A Daily Dose of Appreciation (AKA Birthdays, who needs em?)

>> Tuesday, January 8, 2008

I turned 31 yesterday and birthdays tend to bring out my introspective side. I have always been one that likes to be celebrated on my birthday. In years past (aka pre-kids), I could never decide what restaurant to choose for my birthday dinner so we would have 2 or 3. Last year though, just one. This year, my parents took me out while we were in Florida and hubby is taking me out tomorrow. But my actual birthday came and went with very little fanfare. And I am ok with that. I didn't think I would be, but I am. I did go to The Gap and use some Christmas gift cards which was a fun treat. I did get beautiful roses delivered from hubby. But other than that, relatively low key. And it was fine.

Last year (my 30th) I had this grandiose idea of how my 30th birthday should be celebrated. I wanted a big fat gift or a big fat party or a big fat trip to somewhere, anywhere. I got none of that. In fact, I actually didn't even get a card from hubby. I got a birthday dinner to my traditional birthday restaurant of choice and probably some flowers. I was very hurt, mostly because I had been telling hubby for no less than a year before that I wanted to celebrate 30 in a big way. We have worked through this and I forgive him and we have moved on. But, I say all that as a contrast to how I feel this year. Man, I guess it is possible to mature. :) This year, I don't feel the need to celebrate in a grand way. I am content with my low key day and delayed dinner out.

I know that part of my birthday contentment stems from an overall increase in my feeling of being appreciated and valued. Hubby and I have been going to counseling since last July and it has seriously made a world of difference. Counseling sometimes has this stigma, like you must have serious problems if you have to take that step. But for me, for us, it was about getting healthy and learning how to stay there. We had gotten to a point last summer where we basically co-existed. More roommates than spouses. I know that lots of couples find themselves in a similar position post-baby, but I was miserable. I felt that I would rather not be married than for marriage to look and feel that way. So, although there was no huge marital crisis, we started going to counseling to help us learn how to re-connect on a deeper plane and give us some tools to better communicate and weather conflict. Through this process of counseling, I have started to find my voice and have begun to say the things I am feeling and needing instead of bottling them up. This has freed hubby to be able to respond to my true feelings and needs instead of my defensive anger and hurt. What a difference! We have learned some very deep truth about each other and how we see the world so differently. And also how we can better come along side each other and meet each other's true needs. I don't mean to say that we have this down now and we never fight. We just had a spat tonight where hubby wasn't using the carpet cleaner as I thought he should and he totally snapped at me. I, of course, responded sarcastically and with a rude comment. But, those episodes are getting less frequent and more recoverable. Hubby is working hard to meet my needs. And me, I am feeling more appreciated and valued because he is acknowledging my hard work and trying to be what I need him to be.

So, this year, I don't feel the need to over do it on my birthday. That is partly because of the age. 31. Officially in my 30's. Time to grow up, I guess. But also because I am getting more of the validating I need on all the other days. Learning how to communicate my true needs and my true self has not been easy, but the rewards seem to be starting to pay off.

There is one more reason this birthday feels less monumental. I have a bit of a heavy heart these days.... but that is for another day, another post.


Heather January 9, 2008 at 5:57 AM  

Happy birthdy, Farrah! What a great, introspective post. This year was my first birthday with a baby here, and it was definitely different. We still had family together, like we do for all birthdays, but it was still different. One part was that I had to disappear early to nurse the baby and put her to bed.

You are right about the stigma of going to counseling. I applaud you for making that step, before there was a crisis. Something additional that I found helpful (in my attitude at least) was praying for my husband. God humbled my heart (and still does) and my expectations are different.

I'll quit rambling.... Have a great day!

Rachael January 9, 2008 at 2:49 PM  

Happy Birthday! Kudos for being honest about what a positive effect counseling has had on your marriage. I think too often people want to not admit there are problems until things are so far gone it takes a LOT more work to put it back together - whereas when you address it at the beginning, when you start to see things getting a bit 'off', it is so much easier to change and get back on track together. Good for you guys for getting on the ball like you did, and I am thrilled you're at such a great place in your marriage.

Lisa Marie January 9, 2008 at 7:28 PM  

I sent an email, but still wanted to say I love you and miss you.

Heather January 9, 2008 at 8:03 PM  

Happy Birthday Farrah!

I am so glad that you and hubby have been benefiting so much from the work you are doing in counseling.Well done!

Thinking of you...

Catherine January 9, 2008 at 10:31 PM  

Wow, what a great post. Thank you for sharing it with us. Can I take you out for another belated celebration??

Anonymous January 10, 2008 at 3:05 PM  

Happy Birthday!!!

It's so nice to meet a fellow Capricorn. I am having my 38th bday today and feeling much the same you are.

Marriage counseling, when both partners are willing and you find a good counselor can be invaluable!

I also agree with Heather about praying for your husband, this is what I do when I get mad at my mate and it really helps to alleviate the kind of anger than makes me lash out at him.

Anonymous January 10, 2008 at 3:07 PM  

By the way I am adding your photo link to my blog. : )

Earthmommy January 11, 2008 at 10:27 PM  

Happy Happy Birthday!!! Sorry I haven't been around, we've been limiting computer time. I love your linking banner and I am adding it to Ramblings. Please stop by when you have time!

At A Hen's Pace January 22, 2008 at 11:16 PM  

Hi Farrah--

Our birthdays are just two days apart! I turned 43 on the 9th.

Counseling can be SOOO helpful at certain stages in a marriage. We went through a rocky patch from year 7 to year 9; both of us went separately to our own counselors and it was so helpful. God worked in both our lives to bring maturity and acceptance and I can honestly say that it has been smooth sailing since then. Not perfect, but we're so much quicker to apologize and move on.

May the Lord bless your marriage...


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