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He asked to renew our vows ..

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Skan posted 8/13/2014 16:32 PM

My FWH, while sitting at the table talking to me last night, asked me to marry him. We had discussed a vow renewal some time ago. I had told him that I wanted a proper proposal after a family wedding we went to in March. He acted really thrilled that I was ready to renew our vows. And then, nothing. Lots of nothing. I mentally gave him until my birthday at the beginning of this month before I would start to question why. And on my birthday, it was obvious that he had totally forgotten about my birthday and had gone to the local grocery store to get me a baby rose plant and two cards. Which has been a theme of his. When he started talking about how he went to TARGET of all places first, looked at some clothing, and decided not to try because he didnít know if I would like it, I freaking lost it.

I told him that I was sick of him treating my birthday as a complete surprise every year and buying token gifts for it. I told him that I had asked, repeatedly, for romantic gestures. I told him that there were times that I really felt like he was settling for a legal companion with benefits. I told him that I would rather he just not even acknowledge my birthday if he was going to put no effort into it. And I told him that what I really wanted, what would have thrilled me, was if he had actually remembered that I asked him to propose to me for our vow renewal, instead of blowing it off. He apologized, admitted that he had let time get away from him again, and we sorta smoothed things over.

Last night, sitting at the table talking over the day, he looked at me and asked me to marry him. I just sat there, stunned, thinking that he had again, put no effort whatsoever into this. Just sitting around the table and, oh, BTW.

I told him no. I said that I had no interest in renewing our vows at all if that was all of the effort that he was going to put forth. I told him that I had asked for romance. I told him that I had let him know, repeatedly, that I felt that I was dying because of a lack of romance in our lives. Weíre good at the small things, but I wanted to see some actual effort on his part, to look at ME, what might be pleasing to me, and expend actual planning and thought. I was crying by this time. He said OK, and that heíd try to do better. And then later, we were able to put it aside and make love, which helped soothe both of us.

Am I crazy? I just donít want to settle. Iíve been settling for a very long time. I feel as if I have been making all of the big gestures watching what seems to delight him, looking for opportunities to surprise him. A gift is supposed to be from the heart. I feel like a gimme-queen even saying this but last year, for his birthday, I gave him a bay tour on a seaplane, and then we went to eat overlooking the harbor that we flew over. I got the exact same thing that I got this year. This year, I have already booked a weekend in the mountains and got tickets to a wine tasting and wine-stomp in that little town. Wine tasting is a big interest of ours. B&Bs are a delight of ours. It took all of about 1 hour to make all of the reservations.

How hard IS it? I simply donít understand. How hard is it, to make reservations, pack a lunch, bring in a finger-food dinner, pay attention to your partner, and then, make a speech from the heart, ask, and present a token necklace, ring, bracelet, nose-piercing, anything? I simply do not understand. Help?

tushnurse posted 8/13/2014 16:42 PM

Honey I'm so sorry he is emotionally retarded. It hurts really bad sometimes.
I don't know what to tell you.

I started off our R with being very specific with what I wanted for birthdays, and holidays, and what my expectations were for celebrating them. I would give ample warning so that he would have a chance to plan. He would come through on those events, and even though it would be nice to not have to do it, as he says he isn't a mind reader, and he is emotionally retarded. So I coached, and reminded, and coached, and reminded, and then I started backing off, and guess what??? He still came through. He still does a great job. He did really well for our anniversary this year, tickets to see DMB in Chicago with a family trip for a 3 day weekend. Excellent job.

Now my birthday is coming up in less than a month, and I know that will NOT be as big of deal, as birthdays aren't a big deal to him. But I will warn him ahead of time that it's coming up. He knows that means he can't let the day go by unnoticed, and that he at a minimum has to take me to dinner someplace decent.

Try the coaching, the reminders to his calendar?
I agree that half assed effort last night would have gotten the same response from me.

Schadenfreude posted 8/13/2014 16:44 PM

I don't know the whole,story,,of course, but if you act anything like my wife.....

One year,,I was given the exact number of some,piece,of jewelry she wanted, and told where the Tiffany store was in town. Or rather half way across town. Being dutiful, I drove thee, bought it, and gave it to her for,birthday,,Christmas or maybe Mother's Day.

Did she wear it? No. She decided she didn't like it and took it back. Bought something else.

A few years ago I bought a pearl,necklace for Christmas for her. Didn't like it. And it was just your standard white pearl necklace. She took it back.

There are other instances.

So, why bother is my new attitude. I can't do it right even when I have the exact type of jewelry from her own mouth. No sentiment at all. So why bother. I might as well just buy a. Gift certificate on line with no effort.

I'm venting I know, but if hope you haven't pulled these stunts on him.

needfriendshere posted 8/13/2014 16:53 PM

Dear Skan,
I had to laugh aloud at Tushnurse's comment that your H is emotionally retarded. Then I realized how sad that comment was.

You know what I recommend you two do (if you haven't done so already)? Read The Five Love Languages by Gary D. Chapman. Part of your H's problem sounds like he simply does not know your love language - what you require to feel loved.

I wish you the best!!


BtraydWife posted 8/13/2014 17:26 PM

You aren't crazy. Don't settle for less than you need. I'm sorry, he sounds frustrating.

Skan posted 8/13/2014 18:22 PM

Schadenfreude, I don't believe in returning gifts. I don't ask for receipts to accompany my gifts. If a gift is not something that I can use, then after a respectful time (and written thanks for the gift), I will find it a new home. Even the bloody baby rose that he got me last year is still in my yard, although it died during the time the water sprinkler broke. Along with the new one in it's own pot.

Meh. I was afraid that it would come to this. All about the presents or lack thereof. And that's not the point. It's the lack of thinking ahead. It's the lack of planning something that says "you're special." It's the part that if an effort in this area is to be made, I have to make it.

I truly love this man. He has been a rock for me and his day-to-day gestures when he's with me speak of his love for me. I have no doubt of that love at all. I'm just really looking for that next step. That gift of looking inside of me and being able to produce something that says "I was thinking of you" no matter how large or small. That he sees ME. We've done the love languages and mine is time spent together, attention. And he's great about spending time with me we both love to be together. It's the part of attention where you plan ahead to make something happen to delight your partner that he doesn't seem to get. I don't even know how to explain it. Maybe I should just stop trying to.

apathetic1 posted 8/13/2014 19:58 PM

I agree, read the 5 Love Languages. It's obvious you do not have the same love language. It will make you feel better in that he comes by this honestly. You should both read the book and work through it together.

After that, I would do the 180 in that I wouldn't prompt him or drop hints anymore. It's up to him to do the work. Why lead him to do things (renew vow proposal) if he didn't come up with this on his own. It has to be so important to him that HE on his own makes it happen. Otherwise he is just going along with what you want and that's what lead to the affair in the first place.

If he doesn't make these things happen on his own you really need to ask if this relationship is worth your time!

Good luck!

SisterMilkshake posted 8/13/2014 20:48 PM

*sigh* Skan, I feel I could have written much of your post myself.

I wonder for myself am I wrong to expect my FWH to become someone that really isn't him. My FWH will do the sweetest things for me, pick wildflowers for me, for instance. He shows me love in many different small ways.

However, he never plans for us to do something I enjoy. Oh, he will beg me to come to the Bubba Shack when he is deer hunting and he promises to take care of everything and me, and he would. But, I don't enjoy the Bubba Shack. It is just a little too rustic for me. (It finally has a flushing toilet that flushes when you pour a bucket of water into it. Yay!)

He doesn't make plans for our anniversary. If something is going to happen, I have to plan it.

He doesn't plan ahead for my birthday, this year he did buy me a card a day or two ahead of time. Didn't get me a cake. Thought he was off the hook because I have recently found out I have celiac disease and can't have anything with gluten. Sheesh! I have had friends who have gone out of their way when they knew I would be at their house for some function and made sure there was a gluten free cupcake for me. I don't expect that from my friends (I was so humbled by their thoughtfulness), but I sure do of my FWH. The grocery store where he would get my cake (before, sometimes) carries gluten free cakes.

I feel like maybe I am asking too much for him to be that man. Do I have a right to expect my FWH to meet a standard that isn't inherently in his personality?

I really like tushnurse's suggestions. I do agree that neither I, nor FWH, are mind readers. OTOH, if I have to remind FWH of my birthday and my expectations, I feel that is somewhat defeating the gestures of his thinking and planning for my birthday.

Anyway, just a big hug (((((Skan))))) and just to let you know I feel ya, and I am paddling the same canoe as you.

dragonflies posted 8/13/2014 20:51 PM

Skan. I'm such a newbie I always worry about posting anything. I'm not even sure I belong in this forum because I'm here mainly to understand how - and what - R means from you guys rather than to "relate". But. Your post spoke to me.

How hard IS it? I simply donít understand.

HARD. apparently. SUPER f'ing hard.

I'm a giver. LOVE to give. I completely delight in thinking, planning, wrapping (if applicable) and giving the PERFECT most awesome gift. Every time. It's something I thrive on. Your birthday gift to your husband smacked me as exactly what I always try do for my loved ones. You give to GIVE. the joy of thinking/knowing another enough to provide joy for them... best feeling in the world.

Before my husband admitted his affair I thought my love language was words of affirmation. Took the quiz again recently when I couldn't figure out why my stupid WH's words of love were falling flat. I mean he is killing himself coming up with words about how awesome I was and it felt like... nothing. So I looked into it. Turns out my love language is gifts. Not "actual" gifts but that gesture you are referring to as "he gets me, I am seen, someone KNOWS me".

Your husband IS emotionally retarded - they have to be, right?, in order to do what they did? or at the very least emotionally stunted. So he doesn't get it because he has never felt the joy of truly giving like you have. Because he isn't "there" yet (emotionally, psychologically, maturely). Might never experience giving like you do... But. does he want to? Was his proposal just not in the package you wanted it to come in or was the intention not even close to what you needed? Can you peel back the layers of how YOU would have done it to accept that he isn't you but wants what you want? Don't settle. You CANT settle. But don't get wrapped up in the wrapping paper and bows... If he wants to give you what you want because he wants it as well, well, then that should be worth something more than him giving you what you have told him you want BECAUSE you've told him what you want... right?


ETA. do NOT settle anymore for 2 cards and a grocery store plant. Blech. Even a Neanderthal should muster better than that.

Skan posted 8/13/2014 23:46 PM

dragonflies, welcome. I'm so glad that you are venturing out and speaking your truth in other forums.

I actually agree with a lot of what you say. Intellectually, I see that. The But, and it's a big, middle-aged butt that hasn't gotten off of the couch for some time now , is that we keep having this conversation. I am willing to accept his ADHD limits in things that he can juggle in his mind on everything but this. I am willing to be the scheduler, the time keeper, the anticipator, the "mommy" except for this one, very important adult function.

I need him to focus on me to the extent that he can plan out, carry out, and execute romance, a true romantic experience, for me, every once in a while. I'm not saying weekly. I'm saying for the BIG events. We don't have an anniversary any more. He killed 20 years of that. Birthdays are pretty much it. And that oh-so-pesky vow renewal that he swore that he was oh-so-thrilled about. Maybe it's too much to ask for. I don't freaking know. I just know that my gut says that, if it was important to him, he would find a way to do it.

I just want to feel like he's planned something, anything, that is all for me and with me in mind, for once. That he takes a step out of his comfort zone and risks filling me with wonder and awe for just once. I'm tired of being the person who pulls the cake out of their ass at the last minute to make things all go right. I'm tired. Really tired.

Jrazz posted 8/14/2014 00:04 AM

Being so very much in your shoes right now, it's almost hard to advise as I still can't figure this out.

I will say that after getting some brilliant insight on my own posts, I've had a reframing.

There's reactive effort and proactive effort. Reactive effort can LOOK like proactive effort if timed effectively, but it rarely is.

I've come to realize that I will never be happy with reactive effort. It is the piece of the puzzle that is what keeps me from considering our relationship "healed." I keep asking myself why nothing Crazz does feels like enough when he in fact does a lot, and the answer is that I am uncomfortable with the method of delivery. This fundamental difference in outlook makes me feel like we are oil and water when we try to relate. I don't want to be the mom anymore, but I have to be because he is a solely reactive person. That means no preplanning, no anticipation, no inferring or safety buffers or forethought. He would give me a massage every second of every day. He is completely ok with me picking the restaurant every time. He does the hell out of housework, and is a handy helper to anyone on the planet who needs something tinkered with right that second. He doesn't care if I remember his birthday, or our anniversary, or to cook a meal on a holiday. He just wants food on the table when he's hungry, sex when he's horny, and freedom from pesky emotional issues ranging from mild inconsideration to family deaths.

He's simple in the least insulting way I can possibly mean that, but it's too hard for someone like me who lives within the subtext rather than the shiny, comforting shellac of surface words and intentions.

You strike me as similar. That's why it's so hard to receive his gestures, because in your world these gestures would be hollow if they came from you.

I feel a great amount of guilt about this, but I've found that if I detach myself from the situation more and more, I am less prone to beat up Crazz for "getting it wrong" and am more centered in the fact that we just need different things out of a partner. Which feels more like truth than most things I've been trying to make sense out of - but it also makes me profoundly sad.

Sorry - that took a turn. What I really meant to say is that I think I get you. (((Skan)))

[This message edited by Jrazz at 12:07 AM, August 14th (Thursday)]

tushnurse posted 8/14/2014 09:00 AM

Jrazz is hitting on what my point was.
I wanted him to put thought, effort, and show that he gets that I want these things, but I couldn't just expect him to go and do it. He needed coaching, he needed reminding, he needed someone to say Hey idiot, it's time to step up to the plate and do something wonderful for your spouse because this day is special to her.
Unfortunately that person had to be me.
It took literally years of reminding, entering dates on calendars, reminders on shared calendars that events are coming up, etc. Really after about 3 years of this, he got good at it. He sees the reward for the effort and that makes him more willing to do it, but God forbid his phone crash, and he loose his calendar, cause nothing would ever get done again.

tired girl posted 8/14/2014 09:17 AM


Let me ask you something, when you do these super awesome things for him on his birthdays, does he seem super excited by them? I think you may be speaking your love language to him. In other words, you are giving to him what you want him to give to you. Is it a big deal to him that you do these things?

Sad in AZ posted 8/14/2014 09:29 AM

Along the line of what tired girl asked, my question is, Has he always been this way? Were there ever grand, romantic gestures? My point is, are you asking him to be something that he just can't be?

This has been a late-in-life revelation to me. Just because you want things to be a certain way doesn't mean that you are going to get them. If the person you love (and you profess to loving him deeply) can't live up to your expectations, maybe you are the one who is approaching this from the wrong direction.

I get the hurt and despair after betrayal. I get that you want your FWS to step up the plate, but if you are hoping for something that he can't deliver, you are setting yourself up for disappointment again and again.

I think this is where the 50% of what you bring to the relationship comes in. You have to have realistic expectations in love and in life. You have to understand who it is with whom you are in a relationship. I know I failed at this in my relationship for many years. I corrected myself pretty well in the last years I was with the X before his A, and life was pretty good. I know it was not a causative factor in his cheating--that was all on him.

See if you can get him to do the 5 languages of love test with you. You might be surprised...or if you're honest with yourself, you might not be.

Skan posted 8/14/2014 11:22 AM

Time to re-take the test, I think, and to think about tired girls' point long and hard. Thanks a lot for your perspectives! That's why I come here, to my very understanding therapy group.

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