“Disappointment is unmet expectations. The more significant the expectations the more significant the disappointment.—Brene Brown

birthday bust

Your birthday—and your spouse’s—comes around every year. A quick conversation about expectations can help make the day a blast instead of a bust.

It might seem insignificant, but 96% of the ONE Family have experienced a birthday with their spouse that did not meet expectations. Nearly everyone has encountered this in marriage.

Fortunately, The 6 Pillars of Intimacy® equips you to discover how you want to be celebrated on your special day.

As a result, you can give your spouse a clear idea of your expectations and grow closer together as you celebrate each other’s birthdays.

For some, birthdays include balloons, presents, cake, and partying, while others prefer quiet celebrations, relaxation, or an otherwise low-key day. However, if your spouse doesn’t know what you want, you likely won’t get the birthday you expect.

Unvoiced expectations are the root of disconnection for many couples, especially around birthdays. You might hope your spouse can read your mind. When they don’t, you’re disappointed. The birthday you dreamt of becomes a bust.

Even worse, there might be a ripple effect in the days, weeks, or months surrounding your birthday that throws off your marriage and intimacy.

But there’s a secret to avoiding disappointment and disconnection around birthdays: examine your expectations through the framework of The 6 Pillars of Intimacy®.

First, discuss what birthdays looked like when you were growing up. Did you have a birthday party, a special meal, or something else entirely?

Some families only celebrate the big birthdays; others celebrate the full birthday months. Perhaps you have expectations based on how you celebrated your Sweet 16, your 21st birthday, or another milestone year.

On the other hand, there can be pain or hurt surrounding birthdays. For example, if you grew up with divorced parents, it may have been challenging to spend your special day without both parents, and you want to celebrate birthdays in a certain way now because of that experience.

Share what you experienced growing up and how it affects your current birthday expectations.

These conversations require emotional intimacy. At the same time, sharing your desires or fears will help you deepen this vital pillar.

Next, evaluate how you have approached birthdays since being married.

Whether there have been a few birthdays together or over a decade’s worth, reviewing what you’ve done in the past is important. Look at which birthdays helped you feel close and connected (in other words, intimate) with each other.

Which activities built recreational intimacy by creating new memories? How did you engage your physical intimacy or sexual intimacy on recent birthdays? Did you exercise financial intimacy by comparing birthday expectations to your budget?

Couples in the ONE Family have plenty of stories about birthday celebrations that were a bust.

Some spouses forgot about their beloved’s birthday or didn’t plan anything. Others planned a party that was the opposite of what their spouse wanted. For many, sexual intimacy was an expectation that wasn’t met.

When done right, birthdays can be a special day that creates powerful memories for you two. But if expectations aren’t communicated, it can pull you further apart.

There’s no right or wrong for birthday wishes. You might want a party with lots of people or just a night out with your spouse. Some people want a grand gesture, while others wish for a quiet meal. But you won’t know until you talk about it.

That’s why the final step is to decide how you will handle birthdays moving forward. What plan can you create to make birthdays a positive memory that draws you closer together?

When you come together as spouses to make birthdays special for each other, you recognize the importance of these days. Without birthdays, you and your spouse wouldn’t be born and be together.

So make an effort to celebrate your spouse the way they desire. This is a day to honor your spouse. Recognize who they are and what they enjoy. Birthdays only come once a year, so make them count.


The 6 Pillars of Intimacy: The Secret to an Extraordinary Marriage

319: ESP (Extrasensory Perception)

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