Dear Bitter Butch:
When my husband and I were engaged he bought me flowers, huge amounts on my birthday (the day before Valentine’s Day) and Valentine’s Day. The other guys at work said he should stop making them look bad. I love flowers. He promised me he would keep doing it. In the twenty-one years since we got married he says he never knows what to buy me. I say ‘I love flowers!’ A couple of times when I whined, a lot. Really whined. He bought me a bouquet. Once my son made him do it. Is there any way I can get him to buy me flowers without feeling passive aggressive? Signed, flowerless.
Here’s how I really want to answer this letter: with a note to your husband that says: “Buy your wife flowers. What the actual fuck. This is not difficult or complicated. Buy her. Flowers. Today. DOOOOOOOOD.”
But he didn’t write me. You did. So I’m going to take your question at face value. You want to know how to get him to buy you flowers without feeling passive aggressive.
First, I would like to point out that straightforwardly asking for flowers — even repeatedly — is not passive aggressive. But it also doesn’t see to be working, and the ‘get him to’ part of your note came through loud and clear.
What is it about him getting you flowers that you love the idea of? I ask because the easiest answer to your question is to cut out the middleman you can’t control (‘is there any way I can get him to . . .’ is an advice columnist’s nightmare) and to buy yourself flowers. Enjoy them with no rancor. Joyfully. Share them with him by putting them on the kitchen table.
I’m guessing, though, it’s something else. You want to feel like he thought about you? You want a romantic gesture?
What other things does he do that give you this feeling? Could you focus on those gestures? My spouse once cleaned out my entire car as a surprise for my birthday. Even put up a little pine air freshener. That felt, to me, like a dozen bouquets. Does he cook for you? Listen to you when you speak? (I mean, except when you’re saying “I want some flowers.”) Maybe if you lean into those things more, it will help you feel less frustrated by the flower situation.
Or. If he is otherwise a really great guy and he just feels weird about getting you something you essentially put in an order for, you can explain to him what you see behind a flower purchase. It reminds me of when we were dating, you might tell him. You could explain that even though flowers seem like a cop-out, him going and picking out certain colors, shapes, and scents individualizes the gift for you.
But honestly what I really want to do is tell him to get you some goddamned flowers already.
(You can read the followup to this letter here!)
BITTER BUTCH aka Haddayr Copley-Woods is a queer, a cripple, a nerd, a mom to two kids with neurological differences, and has a truckload of opinions on everything including sex and relationships, parenting, disability issues, family relationships, work dynamics, gender/sexuality issues, and etiquette. You can reach her with all your questions at email@example.com