‘The Marriage Umpire:’ Hubby never plans ahead!

This is our fourth round of “The Marriage Umpire.” I have two more topics we can do today.  You send us your marital problem and we’ll help you solve it. (We actually do this all the time but we’re officially playing this week as we await the new show “The Marriage Ref” by Jerry Seinfeld on NBC.)

“Both my best friend and I have this issue -our husbands know our birthdays are very close to Christmas. They’re the same day every year! We both save up and budget our money long before our husband’s birthdays (even though they occur near NO major holidays), so we can get them something very nice that they actually want. However it seems (especially over the last 5 years when we’ve actually given birth to their offspring) that they are so unprepared for our birthdays that we get very little or almost nothing. Both of these men used to be GREAT gift givers, and quite honestly it’s important to me because of the thought more so than the object. I feel like I constantly plan ahead for many things -vacations, festivals, occasions and holidays that all require some planning, but he never does and it’s caused problems a number of times. I feel like this shouldn’t be something that’s just a part of his personality, but that he should start thinking ahead a little bit.”

What do you think? Do men plan less than women? Should this husband put more effort into planning ahead? What about on the gifts? Is there a point where men turn into bad gift-givers? Should he look ahead or she just accept that as part of his personality?

198 comments Add your comment

Jeff in Roswell

February 25th, 2010
8:41 am

I am one of those men. I will take my 20 lashings with a wet noodle. The good news is, my wife is too! It works for both of us. She usually buys what she wants for her birthday and I cook her a meal she likes. In turn, she gets me a card for my birthday because I tell her not to spend money on me. It works for both of us. At Christmas we get each other one or two small items and then focus our attention on our son and the rest of the family. Neither of us are big planners. We do a lot of things on the spur of the moment, such as travel, weekend activities, etc.

Raqi

February 25th, 2010
8:42 am

I feel like this shouldn’t be something that’s just a part of his personality

That’s the problem right there, it’s not a part of his personality. The thing about adults, as we know because we all are one, we have already been raised so good luck trying to program someone to be something they are not already.

And then you can’t make someone care about something that they don’t. I am not saying that the husband’s in this topic don’t care about their wives birthdays but it seems obvious that they have no desire to go all out for it. Some things we just have to accept. We make ourselves more aggravated trying to make things be instead of just accepting them as they are.

I am sorry the two of you are having this problem but those are grown men and if they just don’t care to make a big todo about it, there is nothing anyone can do to change that.

julia

February 25th, 2010
8:43 am

Can we add the teenage son to the list I swear its genetic. He gets home from school yesterday mind you telling me we have to be at the high school tonight from 6-9 so we can pick out his electives then tomorrow night and sat morning he has band practice at school.. Thank you son for hmmmm the early update :)

cld

February 25th, 2010
8:45 am

In our marriage, I am the planner and DH is not so much. Every once in a while, he surprises me by planning ahead. Usually, he leaves it to me. I really don’t mind. Last-minute birthday gifts? I don’t care. We don’t do much anyway. This year, it was a collection of photo prints of our son (ones we’ve been meaning to print) for our family photo wall at home, and a Godiva macaroon (my favorite). For Christmas, we exchange stockings and that’s it. Our anniversary, we exchange cards. And all those things are fine by me.

cld

February 25th, 2010
8:47 am

I should add that he does plan ahead (and keep me in the loop) when it comes to the big things, like traveling with work.

JJ

February 25th, 2010
8:54 am

Sounds incredibly selfish to me.

Jeff

February 25th, 2010
8:56 am

I can only give you feedback as how this topic became an issue with MY marriage. We went to Hawaii. I was against it because we had a 3month old daughter. she planned it anyway discounting that my concern shouldn’t be a concern. I told her the only thing I had my heart set on was going to pearl harbor (I’m a history person and she knows this). She attempted to talk me out of pearl harbor because it was going to costs a little extra, blah blah blah. And she decided I could go to PH by myself.

When the ex would routinely IGNORE my planning and desires, I eventually stopped trying to give my input.

If you have a history of running over or pooh-poohing his plans or ideas, he may think “why should I bother”. That may not be your hubby’s issue, but it was mine.

Dave

February 25th, 2010
8:57 am

Don’t make general statements such as: “Do men plan less than women?” Generalized statements are foolish. This is a case by case basis. I’m sure there are lots of women who don’t plan and are bad gift-givers too.

I plan ahead. My wife’s birthday is in July, and it never sneaks up on me. I have an area in the house where my wife knows not to look because there’s usually something there for her (birthday, valentines, mother’s day, Christmas, just because), and she abides by this. No matter when it is, if I see something I think she’ll like I get it (plus bigger items at gift time) so I’m always prepared.

With a birthday around Christmas, folks have always had issues with that. He probably thinks he spends a little extra on her Christmas gift and that’s good enough. She should just tell him that she’d like something special on her birthday – that it would mean alot – and that should suffice.

TechMom

February 25th, 2010
9:11 am

Hubby is not a planner either. My favorite response when I say I feel like I’m doing all the planning is, “but you’re so much better at it than I am.” Boo! What a lame excuse at trying to make me feel better for doing all the work. That being said, I have learned that I have to specifically spell out exactly what I want. That process frustrates me because I don’t feel like I should have to tell him – shouldn’t he just know to do those things?

The self-help reader in me says, I have learned that I should tell him what I would like or expect and then praise/thank him for doing it when he actually does it. But I’m with these ladies (not about birthday presents per se) but just about anything that requires planning and effort, that I feel like I’m his mom when I have remind him to do things, create a list or thank him for doing stuff that just has to be done. I do that for the boy but isn’t he a grown man, shouldn’t he just do these things because he loves me and wants to make me happy or simply because they need to be done?

Peachy

February 25th, 2010
9:13 am

Have you told your husband how this bothers you? Try sitting down with him, when you aren’t emotionally upset and tell him how you feel just like you told Theresa in the e-mail: “I feel like I plan for your birthday, and recently it doesn’t seem like you have planned for mine. In the past I really appreciated your thoughtful gifts…” This doesn’t seem like rocket science to me. Tell him how you used to appreciate his gifts, you feel like you plan things for him, and you feel neglected that he hasn’t recently planned things for your birthday. Let him know it hurts your feelings and you wish it was different. It is amazing what actual communication will do when you share your feelings in a non-threatening, not emotionally filled manner, especially if you let him know how he used to do a great job.

crackbaby

February 25th, 2010
9:13 am

Ladies,

Since you are the planners, take the initiative and plan your own present ahead of time. Communicate budget and things he is required to do. Gentle reminders may be necessary to make sure those things are accomplished.

Don’t know if your families are dual income or the husbands work and the ladies are stay at home moms. If the latter is the case, you are in charge (i.e., the Boss) of the “domestic agenda”. If you both work, you do the planning and have him do some of the preparation work. Don’t expect him to plan something you will be thrilled with. Now that you have a family, there is more pressure on him to grow income or, in this economy, maintain a level of income that can support the family budget.

You are correct in your premise – he USED to be better at planning for your B-day. But you are no longer happy go lucky singles or a married couple w/ no kids. Life is not fair so be thankful for what you have – don’t co-miserate with your friend who shares the same B-day. That is like an addict seeking sympathy from another addict. Truthfully, adults bitching about a lack of birthday presents is pathetic. Your were born in the United States – that is perhaps the greatest gift one can receive.

Good luck.

JJ

February 25th, 2010
9:18 am

Jeff did you get to see Pearl Harbor? I was there in 1971 and it greatly affected me. I remember it like it was yesterday.

Jeff

February 25th, 2010
9:23 am

Yes, JJ, I did. It has a very strange feeling to it. I was disappointed that I didn’t have anyone to share it with, but in retrospect, I was able to enjoy more of it by myself. Thanks for asking.

Momof2

February 25th, 2010
9:31 am

I think the spouse knows, at some level, that this is hurtful. I think you should start examining your relationship to see what’s really going on. If something has changed for the worse maybe you can work on getting it changed back. Unfortunately, this could be some immaturity due to your attention being diverted from HIM to his children. Or it could be something external to your marriage that is harder to identify. I’ve experienced some of this and in my opinion this is a big warning that something is wrong.

5!!!

February 25th, 2010
9:40 am

I am a planner by trade. I enjoy being spontaneous, but I’m not that great at it. I got upset with my wife last week because I didn’t think she was listening as I was explaining that we need to make good plans for our Spring vacation and our son’s birthday in April.

But when it comes to giving my wife a gift, it has become a burden. Not because I don’t want to express my love for her, but because it is too difficult. If I buy her clothes, there is a good chance she will not like them or they will not fit. I can buy her jewelry, which she likes, but I do so at the expense of me resenting it. I feel like shiny rocks are wasteful and anyone taken in by the Debeers scam is feeding a problem.

It would be nice if she wouuld tell me things that she wants. I ask, but she can think of nothing.

lovelyliz

February 25th, 2010
9:47 am

If a man can’t plan ahead, he can’t plan ahead. If that’s one of his traits you will be better off trying to work around it than changing him.

Now for my rant. As with my sister’s ex-husband and way too many other men of that ilk, it’s not that they can’t plan, it’s they can’t plan for events they don’t want to plan for. Ever been married to a guy who knows the exact date when deer hunting starts, can memorize the entire schedule of his favorite college football team, knows when his favorite hair band from the 80’s is going to be in town, but misses his wife’s & child’s birthdays, anniversaries, etc every year? Those are the men who have no excuse.

Jeff

February 25th, 2010
10:00 am

Does anyone (man or woman) ever say to themselves, maybe I made a bad decision? How did I play a factor in this? There are crappy people, no doubt and I will not make excuses for them. But being mad at them over something that is just their nature to do isn’t really good for anyone involved.

Alpha Dog

February 25th, 2010
10:01 am

quack, quack, quack, quack… quack

5!!!

February 25th, 2010
10:10 am

BTW, the woman who sent this in sounds very materialistic. I know she says its the thought that counts, but she should know his thoughts already.

She is putting a lot of pressure on her husband by asking that he find an object to represent his feelings for her adn present it to her.

How can I buy something that someone else made and it be a reflection of my feelings? Unless I make it myself, it can’t be.

I can write you a song, but it doesn’t sound like the woman who wrote this would be satisfied with a poem.

Petie The Crab

February 25th, 2010
10:10 am

Another day of slamming the male. Honestly, how do you fabuluos Ladies put up with we pigs?

playthatfunkymusicwhiteboy

February 25th, 2010
10:11 am

Wow – all I see when I read the above complaint is total self absorption. You have got to be kidding me. In this day and age, in this economy, two hens clucking about their husbands not buying them nice enough gifts for their birthdays. “I buy him something nice” so why don’t I get something nice? I bet your husband is really happy with you honey.
Get a clue women – we don’t “plan” because you are all control freaks. You give lip service to wanting us to plan and do things, but you don’t mean it. Plus, I’m too busy making money to pay for the house, your Lexus, the vacations that “oh my goodness you have to plan”, the bills, the kids tuition, to also play cruise director. Suck it up sister.
And on top of all of this, I bet the girl sending this in probably controls the checkbook – therefore the husband has no way to “set aside” anything without her knowing about it, then probably accusing him of withholding money from her.

Theresa Walsh Giarrusso

February 25th, 2010
10:11 am

Husband can send in too!!!

5!!!

February 25th, 2010
10:18 am

Many of the women on this blog seem to be married to rednecks. I am not going to single anyone out, but a lot of the behavior I see complained about here is redneck behavior.

If you don’t like that behavior, you should have found a husband somewhere other than a Nascar gift shop.

Becky

February 25th, 2010
10:20 am

I’m with the guys on this one..Get over it..After 16 years, my husband still forgets my birthday..Life goes on..I knew by the 2nd or 3rd birthday that he was never going to remember it, I have learned to live with it..

As for planning, he’s very good at some parts of it, I’m good with the other parts..I’m 48 and hes 56, if we wanted it, we’ve already bought it, so for birthdays (when he remembers), he usually takes me out to dinner and if I want, we go buy me something, for his birthday, I cook a nice dinner for him and give him a small gift..

JJ

February 25th, 2010
10:21 am

Again – HAPPY TO BE SINGLE!!!!

5!!!

February 25th, 2010
10:25 am

Becky, He forgets your birthday? Like it passes and he never even acknowledges it?

lovelyliz

February 25th, 2010
10:27 am

It’s one thing when he can’t remember any date, but when he knows Pat Dye’s birthday but forgets yours…………………….

LeeH1

February 25th, 2010
10:28 am

My wife is a non-planner, and comes from a family of non-planners. She tells me exactly what she wants for Christmas or birthdays, and will even tear out the catalog page with the exact item marked, or send me the link to order it.

This sabotages any planning on my part, and she gets really upset if I give her something other than what she wanted.

Two weeks ago we were invited to a party on Saturday night, and she still hasn’t decided if she wants to go. Her sisters are just like this, too.

You just have to deal with it. She isn’t going to change. This isn’s something logical that can be addresses, it is just the way she is and her sisters are.

Living with another person means living with their faults. If it makes you angry, then there is something wrong with you- either you didn’t see the fault before the marriage, or thought your spouse would change. Both are faults in you.

RJ

February 25th, 2010
10:31 am

My husband has only forgotten my birthday once. He has never forgotten again. I’m blessed. Last year I received a dozen roses at work in the most beautiful vase for my birthday. Diamond earrings for our anniversary the month before. I guess what he doesn’t do at home he kinda makes up for with the great gifts. Kinda:)!

JATL

February 25th, 2010
10:31 am

This one’s from me! A few points in response to some of the responses (wordy, huh?) -YES, we have both discussed this issue numerous times with our hubbies. Discussions have ranged from calm discussions to fights, but the issues has come up a good bit!

@Peachy -it isn’t about the actual gift per se but the thought and effort. I would be really happy with a thoughtfully planned experience instead of an actual gift. I’m not talking trips to the Bahamas or diamonds either -just some effort! We both work outside the home, although I just recently went back to work, but while mine was a much better gift giver before kids (and I was working outside the home), we still had issues with him never planning but expecting the efforts of planning for events to happen. I have also gone to bat numerous times with our parents about hugely expensive things he wants so we could all go in on them and he could get them. Those days are OVER!

And here are some examples -both my friend and I turned 40 on our last birthdays. My friend wanted a special necklace (not crazy expensive or anything), but her husband waited until the day before her birthday to order it, so it wasn’t there for her birthday. I also wanted a special necklace and I’ve reminded him of this, but the crickets are still chirping on that one. He DID get me one thing I really wanted, but I had to do everything but order it myself. I also did all the planning AND paying for my 40th birthday experience except for the one gift. Since I hadn’t gone back to work full time yet, I paid for my birthday by selling old gold jewelry.

And THIS is the biggest deal. For Valentine’s Day I don’t expect much. I like tradition -flowers and a card, maybe some candy -dinner out. We did go out to dinner, which I actually didn’t want to do because I was coming out of an intensely crazy and hectic week, and of course getting the two kids together and shuttled off to his mother’s was all MY responsibility, but it seemed SO important to him, I didn’t say anything. He spent 4 hours the afternoon before VDay out and about and he did bring me a small floral arrangement (silly me thought something else was to follow since he spent so much time out, but I found out later he was doing stuff for himself). I got him cards, vday boxers, candy -this is our usual. On VDay I got nothing. All I wanted was a card to go with the flowers. When I brought this up to him he flipped out and informed me I didn’t even do anything for his birthday. NOW, wait for it -guess what? My mother DIED on his birthday last year! She freaking died! If one of his parents died on my birthday I wouldn’t even think of mentioning my birthday! AND, I DID do something for his birthday. I had nice gifts and cards (that I had gotten two weeks before) that I gave him and cooked him a special birthday dinner two days after her funeral. I used the only alone time I had in two weeks while she was in the hospital and dead to cook him dinner and get his birthday stuff together. As you can probably tell, I don’t know how long it’s going to take me to get over what he said. He asked me at the time -a day after she died -if there were presents for him! I told him “yes, but I can’t really deal with that right now.” In his defense, he did apologize after saying that after VDay, but it’s still really hard for me to get past it.

JATL

February 25th, 2010
10:34 am

@playthatfunkymusic -I drive an old Dodge and he’s never paid for a vacation! Get over YOURSELF. If your wife is leading that kind of life that you pay for, then she’s probably also doing the pool boy because sex with you makes her puke.

JATL

February 25th, 2010
10:36 am

@5!!!! -actually I would love a poem. He wrote a beautiful one for me about 10 years ago, and I would relish another. Truly -it is the thought and effort.

Jerome

February 25th, 2010
10:37 am

February is a bad month for me. My wife has her birthday (10th), Valentines Day (14th) and our wedding anniversary (22nd) all within a two week period. At least I do not have to worry about gifts for her until Christmas. I always forget until a couple of days before and it somehow turns out well for her.

JATL

February 25th, 2010
10:38 am

One more thing, then I’ll sit back and read -our husbands are FAR from rednecks -really, really far! I grew up in middle GA -I KNOW rednecks! Actually, many rednecks men I do know are really great at holidays and gift giving and they want no say in decorating. Maybe I should have married one of them!

Lisa

February 25th, 2010
10:40 am

JATL – either get over it or divorce him.

Holding that hostility in makes things your fault because you’ll always hold it against him and lash out at him.

5!!!

February 25th, 2010
10:41 am

Off topic but I could use some parenting advice.

I am throwing a party for my son’s birthday in April (See, I plan) and do not want for the guests to bring him gifts. He has too many things already. I think it would be nice if the other children made him homemade cards or something. I know he would appreciate those more than another plastic figurine or something.

Anyway, whats the proper way to word the invitation?

5!!!

February 25th, 2010
10:42 am

“One more thing, then I’ll sit back and read -our husbands are FAR from rednecks -really, really far!”

I didn’t single you out.

I am sure many of your husbands are not. But there are a few comments that are easy to spot.

Jeff in Roswell

February 25th, 2010
10:47 am

@ 5!!! 10:25 am My wife does this almost every year. She’s got so much running through her mind that she just forgets. This year, I heard her come in the front door after work, some curses followed and then she was back in her car and gone. I knew what was going on. She drove to Publix bought a card and a carrot cake (my fave) and came back. LOL! That’s my girl!

Nono

February 25th, 2010
10:48 am

I just wanted to stick up for the guys, because there ARE men out there who are very loving, very considerate, and very thoughtful when it comes to birthdays/anniversaries/holidays and gifts. I’m married to someone who ALWAYS tries to make these days special, and I KNOW there have to be more men like him out there. He’s even gone so far as to arrange for me to have laser eye surgery for one birthday, and requested time-off from my boss without my knowledge to arrange a surprise birthday weekend trip. And yes, when we first started dating in high school, he wrote me poems or gave me one rose as gifts – and I loved those too. It really IS the thought that counts.

Michelle

February 25th, 2010
10:50 am

5!! I would just write a blurb stating, “the party is for the experience, please do not brings gifts” or something like that!

5!!!

February 25th, 2010
10:51 am

“@ 5!!! 10:25 am My wife does this almost every year. ”

Seems different when its a woman forgetting than a man. I wish my wife would forget my birthday. Although I often speak in public with little problem, I am extremely uncomfortable receiving gifts and being sung to. I don’t know why.

5!!!

February 25th, 2010
10:52 am

Thanks Michelle. Would it be inappropriate to ask for the children to make cards?

RJ

February 25th, 2010
10:57 am

@5!!, have you discussed this with your son? Part of the excitement of having a birthday party is receiving and opening presents. While I understand your line of thinking, the party isn’t about you. If he doesn’t play with all the gifts he could give them to a local shelter. That could be a great lesson. If you’re set on him not receiving gifts, just put suggestions in italics at the bottom of the invitation. I do suggest you get his input in his wish list.

Jeff

February 25th, 2010
10:57 am

As far as the birthday with no gifts. Ummm, have you been reading how upset the grownups on here get when they don’t get a gift for their birthday? And you’re going to do it to a child? It’s not about you, the mom, it’s about the CHILD’S birthday. How crappy to face your friends at school and try to tell them why they didn’t get any presents. you can start installments on the therapy now that they are going to need later. Or you can point to this when some future wife of your son wants to know why he doesn’t think birthday presents are important. After all, she’s got plenty of stuff.

Married2him, Mommy2them :-)

February 25th, 2010
10:59 am

Wives/girlfriends, just know that you are not alone. Husbands/boyfriends, there is a company available to assist you.

My husband isn’t the best planner, but I love him for trying. He doesn’t know that I know, but he has used a Romance Concierge. Poor baby left the card in his jeans pocket LOL. When my husband isn’t thinking/planning, the “silent planner” is doing so on his behalf. I have loved every outing and the ‘just because’ moments. When he calls the silent planner, I know he is thinking about doing something nice for me, he just needs help doing it. Here is the information, (yes, I jotted down the information to share with a co-worker who stays in the doghouse) :-)

Donna, 404-234-6500, silentplanner@gmail.com

No need to thank me…just kiss your husband afterwards…and ladies, stop complaining and asking so many doggone questions, husbands egos bruise easily…no offense, husbands!

5!!!

February 25th, 2010
11:02 am

While I appreciate your concern Jeff, my son will be better off not receiving tons of toys from his friends. I know him well enough to knw that he would much prefer to recceive homemade cards.

He cherishes the valentines cards that his friends gave him at school and reads them over and over, while he just threw the teddy bear his grandmother gave him intoo the closet.

I will buy him a gift or two of his choosing for his birthday.

Becky

February 25th, 2010
11:02 am

@5!!!..No he doesn’t just let it pass..He usually remembers the day before or the actual day..Like I said, to me it’s not a big deal, just another day of the week..This year after going out to eat, he took me to the mall and said lets get you a gift..I walked out of the mall with nothing..My choice..

@JATL..My husband knows better than to send me flowers and candy on Valentines day..Flowers, because they are way overpriced for this day and candy because I don’t eat chocolate..

julia

February 25th, 2010
11:03 am

I am not a materialstic girl at all. My family mostly forgets my birthday now on the other hand, if my oldest brother forgets mine I wont call him on his because his is ONE month after mine :) its now a standing joke between the 2 of us…

julia

February 25th, 2010
11:04 am

did some one really just post a phone number?

Jeff

February 25th, 2010
11:08 am

Then in that case 5, please accept my apologies. I’m big enough to do that. :)