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“My Husband Forgot Our Anniversary” – from the Archives

This is an email I received from a sweet wife that I think really showcases a classic misunderstanding between husbands and wives.   So, with her permission, I’m going to share her email and then think about some possible respectful and husband-honoring, Christ-honoring ways to tackle this issue.  I’m REALLY thankful that she brought up this topic.  It’s actually the 2nd wife in one week who has had this dilemma who has emailed me.  I hope the ladies might pay close attention to the little red flags in her email.  See if  you notice the areas where she ventured into disrespect (and also into some other possible pitfalls – like judgment, condemnation, pride) before you read what I wrote.   My perspective is certainly not the only respectful way to handle things – but it may give wives a starting place to begin praying and thinking about how God might want them to change.
Little bit of background: my husband has kinda forgotten about special days in the past.  He usually doesn’t plan my birthday gifts and holiday gifts very well. If he does, it is usually last minute.  I have gotten very upset about this in the past and hurt because my birthdays and our anniversaries are dates that I want to feel loved and special (like most girls) but like most guys, he doesn’t put much thought or planning into these days.  He has an hour commute to and from work and I’ve suggested in the past that he takes at least 1 minute of his commute time to think or plan for us, but he hasn’t taken my suggestion.  
So present day problem:
Today is our 3 year anniversary.  The past few days I have been worried he hasn’t thought much about it.  This morning, I woke up and tell myself to not be too upset if he has forgot.  I don’t want to set him up and pretend I forgot too, so I lean over and say “Happy anniversary” then I ask him if he remembered (probably this is where I first went wrong???) Or maybe I shouldn’t have said happy anniversary at all (this is where I’m getting stuck)
He said, “Yes,” he forgot but he told me that he told a customer yesterday about our anniversary so he really didn’t completely forget.    I said, “It’s ok” and got up to start getting ready.  (He could tell I was upset even though I was trying to hide it – maybe I went wrong there too and should not have tried to hide my feelings but I did not want to put him down and make him feel like a failure).  He asked, “What’s wrong?”  I said I was ok. Then he asked why I got up out of bed like that and I said, “Sorry I got up like that, but I needed to get ready.”  
He then started saying that is was first thing in the morning and of course he’s not thinking about that when he’s half asleep.  Then the argument broke out
(I heard him as making excuses and started to defend my point)!!!!
He brought up how hard he works and how burnt out he is. I said,  “I wanted to feel special” by having him make plans for us and I always worry he will forget since he has in past.  Things got blown up and I started crying.  I tried to tell him I was hurt and didn’t intend for things to go down like that but it took him a few minutes to stop being angry before he could comfort me.  We apologized and are ok now but I have no clue how to handle this when it happens again.  Which it will – he is human and it is kinda his nature.
This situation got really out of hand – and it didn’t have to.  This precious wife did what most wives would do – but it’s not working for anyone!
Let’s talk about where she went right and where she may have been able to prevent this entire argument and tense situation that might well ruin the entire day.
I have a hunch that something very similar has happened at least once or twice in almost every marriage.
  • I’m proud of her for telling herself not to be too upset if her husband forgot their anniversary.  Good job!  Especially since she knows he isn’t really strong with remembering dates.
  • I’m so glad she woke up and smiled and said, “Happy Anniversary!”
  • I’m glad she apologized – even though she was feeling unloved and hurt.
  • I’m glad she is trying to accept that he is human and wants to be prepared to extend grace.
It’s FINE to plan something for him and do something for him to make him feel special and cared for and loved if you want to.  Be sure to do something he would like.  And be flexible enough to be gracious if he doesn’t get as excited about what you did for him as you would if he did something for you.
But, if you expect your anniversary (or birthday, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day or Christmas) to be about him planning a party/a romantic evening/a surprise  for YOU to make YOU feel loved and special – then you are setting yourself up for  huge disappointment – ESPECIALLY IF YOU DON’T TELL HIM WHAT YOU DESIRE.
  • Your husband is probably a horrible mind reader.
  • Your husband thinks like a man.  He is not a woman.  Remembering dates and anticipating what you want without any input from you – may be unrealistic – some men seriously have trouble remembering things like that.
  • You can’t control your husband.
  • You can’t make him do things.
  • You can ask for things pleasantly and politely and tell him what you would like.
  • You can appreciate what he does for you.
  • You can do things for him.

One of my readers told me, “Expectations are pre-meditated resentment.”   (For more on healthy boundaries and what you actually can control vs. what you can’t control, click here.)


I think we have to be very conscious of the temptation to have idols – something we set our hearts on more than Christ.
If I am thinking
  • “If my husband doesn’t do what I want – I will be devastated.”
  • “If he doesn’t do Y, I will not be ok.”

These are  huge red flags to me that I am probably holding something as an idol, or, at the very best, that I am setting myself up for major disappointment.  It’s time to do a heart check and make sure I am looking only to Christ for my fulfillment and contentment – not to my husband.

The human heart is an idol factory.  All of us must constantly ask God to check our motives, and make sure we don’t allow anything to creep in there and take God’s precious place in our hearts.
1. It’s FINE to say, “Happy Anniversary!” smile,  give him a kiss and maybe even initiate physical intimacy if there is time that morning and he is interested.
2. It would have been fine earlier in the week to say, “I would LOVE to go to X restaurant for our anniversary this week!”  With a big smile on your face.  But then leave him with him and allow HIM to decide what he wants to do – or he may ask you about making reservations.  That’s ok, too.
3. If he forgets  – you can say something that night like, “You know what?  I really just want to enjoy being with you tonight for our anniversary.  I’m SO glad I get to be your wife!  You are the biggest gift from God to me.”  And enjoy grilled cheese sandwiches at home, or take out or going to a restaurant if he wants to. (Of course, if you had smiled at him brightly and said, “Happy Anniversary, Honey!” that morning, it would make it really hard for him to forget. :))

If you can extend GRACE to him – you can probably salvage all the things that matter most!  You can still have a great time together.

He will be so relieved that you aren’t making him feel like a failure for forgetting something he really didn’t mean to forget.  And then you can make wonderful memories!
I enjoy my husband on Friday nights when the children are at their grandparents’ house.  Sometimes my husband takes me out to a nice restaurant.  I love that.  And sometimes we have take out.  I love that, too.  And sometimes we have leftover chicken bog from the night before, or two nights before.  (I know…  you are asking yourself, “What on earth is chicken bog?”  Well – it is a South Carolina thing with chicken and rice.  It’s my husband’s favorite so I try to make it 2-3 times per month).  The point is:
I savor THE RELATIONSHIP more than where we go or what we are doing now.  I am joyful and content to be with him – no matter what we do.
I personally would like to see wives not get quite so caught up about their husbands making the plans.  If your husband isn’t a big planner – it might be a gift to him if you do the planning – as long as you ask him and he’s ok with that.
If you had just said, “Happy Anniversary!” and hugged and kissed him and smiled at him with that adoring look in your eye… you would have given him time to think of something to do for you while he was at work during the day.  He could have salvaged the situation.  He could have delighted you and been your hero.
That is exactly what the other wife who wrote to me this week did – and her husband realized he forgot and he felt AWFUL!!!  She didn’t have to say anything or ask if he remembered or not.  He really tried hard to make it up to her.  Give him the opportunity to be your hero!!!
To wake up and say, “Happy Anniversary!”  is awesome – but  then to ask, “Did you remember?” – was a problem – he may have even felt disrespected.  Now he can’t win.  He may even feel ambushed. If he did remember – she assumed the worst about him and he’s not going to be praised – and if he did forget – he can’t honorably extract himself from this situation.
When I disrespect my husband – it is unreasonable to expect him to comfort me.  First, I must apologize for my disrespect – even if it was totally unintentional.
Let’s assume the best, not the worst, about our men!  I think there is something about that in I Corinthians 13:4-8!
In my mind, an anniversary is not an occasion to spend days worrying about if he’ll remember.  It’s a time to be thankful he is in my life.  Whether he wakes up remembering the date or not is WAY secondary to the fact that HE IS HERE.  HE LOVES ME.  HE IS MARRIED TO ME.  He belongs to me and I belong to him.  What an incredible blessing and gift!

25 thoughts on ““My Husband Forgot Our Anniversary” – from the Archives

  1. Personally, when my birthday or our anniversary is coming up, I remind my hubby. I know that if the day came and he forgot, he would feel horrible, and I don’t want him to feel that way. As far as him planning a special surprise, yes that would be nice, but I don’t expect it anymore. A couple of years ago, I purchased tickets to a show for my own birthday, and we both had a great time.

  2. “And be flexible enough to be gracious if he doesn’t get as excited about what you did for him as you would if he did something for you.” This part is my current delimma. I know my husband isn’t good at planing things (which is something I had to get used to because BEFORE we got married he always did special things for me, but alas, no more). I asked him in advance if I could plan our anniversary, and he said yes. I spent two weeks planning something that I knew he would love. I asked him to wear something nice to work because I was picking him up to go to his surprise. He didn’t, so I cheerfully brought him a change of clothes when I picked him up. He looked miserable the entire ride to his surprise, and every time I asked him what was wrong, he said nothing. By the third or fourth time of me seeing him completely miserable, I started to get really down: I had spent weeks planning this and not only does he look miserable, he won’t talk to me! By the time we got to the restaurant, I was practically in tears. Then he got frustrated and said, ” how does you getting upset make me feel better?” I told him I understood, then excused myself to the restroom. I was SO disappointed. He could have at least faked it, is how I felt.

    1. Patrice,

      Yikes! Well – that definitely didn’t go as planned!

      Was he in a bad mood from work?

      Does he hate surprises? Does he hate dressing up?

      I am REALLY proud of you for the way you cheerfully planned and brought clothes.

      How did things go once you got there?

      How about the rest of the evening?

      I wish I could hug your neck! Let’s talk about this and see how we might be able to show the love and grace of Christ even in such a difficult situation!

      Much love to you!

      1. I appreciate your support so much!! He said he had a good day at work, I know he likes dressing up and he doesn’t mind surprises : / Dinner was strained. I tried starting up a conversation, but he only responded with single words. When I looked at him he would smile and he asked why every time he smiled at me I looked sadder. I told him it was because I could see him in my periphery and I could see that he looked miserable when I wasn’t looking straight at him. Things got a little less strained as we moved on to the show (but I suspect the wine is to thank for that). During the show I decided that I was going to enjoy myself and ignore his bad mood since he obviously would not let me in. I enjoyed the show and later he said he did too.

        1. Maybe there was something going on that didn’t have anything to do with you???

          It’s hard for me to say. But I LOVE that you decided to enjoy yourself and not let him drag you down – that was good for you both, I think! 🙂

  3. Great post! I wholeheartedly agree with everything you said! I am strong in the remembering & planning department, my Hubby is not. So why should I expect him to do these things, when he picks up the slack where I am lacking in so many other areas!
    I always start talking about big events (birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day…) about a month out. Not nagging reminding, just excited talking (because I do get ridiculously excited about these things ) I also start looking up fun things to do, events going on etc. But these things I don’t start talking about right away (unless I do find something I know we would both really love & don’t want to miss the opportunity to buy tickets, but usually I keep my planning to myself) As the day draws closer & I’ve been excitedly talking about “Oh my gosh I can’t believe in one week we will have been married 6 years! I’m so lucky!” He usually starts asking, “So what are we gonna do?” At this point I will share with him a few of the things I found/ have been thinking about. Then I ask if any sound like fun to him & what he would like to do.
    I used to tell him I didn’t care/ whatever he wanted to do/ he could choose… without offering any suggestions. This put way to much planning pressure on his nonplanning self & once the day came he would still be undecided & start feeling like a failure. That is not a feeling I want to put on him, especially on such an important day!
    This way, the options are there & he can choose one, or if he did come up with a different plan he is free to share that one as well.
    He does so much for me, why should it matter who’s idea a plan was?

    1. Krystlew3,

      I LOVE your story! That is a FANTASTIC way to handle these issues. He is not ambushed. You get to be excited. You both get to enjoy each other and the special time together. Great job!!!!!!!

      1. I’ve noticed that too! If I don’t offer suggestions, nothing gets planned. He feels horrible and I feel unloved because he couldn’t think of stuff. Why do that? Why not just beat down my pride so we both can feel great? And we haven’t really put this to the test, but I’ve noticed that he has extra little surprises on those days if the stress of planning it all was dispersed between the two of us.
        But it’s also encouraging because after me suggesting things so many times he gets an idea of what I like to do that makes me feel good. He suggests those on his own! And if I don’t like them at that moment in time, I give him other ideas to think about and suggest to me. 🙂 And I’ve noticed he feels good. I try to compliment him when he does come up with ideas because I know he is trying as best as his man brain can. xD Aha!

    1. Haha Lisa, that’s funny, it was only once for us – but hey at least it was both of us that forgot. Can’t really do much finger pointing at that 🙂

  4. My wife has used this topic as a hammer against me. Last year I had to work 15 hour days for month straight. My wife vacationed in California relaxing on the beach with kids and some friends for about 5 weeks. Now I did forget. She made me feel miserable and a failure.

    1. Hopeful Husband,

      If a wife hasn’t had to work hours like that – she may not realize how exhausting that would definitely be.
      I wish that she might read Love and Respect with you – Dr. Eggerichs forgot his wife’s birthday once, and he describes how he just doesn’t remember dates very well – not to purposely upset his wife – that is just not his strength. Sometimes men don’t think about dates as much as women, anyway -but I’m sure it is much more difficult when you are working that much.

  5. This actually makes me think of something I have been going through lately. Remember how I told you I just really have been needing “us time” with my fiance? Well I have been mentioning it for a couple weeks telling him how much I miss him. How much I wish we could just talk about things and such. Well, we plan to go out to eat this weekend (another one of my favs!). I’m glad that I told him how much I need him because otherwise I’m not sure he would have done anything. No. He’s not a mind reader. Yes. He knows my mood and he knows something is wrong, but he’s not sure how to fix it. I have to help him so that we both can be happy. And I’m finally okay with that. Sure satan tries to drag me down saying, “You’ve been with him how long and he still doesn’t know what to do for you?” But really. I don’t know what to do have the time. Why should he? I’m a woman. I’m designed to plan special events and to be more in tune with these kinds of things. That’s not his fault. He’s a provider. We compliment each other. 🙂

    2 months and 10 days until we get married! Haha. I’m slowly suggesting things we can do over my winter break for a honeymoon. I originally said I don’t really care for one, but… I would love that time with him to connect physically and mentally. Maybe I will even come up with places and a list of things we could do at each one to give him ideas! I would love that. Then I could leave it up to him to discuss which one he wants to do and we can agree on these things.
    What I really love about this is that he is more willing to discuss things on “my” time frame. I gently ask him now, “What do you think about x,y, and z?” If he has an answer: GREAT! If not: GREAT! I know he might have other things on his mind. It still irks me at times, but I am learning that patience.

    I’m so sorry that I kind of threw different things at you that are going on in my life, but I just got so excited! I am getting married soon to a WONDERFUL man and God is REALLY working in our lives! It’s far from perfect, but I feel confident seeing how we are both changing for HIM. xD AMEN!

    God bless you, Mrs. April. You are great. Keep posting and do not let ANYTHING discourage you!

  6. Gosh, it really is remarkable the time you pour into this blog peaceful wife. I enjoy reading and learning, but confess it leaves me depressed/sad because my wife is complete opposite of what you and others write about. My marriage is in crisis. I have read Emerson’s book. When I showed my wife the book she just has no interest in it. My pastor is hopeful but I’m just tired of hurting. I want my wife’s companionship but she gives it others. Her mom has been truly destructive to our marriage. I struggle with what God’s wants from me.

    1. Hopeful Husband,

      You are not alone! MANY husbands feel exactly like you do right now. So do many wives.

      You cannot make her eyes open. But GOD CAN!!!

      If you are able to focus on obeying what God desires you to do in the marriage and in your relationship with Him, we will trust God to open your wife’s eyes and to heal and restore your marriage.

      I pray you will lay down your dreams, expectations, desires, pain and all that you are before Jesus. Then pick up His will, His wisdom, His plans, His dreams, His purposes and seek His glory alone.

      In that place, you can find hope, joy and peace in great abundance no matter what your wife does or does not do. 🙂

  7. My Anniversary was yesterday. 3 years. I wished him a Happy Anniversary in the morning and he said it back.. I waited all day at work to talk to him (yahoo! Has been quite slammed lately). We planned over the phone we would go out to eat… When I got home is when I FAILED miserably. I walked in the door with a card, his favorite candy, a a couple great gifts. He responds with “I havent had a chance to get you anything.” I replied like an unsupportive wife and said .. ughhh how embarrassing. “I figured you wouldn’t have.. this is the 3rd year in a row you have forgotten” ..when in reality we had both forgotten 2 years in a row… then I was hurt and went to the room and he rushed out the door to get wine, chinese, a card and roses…. and it gets worse… I ignore everything he did bc I was angry it felt forced. I felt unloved and unappreciated (he is more on the selfish side and I am a HUGE giver.. but last night I was selfish). I cried alone all night when he tried to show me what he had done and I turned him down and he even brought my gifts and food to me.. I didnt eat or say thank you. I went to bed.
    uhg… he used to always remember and give give give… but not since we got married…I even tried to prepare myself bc he is just this way but I was more hurt bc I had hoped for a big surprise “I love you”… it was a mess.. we both apologized today but I still feel hurt and disappointed I didnt get just a little note without me getting upset for him to think of me .
    how do I change this behavior. I feel awful and Ia sure he does but I still feel unloved bu him..
    I accepted responsibility for it all bc I was a jerk and I escalated it all.. …but my heart is still so sad… I just want to be cherished wife and be treated the way the men in our church treats their wives.
    Any tips?

      1. Genny,

        A great way to respond to him when he first came home would be a playful, flirty response:

        “You didn’t get me anything!?!?” (feigned shock) – Wow! Now you are going to have to make that up to me later… Hmmm… I have some ideas how you could redeem yourself (flirty little smile)

        When you try to force a man into something -you both lose. You didn’t see what he did as being genuine. But you could have salvaged that evening at any point along the way. It is the expectations that destroyed you. If you can lay down your expectations – you can focus more on your husband than your expectations and you can ENJOY him.

        Please do not compare your husband to the men at your church!!!! That is going to always get you into huge trouble. Appreciate YOUR husband , Thank God for his strengths. Praise the good in him, When he remembers something and does something sweet, THANK HIM and smile that beautiful adoring smile. When he forgets – believe that he still loves you but is human and extend GRACE.

        He couldn’t possibly win last night with you once you said “I figured you wouldn’t have…” And you have forgotten in the past, too! So you should know that it is humanly possible to love someone deeply and forget an anniversary, right?

        It doesn’t matter what he did last night – you were going to be resentful.

        That is what expectations do – create “premeditated resentment.” And – there is no relationship that resentment cannot kill.

        Unforgiveness, bitterness and resentment are huge sin! Please repent to God and to your husband and tell him today is a new day and you don’t want to hold on to resentment.

        REST in his love for you and give him a suggestion of where you might like to eat tonight – but then don’t let it all be about you and your feelings and your expectations and you feeling special. Make a point to appreciate HIM and make HIM feel special in ways that matter to him. And ENJOY him tonight even if you eat peanut butter and jelly at home.

        HE is the gift from God! Not going out to a restaurant or getting a $50 gift.

        Much love my friend!

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