Taken from Lesson 13, Section I in Wife School Online:
The Valentine’s Day before David and I were engaged, he called to tell me that he was going to the Memphis Tigers basketball game with his dad. I will not print my response to that here, but let’s just say that he was wildly unaware of how important that day was to me.
And after my cute sister-in-law married my brother, her birthday rolled around and he had not gotten the memo about “how to celebrate the birthday of a wife”. I’m not sure what she said to him about her birthday, but to me, she said she wanted a card (mushy), a present (wrapped), a cake (with candles), Happy Birthday sung to her, to be taken out to dinner, and a parade. For years, we have texted/emailed each other on our birthdays, and said, “Hope you get your parade today.”
Of course, we are silly and kidding, but maybe, there is a little truth hiding behind our jests. Why? Because women have this ridiculous notion that how others treat us on our birthday (Valentine’s Day, etc.) shows how much they care about us. No, actually, the real truth is, others treat us on our birthday/holidays as they have been trained to and not necessarily according to how much they love us.
Women, we have to give our husbands a break. They tell us they love us by being sexually faithful, by bringing home their paycheck, and countless other dutiful ways. They do not understand this desire to be “treated royally” on our birthdays/special days.
And to be honest, it is a burden for them. Many men have financial pressure to just pay the bills and now, he’s expected to drop a wad on this woman in order to express affection. It’s not his idea of a good time. If you are having financial issues, please give your husband some slack. Help your husband navigate this day by giving him some ideas that are not expensive but are meaningful to you. (Only give him ideas if you are sure he wants your ideas. Some husbands see this as pushy.) You might tell him that you would really love a nice card and that’s enough. Or, maybe he could write you a poem, if he’s bent in that direction. Give him some ideas that are not too difficult for him to pull off.
Recently I heard of a wife emailing her husband a link and a picture of a necklace she wanted for one of her special days. Then she emailed again and said to ignore the first email because this email now had the link to the necklace she wants. And then she sent him a third email, changing the necklace and the subsequent link again. Wives, some men just don’t have the patience for this (but some do, so rejoice if yours does). Another wife, in contrast, was asked by her husband what she wanted for one of her special days. She sent him a text, telling him about a bracelet, and at the end, she wrote, “but whatever you give me, I’m sure I’ll be happy with it.” Which wife do you think is probably easier to live with? Which wife probably wears her husband out? These are small things, but small things add up. Try not to be so “high maintenance”. Try to be content and grateful for small things, not demanding and always manipulating, trying to get everything to work out just right for you.
We have to say here, again, that most men are not good at celebrating our special days. They are just not. Do you see the ridiculousness of getting mad at a first grader who doesn’t understand algebra? Men that have been married a while to women who give them the 8 A’s begin eventually to understand they need to show up for special days. But honestly, this can take years. You might have a mountain of a man, but he doesn’t have a wifey-pie heart and he doesn’t know that you love lace, roses, and to get gussied up. You have to realize over and over again that the creature who loves football, work, and sex is not put together like you. So, we give him a break. Eventually, we softly tell him what we’d like, and then when he still doesn’t get it, we give him another break. We don’t expect kids to get fractions and decimals easily and we don’t expect husbands to understand the heart of a woman easily. We give them grace, stay in the game, and know that wise wives eventually influence husbands!
What women want their husbands to do is…ready for this?…is to read their minds. That’s right. They want their husbands to know them so deeply that they read their mind and know what they want. They want their husband to find a way to adequately express to them that they are adored, known, understood, and cherished. There are some men out there like this. There are some men who have a knack for this, but honestly, it is pretty rare. So what I have found to be helpful is for women to help their husbands by asking for something on their special days that is not too difficult for their husbands to do. The best advice is to realize that celebrating your special days in a way that excites and pleases you is …well…actually, a big burden for them. So, give them a break and then, give them another break. Over the years, you will be able to tell your husband what you want. Men improve tremendously in this area after years.
Of course, there are ditches that women fall into when they react to their husband’s non-celebratory behavior. Let’s look at two ditches.
Ditch One when husbands fail to adequately celebrate The Big Five (birthdays, anniversaries, Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mother’s Day) is to give the husband the silent treatment. The wife thinks, “Why, if he doesn’t love me more than this, he certainly won’t be getting any great treatment from me”. The simmering begins.
Ditch Two is an emotional turmoil outbreak. Usually, it is about something else, though, because we hate to harp that others don’t celebrate our day more. So we find something else that is “legitimate” that the husband did wrong and let him have it for that when in fact, it is a punishment for failing to celebrate “us” better.
What I’ve found over the years is that if women repeatedly and faithfully write down in their Turquoise Journals their husband’s sweet gestures along with his self-sacrifice to the family, they begin to understand that this is how he expresses his love. It is not about flowers and presents to him. Retailers have blown up these holidays to make money, and now, husbands must scramble to ring bells and jump through hoops or women are dissatisfied. Re-read in your Turquoise Journal all of the sweetness your husband brings to your family, and let go of wanting a circus and a parade for your special days. Whatever he gives, it is enough for now.
One more remark on this subject: Facebook and the beautiful pictures of roses and the huge boxes of chocolates that some husbands give wives don’t help you feel loved when your husband works late on Valentine’s Day and you eat leftovers. When I see some “grand gesture” that another husband does to his wife, I realize that that husband has his set of weaknesses, too, and the flowers, although nice, do not speak of a perfect husband. They speak of a husband who is smart in this area. Try not to envy others. There is pathology in every marriage. If your husband is faithful and hard-working, accept him, pour in the 8 A’s, and give him a few years to learn to celebrate holidays in a manner he can handle. Give up wanting “high treatment” all the time. It is a symptom of addiction, if you remember (see Lesson 11, section III).
I do want to say again that he cannot read your mind. You have to fingertip tell him what is in your heart. But then also remember, that you can only ask for the top one to two things in your heart. And if gift-giving is not in the top things, I suggest letting it go. The poor guy is trying to understand you, and it is ridiculously difficult for him. Be dutiful in focusing on what he brings to the marriage. Do not decide how much your husband loves you by how he celebrates your special days. Instead, be grateful for his many acts of self-sacrifice and dutiful giving to the family. Romance is nice, but it can take years to train a man how to do it.
If your husband goes without new golf clubs or drives an old used car so your kids can have braces, then that is true love. Write that down in your TJ and be grateful for his faithfulness. Don’t let the culture decide if your husband loves you. His faithful actions say he does.
26 Responses to How Husbands Feel About Your Birthday, Anniversary, and Other Holidays
Thanks for this article…this one us really helpful…im in the middle of pitiness and envy right now. But after reading this i am enlighted
I really appreciate your response. God bless!
I totally understand how you feel. I do not know the particulars about your life except from what you told me.
You said how your husband does not recognized your birthday or Valentine’s day. He is addicted to pornography. You feel worthless. I feel sorry for you.
What are you going to do now? You can’t control your husband. You can control yourself. Like a shipwrecked sailor, do not drown thinking about what might have happened or what he doesn’t tell you. Do not drown in self pity. Think about who you are and who you can become. God created you. He created you to have joy in this life and in the life to come. You can concentrate your thoughts on showing yourself and showing your husband how awesome a wife you can be. He will eventually learn from you. Be a good person. Be happy. There is already too much sadness around you. Be helpful. Show your husband that if he lost you, he would lose a incredible person. Be the type of person you want to marry. Be the type of person to whom you want to be married. Pray for the strength to be the best person you can be. God wants you to be happy. Sometimes you have to fight to stay afloat in this life. Just keep swimming. It is worth it. You will see.
That is beautiful!
Thanks for this..It is absolutely God sent 🙂
thank you for this..it was much needed..as if God directed me to your site.. 🙂
thank you for this..was much needed..as if God directed me to your site 🙂
I needed to read this article today, especially since today is my birthday. This morning my husband asked me what did I want to do today. I was annoyed because I feel as if he should have already had something planned. I was expecting him to say that he had all of these special things planned. This article was right on time.
Thank you, Julie..(can I call you “Angel?”)..for dropping some very helpful hints into my heart, and mind, today…(our anniversary!!) ♥
Except that some of us wives bring home the paycheck and take responsibility for most of the work at home too. Sorry, this is a cop out for men. If a woman says I need a mushy card and dinner and her husband ignores it, he’s not being a good husband.
Thanks Megan, I feel that way too, but the article is ok when I want to forget how sad my anniversary was…..
I agree. What about us women who give up our careers to stay home and raise our children so that our husbands can fulfill their dream of being successful business owners or otherwise. We ask for 1 day out of 365 days to be made to feel special and appreciated because generally we are the ones who keep the family unit running like clockwork. I think there should be a book for men so that they can learn to understand how we operate instead of trying to understand why they dont understand us.
I agree that this is a cop out for men. You’re telling me that a grown man shouldn’t feel “pressured” or “burdened” by his wife’s notion of special days? Isn’t that the whole point? To take a moment and pause in our busy lives and celebrate each others’ births– to celebrate our very existence… After all, it doesn’t take much time OR money to show someone that you were willing to think about them on their birthday
thank you so very much for this, it was uplifting and enlightening. However, I have one question…what if he didn’t do anything not one little gesture of anything nice..not a hug a kiss…nothing. This is his second marriage, my first. We’ve been together almost 9 years (married for nearly 4) and he’s always done nice things in the past…so I don’t know what to think. I’m trying to give him the benefit of the doubt…now after reading this article but it is really hard at this point. I have done ditch one btw…thus far, not proud of that but I’m really hurt and a little upset.
i am torn with how I feel. I like and understand what you are saying,
It would be nice to have a card or just a piece of paper expressing something anything.
i see your point. i am truly blessed with my husband. I love him dearly.
To express his love for me like he use to do with a card. I miss that so much.
I know how upsetting birthdays can be. If you’d like to write me more, please send an email to julieNgordon2012@gmail.com
@Megan – exactly!! My husband decided at about 4:30 yesterday we could go out for dinner if I wanted. He also gave me – wait for it – a six pack of beer (“but its the kind you like!”) wrapped with flip chart paper from his office. No card. No cake. No candle. No flowers. No chorus of happy birthday. No (actual) gift. I don’t really care about the gifts (though if he was so inclined I have told him about 6 things that I really want in the last week, to help him out). His excuse is “I’m not good at buying gifts” and “I leave things to the last minute”. Fine, but here’s the thing, we have been together 24 years and married 20. Okay, so maybe you think I should get over myself and accept him the way he is. But what about him accepting me the way I am? Every year (in fact every occassion every year) we have this conversation about how I know that it shouldn’t be a big deal but that a recognition of these special days is important to me and a way that he can make me feel valued. Like him, I work full time. I bring home slightly more than half of our family income. And I do Every. Last. Thing. that stay at home wives/moms do. Including going out of my way to make my husband, daughter, my family, his family and our friends all feel special – on their special days and year round. Sadly, he has passed down his inward focussing ways to our 15 year old daughter too. She did not even say happy birthday yesterday. When I told her (much more gently than I told him) that it hurt my feelings, she looked at me blankly and left the room. My heart aches sometimes.
I am sorry about your sadness and disappointment. Your situation is very complex. If you would like to write me at JulieNGordon2012@gmail.com, we can continue this conversation.
I too would love to hear your reply. My husband said that he was taking me out to dinner for our 20th anniversary. I got dressed (not all fancy or nothing), and we left (to supposedly dinner). Our destination was NOT dinner. He took me to his parent’s vacant house that they plan on retiring in and started stripping wallpaper, took down bookshelves, and started painting one of their guest bedrooms. We NEVER went out to eat. He took a whole week of vacation to “celebrate” our anniversary, and spent the entire week working on his dad’s house. He never had any intent to do any “celebrating”. In the end, all I got was ruined clothes from paint, and to find out that I get to pack their belongings, and help them move in. I honestly don’t care that we didn’t celebrate anything, to find out that he lied about his intent makes me very angry and distrusting.
Leann, I am sorry about your anniversary. Many men don’t understand anniversaries and their importance. Have you signed up for Wife School? Many women have learned how to “teach” their husbands about their special days. Let me know if you’d like me to sign you up. Julie
I so agree with what you wrote. I am so hurt that my birthday and mother’s was basically ignored I did get a nice card. I feel guilty for wanting more and try and play it all down. but it hurts like hell
I know he loves me I even know it bother’s him that I am hurt. But I have been married to him for 35 years. i feel like I should be used to it Upsets me that it still gets to me. I don’t know what to think good to vent I just wish he could put effort into these events.
I understand how you feel. We have been married for 31 years and I have always had to pick out and purchase my own gifts. This year, I told him that I was done doing this and it is up to him to pick out and purchase my birthday gift. I told him what I would like, but now HE needs to spend some time to find it. My birthday is in August, so we will see what happens! Our anniversary is in June and I asked him what he would like. I took this opportunity to tell him what I would like….to have a real engagement proposal. I have always felt that I was cheated out of this moment that is every girls dream…to have a man get down on his knee and express his desire to have you be his wife. No expense is involved, just a little time and thought on his part. I really hope he was paying attention. My husband is really an amazing man and I love him with all my heart, but it is so frustrating and hurtful when he doesn’t get it!
Well as much as I understand this, it still doesn’t make sense when before we married he used to make a big deal. I’m pretty simple and he knows that. But now that we have been married for a while, he doesn’t remember my birthday by telling me Happy Birthday. That is just total neglect. Our kids tell me and make me cards because he won’t take them or help them. They are 7and 12! So they celebrate it and he still never says anything to me at all. And by the way, he is retired and at home, so no excuses for him.
I know how hurtful it is to women when husbands don’t understand the importance of the “Big Five” (birthday, anniversary, Valentine’s Day, Christmas, and Mother’s Day). But repeatedly, I find that there really is a blind spot in most men about the significance of these days to women. But in saying that, I also find that women who live out the Wife School principles are able to eventually communicate how important these days are to their husbands. Let me know if I can sign you up for the next Wife School Online class. Blessings.
Thanks for this. Today is our 20th wedding anniversary and nothing. He Didn’t remember, no card, no flowers, zero. I was ok, reminded him, wasn’t that bothered that much as my expectations are super low after 23 years together but by end of day its getting to me… this helped.
I agree that we cannot judge how much someone loves us by what they buy or do and we cannot say that “oh, dont worry about my birthday” but then act hurt when they in fact dont. And yet, I think we are letting men off the hook if they cant even find the energy to say two words, like “Happy Birthday.” That was my last bday–no one even wished me a happy bday, husband decided to go to gym and run errands at night, so I made dinner for the kids, put them to bed, and basically he did not talk to me all night. I do not care about receiving things, If I need something I buy it (i earn half our income) but it would be nice for him to simply acknowledge the day–its an acknowledgment of my presence in his life. More broadly I disagree that men are somehow hardwired differently and cannot do the emotional labor that women do–we have to remember birthdays, send a note when someone dies, call the babysitters, etc They are socially conditioned to expect that women will do this for them and as long as we continue to excuse it as such then it will continue.