Cake Me:: My Husband Doesn’t Do Birthdays

I. Love. Birthdays. I love everything about them:: the hype, decorations, picking the theme, specialty cakes, the perfect venue. There’s a special sensation that jets up my spine when I’m around a celebration and I feel like a sugared-up version of Lorelai in Gilmore Girls, “I smell birthdays.”

Born to Celebrate

A photograph of a toddler standing on her father's lap and eating cake at a birthday party. I am by nature a fairly celebratory person. Whether it’s National Puppy Day or International Sushi Day, it doesn’t take much to convince me to throw on a party hat. But more specifically, I love my birthday. I have yet to find the age where I am embarrassed to sit with my dad and happily blow out candles. I love my free birthday Starbucks and 50% off Kendra Scott and all of the coupons to places I rarely frequent. Who cares! Bring on the discounts. Gifts are my love language and I will take it stranger from the bakery.

When asked, most of my favorite memories from growing up involve celebrations of some kind. We would never have been featured on MTV’s My Super Sweet 16, but we had our share of memorable moments. Having a summer birthday on top of butting up to July Fourth often left me in a predicament when it came to planning and attendees, but I never noticed. During my Nancy Drew fascination phase, mom planned an amateur sleuth birthday and hid all of my presents. My sister and I had to follow clues to find them. I’m sure she was relieved that this activity occupied the majority of the day, but I’m not sure she expected me to request a repeat performance the following year.

Our yard turned into a mini waterpark with slip-n-slides, sprinklers, and pools borrowed from neighbors. Trips to the Magic Time Machine or having a dance on the back patio replaced the bowling alley as I got older. I grew accustomed to my birthday being a big dang deal. But alas, to my annual dismay, I did not marry a man with my same love for glitter and noise-makers.

The Birthday Non-Celebrator

A photograph of a husband and wife at a restaurant with a dessert with a candle in front of him. My husband has many talents—planning is not one of them. I don’t even leave subtle hints, telling him exactly what I’d like to do…no dice. I’ve filled out Amazon wish lists which sometimes help—if I sit with him and order—but for me, the exciting part is the festivities.

For my 30th birthday, I planned my own celebration, ordering custom cupcakes and bringing my crew down to Spaghetti Warehouse. I even moved the date so he could be there. He didn’t attend. {We weren’t married at the time, and work got in the way, but my feelings were no less hurt.}

When I turned 32, I asked my husband to whisk us away to a long weekend in Fredericksburg, staying at one of the adorable B&Bs. Remember what I said about a July Fourth birthday? Because procrastination is his Achilles’ heel, they were sold out. With my mom’s help, we were able to snag one of the last hotel rooms in town, but not at the quaint historic inn I had pictured. I picked myself up by my oversized sun hat and milked the German town for all its worth, but I couldn’t shake a feeling of dejection. Like I wasn’t worth some forethought—not worth celebrating.

Eat the Cake

A photograph of two smiling women standing at a counter behind a birthday cake with lit candles. Now, don’t get it twisted. My husband—for all of his talents and goodness—is an equal opportunity party pooper. While I had a grill shipped to his friend’s house and hid decorations in my office cube for weeks so I could plan a 40th surprise luau of epic proportions, he could have tossed the whole thing in a bonfire and been okay with it. To his credit, he does not demand what he is unprepared to provide. However, fast forward several years, and I would love to tell you there was a cosmic shift. A series of events that catapulted us into perfect synergy allowing us to papier-mâché unicorn piñatas in blissful harmony. But, sadly, that is not our story.

Last year I verbalized precisely what I wanted to do on my special day and then in exasperation, executed the plan. The year before I made my own dinner reservations. He has never refused to celebrate with me, he’s just not so great at the actual planning. We each have our own gifts, and I have had to accept after 12 years of birthdays, that my husband is not a party aficionado.

Maybe it’s the stress of planning. Perhaps it’s that he doesn’t want to be the center of attention {I may own multiple tiaras}. It may stem from the fact that holidays and birthdays just weren’t a big deal when he was growing up.

Does his lack of participation in birthdays slow down my month-long merriment? Eh, it puts a damper in it sometimes, but he knew I was more of a funfetti flavor when he married me. For the month of July, it’s a cocktail, firework, and cheers waiting to happen…and I’m there for every beaming moment. Eye roll securely in place, he’s along for the ride. Sure, I have to do my own research and maybe send out invites on his behalf, but I was raised with the secure knowledge that I am worthy of celebrating. And even if he does forget which restaurant is my favorite—he agrees.

We never know how many trips around the sun we get in this life so when you earn one, raise a glass. Gather your favorite people together {when there isn’t a pandemic}, accept a few gifts, and have some laughs. Aging doesn’t stop my friends—eat the dang cake.


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Cake Me: My husband doesn't do birthdays. Logo: Houston Moms. A photograph of a husband and wife sitting at a restaurant with a dessert with a lit candle in front of him.

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Kirsten C. was born and raised in Texas Hill Country. After becoming a hopelessly devoted Bobcat and earning a degree in Mass Communications-Public Relations at Texas State University, she was wooed by the never-ending culinary options and vibrant street art of Houston and became a transplant. By day she is a marketing enthusiast for a downtown engineering firm, and by night, an over-the-top {and unashamed} dog mom. She and her husband William are licensed foster parents—advocating for children and families—who hope to one day grow their family through adoption. You can follow their unruly journey on their blog, Cornell Chaos. When she’s not trying a new restaurant, playing behind the lens of a Cannon, piddling in the yard, or scouring markets for hidden gems, Kirsten is often found teaching student ministry through Kingsland Baptist Church or escaping at a local coffee spot.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thanks so much for sharing your story. I’m just like you. Always bright and sunshiny with so much passion to celebrate the joys of life. But I often find myself with men who don’t like it, don’t bother, don’t care. Like you, I have put together great celebrations for my husband’s birthday, trying to demonstrate by example, the kind of stuff that I like. But he just doesn’t get it. Like yours, he’s also not a good planner, leaves everything to the last minute, and then picks things that are just not me. Like last night he took me bowling for my birthday, when anyone who truly knows me, would know that bowling is the last thing on my list. I also feel hurt every time he doesn’t come through. It feels like he doesn’t care or like I’m not worth the effort. He’s constantly showering with me affection words and kisses and blah blah blah, which is sweet, but i’m not the affection kind. I’m the adventurous type, and I just feel like he doesn’t see it. We’ve talked about this so many times, and I try to balance myself to meet him in the middle, but sometimes, I’m not sure he does. Or maybe he tries, but he’s just clumsy. Your compassion for your husband is sweet, however, and maybe I need to simply accept that he’s never going to celebrate me the way I want, and that I should just do it myself. I applaud your beautiful spirit and your confidence in celebrating yourself. I agree 100% that life is too short and sometimes rough. We should celebrate every opportunity we can! Thank you!

    • Gosh, I hear your hurt. It can be really disheartening when others don’t love us the way we want or need to be loved. The Love Languages was a huge eye-opener for us! We thought we were doing a great job of communicating to the other person, but they weren’t hearing it – at all! I have accepted that party planning is certainly not his gift. However, my inspection will magically be renewed, and somehow while I was gone the dresser handle put itself back on. 🙂 I lean on girlfriends or family members that DO love to party plan and are more than happy to help me celebrate! Identify people in your life that can feel that need since our spouses can’t be everything. (I know I certainly am not for him!) Sounds like you have someone who adores you, but speaks a different love language.

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