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Challenge: Romance After Kids

I threw away my anniversary flowers from my husband

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I threw away my anniversary flowers from my husband.

I know that makes me seem like a monster, and maybe in parts I am. But before you judge or jump to conclusions that I am riddled with selfishness or the “worst wife ever,” let me try to explain.


We’ve been going through some hardships in our marriage. Nothing extremely unique: lack of communication, unfulfilled intimacy, the dreaded trap of being really awesome, productive parents but having lost all passion and attraction for each other.

Recently I’ve reached the point where I look at the life we’ve created—the beautiful family unit, the well-kept home, the luxuries one should love and adore—and I feel completely and utterly alone. I am standing in a room full of people, waving my hands in the air for someone to see me, someone to ask me what fuels my soul, but all that’s asked is what’s for dinner.

I long and I am lonely.

So I expressed that to my spouse. I told him I am no longer content with our status quo. I need connection. I don’t want to eat my meals alone in bed any longer; I want to desire to sit next to him at the dinner table. I don’t want our only dialogue to be about what time we need to take our daughter to cheerleading practice; I want us to practice being real human beings again. Engaging with each other—finding what lights us up, or at the very least, what makes us laugh.

We are moving through the motions yet missing each other completely. And I am suffering in that space.

He received my words as well as anyone could. You see, my husband loves me. But there is gap between the love in his head and his ability to express it. Often his admiration will come out through acts of service—my car which he cleans every Sunday; the pictures in our living room which are hung in a perfect, linear row. And although acts are appreciated, they miss my mark.

I can’t feel loved by a man who is on mute.

Jennifer Baumann Photography

So a few days after our talk, after our agreeance to both invest better in each other, I found a bouquet of multi-colored roses on my kitchen counter. It was our anniversary, and he left them there for me to find with text that read, “I think I messed up again.”

The initial wave of disappointment hit hard.

I am not a multi-color nor a rose girl. I am not someone who has ever placed value on store-bought sentiments. The flowers and cards that sit at the end of the checkout line are pretty, but have zero personal meaning. I’ve been an outsider my entire life, and this extends to how I express and receive love. What fills a normal person’s tank leaves me empty. It’s not enough.

And here’s why:

I don’t want flowers with no meaning—I want a man who gets on the floor and plays with our children.


I don’t want a card scripted out with the right things to say—I want a spiritual leader for our household. Someone who will take my hand and pray away the hardships and celebrate the hope with me.

I don’t want chocolate; I just want connection. I want an exceptional life. I want to feel valued and seen. I want someone who knows my Starbucks order, or why excessive clutter gives me anxiety, or witnesses my life in such a way that when I am gone, he can tell our children what kind of woman I was.

I want a man who teaches his son that you don’t have to love your partner in the societal kinds of ways like cards and candy. I want him to know that the sexiest thing you can do for someone you love is being vulnerable with them.

Simply put: I refuse to be married to someone who just goes through the motions.

So every time I passed by those flowers, a part of me wilted and died knowing there was no thought behind their purchase. It was a checking of a box. Anniversary: get flowers. Who cares if she hates them.

But what happened next might surprise you.

The text he sent, “I think I messed up again,” was a turning point for us. Because before I even saw the bouquet, he had recognized how their insignificance would perhaps make me feel insignificant. And for that alone, I’m happy the ugly roses happened.

You may still consider me a monster. I could’ve shut up and smiled and let the flowers sit on my counter. After all, I do have a good man. He doesn’t lie or cheat or beat or belittle me. He provides for his family and lets me follow my dreams. But holding your feelings inside leads to massive walls of resentment. I’ve been there. I’m done being there. It’s time to demolish our disconnect and pave a new way.

Even if it hurts someone’s feelings.


And so, it was actually him who said to “ditch the flowers” before I even did. He recognized that we are entering into a new chapter of our relationship, one where we can be real with each other. One where we no longer settle. It won’t be perfect, but it will be filled with the efforts of two people who no longer want a cliche and unconnected version of love.

And I am here for that rose and thorn kind of life.

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