In the past two weeks I’ve looked at planning romantic moments for your spouse, making them feel special, and how to cope with missing your spouse even when he or she is more or less around. How do all of these things come together? In me trying to plan special things for my husband.
Now that Jon has completed grad school I want to do something special for him. Parties he hast to host are too draining for him, so that’s out. I thought of the perfect idea: I’d bake him a cake. Not just any cake, but a black magic one with mint icing. It’s his favorite, the one his mother always made him for his birthdays, but that I’ve never made before.
The problem is that Jon’s birthday is only about two months away. If I do this special thing for Jon now, I’ll be completely out of birthday ideas. Jon is so laid-back that he never wants anything special. Getting present ideas out of him is like pulling teeth, which is especially difficult because sometimes I’m not only trying to come up with something myself, but also find ideas to give to his mother and my mother.
I can think of a lot of little things Jon will like, but I don’t know that they’d hold his attention for long. Although I’ve long since given up getting Jon amazing presents every year, I want to get him something that will be lasting or meaningful. But there’s just not a lot that he wants.
Making special times, well, special, is also a little difficult for us. In our currently ample free time Jon and I can basically do whatever we want. That sounds extravagant but it’s more than neither of us want anything big: a meal out, a day to the movies or a museum, that’s it. So it’s hard to do something extra special on birthdays or other times, because we can already go where we want to eat when we feel like it or see the movies that we want to.
I make Jon his favorite meals or bake his favorite desserts on random days as well as special. Plus, the words “favorite” and “Jonathan” don’t really go well together. He has some things he likes more than others, but he’s always just so content with whatever he gets. It’s not even clear if he cares that much about whether or not his cake has mint icing versus chocolate.
Part of dealing with this is again learning to work with our differing personalities. I get really excited about things; if I receive a book I love I know I’ll read it again and again, I want my presents wrapped and delivered on or after my birthday, not before even if people have them then. Jon enjoys things but doesn’t get worked up, he might love a book or movie but only be interested in it once, doesn’t care about gift wrap or his actual birthday. I want to do for him the things he does for me, but because we’re wired differently that’s just not going to work.
I’ve been with Jon for nearly 10 years, and it’s strange how sometimes I still feel like I’m trying to parse him out. I think it’s not that I make him unhappy, or don’t do special things for him, but that sometimes I continue to want to give him what he gives me.
That’s a good thing, but I need to temper that with remembering that he appreciates smaller gestures even more than I do. Making someone feel special isn’t just about following a guidebook, but about knowing that person and catering to their individual thoughts and needs.