My Husband’s 26th Birthday Is Tomorrow. But, We’re Not Really Celebrating…Here’s Why.
Tomorrow is Luke’s 26th birthday. I can’t believe it; time has really flown by, and we have truly grown up together. I’ve been so blessed to spend birthdays with this wonderful man since he turned 21! And after 5 tries, this year, I am hoping I finally got it right and have learned to love & celebrate in his language, which to me, isn’t really celebrating much at all. But I love him enough to try! #sixthtimesacharm
At church on Sunday, our pastor spoke about Gary Chapman’s Love Languages and loving your spouse in THEIR language versus your own. This one is tricky, because it’s easy to do what comes naturally, and growing up, my family made a huge deal about birthdays! We had a huge cake, party, lots of gifts-the whole 9 yards. Well Luke’s family didn’t make such a huge fuss about birthdays and instead viewed them as a day to celebrate being together without all the unnecessary hoopla. Needless to say, coming from such different backgrounds, my high expectations for a couple of my birthday celebrations were unmet, as were his expectations for a low key fun day. Our interpretations may be different, but after all, shouldn’t his birthday really be all about him?! The older we get and the more fun we have growing old together, the better we seem to do at expressing love in each other’s love language versus our own. A quick journey through Luke’s birthdays with me in his life. (You’ll see what I mean about how our Birthday Languages in particular were all out of whack!)
We had only been dating for about 6 months, and not knowing better yet, you’d better believe I went ALL OUT. I later learned it made him very uncomfortable, as he hates being he center of attention. We celebrated in Tuscaloosa, and I made a Pinterest worthy homemade dinner at my apartment complete with traditional birthday cake (not knowing he isn’t really a dessert fan unless it’s cookie cake or brownies.) I bought him several gifts that required him to complete an elaborate scavenger hunt around my apartment complex to find! One gift was wrapped in a tiny box inside a million bigger boxes! You know the kind I mean. Truly maddening stuff! 😁 I think I even did the trick candles that take forever to blow out and a singing birthday card! If you know Luke, you know that’s so not his style. The whole thing was cheesy, and while he made it fun for me, it was not the birthday he would have wished for! It was his 21st, so at least he got to legally drink through it…
We celebrated (or rather attempted to celebrate) this one in New York. However, my flight was extremely delayed and instead of getting into the NY airport around 4 pm, I landed in Philly at 2 am by the time I got out of the snowstorms that had kept me grounded all day! The airline said it was Philly or bust; it was literally the closest they could get me to the state of NY all weekend.
Needless to say, instead of doing the previously planned expensive dinner and a movie, Luke drove 6 hours round trip to pick me up in PA! We got in around 6 am and just crashed for hours. West Point had the 100th Night Ball that evening, so we celebrated in style! His friend Ace was kind enough to bring birthday candles, and we topped the cheesecake dessert with them and sang Happy Birthday in an impromptu mini party. His gifts from me were still over the top and quite Pinterest worthy- I even made him a deck of cards with 52 Things I Love About Luke and a homemade roll of toilet paper with the Duke Blue Devils Logo on it!! Lol (I did not account for the fact that he hates compliments or that the toilet paper would be so scratchy. Oops!)
Luke had just moved to Fort Benning, and we didn’t really know many people yet. He had a couple of college friends down here, so I texted them to see if we could throw together a surprise birthday dinner/party. (Still thinking wishfully that Luke liked surprise parties at this point..he loved seeing his friends, but surprise parties are more my speed! He has learned this about me and threw me the most amazing surprise ice skating birthday party last year, but more about me later! I’ll also have to tell you about the year he “forgot” my birthday 😉 ) anyways, Bill and Ace helped me arrange a dinner at The Cannon Brew Pub in Downtown Columbus. We got a group of about 10 people together and had a great time, complete with a cake! Round 2 included yet another surprise back at his apartment where I had arranged for our friends Jessica and Will to come down for a board game night! We had a fun time laughing together, and all in all, it was a great night, but looking back even that wasn’t really Luke’s style. He hates the spotlight, and that’s exactly where I had put him- again.
The year after we were married, Luke actually asked for 2 really big gifts for once! He wanted a big screen TV and a new gun, so that’s what we got–along with another “surprise” party. Nah- he knew about this one! I had gotten a little better at reading him 4 years in. We got a group of our Columbus friends together and all went out to eat at Johnny Carrino’s, this little Italian place that no one but him ever liked! It is since out of business, but Luke swore by their meatball calzone. After dinner, we came back to our place and played our own version of The Newlywed Game! It was such a blast, getting together with 5 other couples in a similar stage of life. (Word to the wise, if you ever play this game with your husband, he is ALWAYS Batman, if there is ever a choice between Batman and some other character, such as Daffy Duck 😂. ) And, of course, I did a cookie cake and we all sang Happy birthday. But I promised him only 2 photos, and that’s all we took!! More cheesy than he would have preferred no doubt, but he thanked me for the effort, and I think he genuinely had a good time! Removing the surprise element was a biggie, and since the party was at our place he got to show off his new toys! 😉
Luke laid down the law when I asked what he wanted for his birthday. I offered to get him several things but he said No. He wanted nothing. This wasn’t a joke; he truly wanted me to show my love for him by getting him nothing- just once. He also didn’t want a party or a gathering. He just didn’t want to be the center of attention that year. I can’t tell you how much this went against everything in my nature as a person, as a woman and as a wife! My coworkers could tell you how much I agonized over this, but in the end, I simply honored his request. I knew it would be the greatest expression of love I could give him. I did buy a cookie cake, but no candles and no song! 😉 no presents, no nothing. On that day, we went to eat somewhere of his choice. I can’t remember what it was, but it was very low key. (He had suggested Wendy’s at one point!) He told me it was the best birthday ever at the end of the night, just the 2 of us, because he finally got to have his day his way. It shocked me how wrong I had been, and that’s when the realization struck I had been doing everything MY way and loving him how I wanted to be loved instead of trying to please him. (Remember my forgotten birthday I mentioned above? Well he didn’t truly forget. He gave me a sweet note, a birthday hug and an I-O-U kind of present as he hadn’t had time to pick one out. No cake, wrapped gifts or anything fancy…and, we had one of our biggest fights ever until we figured out we just experience birthdays differently. Neither way is better- just different! We laugh about It today about how we both kept trying to give each other what we ourselves actually wanted from the other!) After his birthday, I laid down the law in return and said “never again.” Never again will I do absolutely nothing at all, because everyone should have some sort of birthdays celebration. It just felt so wrong. He thanked me again for trying it and told me how much it meant to him that I loved him in that way and would be willing to do that. And, he agreed that was fine, realizing holidays are a HUGE deal to me, and I wanted to express my love for him in a bigger way . But his point had been made, and I agreed to bring it down a few notches. We both learned a lot from the Birthday That Wasn’t, including Luke, who in return threw me the most phenomenal surprise birthday party EVER a few months later. He loved me so perfectly that year, and this year I want to strive to do the same. Which brings me to…
This year, I tried for a combination approach of years 23-25. No surprises. Instead, we Planned a low key dinner with just a couple of good friends at a casual place in Auburn that he loves! I did buy him some gifts I knew he wanted, but I didn’t wrap them or make a big production. I just let him open them out of the Amazon boxes as they came in; as wrong as that still felt to me, I knew he would much prefer that to a big gift opening Ceremony with all eyes on him, and that’s OK. We went shopping together for the rest of his stuff over the wekeend and had fun picking it out together. We are sharing a Cookie Cake again tomorrow, and that’s it. No big surprises, and while that still feels a little unorthodox to me, it’s becoming our new normal.
Tomorrow, we will celebrate Luke, and I will find joy in having spent another year with him. I pray that I can continue learning to love him well and will continue to be flexible and love him in his language during this 26th year. May each birthday be richer, better and sweeter than the and last! Forever and Always, sweetheart!
P.S. I may have one crazy birthday scavenger hunt in me yet, but I’ll save it for your 100th! 😍