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What would you do if your SO didn't acknowledge your birthday or holidays?


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Old 14th December 2017, 6:25 PM   #1
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What would you do if your SO didn't acknowledge your birthday or holidays?

First, a little background. My boyfriend and I have known each other for 10 years, we have been together now for 5 1/2 years, living together for 5. We had a daughter last February and I have an 8 year old son from a previous relationship who lives with us full time (his father is not in the picture). We are not legally married, but we live just as if we were. We share bills and daily life and we are very commited to each other.

My issue at the moment is that he rarely acknowledges holidays and my birthday. I'm not okay with it and I'm looking for advice, because thus far, nothing has gotten any better and it's wearing on my emotions. My birthday was this last Monday. I turned 33. He'll be 28 in a few weeks. My SO has, in the past, celebrated my birthday and Christmas (which are only two weeks apart), but only a couple of times throughout the years that we've been together. He's ignored these days more times than he's acknowledged them and I don't think he has ever gotten me anything for my birthday AND Christmas in the same year. The times he has done something, he's never done anything extravagant, but I'm perfectly ok with that. I am not a high maintenance girl and I don't expect lavish gifts. I have planned weekends away for us and I'd love it if he did that sometimes, but he never has and I've accepted that. I have always made it a point to let him know how much it's meant to me when he does get me something, and I have ALWAYS done something special for him for his birthday, Christmas, now father's day, Valentine's Day, etc...

He is well aware it bothers me when he skips holidays. This is NOT something he isn't aware of and I am not sitting back expecting him to read my mind. I have communicated this with him MANY times over the years, and in many ways. I have tried calmly talking to him, I've gotten angry, and last birthday I had a complete emotional meltdown which got us nowhere other than into a huge fight where he didn't speak to me for days (he HATES it when I cry for ANY reason anyways so when I get emotional about anything he totally shuts down). I have flat out asked him to please acknowledge these few special holidays each year because of how much it means to me. I have "dropped hints" beginning, for example, in the beginning of December, of things I would like for my birthday or how nice it would be to be surprised with anything at all. This year I specifically asked him, "So, you ARE going to celebrate the holidays this year, right?".

I've told him before I'd be thrilled with simply a homemade meal, cracking that bottle of wine that's been on top of the fridge for 6 months that he's saving for a "special" occasion. I'd swoon over a handmade card or ANY sort of surprise at all, even if it didn't cost him a dime. We are a thrifty, paycheck-to-paycheck family. I don't WANT him to blow money on "stuff". I just want to feel special and be acknowledged on these few special days each year. He DOES go out and buy himself "toys" from time to time, so I'm not saying I'd stress or be upset over him buying me something nice, either. I just mean that the monetary value of the gift is rather unimportant to me. It's the thought & love put into it.

Last Valentine's Day was my daughter's due date (she came 5 days later). He did nothing. I don't think he's ever done anything on Valentine's Day as long as we've been together. I've always gotten him something or gotten myself sexy lingerie or something of the like.
3 months after that was Mother's Day. My first having HIS child. I thought for sure he'd do something. He did nothing. I didn't even get a card or a verbal "Happy Mother's Day". He wouldn't go with me on a road trip to see my family so I went alone with the kids. Prior to my leaving, the baby was having a bit of a meltdown and he made some kind of comment about how "nice it was when we had peace and quiet and didn't have to deal with a crying baby". Our first mother's day with me as the mother of his child and ALL I got was a negative comment about our BEAUTIFUL and Perfect baby girl! It was also my first mother's day without my beloved grandma. I bawled. That day was and still is a horrible memory for me. When I returned home that evening I DID get a surprise from him. A houseful of his idiot friends with no heads up they were there, and all of them rediculously drunk. I was livid.

Fast forward now another 7 months to this birthday. I asked him to celebrate it. I begged him to do something. I told him how it hurts me when he doesn't even get me so much as a card. It fell on a Monday and he had to work. He warned me in advance he probably would not feel up to going out to dinner or anything. I was more than fine with a quiet evening at home together. The night before, around 10pm, he asked, "Is it 'your day' yet?", and then, around midnight, he tried to get frisky saying, "Well it IS your birthday now". I didn't turn him down. At the time it seemed cute, however considering the following day, my actual birthday, he came home from work empty handed without even so much as a "happy birthday" and a kiss, now it kind of bugs me more just because I KNOW he knows what day it is. He just chooses not to make it anything special for me. He didn't even hang out with me. I was in the house with the kids and he got home with a 6 pack, took it outside, and sat out there for hours. He didn't even offer me a beer and I didn't see him until I was going to bed. He actually seemed pretty grumpy, enough so that I asked him what was wrong and he told me I was stupid for assuming anything was wrong, mocked me a bit, then went quiet. So, to bed alone I went (the night prior he'd been super sweet and I never quite understand the one extreme to the other moods from day to day).

What should I do in this situation? We love each other. He CAN be very sweet and of course he's a good hearted, kind man or I wouldn't be with him. He does make me feel in special in other ways. I cherish our time together and enjoy his company. Despite some ups and downs over the years, I'd say we mostly get along quite well. We do have some major differences that we've made an effort to work through in life together, but we're doing it. I could not appreciate more that he is faithful and commited to our relationship. The fact that he's not a cheat is the absolute biggest most important thing to me and I truly value that quality in him. However, this ongoing issue with festivities bothers me SO much that I've literally considered leaving because of it, but I can't imagine that it would be the right thing to do for our children (or at least for our daughter, my son and him don't have the closest relationship but they are ok with one another) over something seemingly so petty. If it hurts me THAT much though, why can't he see that? I love him to pieces and I am tired of getting anxiety and feeling depressed consistently every year around this time because he doesn't participate in gift giving and celebrating and the love of giving to your loved ones. That's one of my happiest things in life is giving to people I love and it just hurts me so much that I will never be able to feel that reciprocated.

Last edited by Becca1984; 14th December 2017 at 6:38 PM..
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Old 14th December 2017, 6:33 PM   #2
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Well, that would really bother me too.

If you've tried talking to him about it and there has been no change, I don't know what else you can do. I Would definitely try lower my expectations (which I'm sure you've already done), and reward any positive recognition.

Otherwise, I think I would plan my own special days... Go to lunch with a friend, go to the spa, buy myself something nice, or plan drinks with the girls... or plan a special day with your children to do something fun together on Mother's Day. Hopefully, he will wise up when he sees you enjoying your life and he's sitting at home alone... Just because he won't celebrate with you doesn't mean that you should sit at home with him and do nothing.
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Old 14th December 2017, 6:40 PM   #3
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Setting aside his conduct on holidays and your birthday, how is he like on a typical day. In other words, is he ever giving, generous or attentive to your needs? If not, heís just not a good partner (or a decent person for that matter) and thatís not likely to ever change.

If heís generally a giving/attentive guy, then he may just have some kind of hang up when it comes to holidays. I know it sounds weird, but some guys get a lot of anxiety when it comes to holidays where there is an expectation of doing something special for their woman, which sometimes results in the guy doing NOTHING in response to that anxiety. In other words, they would rather give nothing than give something that they feel will be inadequate and face rejection.
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Old 14th December 2017, 6:49 PM   #4
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I would say he is attentive in that he is complimentary and physically very loving. We cuddle, we have a good sex life, he says "I love you" on a daily basis and makes me feel safe, wanted and loved. He is not, however, the type to give gifts. He's never brought me home an "I love you present" "just because", or surprised me with anything on a random day just for fun. He's never spontaneously bought me a present, had flowers sent, given me a card, etc.. Sometimes when we're shopping, he'll pick up something for his sister because it is an item that he thinks she would like. Something that makes him think of her. He's never done that for me though and in recent years I have noticed it and it tugs on my feelers a bit. I'd never mention that part, though, because jealousy is ugly and I don't like to feed into it. It just seemed worth mentioning here.
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Old 14th December 2017, 6:57 PM   #5
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I need certain acknowledgements. My DH is a stoic man. He really didn't "get" why I needed these things but he did them for me because he loved me. At first the gestures were stilted but now he enjoys it.

I'm not saying your SO will come around & embrace this love language but there's something to be said for somebody who does things for those they love just because their loved ones asked. In 5 1/2 years the fact that the father of your children hasn't tried is most troubling.

What you do with that is up to you. You have two options: take him for the non gift giver he is or walk. Is this really the line in the sand you want to draw? If it is, draw it & don't look back but don't try to say you're OK when it eats away at you every day.
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Old 14th December 2017, 8:12 PM   #6
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You've told him numerous times. He realises it's importance...but he appears not to care enough to meet your needs. You can't carry on saying it.

You either accept it or end the relationship.

I might actually actively choose and plan to be away on my birthday...even if I spent the time alone.
and if he asks why you can explain why.


But I couldn't be with a man who was unable to meet that need.

But I have to ask.....after the first couple of years why did you hang around in the relationship if its thst important to you?
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Old 14th December 2017, 8:30 PM   #7
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Wow! I can't believe there are people who would end a loving relationship over something like this. My ex and I are both non-gifters/non-birthday-celebraters. Our bdays were ten days apart and we would usually buy something together for both of us or for the family, like a piece of furniture. But some years we didn't and nobody cared. For the kids, of course we'd make a big deal because kids love that stuff and turning 4 is so much more exciting than turning 37.

I have a new boyfriend and he made a big deal outta my bday last month. It was really fun and sweet and felt great. But now I'm really scared about what he might be thinking/expecting for xmas. I feel like a deer caught in the headlights already. I am not a gift-giver!

Anyhow, I'm just really really shocked that this would be such a big deal to anyone. It clearly does not say anything about how much he loves you, it only goes to show that he doesn't care about bdays and such.
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Old 15th December 2017, 10:09 AM   #8
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grays


Pretend the issue was something you cared about. After repeatedly asking your SO to accommodate you, they didn't. That is the real problem -- the refusal or inability to compromise.
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Old 15th December 2017, 10:12 AM   #9
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Agreed.

For him, a birthday is just another day and Valentine's Day is a made up commercial holiday (which it is... ).

To her, it's a day to feel special and loves and a lack of consideration when she has told him that it's important to her.

Men are from Mars, women are from Venus.
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Old 15th December 2017, 11:50 PM   #10
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Just wanted to thank everyone who responded.

Sandylee, in answer to your question about why I stuck around, the first 2 years were 2 of the years I believe he did acknowledge my birthday, at least. Well, in actuality the first year we were dating (not yet living together until a few months later), I thought he'd gone out and gotten me a cute little gift bag of dollar store trinkets ( which was sweet to me). I didn't find out until about a year later that it was actually my friend and his sister in law that had done that. He wasn't even aware of it. She'd told me it was from him. The following year we had been living together about 10 months. He made me a beautiful necklace that I LOVED and wore every day until it finally broke. I cherished it. Still do.
So, in all honesty, by the time I realized this was a pattern we were already 3-4 years into cohabiting and a serious relationship. A little late to turn back then. Kind of the same boat I'm in now.
That, accompanied with all the other things I mentioned in the last paragraph of my original post, that he really is a great guy in so many ways.
I guess that's exactly why I'm posting this to begin with. *I* can't justify that this validates ending a relationship. But it bothers me so much that I guess I'm searching for suggestions on how we can work through it at this point. I know I won't be happy going on like this forever, but I'm in love with him and don't want to not be with him. I see our future together. But certain speedbumps like this, I feel we need to compromise on. I'm not feeling compromise lately.
I don't want to look back and wonder the "what if's" or "why didn't I's", I really just want to figure out what steps to take from here. How can I make him understand that this is THAT important to me now?

Grays, my SO probably feels very much like you about holidays, but I think dOnnivain hit the nail on the head with saying that it's more the principal here. I am often left, in our relationship, even with other issues, feeling like he doesn't value my feelings about certain matters that we disagree on. In those cases, I'd like to find a middle ground rather than my opinion or desires being belittled or ignored. That's certainly the real issue here.

BaileyB, Exactly.

Last edited by Becca1984; 15th December 2017 at 11:53 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 16th December 2017, 2:49 AM   #11
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Hi Becca, sorry to see you here, hurting like this. On reading your OP, the first thought I had was that there is a basic incompatibility between you two. I have heard it said on this website that there is something known as 'The Five Love Languages' and that there is a book on the subject too. I have'nt read it and cannot offer too much information about it except to advise you to research it or ask others on here about it. That book and the concept behind it may help you understand where you and your SO are coming from.

The other thing that raises a question is why you and your SO never married? Is it by choice or force of circumstances or did you have a gut feel that this union was not going to be permanent and so you did not seal the deal? The last possibility seems improbable since the two of you have had a child together so that leaves only the first two possibilities. Could that be a reason your SO does not pay you the compliments he should and remember your birthdays and holidays because he thinks that your union is different from a marriage and he is not obligated to oblige you that way? I am sorry but I am just thinking aloud as to possible reasons for his behaviour. The most obvious reason yo me is that he is a completely insensitive person who does not really take you and your feelings into account and just tramples on them with complete disregard to the fact that he is hurting you deeply. If that be the case then it is better to part company now before you complicate matters any further and find someone who is more in sync with you and your feelings.

By the way, the justifications that you have provided for sticking with him are not sturdy enough to stand the test of time over the long haul. The resentments that you are building up are going to burst out of you, sooner or later and the scene is going to become ugly very fast. Better you go your own way while things are still amicable between you two. Think this over very carefully. Warm wishes.
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Old 16th December 2017, 11:52 AM   #12
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I couldn't be with a man like this. Refusing to acknowledge special days with gifts is selfish and stingy behavior. He also sounds cheap since he gave you dollar store gifts and made you a necklace. Call me materialistic but those "gifts" wouldn't be enough for me to give or receive. I could never give my husband anything from the dollar store to commemorate special days.
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Old 16th December 2017, 2:05 PM   #13
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I'm sorry but he sounds like a cruel, selfish jerk. Pull back and Stop acknowledging his birthday and his special occasions and see what happens then. Or at least let him know how that feels because it sounds like you are doing all the work to keep the relationship going. The fact that he doesn't get along with your 8 year old son should have been a deal breaker for you. But now that you have had a baby with him you need to decide if you want your kids growing up with an emotionally abusive man as their role model. A man that "Hates it when you cry for any reason" and deliberately does cruel things like getting drunk with his idiot friends on Mother's Day and never does anything nice for you on your birthday or holidays.

Change what you are willing to do for someone that doesn't ever reciprocate and how you react to it. Quit tolerating his bad behavior.'Go buy yourself what you want and do special things for your kids and yourself. Celebrate with them. Cuz they are the ones that didn't have any say in this situation.

Are you okay if when your daughter grows up she was being treated like that or even worse by a boyfriend? Probably not. So be a healthy role model for them. Don't tolerate disrespectful, cruel treatment from your boyfriend. Overcome your fears and be willing to leave if it doesn't change. Take care.
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Old 16th December 2017, 8:00 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by nittygritty View Post
I'm sorry but he sounds like a cruel, selfish jerk. Pull back and Stop acknowledging his birthday and his special occasions and see what happens then. Or at least let him know how that feels because it sounds like you are doing all the work to keep the relationship going. The fact that he doesn't get along with your 8 year old son should have been a deal breaker for you. But now that you have had a baby with him you need to decide if you want your kids growing up with an emotionally abusive man as their role model. A man that "Hates it when you cry for any reason" and deliberately does cruel things like getting drunk with his idiot friends on Mother's Day and never does anything nice for you on your birthday or holidays.

Change what you are willing to do for someone that doesn't ever reciprocate and how you react to it. Quit tolerating his bad behavior.'Go buy yourself what you want and do special things for your kids and yourself. Celebrate with them. Cuz they are the ones that didn't have any say in this situation.

Are you okay if when your daughter grows up she was being treated like that or even worse by a boyfriend? Probably not. So be a healthy role model for them. Don't tolerate disrespectful, cruel treatment from your boyfriend. Overcome your fears and be willing to leave if it doesn't change. Take care.
We teach people how to treat us. Women often tolerate unacceptable treatment in the name of love or because they have children with men who treat them poorly. The OP's boyfriend knows that she isn't going to leave.

OP, you have bigger fish to fry than not receiving gifts. As a mother, you need to protect your child from adults who don't like them. I can't understand why you would cohabit and procreate with a man who doesn't like your son!
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Old 16th December 2017, 9:26 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Becca1984 View Post
I would say he is attentive in that he is complimentary and physically very loving. We cuddle, we have a good sex life, he says "I love you" on a daily basis and makes me feel safe, wanted and loved.
If he gives you love 360 days a year, then focus on the positive and change the negative. Do the 5 days a year that he falls short, make him a selfish cruel jerk, worthy of dirt? Your needs are important, but is this a impossible situation?

Your question has a answer. Your bf isn't pefect but who is?. There may be a reason he doesn't give gifts that has nothing to do with you. Maybe he never received gifts as a child and had so many disappointments, that he adapted by disassociating. Talk to his family. Your answer may be buried there.

Many will suggest war or seperation. I do not. If you love him, then keep what he is giving you and find a way to get the little bit more. Based on your words, you have something worth working on.

Have a happy Holiday Season.

Last edited by Cullenbohannon; 16th December 2017 at 9:32 PM..
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