Monday, April 5, 2010

Mars and Venus

I have a wonderful husband. We are alike in many ways: both strong-willed and stubborn, both determined, both on the strict side when it comes to dealing with our kids, poor things. We have a similar sense of humor (if you aren't considering boy/potty humor), we are passionate about our faith, and we like good food. We love Russia, the Book of Mormon, California Craftsman architecture, and our kids. But like all couples, we also have our differences, some more compatible than others. He likes ESPN, I like HGTV; he likes peace & quiet, I like the house teeming with family and friends; he craves continuity, I crave variety. And there is one difference that I doubt we'll ever agree upon: birthdays.

You see, I love birthdays. There is just something wonderful about having a day all your own (although, now I share mine with Margaret,) on which people you love make an effort to make you feel special. I love getting phone calls, cards, and Facebook messages on my birthday. I love going out to dinner with my husband, having a big family dinner with my kids, and going to lunch with girlfriends. I love birthday cake and presents. I love feeling loved-- after all, don't we all love that? And I love doing the same for my loved ones on their birthdays.

But Jared, you see, CLAIMS that he doesn't care a fig about birthdays. Now don't get me wrong-- as any good husband should, he knows how important birthdays are to me and does all he can to make mine special. But when it comes to his birthday, he always says we should just ignore it. And I am left in a conundrum. Does he really want me to ignore it? Is that what would show him love in equal measure to spoiling me on my birthday? Somehow, it seems like a betrayal to not celebrate the day that he came into the world. Doesn't he need a big, chocolatey cake, at least one present that isn't new socks, and the family gathered around to sing? Doesn't he want a birthday card from me full of all the reasons I'm glad he's mine?

Sometimes I resolve to respect his wishes and treat the day like any other. But I never can go through with it. Instead, I plot to find the perfect gift for him that he hasn't asked for. He says he doesn't want anything, but I'm sure that if I find the right thing, he'll be so overcome with joy and emotion that I'll know I've finally done it. And it never has worked yet. And I am left wondering if he spends his birthday humoring me by letting us celebrate it when he just wants to watch sports and be left alone for an hour or two.

So, what shall I do? His big day (in my eyes, only) is coming up on Thursday and I still am not sure how to handle it this year. I have plead for some direction-- a family outing, a dinner date, an afternoon doing whatever he never does because he gives all his time to his family or business, but to no avail. He won't even tell me what he wants for dinner! How would you handle such a stinker? If you really loved him and wanted him to be sure of that? And in what way are you and your spouse polar 0pposites? Leave me a comment, pretty please!


My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

Birthday have always been a deal for me growing up and have done to celebrate my kids birthdays too--So being married-- My dh and I are a few days apart and I'm already trying to get idea of a gift for him.

Buy the time its our birthdays we are caked out from the kids..I do try to do something special for him or spend some time with him. Hugs

My 5 Monkeys(Julie) said...

wanted to add--Do something and surprise him..Its what you like to do. My dh puts up with me and all my fun stuff.

Chocolate on my Cranium said...

My husband is the same way! He'd never want me to do anything (his birthday is on Friday). But then we had a discussion about why we celebrate birthdays.

They are a celebration of the righteous decision we made to follow Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father. On our birthday we can celebrate the
commitment we have made to be on the Lord’s side. We can rededicate ourselves to be obedient and choosing
the right things so we can achieve and enjoy the blessings promised to us.

After seeing the importance of celebrating birthdays from a doctrinal perspective he at least let's us make a cake and sing loudly to him.

We make it a point on every one's birthday to stress that they chose to be on the Lord's side.

The Nay Family said...

My husband is the same way. Every year he says he doesn't want me to do anything. I have tried to be mindful of his wishes in the past, and then always change my mind a few days before his b-day. Honestly, I think he would feel really bad if I just let it come and go. I think your friend Julie is right. Surprise him. It doesn't have to be anything too extravagant. He will love you for it!

Kallie said...

I say leave him alone and just let it be another regular day. Maybe once he sees how un-fun that is, he won't be such a stinker in the years to come?

Peter and I are different in how we want to be treated when we are sick (similar to your birthday dilemma). I want to be waited on and babied and taken care of. Peter just wants to be left completely alone. It's tough because we each want to take care of the other the way WE want to be taken care of but of course that doesn't work.

Ldsgal said...

I think you should always celebrate each family members birthday as it is a blessing from Heavenly Father. It is the one and only day of the year that that individual is celebrated and it gives not only that person but the children of the family the opportunity to focus on the parent (in this case) and give!

My husband loves our family Birthday gatherings and I don't think he would have it any other way.

HEY? Mr. Birthday, put a smile on your face and have a cake with the kids. Geeeeees lol

Cornfields, children and waterballet said...

Are you sure you aren't married to Jared's uncle, Daren? Just ask Myrna about the night we planned a surprise birthday party for Daren's class at SLCC. He caught wind of what was happening and CANCELLED class. I have learned to respect his wishes. It's so hard because I am so like you! The bigger the better! In 20 years Daren seems very happy to have a very simple dinner and hang out with the family at home doing the normal day to day stuff! ERRRRRRRRR! Good luck!

Kristen said...

Love the pictures by the way! I think you should respect his wishes- to an extent. Maybe make it not so big of a deal on his birthday- just a quiet celebration at home with your family- and then leave it at that this year.

I don't think everything needs to be fair in a relationship- at least "fair" in the way we think of it. Everyone wants to be loved in different ways- something I've learned very recently. While you feel loved being noticed on your birthday, he might feel more loved just being able to enjoy the day in quiet reflection of the last year of his life. I wouldn't feel bad for celebrating your birthday and not doing as much for his- everyone is different!

Nana said...

I vote for the quiet family dinner he wants- with cards/expressions on love and appreciation from you and the kids. (He can accept it as a teaching moment for the kids - who need to learn how to express love and gratitude to those who bless our lives.)
I'm with him - I do like to be remembered on my birthday, but calls and cards are the best.

Aubrey said...

I LOVE that picture of you both. It is stunning!

Darrell and I are opposites in a lot of ways. I often think that it is a good thing we married young and quickly, or we might never have got to where we are! LOL

I don't know really what to tell you for birthday advice. They are a big deal in our house. Myonly thought is that because you have kids and I imagine they want to make birthdays big and fun, so just do it fun anyway. And maybe for a gift you can give him a couple of alone hours with SportsCenter. And make sure he knows that's his gift, not just happenstance.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

He always asked for tostadas when he was a kid.

Kim said...

I grew up in a house that was VERY focused on EVERY birthday, holiday, anniversary etc. I still get chastised for not sending my grandmothers, aunts, uncles, cousins and sibling cards for every possible celebratory day. (Can you hear the annoyance in my typing?)

Somehow, despite this training I have absolutely NO interest in receiving cards. I really feel like it's a waste of money. Why spend the money on a card to say something that would mean so much more in your own words?

This also translates into my children's holidays. EVERY Easter, Christmas, Valentines Day, Halloween etc etc I receive the lecture about how my children are going to be scarred for life because their Easter baskets did not have a chocolate bunny or they didn't get enough gifts from Santa. (Can you tell I just received such a lecture this past weekend?)

But I have learned that my Mother expresses and wants to receive love through gifts. "Things" mean little to me, I am a clutter nazi and throw away just about everything that does not have a functional purpose. My parents on the other hand take saving to the extreme. Their "things" seem to mean everything. So, because I know how much it means to them, I make a special effort to focus on such 'things' even though it is almost painful to hand over the cash for a card I would throw away after the party. But Mom will keep it for years, so that's what matters.

This obnoxiously long comment is supposed to be saying: Do what you know will mean a lot to him. If you think a quiet evening without the kids enjoying a plain ol' dinner with you in front of the TV is in order, skip the cake and cards for one year. Let the kids express their love and appreciation over breakfast together or simple notes on Dad's pillow for bed. But leave the party hats in the closet this time. ; )

Good luck with your plans!!

Christine said...

I have no advice- I just wanted to say "ditto."

Michal said...

Post Script:

So, we treated it as a mostly normal day. We had tostadas for dinner, which is what he always requested as a kid. I made a super amazing ice cream cake based on a Prudence Pennywise recipe, with chocolate cake, rocky road ice cream, semi-sweet ganache made with Sees chocolate chips, and toasted marshmallows on top. I bought Jared a couple of pairs of pants at Costco and neither of them fit-- that was his present from the family:)

Jared's dad called just before dinner to tell us that he had accidentally had the heater on in his pool for the past week. I shudder to think what his gas bill will be, but we packed up after dinner with whooping and cheers and went swimming. Night swimming, which my kids love and rarely get, since it is light so late here in the summer. Jared's parents gave him Mario Cart for their Wii, so we played a little of that before coming home much later than our children go to bed-- we are usually such sticklers.

The next night, Jared and I went out with another couple on a fun date. We went to three different restaurants for three different courses-- a progressive dinner, if you will. We had amazing chips and guacamole and virgin margaritas at Tres Agaves, then went to Crush 29 for dinner.

I had the "Chicken and Prosciutto Pasta:
Herbed papperdelle noodles, almonds and butternut squash in a nutmeg cream and wild mushroom red wine sauce" and Jared had the "Drunken Brandy Steak:
Two day balsamic marinated hanger steak with a mushroom ragu, asparagus & Crush smashed potatoes." (Lots of info, but I've had some requests to know what we ate.) My dinner was so delicious and was a feast for the eyes and smelled incredible before I ever tasted it. We hadn't eaten there before and I would definitely go back.

For dessert, we went to Paul Martin's Bistro, which is never disappointing, especially for pastries. I really like their pastry chef. We each got a different dessert and then tasted one another's. Jared had the banana cream pie, which is the best we've had. I had the homemade chocolate ice cream with shortbread cookies. The ice cream is made with organic Valhrona chocolate. Yum. Our friends had the chocolate infused creme brulee and the hot apple crisp with caramel sauce. Ay, carumba!

No one sang Happy Birthday that night or even mentioned it, which is just how Jared likes it! All in all, I think it was a pretty decent birthday for someone who doesn't want a big deal.