Forgets Her Birthday?

Q: I'm 49 and have been in a relationship with my fiancé for 4 years, living together for 2 years and engaged for a year and a half. He's generally good about gift-giving and recognizing special occasions appropriately. Today is my birthday and the day is half over with nary a happy birthday, card or gift and no plans mentioned for later on. Am I being too passive by not asking "why aren't you mentioning my birthday" or would that be childish and needy? Should I just be waiting for a big surprise? -- Lara

Dr. Susan: One of the signs of maturity is being willing to take responsibility for our own needs and wants. If holidays and birthdays are important enough for you to fret about (and they aren't for everyone), then they're important enough to be a subject of discussion with this man you've been with for so long. The worst thing you can do to someone you love is assume the worst of them. In this case, the worst isn't that he may neglect your birthday for one reason or another. It's assuming it means something negative about his feelings for you. Don't sit around stewing in hopes of a big surprise, unless he's in the habit of surprising you on such occasions. Tell him, "You know, lover boy, my birthday's always been something special to me. I love the way you always give me something to mark the day. I know you're been real busy lately, but..." Or even more directly: "Did you have anything in mind, or should we go out to dinner at that new place for my birthday?" There's nothing particularly childish or "needy" about enjoying rituals together. But good-naturedly share the task of remembering if your partner's the forgetful type.

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