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It’s incredible how much of our behavior is determined by how we are raised.

I grew up in a family where my Mom made  big deal about every holiday.

It wasn’t enough to say “I love you.” It wasn’t enough to give a card. It wasn’t enough to buy a thoughtful gift. You had to do ALL of them for EVERY holiday – birthdays, anniversaries, Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, you name it.

As a result, I was brought up with the de facto mindset that this is how you treat women on special occasions. I never questioned it. As a result, I’ve been fortunate that, for whatever my considerable flaws (know-it-all, tactless, oversharer, impatient), being a thoughtful and generous husband is not one of them.

It doesn’t mean they’re bad. It doesn’t mean they’re cheap. It doesn’t mean they’re selfish. It just means that the grand romantic gesture is not a part of their vocabulary.

But lots of men didn’t get that memo. It doesn’t mean they’re bad. It doesn’t mean they’re cheap. It doesn’t mean they’re selfish. It just means that the grand romantic gesture is not a part of their vocabulary. They don’t want people making a big fuss about their birthdays and they don’t want to make a big fuss about yours.

It would be nice to say that he “should” go the extra mile “if he really loved you,” but as we all know, it’s not that simple to rewire your personality. Victoria Fedden, to her credit, realized this, in her piece for YourTango/The Good Men Project.

“At one point, my resentment grew so great that I began to dread birthdays, holidays and anniversaries because I knew I was going to be let down. One year, after yet another birthday disappointment, I finally realized that something had to change – and that something was me…

I mistakenly viewed television-style romance as concrete proof of true love. I believed that all men could be moved to extreme romantic measures if they really loved their lady. I didn’t measure up to some mysterious standard, I thought, and so I was never “good enough” for a proposal on the banks of the Seine.  I came to believe that I must be unlovable. This belief became so ingrained that I began to view the world through a lens of unworthiness where every event, every little instance, became the proof I was looking for that I lacked the spark that would make a man shower me with treats and surprises. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.”

I think this is really powerful. All you have to do is look in the comments section below and see how many women and men blame the opposite sex for everything.

Looking internally about what you can do differently is SO much more effective than complaining that the world is not the way you want it to be.

Women are hypergamous and are always trying to date “up”!

Men are so interested in sex!

Women want men for their money!

Men are selfish for dating you if they don’t want to marry you!

These all have a basis in truth, but they’re not the whole truth – not by a long shot. Furthermore, complaining about it doesn’t change a thing. Are men going to complain their  way into telling women that they should not care about money? Are women going to shame men into only having sex if, and only if, marriage is in the future? No and no.

This is why looking internally about what you can do differently is SO much more effective than complaining that the world is not the way you want it to be.

Writes Fedden, “I stopped looking for evidence that I was unlovable and started to focus on all the little, lovely things my husband does every single day to express his love for me  –  making me breakfast on the weekends, running a hot bath for me each night, working hard for our family, making  future plans for us,  texting me from work to see how I am, encouraging me and supporting me while I pursue my dreams, and never complaining when I want a girls’ night. The list is endless because my husband constantly expresses his love, even if it’s highly unlikely that he will ever compose sexy riddles or shock me with a whirlwind trip to South Africa for a glam safari.”

That’s right. And while I might be prone to over-the-top birthday fiestas for my wife, that’s not really the best  measure of our love. Our marriage works because I make her feel safe, heard, and understood every day,  and if you have a guy like that, do your best to appreciate what he does for you, instead of focusing on what he doesn’t.

Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.