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Why Can’t Men Remember Anniversaries?

Do you have trouble remembering special dates such as birthdays, holidays, wedding anniversaries? To find out why, let’s look at which dates we can remember, and which we can’t:

Birthdays

Every one can remember their own date of birth even though most of us have trouble remembering the actual day of our birth!

So why do we remember our birthday?

Well, presumably it’s because we celebrate it every year with our family and friends, and it is a key part of every form we ever complete. If we forget our birthday, we could never get a passport or a driver’s licence, get married, buy insurance, go fishing… you get the picture!

Holidays and Other Celebrations

Most of us can remember these holidays and celebrations:

Christmas Day: 25th December
New Year’s Day: 1st January
National ‘Birthdays’: e.g. U.S. Independence Day: 4th July, Canada Day: 1st July
Valentine’s Day: 14th February
Remembrance Day: 11th November

Why do we remember these? Well, they are ingrained in tradition, they fall on the same date every year and, for most of them, we get rewarded with a day off work!

Most of us celebrate other holidays and religious festivals, such as Easter and Thanksgiving. These events are important to us spiritually, emotionally or just because we get the day off work to spend with families and friends! We know roughly when they occur but, because the dates vary every year (e.g. the first Monday of September, say), very few of us know the actual dates.

Other People’s Birthdays and Anniversaries:

Most of us can remember birthdays for those who are close to us: family members, close friends, spouses. But it becomes increasingly difficult as the relationship weakens and most people resort to calendars and Facebook to remember friends’ birthdays. As for other people’s wedding anniversaries, these rapidly become forgotten and are not traditionally celebrated by non-family members except perhaps the 1st, 10th, 25th and 50th.

Why Do We Remember Some Dates?

Based on this research, it seems that the reasons we remember certain dates are:

Repetition: The event falls on the same date every year
Duration: The longer we have been celebrating an event, the easier it is to remember
Importance: How important is the event, and what is the penalty for forgetting?
Tradition: The event is religious or part of popular culture
Celebration: The more people that take part, the more likely we are to remember
Reward: Receiving gifts, or getting a day off work, appears to enhance memory!

Wedding Anniversaries Should Be Memorable

A wedding anniversary seems to meet almost all of the criteria for a memorable event. It falls on the same date every year, it is traditional to celebrate it and we receive gifts. It is the most important date in a relationship and many say it was the happiest day of their lives. Not only that, but the penalty for forgetting can be quite severe!

Why Can’t Men Remember Their Wedding Anniversary?

I suspect that it has a lot to do with:

Duration & Repetition: By definition, we don’t start celebrating wedding anniversaries until after we get married, so it is a new date for us and takes a while to become ingrained. So, if there’s any good news, it’s that the longer we stay married, the more likely we are to remember!

Support: Also, if we happen to forget, we have to rely on our friends to remind us. So for men, that means having to rely on other men to remember their wedding anniversary – imagine the chance of that!

I also think it would help if:

We were given a day off work to celebrate our wedding anniversary
We had to use our anniversary date on all government forms
Our friends would help us to remember by celebrating with us
We receive thoughtful gifts to show that we’re appreciated

Why Do Women Remember Anniversaries when Men Don’t?

I think the answer revolves around the emotional time and effort that women invest in planning and preparing for the wedding, that they are generally more romantic than men, better at celebrating life’s important events and have a stronger network of friends that help them to remember. Of course, I could be wrong – I usually am! I’d love to know what you think – please leave a comment below.

Celebrate Your Anniversary!

I am proud to say that I have never forgotten my wedding anniversary in thirty years of marriage, and I’m sure that there are many more men out there that have a similar record. Likewise, I’m sure that there are some women that have occasionally forgotten their anniversary. Regardless of your past record, you can put it right going forward.

So, if you have trouble remembering your wedding anniversary date, you’re not alone! Look it up, write it in a calendar or set up an electronic reminder.

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