Birthday Disappointment - AGAIN


My friend was away for a recent weekend, arriving home at dinnertime on her birthday, to her husband of 35 years.

(Kids grown, gone).

The following day she recounted to me her disappointment upon disappointment about how the evening went.  She explained that there were flowers and that he had meticulously prepared dinner (following the de-tox diet she was on to a T)....

BUT...Aaaaand here we go, once again, the lamentations of a woman wanting a man to "celebrate her birthday" in the way SHE wants to be celebrated (forgetting, of course, that he has absolutely NO IDEA what that means....)

What She Saw:

Cheap flowers that she didn’t like, a dinner that wasn’t special (because it adhered to her diet and she wanted a fling, no candles, no presents, no card (extra painful when heaped upon all the other holidays in which there were no cards).

“I want books and art and music!  I wanted to go off my diet for a day!  I wanted to be pampered and celebrated!”

What He Did:

He thoughtfully prepared creative little tapas, carefully adhering to her diet – which took a significant amount of time. Time in which, I’m guessing, he was thinking of her.

The flowers – again, he was thinking of her — NOT the quality of or type of flowers.

A card?

Yet ANOTHER female desire that doesn’t really enter into the thinking of many men that I know.

What Could Be Different?

Society jokes, “Tell him exactly what you want – size, color – and where to buy it.”

Ask any man (and I’ve asked plenty) and he’d be very happy to have that list!

Does it make the gift any less meaningful?  

Only if you let it.

My Humble Advice:

  1. Create a running list – easily accessed by him – of things you like – recent book and music titles, food and flower preferences (and PLEASE TELL HIM if you want to go off your diet!).

  2. Next to the list put a selection of cards and candles.

After the Cold War:

Several days after the chilly birthday evening, my friend was able to tell her husband how she "didn't feel special."

She told me:  "You assume that they just know. But HOW ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO KNOW," she continued, "if we don't express our needs and desires?"

It is so simple, really.

What He Said:


"I'm an ass. I was so busy working, I just didn't think about doing more. Let's have it be your birthday week."

And he brought her gladiolas - "Because you need something spectacular."

More Humble Advice:

  • Spend the time COMMUNICATING, connecting and celebrating, rather than resenting that the flowers and food weren’t exactly what you wanted.

  • Dial down your expectations and recognize that he is doing the best he can, right now.

  • Recognize that he doesn’t THINK and EXPRESS his love like you do.

  • He doesn’t KNOW how you want to be celebrated. This is a foreign land to him – especially if he didn’t see it modeled as he grew up.

  • REMIND him of what you desire several weeks before your next celebration. He'll appreciate the heads-up!

He has nothing to go on but YOUR LOVING GUIDANCE.

Give it, gently and kindly.

THEN open your eyes to see how HE expresses his love to you.

Putting gas in the car may not feel like love…but ask any man and he’ll tell you - it most definitely is.


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