The Marriage Games

My experiment failed. I tried to give a little tit for tat, and I failed. But maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Last month, I got very upset at the way my husband was handling Mother’s Day. He asked me what I wanted a few weeks in advance. That was good. I gave him a list. That was good.Then we did not discuss Mother’s day again until the Friday night before. “I need you to watch the kids so I can go shopping for you,” was the gist of our conversation. That was bad.

He hurt me. Number one, I had to babysit so he could buy my presents? What kind of a Mother’s Day is that? But what hurt me the most was that he didn’t plan for my day at all. Preparation was just another chore on his list – one he’d put off, because it wasn’t that important.

When he has a special day, I develop a plan weeks in advance, thinking of special touches to add as they come to me. I want his day to be wonderful and memorable, and I want him to be excited about it and appreciative. His day is important to me, and I treat it as such. But this Mother’s Day didn’t seem very important to him – not by the way he was acting.

I did not wind up watching the kids so he could shop, which was good, because I would have been angry if I did. But I also did not wind up telling him that his actions were hurting me. Instead I planned to retaliate.

I got one gift on Mother’s Day morning. On gift-giving occasions I always get him a gift from me and one from the kids. And it was two bottles of liquor, which was fine, because they were on my list, but it explained why he didn’t need any time to shop. I know I sound whiny – “woe is me I only got one gift” – while some people have nothing and would give anything for a gift, but I had several gifts on my list that were completely free. I’m not talking about spending too little money.

We spent the rest of the day wine-tasting in Woodinville, Washington. It was a lot of fun, but we didn’t decide to do it until I suggested it the day before. We bought some wine, too. My husband wants me to make sure I give him credit for that.

His birthday was coming up, as was Father’s Day, so I thought I’d give him a taste of his own medicine. That was bad.

He gave me a list of things he wanted. I purposely waited until the weekend before his birthday to go shopping and I did leave him with a kid to do so. But the kid was sleeping, and I took the other one with me. Strike one.

Usually I’d ask him what kind of cake he wanted, but we’re short on cash lately, so my daughter and I made cupcakes the day of his birthday. I didn’t put off making them. I wanted them to be fresh, so we did it same day. Strike two.

I did wind up buying two gifts – a grill scraper and a gift card for grill parts – and I designated one to be from me and one from the kids. Strike three.

The thing was, he was really happy when he got home from work on his birthday. That does not happen often. His mirth was contagious. I really enjoy when he’s happy and I just couldn’t keep up the vengeful attitude. Besides that, he didn’t notice my last-minute preparations so my plans, or lack thereof, had no effect on him. And it didn’t bother me that they didn’t. I was just glad to see him so happy.

The moral of the story is that men are obtuse when it comes to the games women play, so I should have talked to him about how I felt instead of trying to get him back and then passive-aggressively writing a blog post about it.

In the end, I couldn’t ignore how much I love him to prove a point. I always say that when you meet The One, the games stop. You don’t feel you have to play them anymore. That rule should continue through marriage. Too bad I didn’t take my own advice.