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Forget Me Not
Is forgetfulness a sign of an uncaring spouse? You might be surprised.

There are many factors that can go into forgetting.

My husband forgets everything. Now he forgot our twentieth anniversary that I had reminded him of two weeks ago, and yet he remembered his mother's birthday yesterday. I feel that he is cheating on me and this is one of the symptoms. Am I right?

Thanks for writing in—the situation you pose is certainly an interesting one. I know how hurtful it must feel to have your husband forget to acknowledge the important dates in your life. Speaking stereotypically, I have found that women tend to be better at remembering to send cards and noting celebrations than men are. As a matter of fact, many of the male species feel that these dates are nothing more than "Hallmark" moments.

What I generally suggest to women is that they remind their mates. Most women feel that if they have to do this, it means that their husband doesn’t care. I don’t agree—if you ask for something and your spouse is willing to give it to you, I see it as an act of caring.

But you state that you did remind him about your anniversary and yet he forgot. And to make matters worse, he remembered his mother’s birthday. This does seem odd. My first thought is the timing you mention. Though this may seem strange to you, perhaps two weeks prior was just too long.

To be psychological, maybe he is more concerned with the consequences of forgetting his mother’s birthday than he is the occasions with you. In a backwards way, this would indicate a more positive and secure feeling with you.

What I don’t think from the information you have provided is that this is an indication that he is cheating. Again, given what you have written in about, I would say that conclusion is a leap. There are other behaviors that are typical of someone having an affair. Here are some:

1. Losing weight
2. More concern with hygiene and personal grooming
3. Unaccounted for time
4. You having a sense that overall your mate is just not present
5. Overall change in behavior

Men and women often show their love differently to one another. It sounds like you feel that small gestures and gift giving are important. Perhaps he believes actions like doing chores signify his love and indicate that he is a good husband. If the two of you don’t use the same way to show your love, it can end up being very frustrating to one or both of you.

What I would suggest you do is speak to your husband. You will get the best results if you start off by affirming that he is a good husband but that when he forgets to acknowledge an event, you feel hurt. You can then inquire why he remembers his mother’s birthday when he has difficulty with your anniversary. Though it may be difficult, you don’t want to verbally attack him, as this will only cause him to shut down and end communication.

Congratulations for hitting this milestone anniversary. Relationships do require work and are always evolving—even after 20 years!

Karen Sherman, Ph.D., (www.drkarensherman.com) is a practicing psychologist in relationships and lifestyle issues for over 20 years. She offers teleseminars and is the author of "Mindfulness and the Art of Choice: Transform Your Life" and co-author of "Marriage Magic! Find It, Keep It, and Make it Last."

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