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.