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I know, I know, this is a cliche, but my husband forgot our anniversary and I’m pissed. The thing is, I’m not 100% sure he forgot, but on the day of the anniversary he showed up after work, went into his home office, and came out with a card. He’s got tons of stuff in the office, and I wouldn’t put it past him to have a stash of cards for those “Oh crap I forgot” moments he likes to have. Sorry if I sound crabby, but it’s really upsetting to me when he forgets. It means he doesn’t love me, and doesn’t care about us. But I feel like I can’t nag him about it because that’s all it will sound like–nagging. Plus, this all happened like three months ago, so it feels like I’d be petty if I brought it up now. What should I do?
Ignored in Illinois
I like the alliteration in your advice-column name, but I suggest “Pissed in Peoria.” I’m not joking around–seriously, I think you’re mad, and I certainly understand why. But I encourage you to stay with that rather than focusing on the conclusions you’re jumping to (such as the belief that your husband is ignoring you, doesn’t love you, doesn’t care about you). You’re mad because of these conclusions and beliefs, so at some point you’ll need to address them, but it helps to stay with yourself first, and focus on what you yourself can do about the problem.
Here’s what I would do: I would sit down with him and tell him what I really want to happen on anniversaries. I know it doesn’t sound romantic, and you’re probably right that he might feel defensive–and might even think you’re a nag! But you’re not. You just know what you want, and you’re getting that across to him. And be really detailed about it. Instead of saying, “I want you to be caring and respectful of me, and remember our anniversary,” say, “I want our anniversary to be really special, and for me that means dinner out, gifts, and time together, just the two of us.” You could then let him know that when this hasn’t happened in the past, you’ve felt angry and hurt. You know that those are your feelings, and that they’re based on the conclusions and beliefs you created in response to his behavior, but you understand that they are not facts.
If he gets defensive, hang in there. Your job is not to try and convict him in a kangaroo court where you’re the judge and he’s the hapless defendant. Even if he feels that way, it doesn’t have to be what’s really happening. Your job is simply to connect with your husband about your desires, and for that, you need to take your own desires seriously, own them, and extravert them to him. It may not sound romantic, and it may not sound fair. But all it really is is you taking the lead, from a mature stance, so that the anniversaries to come are joyous celebrations of your life together.