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Virginia Ironside's Dilemmas


For the last three years, my husband has forgotten our wedding anniversary, though we've been married nine years. It is coming up again and I find I am already dreading the disappointment of him forgetting again. I know it's silly, and everyone says it's clear he loves me, but it means so much to me, and when he forgets we always have a terrible row. He says I should remind him, but if I remind him, then there's no point... he should remember of his own accord. I don't know how you can help me, but does anyone else feel like I do? Yours sincerely, Nollie

Virgnia says... Lots of women feel exactly like you. I'm not one of them – I've been known to forget my own birthday – but I know the agony of feeling rejected and presumably your husband forgetting your anniversary triggers those painful feelings with you. There are two things you can do. Train yourself not to feel the feelings. Or make sure he remembers your anniversary every year in future.

If you decide to remind him yourself, then you'll avoid the problem. Because you'll never know whether he would have remembered without your reminder anyway. Write ANNIVERSARY!! in his diary in big red letters. If he has a secretary (who does any more, I wonder?), dragoon her into reminding him for days in advance. If you don't want to do this, confide in a mutual friend how upset you feel when he forgets. Make sure you tell her the date. If she's a true friend she'll definitely secretly remind your husband.

But by not taking steps to avoid the annual hurt, you're actually complicit, if I may say so, in delivering the hurt. Why not take steps to avoid it? What you're doing now is saying, as it were, "Nearly every time I walk into the road blindfold, I get run over." The answer is to make sure, next time you walk into a road, you take off the blindfold.

The second method, to try to stop yourself feeling disappointed, is to tell yourself that the man you married isn't a chap who's drenched in sentiment. He's not a "fill the house with roses on your birthday" kind of guy. He wouldn't hire a chamber orchestra to serenade you on the anniversary of the day you first met. And would you really love him if he did? Because if he was that sort of person, he'd be different in every way. He'd probably cry in films, and pick up wounded worms from the roadside and bring them home. He'd spent a lot of the time at weekends visiting his friends in hospital, and he might well have a passionate temperament, including, of course, the occasional rage. True, a very sympathetic kind of man in many ways, but is it a man you want to live with? I'm exaggerating of course... but remember he may be a man of few words simply because his feelings are so powerful underneath he fears expressing them by making a song and dance of an anniversary. Who knows. Anyway, I hope these thoughts will make you feel more in control of the situation and less as if you're heading yet again for an inevitable car crash of disappointment.


Readers say...

Make it more fun

I think you need to break the unhappy pattern you have got into. This year you could try saying, a couple of weeks before the date: "It's our wedding anniversary soon. I think we should celebrate our 10 happy years together. Shall we both take the day off work and go somewhere nice/book a table at our favourite restaurant/go to the theatre – whatever you both enjoy doing. Make the arrangements and give yourselves a pleasant memory rather than a row. If you do this for a few years he just might start reminding you of the date.

Deb By email


I forget, too

I usually forget my wedding anniversary (and my wife's birthday sometimes as well). Some men are just like that. They don't mean that much to me as dates in themselves and I am always amused, never annoyed, when my grown-up children forget my birthday, which they normally do. What I have done is to ask a very good mutual friend to remind me, and she now sends me a text message a day or so beforehand.

Peter By email


Next week's dilemma

Dear Virginia, Before she died I promised my mother I would look after my sister. She's now 40 and I'm 45. The problem is that she rings me sometimes four times a day, complaining about her life, her husband, what a neighbour said to her... I feel I'm being used as a kind of free therapist! Her husband has been diagnosed as a schizophrenic, so she does have problems, but he has a good job and is perfectly nice to meet. Is there a syndrome my sister's suffering from – unhealthy wallowing in impossible situations? She just seems hard-wired to be anxious. Yours sincerely, Jemima

What would you advise Jemima to do? Email your dilemmas and comments to dilemmas @independent. co.uk, or go to independent.co.uk/dilemmas. Anyone whose advice is quoted will receive a £25 voucher from the wine website Fine Wine Sellers (finewinesellers.co.uk)