I learned the lesson of telling my husband what I wanted the hard, long, frustrating way. Every year I waited for my husband to deliver a special surprise on my birthday/Christmas/Valentine’s Day. He only “got it right” one time. In 20 years he “failed” 60 times. But really, I failed because I didn’t clue him in on what would float my boat, and like you said, he wasn’t a mind reader.
At some point, I realized that if I wanted something more than fake limes from China wrapped in their original Amazon delivery box, I was going to have to write out a list of gifts I wanted, including links and sizes. It certainly removed the element of surprise but that’s far better than being surprised by no gift at all. And he felt more confident in handing over a present he knew I wanted versus being unsure. It was always a win-win.
I think “getting it right” also increased his confidence. He saw a pattern in what I wanted over the years and surprised me on a birthday with a gourmet meal he made himself. It was delicious but I was over the top excited and surprised because he took a risk and gave me something I’d always wanted: just taking the time to notice what made me light up.