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He Said, She Said

Does forgetting your anniversary make you an awful partner?

Paige Nick and Jason Mykl Snyman on whether it's really necessary to celebrate relationship milestones

14 July 2019 - 00:10 By Paige Nick and Jason Mykl Snyman
Husband forgot your anniversary? He’s sorry about that, and he’ll make it up to you - possibly with flowers.
Husband forgot your anniversary? He’s sorry about that, and he’ll make it up to you - possibly with flowers.
Image: 123RF/Vadim Guzhva


We've probably overcomplicated things. There's the anniversary of your first date. Oh wait, what about the first time you both swiped right, does that count? The anniversary of your engagement, your wedding anniversary. Later your divorce-aversary.

Some couples pick inventive dates, like the 12th of the 12th or May the Fourth be with you, or the day of the Rugby World Cup final. But I've always suspected that's just a sly woman's way of making it easier for the guy to remember.

How do polygamists manage? Keep an extensive list of anniversaries and birthdays, like those murder walls that detectives and crime writers create when they're on a complicated case? Then swap nights with sister wives on special occasions? Have enough wives, and that could really throw out the schedule.

My ex and I used to count off the months when we remembered, add them up in one long tally. I think it was mostly because we were both so surprised that we'd made it another month.

The guy I'm with now and I don't keep score. We may have met somewhere around the end of September or was it August? I could go back in our WhatsApp timeline and find a date, marking these things is probably important. But then what? One of us would just forget it.

Or we'd fall into the gift trap. You buy him a plastic chicken, because of that time you ... oh you had to be there. And he buys you a piece of jewellery. Awkward! Then what are we doing next year, gag gifts or the real thing? Or he buys you an ugly dolphin jumping over seaweed trinket and you pretend to like it for the next 10 years, or until you accidentally murder him with it.

Modern technology has taken the romance out of anniversaries
Paige Nick

I have a sexist view on anniversaries. I don't think most guys are all that interested in them.

And to my mind, modern technology has taken the romance out of them anyway. You don't have to remember them by yourself anymore, just add a new event in your diary, and put in a reminder for a month before, to give plenty of time to plan something nice.

But for my money, if you aren't racing around the 24-hour Engen Woolies garage in your pajamas, trying to cobble together a last-minute gift, after the day's date suddenly dawned on you while you were brushing your teeth at 10 to 12 the night before, then are you even a romantic?


"Do you remember what day today is?"

A simple question, but it's the fastest way to strike fear into your husband's heart. Ask him now, I'll wait. Watch him pale. Look at those eyes, glimmering with panic. Has he forgotten something? He doesn't know. He isn't sure. He didn't get the Facebook notification.

Men are usually terrible at remembering anniversaries — this has been a joke staple in the comedy circuit since the dawn of civilisation — but that doesn't mean that we don't care. Men and women just speak different languages of love, and we show our love in different ways.

Some men may be into grand gestures of romance and others not so much. I personally lean towards the not-so-much, and I struggle with special dates. I think that the idea of commemorating anything, year after year, is generally stupid.

I forget birthdays, I give the holidays a skip, and I have to be reminded about anniversaries. I reply to e-mails a week late, I've had the same 37 tabs open in my browser for about five months now (reminder, I should take myself out for drinks to commemorate this), and I'm not entirely confident of what day of the week it is. This is who I am.

Like most men, I only care about anniversaries because I care about the woman I'm with
Jason Mykl Snyman

Not caring about anniversaries, however, and not caring about your partner, are two completely different things. I, like most men, only care about anniversaries because I care about the woman I'm with. These special days, though completely pointless to me, might be important to her, and I don't want to let her down or hurt her feelings. So, I set reminders. So many, many reminders.

A man will forget his own mother's birthday (as if to prove my point, I just had a mild anxiety attack and had to check if I'd missed my mother's birthday. I haven't, it's a month and five days from now), but he'll be able to tell you the exact score and team line-up of a football match that took place 15 years ago.

We all unconsciously rank events and dates by importance, and what's important to one person may be completely trivial to another.

Husband forgot your anniversary? He's sorry about that, and he'll make it up to you.

Don't know who Steven Gerrard is? That's okay ... I still love you.