Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Valentine’s Day is coming and once again my husband will do nothing for me. He said, after we got married four years ago, he shouldn’t “have to” anymore.
This was a huge shock since, when we were dating and engaged, he would take me out to dinner and send flowers. He never indicated romance was a chore for him. Last year, I still bought him a card and a small gift, but he said he hoped I wasn’t doing it to guilt him into reciprocating, so this year I plan to do nothing. I try to accept his attitude, but it really hurts. My dad still sends flowers to my mom, and my sister got married two years ago and her husband pulls out all the stops.
My husband is a good man who loves me and is excited about becoming a dad (we’re trying right now), so I know I should get over this, but every year when I see the fuss on social media and the whole world seems to be celebrating, I feel so left out and despondent. What can I do?
I wish I had a happier answer for you, but it’s just this, basically: Take it or leave it.
Meaning: If this is the marriage you want (Marriage A), then I urge/beg you to accept the Massacre of Valentine’s Day as a minor price to pay for the life companionship of this man.
If instead this is not the marriage you want (Marriage B), and if his peevish anti-floralist fakeout is a symbol of everything you don’t get out of the marriage — romance, open-mindedness, spontaneity, superficial indulgence just because he likes to see you happy — and/or if it’s a symbol of everything you do get out of it, like disappointment, frustration, pedantry fatigue and Facebook envy, then please recognize this as a potentially marriage-ending problem. That means you start the work of dissecting the relationship under the supervision of a skilled therapist (go solo to start).
And if it’s B or if you’re not sure whether it’s A or B, then please stop the “trying right now” for children. Immediately.
For what it’s worth: I struggle to square “really good man who loves me” with howlers like “shouldn’t have to anymore” and “doing it to guilt him.” Those are terrible slaps in the face. If he is and has always been kind of formal/rigid/emotionally clueless but means well, then that would … maybe not square, but square-ish. (It still wouldn’t excuse the false promise and pretense of using gestures to woo you that he plainly always intended to drop the nanosecond after “I do.”) Yet, if that’s true and it’s just how he’s always been, then presumably you’d know that of him and stop harboring these unrealistic hopes, no?
Which really brings us back to the main question: Is he, while acting as he always has acted, the husband you want? As-is?
Re: Valentine’s Day:
Don’t be afraid to tell him it matters to you, even if he thinks it shouldn’t.
Fair enough. Set a low bar, though — flowers — and make dinner reservations yourself.
Re: Valentine’s Day:
Also, stop acknowledging fake holidays.
— [Buzzkill Lightyear]
Ha. Except they’re all fake. Made-up. Every single one.
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