When it comes to celebrating wedding anniversaries, there are two distinct types of wife: the needy ones who demand hearts, flowers, and other manufactured, predictable demonstrations of affection just so they can feel appropriately, annually adulated. And there are the more evolved, laissez-faire ladies who reject clichéd notions of romance and not only prefer but even inspire frequent, spontaneous acts of tenderness from their un-put-upon partners.
And I’m totally that first one.
But I’m not proud of it. You see, I have a kind and generous husband who regularly, spontaneously, exuberantly fills my gas tank (absolutely not a euphemism), rubs my back, and fills my gas tank (yeah, that time was a euphemism). He’s creative and patient and funny and smart, handsome, hardworking, and pretty much perfect in every way.
Except he has acute flipping amnesia about our anniversary. He’s lived through 19 of them now (only because I have lousy aim), and it’s the same every year: I wait for him to mention that it’s coming up; he doesn’t; I finally remind him; he is surprised; the day comes; he does nothing; I confess that I was hoping for some small acknowledgement of our enduring … you know … love linkage; he gulps and says he’s sorry; I huff around for several days telling myself that gas-tank skills are nothing to sniff at.
But it bothers me. It does. The guy remembers to regularly change the furnace filter and clear the rain gutters. But he can’t—or is it won’t?—remember to honor the day we promised to, well, honor one another. It’s a blind spot on his brain, and apparently it’s a common affliction.
“He forgot our anniversary this year for the second year in a row,” a friend confessed about her husband. “The worst part was that when I brought it up, he’d forgotten that he forgot last year!”
Why do we care so much? What does it matter if our hairier halves make a fuss over us on some arbitrary day of the year?
It’s just that the longer you’re together, the more unnecessary grand gestures start to seem. Time — and endurance — are more compelling proof of our devotion than a Hallmark card or dinner reservation could ever be. But I want to believe that even if we don’t make opportunities to demonstrate our adoration, we’ll at least take opportunities to do so.
“To me, it’s important because it’s the birthday of our marriage,” says my friend. To her husband, it’s just “a day that will result in a pissed-off wife if it’s mishandled.”
And therein lies the problem: If we can’t make them care … is it really worthwhile to make them act like they care?
Here’s how this goes down in my head: I don’t want him to do it purely out of obligation … then again, why does he see it as an obligation rather than a fortuitous excuse to make me dopey-grinned? … Fine, then if it’s such a big deal, why don’t I shower him with hearts and flowers? … Because he sees no value in them whatsoever, and look at that: We’re right back where we started.
Next year is our 20th anniversary, and I still hold out hope that he’ll take the hint — and by “hint” I mean publishing a national column that people will almost certainly cut out of their local newspapers and mail to him anonymously, and by people I mean me. I just have a feeling this is going to be the year he finally comes through with a babysitter (my mom may be free, but ask a month ahead of time), spa weekend at a fancy hotel (watch Groupon for deals), and box of dark-chocolate-covered salted caramels approximately the size of my head.
Call me a dreamer.