the stuff I got here wasn’t what she would have gotten herself. She kept telling me that it doesn’t matter, and it’s the thought that counts, but I want to go for the “wow” factor, and I keep missing the mark. I asked her for a Valentine’s Day list of things I might be able to get for her, and she just brushes it off. She tells me that “it doesn’t matter” or that she will like anything I get her. Sometimes she says, “Oh just a card.” But here’s the guilt. I know she will blow me away with her gift.

For Christmas last year, she got me an iMac. Last year, she surprised me with a weekend of hockey and a steak dinner in St. Louis for Valentine’s Day. She doesn’t eat much chocolate, wears very little jewelry and isn’t into bubble baths. I am stumped. Please help. How can I “wow” her?

Shaun M. Collins

Shaun M. Collins

HE SAID: This is a touchy one that I think all men have suffered through and failed at miserably more times than we want to admit.

My son is extremely gifted at paying attention to what people are really interested in, what they could use and always seems to buy the perfect gift for everyone – I have tried to be as attentive and listen to the “clues” and buy the most extravagant gift within my understanding of the scope of interest but have also been the recipient of the “it’s the thought that counts … it doesn’t matter” response.

There is the more practical approach, agreeing to a price range, then each pick their own gifts (or options), then buy each other what you know the other wants. There is no wow factor in this approach, but it does avoid disappointment. Romantic getaways are always a good bet as long as the activities involved are things she is truly interested in (not a golf trip if she hates golf). Face it, we are men and we will never understand women unless we ask. Good luck my friend, but if you find a better solution, I’m all ears.

Pam Collins, writer of the He Said She Said column

Pam Collins

SHE SAID: I am so glad someone finally addressed this issue. Know you are not alone. It is difficult for a woman to say exactly what she wants as a gift for several reasons. One of them is they don’t really know and, in many cases, the things that come to mind are followed with the thought of “but I can buy that myself.”

A second reason, is some women feel that if they have to ask for exactly what they want to get it, its not “thoughtful.” I know this seems like a no win situation for you, but it’s the way we think.

My first suggestion, stop asking and pay attention. My husband is good at this but I have to say, my step-son is better. I am constantly amazed at the level of thought he puts in the gifts I’ve received from him.

What the gifts I have received from both of them have in common is they are things I love but wouldn’t have thought to ask for. What are your wife’s hobbies, interests, and passions? What does she spent the majority of her free time engaged in? Another suggestion is to ask her friends or Family. She may share with them what she might not share with you (see reason 2). But the bottom line is, pay attention. The gifts you said you received from your wife seemed to have taken some thought. She knows your likes and dislikes. She’s paying attention. Most the time, that is all it takes.

Shaun and Pamela Collins were both career Soldiers with a combined history of military service spanning over a half of a century. They have been where you are. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the writers and not necessarily those of the Fort Leonard Wood Public Affairs Office or the GUIDON.

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  1. Susan Dahlgren Daigneault says:

    Loved this column and look forward to reading more. Wanted to share another idea for Valentine’s gifts. Last year I decided to write my husband a valentine email with a list of the many reasons for why I still love him after all these years. One of my reasons was “I love that when I say I need to talk to you, even if you’re in the middle of an exciting TV show, you’ll stop and listen.” This year, he did the same for me and was I surprised to find on my computer this morning his version of my letter telling me the reasons he loves me. Priceless!

    • Helena Kaufman says:


      What a wonderful surprise and gift to get – to be cherished, to have it articulated AND to have it in “writing.”

      I love this idea.
      Thank you for sharing it with us.



  1. […] MORE NEW features:  Advice from the “former” Mr. and Mrs. Smith  …….The columnists from Ft. Leonard Wood’s GUIDON, are now both officially […]

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