On Turning 50, Asking for What you Want, and Getting It

IMG_0546_3When my husband and I fell in love and realized that we would spend the rest of our lives together, I had only one request.  “I don’t need gifts on any other day.”  I told him.  “I truly don’t care if you send flowers on Valentine’s Day or if you forget our anniversary.  No matter what happens, I’ll be fine.” I meant every word of it.   “The only day I need you to be there for me, the only day I need to know that I won’t be alone and that I will be taken care of from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep, is on my birthday.”

Throughout my childhood, my mother had yelled at me and put me down.  On my birthdays her treatment seemed especially cruel.  Each year I would find myself sobbing alone in my room, thinking, “Isn’t there one day that could be mine, one day where she would think about someone besides herself?”

“I can do that,” my husband said, sweetly.  And he has.  For the past 8 years, from the minute I wake up to the minute I go to sleep, my husband treats me like a queen on my birthday.  What’s even sweeter is that he starts months ahead of time planning the day.  I think he gets more excited about it than I do.  He loves knowing how happy he’s making me.

In the past, I probably hinted that I dreaded my birthdays, hoping my partners would do something special for me.  It never occurred that I could just ask them to plan something, that it would be this simple.  It also never occurred to me that they might actually enjoy being there for me.

I am sure that, right about now, some of you are thinking, “But if asked, my guy would mess it up and I’d be even more disappointed.”  I get that.  Just because you ask, doesn’t mean someone will still do something that will make you happy.  But, the truth is that it doesn’t matter what he does, what matters is that he tries.  And if you want him to try, you have to make them feel good about his choices.

I genuinely don’t care what my husband and I do on my birthday.  It doesn’t have to be original or extravagant.  The point is that we are together.  One year he forgot and agreed to teach a class abroad on the weekend of my birthday.  Just the fact that he felt terrible was enough for me.  We celebrated early and laughed about it.

In a few days I will turn 50.  My mom died of breast cancer when she was 39 and I was 15.  Looking back, I never thought I would live to 50 or that I would look forward to my birthdays.  And I certainly never thought I would have met an angel on JDate.com, let alone married him.  All I can say is that good things come to those who learn to date naked.