The much-lampooned image of a husband seeking cover behind a bunch of flowers after having forgotten a wedding anniversary or his wife’s birthday may not seem so funny to a spouse who has been at the receiving end of such forgetfulness. While there may be genuine reasons why a spouse’s birthday slips out of a husband’s mind, it still does not take away the hurt experienced by the wife. Here are a few things you can do when your husband forgets about the most important day of your life.
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Enjoy your day
..or whatever is left of it. If the better part of your birthday has gone by without your husband wishing you, don’t waste the remaining hours waiting for that phone call or card. Go to meet your family or do something enjoyable with your friends. If they are busy or you don’t want to answer their prying questions, have fun on your own. Go to the theater, the art gallery or your favorite restaurant. If you wish to do something different, visit a home for the underprivileged children or the elderly and see what you can do for them. Round off the day by spending a few quiet hours in place of worship or watching the sun go down.
Ask him about it
If an entire day has passed without your husband wishing you ‘Happy Birthday”, decide to bring it up. It may be tempting to hold on to your pride and keep the hurt within. But instead of lessening the misery, this will only lead to a festering of resentment till the relationship explodes in both your faces. So choose a quiet time with your husband and ask why he forgot your birthday. And then depending on his response, take it from there.
If he actually forgot
As your husband responds to your query, you will be able to judge from the tone of his voice and the look on his face if he is telling the truth. If you think your birthday actually slipped from his mind, then perhaps you could let him off the hook this one time. Express your feelings of hurt but don’t go overboard with your emotions. More importantly don’t use the occasion as a sounding board for other issues in your relationship. On the other hand, if your husband wishes to make up and offers to take you out to a movie or a dinner on another day, agree graciously and look forward to a nice time. Finally don’t keep reminding your husband about his mistake for days to come or he will be secretly glad that he ‘forgot’ to wish you on your special day.
Take the initiative
Even if you decide to forgive your husband for his goof-up, it does not mean that you shouldn’t get a birthday celebration out of him. Select an arbitrary day and declare that for this year only, that is your “birthday” and this time he better take you out dancing and dining. Also suggest playfully that if he comes up with a fantastic birthday gift for you, you just might agree not to ‘forget’ his birthday in turn. More importantly however, help him along next year by making plans you would enjoy and including him in the decision-making process. While this is not the most romantic of all approaches, it is one way of keeping the channel of communication open and the special upcoming occasion in his mind. And it is much better than sitting quietly and agonizing whether this year, he would again forget your birthday.
Consider if the incident is part of a pattern
If this was the third or fourth time, your husband forgot to wish you on a special occasion like a birthday or anniversary, look closely at what else is going on. If you notice other signs of emotional withdrawal like repeatedly keeping you waiting if you have to go somewhere together, not sharing his thoughts and feelings with you if he used to before or losing interest in physical intimacy with you, perhaps you have a bigger problem at hand. Your husband may be deeply troubled by some aspect of his life – he may be having problems at work, worried about his parents or unhappy in his marriage. Also watch out for signs of dependency on cigarettes, alcohol or other harmful substances which are often wrongly used as a way of coping with stress. While it would certainly help if you could convince him to address the problems at the source of his emotional distress and thus forgetfulness, remember that you can do only so much. Eventually it is your husband who will have to take the initiative to sort things out if he and your marriage are to be happy.
However if your husband knew it was your birthday and declined to do anything about it, it could be a sign that he was wanted to make a point or make his disdain obvious. Reflect if you have done anything to upset him deeply which may have compelled him to behave this way as a way of getting back at you. If not, perhaps this is your husband’s way of distancing himself away from you for whatever reason. Whether or not it is because he is no longer happy in the marriage or because he is seeing someone else, you can know only upon confronting him with your questions.
Forgetting a spouse’s birthday need not herald the end of a relationship if both partners are otherwise emotionally supportive of each other. In fact in many cultures, the yearly celebration of a person’s date of birth is not given much importance but that does not make him/her any less important in the lives of their loved ones. Finally remember that you married this man for reasons more important that his gift-giving ability. So if he forgets your birthday, show a bit of an attitude, suggest he make up for it and please get him a calendar for next year.