I know that we each have different situations and we're dealing with variations in personality and severity of add, but I would appreciate any comments you can offer.
We had one recently. A decade, followed not long afterward by add spouse's birthday. I always suffer with dread and regret at this time of year, in fact, I can't recall one such event that has actually gone well. Back then, I did not understand what was the problem and I often blamed myself. I only knew that there was too much disparity between his usual behavior and this big show he seemed to want to put on at anniversary time. One year, I remember throwing away the flowers he bought, because they did not jive with his behavior at home, especially his horrible bullying treatment of his step-son. I remember telling him that I don't want gifts from him, but that what would be meaningful to me would be planning something together, for instance. I now understand why that was an impossible dream. I remember emotionally trying to explain to him that thoughtfulness and consistency and security mean soooo much more to me than anything expensive that could be bought. Also, before I separated our finances, he used to charge his last minute extravagances to my card, all the while blissfully ignorant of our resources vs the budget. In fact... (!!!!!) ... the cost of his gifts to me declined drastically once our finances were split.
Anyway, this year he came out with a doozy when he presented me - the night before our anniversary - with an expensive piece of electronics and a few words about how he knows how difficult it has been to live with him. I said thank you and that's all. Next day he didn't have to go to work, but he chose to, and no further mention was made of our anniversary. Things have been fairly quiet between us and I have been working hard at not being reactive, at maintaining calm, at apologizing when I don't ask a question in a way that suits him (and he takes it as threatening or stupid). As I know many of you understand, alot of feelings have to get numbed in order to manage this whirlwind environment. I guess because of that I did not feel thrilled at his gift to me, nor did I feel obliged to get him something, nor did I feel encouraged that he might finally have some grasp of the pain it's been here. I've heard it all before and I know better!
So now, several weeks later, he was spoiling for a fight last night, strutting around and barking out orders and puffing himself up into tyrant mode. I told him loudly and firmly that was not going to fly and he stopped.... until he came to bed, where I was reading the Boundaries in Marriage book.
"Reading anything good?" Sounded innocent enouogh, I thought, so I started to answer and he cut me off with: " Does it say anything in there about anniversaries and birthdays?" And he proceeded to tell me how much his feelings were hurt by the fact that I did not get anything for him for anniversary, even though he gave me my gift the day before! (O yeah, I had plenty of notice that he had not forgotten, even though he did forget my bday a few months ago). AND I failed to get him anything for his bday, too! (this whole time, I am not feeling any genuine emotion from him other than anger, because underneath it all, I think he has such a gigantic sense of entitlement). AND - I stayed calm, I asked questions, I listened, and I apologized. Yay for me. Except I am left once again with the three little words "i hate him". Because I reminded him that I had given him his bday gift the night before (in a sexual way) and he scoffed at that, mocked it and belittled it, as though it was nothing, so that's what I got for opening my heart to the guy and trying to give him something i thought he would value.