Relationships can be defined by our ability to meet the wants of others while not sacrificing our own needs.
Every relationship has some form of this dance, this compromise.
The give-and-take is so ingrained into us that we often notice the absence of it far more than we notice the effort of doing it.
Though because there is sometimes an effort involved, we don’t always do as much bending as we could.
So what happens when you both think the other should bend and neither one is going to do it?
That was the issue facing Redditor and Original Poster (OP) LzyPenguin when he came to the “Am I the A**hole” (AITA) subReddit for outside opinions.
In a now-deleted post, OP asked:
“AITA for saying “it’s our anniversary” when my wife got upset that I did not want to do something she knows I do not enjoy on our anniversary?”
OP started with a small background.
“My wife loves to read.”
“She loves going to Barnes and noble.”
“I hate it.”
“She knows I hate going to Barnes and Noble.”
“We were discussing things to do for our anniversary, and she mentioned 3 things she thought would be fun to do.”
“I proposed 2 of those things back to her, with another 3rd that we would both enjoy.”
“She was very upset and said that I really hurt her feelings for not wanting to go to Barnes and noble.”
Then he got immediately to the problem at hand.
“I responded saying that it was OUR anniversary and I thought it would be fun doing things we both enjoy.”
OP was left to wonder,
“Am I the a**hole for assuming that we should do things we both enjoy on our anniversary?”
Having explained the situation, OP turned to Reddit for judgment.
Redditors weighed in by declaring:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- NAH – No A**holes Here
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
Redditors decided: NTA
Some responses were very direct.
“It’s “your” (as in both of you) anniversary, not “her” anniversary after all. You’re in the right here.” ~ Melonmode
“Yeah, OP can take her to Barnes and Noble for her birthday.” ~ Tungstenkrill
Others shared their own stories.
“I am a teacher who loves going to Barnes and Noble and who spends way too much money there.”
“So I may be biased.”
“Also, if she doesn’t have one already, teachers can sign up for a membership and get a discount!”
“My husband will walk around with me, hold my books, look up reviews, grab a coffee, look at the toys and stationary, and eat a pastry.”
“I don’t ask him. He does it because he wants me to be happy.”
“I also buy him video games and exercise equipment, go to the movies, try new shows I really wouldn’t try on my own and go to Indian restaurants even though the only thing I eat is the naan because of my stomach issues.”
“I go because I want to spend time with him and making him happy makes me happy.”
“I think the best thing to do is do something nice with and for each other.”
“Maybe you aren’t the a**hole for not wanting to go to Barnes and Noble, but she’s your wife and it makes her happy. It probably won’t take long and then you can do something that interests you after.” ~ itsthesamewithatart
“My husband and I both love reading.”
“For our anniversary we always go to a bookstore and pick out a book, then buy the other’s book for them.”
“Then, if it is nice, we go read our books together in the park.”
“Personally, we both love it and look forward to it, but that’s just who we are.”
“Our dream vacation is the Sylvia Beach bed and breakfast in Oregon.”
“However, if one of us didn’t like reading, it wouldn’t be a good anniversary activity.”
“NTA, and maybe OP could propose a book-themed birthday activity for his wife since that is a day just for her instead.” ~ Hot_Entrepreneur2605
“Ha, my last anniversary my husband asked if I wanted to go to the indie bookstore.”
“It was after eating at the restaurant we both like, but he still thought it would make me happy to go browse.” ~Robossassin
“When my partner and I first started dating we would go to Chapters (Canadian equivalent of B&N), grab a coffee, and walk around talking about all the different books for a couple of hours.”
“It was a blast!” ~ icankilluwithmybrain
There was some confusion as to the nature of the fight in the first place.
“But, I don’t understand the issue.”
“If you both are deciding on something you both like to do and make a list to choose from and 2 of 3 things on the list are things you both like to do -“
“Then why y’all fighting over literally the one thing that doesn’t qualify?”
“Just pick from the remaining choices.”
“I mean – isn’t that the reason for the list in the first place?”
“To choose something you both want to do?”
“Sounds like she’s either being selfish or controlling if she doesn’t understand something that basic.”
“I mean – we all learned that at 3yo when parent’s took us for ice cream. ‘OK Sally – They have vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry. We’re sharing so we all have to like it.'”
‘”What does everyone like? Chocolate? Cool! Sir, I’ll get 2 scoops of chocolate in a cup with 3 spoons, please. Thank you.”‘ ~ PDRWoman
“NTA at all. I love books, and book stores, but that’s a weird anniversary celebration if it’s not something you both love.”
“Honestly, it’s kind of a weird choice for an anniversary if you do.”
“Is Barnes and Noble in another city and she rarely gets to go or something?” ~ ScarletDarkstar
For others, the lack of compromise was a concern.
“Marriage is about TWO people, not one.”
“Proposing things you both like is valid.”
“She can go to B&N any other time.”
“It doesnt matter if a trip would be half an hour.”
“The fact that she knows you don’t like it and still proposed it tells me she needs a reiteration of boundaries and compromise.”
“I feel like some spouses use the argument of ‘well, you love me so can’t you just go for me’? (Not that she’s done this, just made me think of it).”
“Spouses need to respect each other’s likes and dislikes.” ~ Ownerofthelonelyhrts
“The day could have been 30 minutes at Barnes and Noble.”
“30 minutes at Bass Pro Shop or whatever you like.”
“I don’t know your gender, so maybe it’s Sephora. Anyway, wrap it up with dinner and a movie you both like.”
“Sounds like a fine day to me.” ~ KarmaRan0verMyDogma
“Happy wife happy life.”
“It wouldn’t kill you to do something your wife enjoys on your anniversary for a little bit.” ~ Tylanthia
“NTA, your anniversary is about the both of you”
“But for the love of god please just take her to Barnes and noble another day.”
“I’m a big makeup person, and shopper, and for my birthday my boyfriend and I walked around ulta for part of it and it was a lot of fun showing him what I enjoy and having him point stuff out as well.”
“It’s truly a simple thing to engage in your partner’s interests, especially something as easy as going to a bookstore.”
“And for advice, not that you asked, please don’t whine during it.”
“I’d be willing to bet your partner engages in things you enjoy as well, or at least doesn’t put them down.” ~ Theliontthatwitch
There were also requests for further context.
“Do you ever go to places like that with her on ‘normal’ occasions?”
“If not, she may be trying to use the special nature of the day to indicate the importance of the activity and having you there.”
“Although this is something easily done on her own, the beauty in a partnership, is sometimes just existing in the same space and enjoying each other’s excitement and happiness.”
“This can mean doing things or going somewhere you may not necessarily be that interested in, but finding joy in your partners joy.”
“(It would be different if it’s a hard limit, but it’s a book shop, not sky diving.)”
“I would say NAH.” ~ TheThoonenator
“Where the other 2 things that she proposed things you both enjoy fairly equally, or did she propose something she’d enjoy more, something you’d enjoy more, and something you’d both enjoy?”
“If you then countered with two things you’d both enjoy and one thing you’d enjoy then I can see how that could feel hurtful.”
“Otherwise I really don’t see where she’s coming from.” ~ BetterWithLatte
There was an offer of an alternative tactic.
“In times like this I just flip the situation around and see if that helps.”
“It doesn’t all the time, but at that point you’ve been as logical as you can be about the situation and can only throw your hands up.”
“For example, if you loved Camping and your wife hated camping, then you suggesting you BOTH go camping for your anniversary is an a**hole move, because you’re forcing her to do something she hates on the day that represents the start of your lives together.”
“She wouldn’t like that at all.”
“So why would she think it’s okay to force that on you?” ~ Chadderific
OP did return with a final thought.
“Just wanted to say thank you for all the responses. I have read them all even if I did not respond to you and they have helped.”
Wants and needs can get very confused very quickly.
It is okay to say ‘no’.
It is okay to say ‘yes’.
Remember to listen for those wants and needs when your partner expresses them to you, remember to express your own.
But whatever you do, don’t forget to keep dancing.