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“My husband forgot our anniversary”

Dear Stephen,

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

Dear Ignored,

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.

9 Responses to ““My husband forgot our anniversary””

  1. Amy Says:

    What if you did all the above for years, and he still ignores you?

  2. Stephen Says:

    Amy, then if it were me, I would challenge you to look at the reasons why you are accepting a relationship dynamic that is so upsetting for you. I would share with you the belief that his behaviors are a problem, but I would ask you think about the possibility that they’re not your biggest problem… Another way to say it: when your partner is upsetting you, that might mean your partner is (unwittingly) giving you an opportunity to grow and develop in your own life. Does that make sense?

  3. Jessie Says:

    Today June 22nd 2011 is our 10th Anniversary. My husband can barely remember it. It’s not the first time he forgot a special date. Last Mother’s day he forgot too, and he remembered to call his Mother but he just ignored me the whole day, not even a flower from the backyard. I am a stupid romantic, and I really suffer when he ignored o forgot this very important dates, but I don’t feel that I have to remind him, because then it has no value at all. I am not specting jewerly or an expensive dinner, but at least a kiss, a huge. I am more convienced every day that he is not for me. We are so different in many aspects that scared me.
    Anyway I am not a cold woman, I am warm, romantic, faithful, too stupid taking care of a cold husband, cooking for him, iroining his clothes, cleaning the house, and having sex by his request because he doesn’t even look for me to please me, he only look for him having sex… I am 50 years old, but I feel like my life is over. Unhappy Anniversary to me :-(

  4. Fel Says:

    Wow. It’s my ten year anniversary and my hubby also forgot. I’m only 26 (together ten years) I’m pregnant with our third child and if I was feeling depressed before I read the above comment it’s nothing to how I feel now. That’s gonna be me when I’m 50. It’s not a deal-breaker, so I’ll stay with my husband, but it’ll be something I’ll always miss… Romance, affection, appreciation. *sigh*

  5. Sbk Says:

    Today is our 10th Anniversary. I gave him hints this afternoon and he wished me Happy Anniversary. That’s about it.. I planned a romantic dinner and treated him to a wonderful dinner. But he never got me a flower or a card. When I mentioned it he says – it is another day.. just like any day.. I am so upset and have been crying for hours.. He does this every year. Last year, I shared my concern with him and told him what I expect.. to be more caring and remember just this day (forget birthday and mothers and any other day) but Anniversary is the day god brought us together.. He forgets again.. I know he loves me.. but why doesn’t he give importance to this special day?

  6. Kelli Says:

    Last weekend was our 15th anniversary. Last summer I suggested we skip summer vacation and plan a 15th anniversary January trip to someplace warm. He wasn’t too thrilled with the idea and kept putting it off until it was too late. I was disappointed but not upset until our anniverary came and he didn’t even bother to get me a card, something he had never done on prior anniversaries. He ended up having to work late that day, uderstandable but knowing how I wanted to make our 15th so special, I had hoped for a little something out of him and got NOTHING. He felt bad when I handed him a card about 9:00 that night and he had nothing for me. He knew I was upset and he tried to hug me but I turned away asked him if he forgot (which I would have preferred to hear) and he said no, he thought about it earlier but never got around to it. He got me a card and candy the next day and said we could go out to dinner sometime this week but for me the moment has passed and I have no intentions of having an “afterthought” anniversary night out with him this week …is it wrong to feel this way?

  7. Crissi Says:

    This June was our 8 yr anniversary- he forgot completely. A month later ( and after I explained how hurt I was about our anniversary) he forgot my 31st birthday. We are not married and we have a 3 1/2 yr old little girl together… I also have an 11 and 13 yr old from a previous relationship. When we first got together he was so attentive and supportive, called me his baby etc Slowly over time he has come to make quite a bit more money than I and works more… He feels this gives him the right to all the free time he can handle- which he spends at his mothers home plying video games. His mother hasn’t seen our child since she was 1 due to the both of us being uncomfortable being alone w her, so she chooses to stay out of her life. (We do not have video games on our house because he was on them CONSTANTLY, would friek out if a kid got in his way and because we were waking up to him screaming at people he was playing with online.) So now he refuses to help pay for cable or Internet, which we don’t have. He spends a ridiculous amount of money on lotto and his games and fishing/hunting equipment… I make a third what he does. I pay half the bills. I do all the housework. I buy 80% of groceries. I pay for everything for the kids. He complains just about having to pay half the bills! I spend all my free time planning things for us to do together so theyre not feeling as miserable as i do. He throws a fit if i ask him to tKe our 3 yr old to daycare on his day off because its HIS day off. When he finally does come home- after his extracurriculars

  8. Crissi Says:

    He will give everyone a hug, eat and usually play on his phone until he falls asleep til about midnight… He then gets up and drives to his mothers house for more gaming, stay super late so he’s exhausted for work again and repeats the same the following day. I used to be so happy and thankful and content being at home and not having much free time… I have grown resentful of the way he spends his money and the free time he has… So much so that I demand free time now, even whn I dont need it. I will come home after having an hour to myself to find him asleep w our 3 yr old running around the house. I have turned to smoking pot (which i know is wrong) after my kids go to bed just to relax! We have been thru so much together but I feel like I’m in love with the past and that I don’t even like him most of the time. I don’t want my little girl growing up without her daddy, even if he isn’t a good one… Then I read these 50 yr old women writing what they have and realize I will be her in twenty years! I’m still, after all this time, waiting on a ring- or at least a proposal! We aren’t married and I feel like I’m ALWAYS waiting… For him to come home, for him to decide family is more important than video games, for him to get off his phone and get off the couch and get to the table where 3 kids and I are waiting to pray.. Always always waiting for something. I have grown more verbal about my frustrations and my kids are noticing… No longer will I make an excuse for where he is, I flat out say he’s at his mothers. He falls asleep and I voice how irritated I am… I feel like they can def feel my tension and are feeling it themselves and it makes me feel like crap. I also don’t want them to think I am a door mat and let this happen all the time because I think it’s ok. I want them to know I’m strong. I don’t know what to do;( the answer seems simple- leave. My head says one thing, my heart says another. Why am I so afraid to be alone if I already am 95% of the time???!! What’s your opinion on all this?? Anyone!

  9. mc l m Says:

    My husband forgot our 4th wedding anniversary and now that it was brought to his attention barely acknowledged it. I asked him at least twice in the past two weeks – what would you like to do for our anniversary? He Was very non committal – no real answer. He had every opportunity to consider a choice or give it some thought. He hasn’t apologized either. He didn’t know he had forgotten until someone arrived at our door and wished us a “happy anniversary” to which he said thank you and then nothing to me – until later he asked “did I make dinner at the restaurant I had suggested?” To which I said no – he then asked if I wanted to go out for dinner tomorrow night to celebrate our anniversary. Regarding “tomorrow” – he had considered going to a colleagues retirement party which is tomorrow but decided no – he had to work the next day. So – in no way did he give this any thought. I am really hurt. I’ll get past it, but I am really done in by his lack of caring. The card I bought him sits unopened, it is going in the trash and I am going to bed.

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