Husband goes all out for himself, but what about her?
Q: I love my husband dearly, and I do believe he loves me, too. I just don't always feel it from him.
I don't need to be fawned over. But I would really like to see evidence that he cares and is willing to make an effort simply because it's important to me. And (given the recurring disappointment) I think by now I've communicated this.
It's my birthday today, and he asked me at midnight last night what I'd like to do to celebrate, which tells me he's planned and bought nothing. He gave me a hug and sang a silly song, and seems to want to make me happy. It just feels like the effort is minuscule and obligatory.
To add insult to injury, he's very good at making plans for things that are important to him: He has coordinated a very complex golf weekend with his dad and several friends, made hotel reservations and multiple tee times, and asked if I would spend Friday to Monday caring for his 87-year-old aunt, who has dementia. When I agreed, he said he owes me "huge."
He does show me love in other ways. But it feels like everything revolves around him. If I admit to the frustration today, he'll either feel bad (again) or get defensive. So I'm trying to hide it, and not doing so well. Thoughts?
Happy Birthday To Me . . . or Not
A: His golf weekend isn't the insult, it's the injury.
Had your husband shown no capacity for cruise-directing or attention-showering, then I'd be pecking out an answer along the lines of "This is who he is, an informal-celebration guy, whom you probably fell for in part for the lightness of his being." I'd acknowledge your frustration, then I'd advise you to stop looking for him to be someone he isn't, and instead seek joy in his spontaneity and/or start planning your own celebrations.
What you have is a much tougher problem. He does go all out — just not for you. And that hurts. Especially if you were misled during courtship, by him or by wishful thinking, into believing you'd be the object of his caretaking, not the stepladder for it.
Recognizing this also leaves you with a few sub-tempting choices. You can find value in being the stepladder. You can start saying "no" when he asks you to enable plans that exclude you (e.g., let someone else mind his aunt). You can spell out, with examples, that you're sick of being taken for granted and see if he finally gets it.
I suggest using all three approaches: Know that you're under no obligation to help him spoil everyone but you; be prepared to decide whether his "other ways" of showing love are enough; and speak out.
Yes, you've communicated, but the golf weekend is a fresh, stark example of what he plans for himself and others but never for you. Use that.
If he still gets defensive, or praises you for being "low-maintenance," don't budge. Say you routinely witness his best, and you routinely, sadly, aren't on the receiving end of it.
Right now you're on course to sublimate till you crack.
Better to live openly in deference to your needs; that way, wherever it leads will be plain for all to see.