How NOT to Celebrate Your Husband’s Birthday

What should you not do to celebrate your husband’s birthday?  What should you avoid?

I’m exploring this topic today because my husband has another birthday coming tomorrow.  After 48 years of marriage,  we have celebrated many birthdays.

Most of the birthdays have been happy celebrations with good feelings associated with wishes for many years of health and happiness.

Birthday Celebrations
Birthday Celebrations

Sometimes the celebrations have been less than successful.

Today I’m writing about a couple of unsuccessful celebrations, in earlier years of our marriage, that taught me lessons. I’m writing about these birthdays so others might avoid these mistakes or,  get a chuckle from reading about my blunders.

The Most Embarrassing Birthday

The most embarrassing birthday happened just one month after our marriage. Even though this happened long ago, I remember it every year.

I got the wrong date for his birthday.

We were just back from our honeymoon and were settling into our first apartment. I had it in my head that he was born on October 10 rather than October 3.  On the 10th, I baked a cake and cooked a special dinner.  I decorated the apartment.

When he arrived home from work, he looked around and then asked who was having a birthday.

Crestfallen, after all the work and preparation, I reminded him that it was his birthday.  He burst out laughing and told me that his birthday had taken place a week before. I burst into tears.

I was mortified.  How could I make such a mistake? Despite my shame, he hugged me and tactfully reminded me that the correct date was on  our marriage certificate.

Regardless of the confusion about the date, we enjoyed the dinner and the evening despite the confusion over the date.

A Sad Surprise Party

A few years later, I decided to hold a surprise dinner party to celebrate my husband’s 40th birthday.

By this time I had the correct date cemented in my head.

As he was teaching a course at a university out-of-town,  he usually arrived home between 7 and 7:30 pm.  I invited a few close friends who were in the dining room waiting when he arrived.  He was blown away when everyone shouted “Happy Birthday”.

We had dinner, did the celebratory candles on the cake, and drank toasts to good health and many more birthdays.  But he did not seem to enjoy the party. I could tell that he was doing  his best at ‘fake’ social behaviour.

After our guests left, we talked as we cleaned up.  During the conversation I realized that he was tired after teaching and a long commute.  Moreover, turning 40 signalled reaching middle age. He dreaded this as, for him, it signalled a type of ending.

When he arrived home, he was in no mood for entertaining friends.  What he expected was a quiet dinner with an opportunity to unwind afterward.

Lessons Learned

These  birthdays taught valuable lessons about how to avoid disappointing birthday celebrations. I try to remember them every year as his birthday approaches.

 Get the date right.  There’s nothing else to say about this unless you forget the date entirely which means a big mea culpa.

 Surprise celebrations aren’t always well-received. My husband is a low-key kind of guy who puts emphasis on being with the people he loves. He likes celebrations but enjoys them most when he has time to prepare. Being the centre of attention in a large group makes him uncomfortable.

Anticipate how the person will react.  Although I had great fun planning a surprise party, I should have put more thought into how my husband might feel when, exhausted from teaching and travel, he walked into a room full of people to celebrate something that caused him apprehension.

Understand that some ‘decade’ birthdays cause anxiety.  As I look back to the time when my husband turned 40, I realize that other events in his life at that time compounded the angst over reaching middle age. Decade birthdays aren’t always ‘special’ birthdays as suggested by our culture.
Finally, when choosing the celebration, think about your husband’s likes and dislikes.  As years have passed and many celebrations have occurred, I’ve learned more about the man I married. I realize that my husband likes to have his birthday recognized by his family.  He likes a small family dinner at home or at a favourite restaurant so I avoid a big celebration. He likes deli cheesecake better than cake I make for him.  And he’s not much for candles — especially as the birthday numbers grow larger.
So this year, once again, I’m arranging a family dinner at a seafood restaurant with food he likes.  The event will happen on the correct date, October 3. I’ve told him about the celebration and the venue so that he can prepare.
Surprises don’t always make for happiness!
Thanks for reading this post. If you have comments about birthday celebration ideas to avoid, please send them to me.  Also, if you had some great celebrations, please let me know about these.
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Photo of champagne corks courtesy of Werner Bayer.

One Reply to “How NOT to Celebrate Your Husband’s Birthday”

  1. Some good advice is found here about husbands and their birthdays. It truly is wise to know the husband’s likes and dislikes.

    I, for one, do not like being the center of attention, especially, if I am not prepared for it. For me, the best birthday gift is a quiet/low key birthday with respect for my wishes to keep it that way and not force a celebration on me. I know people can mean well but there’s nothing wrong with taking a firm stand to let your loved ones, friends or co-workers know that while you appreciate their kind thoughts, you preference is just to keep the day as an ordinary one.

    Every once in a while, I may like a family get together but most years I would prefer just going out to dinner the evening of my birthday or close it for a quiet meal with my wife and no fanfare, singing or partying that evening. I believe in respecting others wishes for their individual birthday. It should not be that hard to respect those of one as me who would prefer a quiet day.

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