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My spouse got flowers from someone else on Valentine's Day.
January 24, 2005 4:33 AM   Subscribe

Let's suppose it's Valentine's Day, and your partner - to whom you are married and with whom you live - receives a beautiful big bunch of flowers.... from someone else. Do you care? Would it cause difficulties with your partner or might you even be flattered that other people are attracted to them? Would you wonder who it's from? If you suspected who it was from, how might you react towards them?
posted by skylar to Human Relations (54 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
What kind of flowers? If it was two dozen long stemmed roses I'd be rather miffed at the sender, that's not done. If it's a big bunch of colorful run of the mill flowers, it could be just a sweet gesture and nothing to get jelous about.
posted by dabitch at 4:44 AM on January 24, 2005


Yeah, too many variables. And if we're married, I think I have a right to ask who they're from. Just like my fiancee can ask "who called?" even if it was for me.
posted by Mayor Curley at 4:47 AM on January 24, 2005


note, it's not uncommon for females (married or not) who want to show each other some appreciation or just say "thanks for being a great friend during the past year" to send each other non-red rose bouquets on valentines day.
posted by dabitch at 4:55 AM on January 24, 2005


Well, my wife has had a few people interested in her since we've been together, one even expressed the idea that she should leave me for him (this was when we were just dating). Likewise I've had a few people develop crushes on me. The world goes on after you marry. I don't see why the behavior of the 'other' party crosses ones mind much at all. In fact, to worry too much about the other party implies that one doesn't have much trust in one's significant other.

In other words, if I thought 'gee I hope this guy goes away,' the implied second thought to that is 'I'm afraid he might lure my wife away! I'm afraid she might act on his advances,' as if she had no choice in the matter or was otherwise susceptible to infidelity. Once when my wife hurt my feelings in a similar situation (flirting, I guess you'd say), I expressed how I felt. I learned then that 1) it was innocent 2) she could see how I could feel the way I did and she changed her behavior.

The important part is the relationship between you and your partner - the outside world just distracts you from that.
posted by Slothrop at 5:09 AM on January 24, 2005


I think it would be weird, but if that happened to me and my husband asked from whence they came, I'd tell him and not mind at all. Either it's a friend (not out of the ordinary for my friends) or it's someone who is either 1) in need of a gentle "no;" or 2) in need of a restraining order. In any case, I wouldn't care if he asked. I'm married to him for God's sake. It's not as if we have secrets.
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:45 AM on January 24, 2005


My adorable dad sends me flowers on Valentine's Day. I always made something for my mom when I was younger, and sometimes I still do.
posted by equipoise at 6:16 AM on January 24, 2005


Wouldn't matter a jot. Jealousy is an indication of a lack of trust and I trust my partner completely. If someone else fancies her enough to send her flowers, that's flattering to her, flattering to me, and amusing to us both...
posted by benzo8 at 6:46 AM on January 24, 2005


Yeah, the issue here is Would you wonder who it's from? Of course you would, and in any good relationship it wouldn't be a big deal. "Nice flowers, honey." "Aren't they pretty? Sam at the office got them for me." Noncommunication--say, you're too afraid to ask, or s/he doesn't want to tell--would be more troublesome than the flowers themselves.
posted by werty at 6:49 AM on January 24, 2005


I've been known to send flowers to girls I liked in a plutonic way for Valentine's Day. I just did it as a nice gesture, and some are in relationships. I'd not read into it as if I were really trying to get in a girl's pants I'd do something a lot less corny than flowers.
posted by geoff. at 6:54 AM on January 24, 2005


This is a weird question. Not the circumstance, but the phrasing. Why don't you just ask? As a spouse, you're entitled to that. Where you go from there depends on his/her response.

I've been known to send flowers to girls I liked in a plutonic way for Valentine's Day. I just did it as a nice gesture, and some are in relationships. I'd not read into it as if I were really trying to get in a girl's pants I'd do something a lot less corny than flowers.

As well-intended as this is, you're asking for trouble- not for yourself, but for her. As skylar pointed out, a lot of people are (justifiably) threatened by this gesture, especially on Valentine's Day.
posted by mkultra at 7:00 AM on January 24, 2005


Plutonic, heh like the planet. I meant platonic. Hmmm, I never thought it was threatening before.
posted by geoff. at 7:19 AM on January 24, 2005


Okay, from what MKUltra is saying I can see that some people are not clear as to which perspective this hypothetical question is written from. So let me clarify:

I wouldn't be the spouse. I'd be the sender of the flowers.

It would make me happy to make a nice gesture - and that's all. The recipient wouldn't necessarily be sure they were from me, but would probably have a pretty good idea.

Now the thing is that I don't want to light a fire under their relationship... yet apparently a lot of you seem to think that it wouldn't be a big deal at all. (That said, Medieval Maven seems to have the best grasp of the situation!!)

But let's add another variable into the mix. What if the recipient of the flowers and I have had sexual / emotional goings-on together? Does this put a new complexion on them receiving the flowers? Or does it still look innocent?
posted by skylar at 7:20 AM on January 24, 2005


If another male decided to take the expense and send flowers to my wife, and this person was not an already well established 'good friend' of hers, then I would be concerned.

He has no more business sending her flowers on that day than he does taking her to dinner on her birthday.

There's trust, and then there's concern.
posted by eas98 at 7:29 AM on January 24, 2005


Skylar, those are two different questions. If my partner got flowers from a stranger on V Day I would ASSUME he would tell me who they were from and then, depending on the answer, I would decide how I felt about it. If they were from his Mom, a good platonic friend, or someone else I knew or that we had a relationship with, I probably wouldn't mind. If they were from that weird girl that stares at him a lot in class I'd think "Huh, that's a little inappropriate" but probably brush it off since I trust him and if something was going on, I'd expect to know. I'd also probably pay a bit more attention to his interactions with the staring girl, or ask her next time I saw her "why did you send flowers to Greg?"

Mystery flowers would be annoying both to him and to me, I'd expect. I'd say sending anonymous flowers to a married woman is asking for trouble, though whether she or her spouse would think so is anyone's guess. It's a pretty relative situation.

If you are having a relationship of some sort of with the person you send flowers to, and if they do not have an open relationship with their spouse, and if you have a relationship with the flower-recipient that is in any way ambiguous or evolving, I see sending flowers as an aggressive muscling-in move. See if they tell their spouse, see what their reaction is, see how their spouse takes it, etc.
posted by jessamyn at 7:39 AM on January 24, 2005


There is nothing at all innocent about what you are proposing to do and you will have all sorts of sh*t raining down upon you if you do it.

You are sending two messages with those flowers:

To him -- "I am bnumping you wife and I don't care if you know about it -- no, in fact, I want you to know about it." Or at the very least, "you do not know how to treat your wife, and I am going to take over for you."

To her -- "surprise! I'm telling your husband that we are bnumping without even talking to you about it. I care so little about your other relationships that I am going to plow right in and screw them up."

If you care about her and want to give her flowers, go ahead and do so -- but in private. You can talk to her about dealing with her husband, but she is the one that has to do it. It's her relationship.
posted by rtimmel at 7:42 AM on January 24, 2005


If your S.O. is getting flowers on Valentine's Day, and you're not the one sending them, maybe you'll be the one who will end up in trouble?
posted by AlexReynolds at 7:47 AM on January 24, 2005


Neither of my boyfriends sends me flowers or cards. Neither does Mr jlkr, so it's not a problem. (hey, they're all geeks, I don't expect it -- I'm fairly sure that sending flowers to a girl is just not on their 'list of things to do'. )

Of course, Mr R knows my boyfriends, and knows that neither of them is looking for anything past a damn good friend who just happens to be a girl. He's been known to get flowers, though, and not always from me. Doesn't bother me, but I can see where it could bother other people. Sometimes he tells me, sometimes I guess, and sometimes I ask. (Usually I don't have to ask, because the kids will....)

And to actually answer the original questions: personally, I wouldn't care. I might ask who they were from, but just because I'm curious. I know most of the people who might be sending him flowers. If they were anonymous, well, that would be weird, but whatever. As a general answer: It might depend on what kind of flowers. A simple bouquet of daisies/carnations is a far different thing than a dozen roses. But it really depends on the marriage and the people in it. Does he know that you and she are friends?

I'd be more concerned about my 13 yo getting flowers anonymously.

on preview....eas98, it's a damn good thing you're not married to me. I have gone out to dinner with a boyfriend on my anniversary (OK, so Mr R had something blow up at work, and K was available, but still....)
posted by jlkr at 7:51 AM on January 24, 2005


But let's add another variable into the mix. What if the recipient of the flowers and I have had sexual / emotional goings-on together? Does this put a new complexion on them receiving the flowers? Or does it still look innocent?

Assuming this is in the past and not present, I'd steer clear if I were you. As someone else said, this may not be problematic for you, but could raise some issues in their relationship (certainly, depending on the situation) which could damage any possible future relationship between yourself and the flower recipient. Also, (again, assumption) I'm not altogether certain that your motives are as innocent as you presume. Put yourself in the spouse's situation, and imagine how you would feel if a past flame sent your significant other flowers on Valentine's Day.

Not that I am, in any way, sentimental about Valentine's Day, however, some people take it seriously and this could be mistaken for a lot more than a friendly gesture.
posted by purephase at 7:54 AM on January 24, 2005


If there is some specific reason you are giving her flowers, i.e. a project recently completed on which she was a tremendous help, do it on some day other than Valentine's day.

Or buy her an iPod shuffle or something, instead of flowers. %)
posted by kindall at 7:54 AM on January 24, 2005


What if the recipient of the flowers and I have had sexual / emotional goings-on together?
No flowers. Not even a card. Steer well clear of that.
posted by dabitch at 7:57 AM on January 24, 2005


Look, I'm going to be blunt; from a Latin point of view, if you send flowers to my wife and you had sexual relations with her, I'm gonna find you and kick your ass. And it has nothing to do with trusting my wife or not (although if she's been having sex with you I guess I wouldn't trust her much) it's because you are disrespecting me. Men shouldn't send flowers to other men's wives in my culture unless somebody in the family dies. So keep that in mind if your "friend's" husband is of a Mediterranean/Latin American heritage.
posted by sic at 8:13 AM on January 24, 2005


Tricky business, man.

Jessamyn's right - as usual.
posted by ikkyu2 at 8:15 AM on January 24, 2005


And if he's, uh, bigger than you.
posted by sic at 8:16 AM on January 24, 2005


To explain a bit further, what Slothrop said is not necessarily untrue in Latin cultures. Of course life goes on after marriage. People are still attractive to and attracted by the the two both of them. This gives rise to numerous "mostly platonic" relationships that are non threatening. A stable and trusting relationship can handle these basic facts of life. But innocent flirtations cross the line when they intrude into the main relationship. In most cases your flower idea is disrespectful. Although in your particular case, since you have (or had?) a sexual relationship with this man's wife, sending her flowers "anonymously" is just begging for a violent response. Either you or she will bear the brunt of it.

Don't be an ass.
posted by sic at 8:29 AM on January 24, 2005


sic, no need to be latin. If any of my ex-flames sent me red roses on valentines day, I'd throw them away, and quite possibly kick his ass myself. (because nobody disses my man like that.)
posted by dabitch at 8:42 AM on January 24, 2005 [1 favorite]


Slothrop touches on my feelings on the matter, and Alex's cyniscism comes nowhere close.

If someone else sends my partner flowers, I am confident enough in our relationship to have no worries that she's going to be lured away by them. If our relationship is in such a situation that she might be lured away by flowers, then we'd already be discussing it by now. So, flowers out of the blue would be no hassle.

But, to answer the question again given the further information that's been offered - everyone's who's said "Don't do it" is right, and rtimmel's expressed why perfectly clearly.
posted by benzo8 at 8:46 AM on January 24, 2005


OK, let me get this straight. You have some sort of relationship with a married woman (I'm not sure who is what gender here, but I'm going to use the female for argument's sake here) that is either vaguely or explicitly sexual.

It's Valentine's Day, which is generally recognized, Hallmarkization aside, to be the "romantic holiday".

You wish to send this person flowers, a gesture often performed on said holiday between people romantically entwined.

What on earth makes you think that this would not be a total disaster? Stop trying to rationalize this and stay away.
posted by mkultra at 8:47 AM on January 24, 2005


BTW, this all seems to me to be some sort of passive-aggressive way of creating a confrontation between her and her current spouse.
posted by mkultra at 8:49 AM on January 24, 2005 [1 favorite]


(anonymous, are you listening to this...?)
posted by Tubes at 8:59 AM on January 24, 2005


sic, no need to be latin. If any of my ex-flames sent me red roses on valentines day, I'd throw them away, and quite possibly kick his ass myself. (because nobody disses my man like that.)

He's a lucky man.
posted by sic at 9:00 AM on January 24, 2005


I agree wholly with jessamyn, rtimmel and sic, especially if you are in a current and not exactly public relationship with the flower recipient.

Speaking as someone in a committed relationship, I can foresee absolutely no situation under which I would appreciate receiving flowers from an ex-flame, OR from a current "on the side" flame. In both cases I would see it as a gross disrespect of me, and my choices, to say nothing of how my partner would view them, and I would respond accordingly. That should be your real concern here, not whether or not your are going to get your ass kicked by the other spouse. Do you respect and care about this woman? Then let her make her own decisions on her own turf. If you are waiting for her to end the current commitment, subversively trying to speed up the process will not hurry her into your arms. If you are trying to re-insert yourself into her life after she has clearly chosen someone else, then you are just being delusional, and you might be risking whatever platonic relationship you have now.

If you think this should be perceived as an innocent act, then why won't you put your name on the flowers? Your desire to send them anonymously and force some sort of conversation about them either between the spouses or between the recipient and you, does not speak highly of your underlying intentions. I'm pretty sure you already know that.
posted by nelleish at 9:00 AM on January 24, 2005


Oh... well the sending anonymously part is merely tradition (at least here in the UK).

But on the subject of anonymity, I wish I had posted this question anonymously - it was only a technical error on my part that meant it went under my username! If I had done so correctly I might feel more comfortable about giving further details that might explain the situation, correct some of your misunderstandings... and not make me seem such a monster!

Nevertheless the gist of the advice here is right and sensible and I thank you for it.
posted by skylar at 9:09 AM on January 24, 2005


I wouldn't be concerned as either recipient or spouse of recipient. If you want to stay within socially prescribed lines, send something other than roses. All flowers are nice.
posted by rushmc at 9:14 AM on January 24, 2005


It would make me happy to make a nice gesture - and that's all.

This has been known to backfire. Hard.
posted by fatllama at 9:14 AM on January 24, 2005


>>Look, I'm going to be blunt; from a Latin point of view, if you send flowers to my wife and you had sexual relations with her, I'm gonna find you and kick your ass. And it has nothing to do with trusting my wife or not (although if she's been having sex with you I guess I wouldn't trust her much) it's because you are disrespecting me. Men shouldn't send flowers to other men's wives in my culture unless somebody in the family dies. So keep that in mind if your "friend's" husband is of a Mediterranean/Latin American heritage.
posted by sic at 8:13 AM PST on January 24


I'm with sic completely. Your gesture is disrespectful and very selfish. It sends the message, "Hey look at me. I'm involved with your wife...she's unhappy with something you can't give her, you impotent fool. And we carry-on behind your back. Wait until she has to 'work late'. That really means we're having secks!" And what makes you believe that she would want your gift anyway, seeing that she's in a committed relationship? This is a horrible idea, and worse case scenario, you could be responsible for dissolving their relationship. You will compound any suspicion that the boyfriend/husband has of your recipient by 100%. If you really want to acknowledge her with some sort of gift, send it to her workplace, or anyplace where her husband/SO will not see it...and definitely don't do it on the weighty holiday of Valentine's day. Good God ;p!
posted by naxosaxur at 9:50 AM on January 24, 2005


Naxosaur... just to confirm: there has never been any carrying on behind anyone's back. I never suggested such, though it is interesting that a lot of people jumped to that conclusion.

Still, the advice not to do this is sensible, because as MKUltra suggests it could come across as an attempt to create some sort of confrontation, which is precisely what I _don't_ want.
posted by skylar at 10:08 AM on January 24, 2005


No, i know! skylar, i'm sure you are a good, moral person. Clearly you have doubts about imposing a misunderstanding with your actions, which shows that you are not selfish or manipulative.

However, the biggest ramification of sending a gift is that you CAN'T prove it to the recipient's husband that there hasn't been cheating or carrying-on. So by sending gifts to the place where they both reside, the jealous or insecure husband will ASSUME the worst (sex)...and he will always be suspicious henceforth of the recipients comings & goings. Even if he isn't a jealous person, it won't feel right to him, which is inconsiderate on your part. Seriously, if you really want to send her something, send it to her at work.
posted by naxosaxur at 10:22 AM on January 24, 2005


Just to clarify, if I got flowers from my ex who was (for example) deployed and I'd sent him some stuff while he was in-country, just to be nice because we were still friends, and he got back to the states and sent me flowers (on any day) because of it, that would be okay. If I got flowers from an ex which carried the connotation, "Hey, remember me? We used to fool around!" I would beat you up myself.
posted by Medieval Maven at 10:23 AM on January 24, 2005


there has never been any carrying on behind anyone's back. I never suggested such, though it is interesting that a lot of people jumped to that conclusion.

Without putting an "in the past" modifier on this statement

What if the recipient of the flowers and I have had sexual / emotional goings-on together? Does this put a new complexion on them receiving the flowers? Or does it still look innocent?

I think you did suggest that might be what was going on. There are many ways of saying "I thing you're great" without flowers on VDay, perhaps try one of them?
posted by jessamyn at 10:26 AM on January 24, 2005


To answer the question with the content neutrality of Wikipedia--

No, if my wife got flowers, I might be too dense to know what was going on. I might not be able to summon any curiosity, being an inattentive kind of husband who spends more time playing "Katamari Damacy" than tending to my wife's needs. The cuckolder in question might, in that case, be able to get away with it.

On the other hand, I might be rightfully suspicious and ashamed at being cheated on, and go on some kind of rampage.

If that answers it, I dunno...

In a non-content neutral sense, I think the gesture is gross. If you're going to have an affair with someone, discreetness is the classy thing to do, if that can be called classy.
posted by inksyndicate at 10:36 AM on January 24, 2005


I'm with sic on this one.

Violently so.
posted by TeamBilly at 11:42 AM on January 24, 2005


If you really want to get her flowers on V-day, get her a Chia Pet. No one is going to get suspicious of a Chia Pet.
posted by dirigibleman at 1:58 PM on January 24, 2005


Hey sic, don't you know that generalizing about a group is racism? Don't let's be beastly to the Latins.

And it seems like skylar has come to what I would regard as the common sense solution-- don't do it, don't do it, don't do it.
posted by ibmcginty at 2:49 PM on January 24, 2005


Those of you embracing and promoting your violent impulses are very disturbing. One might almost interpret your rage as being motivated by the thought that someone might have "used" your "property"...

The problem, skylar, is you are unclear on what message it is that you wish to convey. Once you get that straight in your head (and maybe it is, but it seems like not), it will become much easier to know how to proceed.
posted by rushmc at 4:03 PM on January 24, 2005


Any female friend of my wife is welcome to send her flowers.

Any male person sending my wife flowers will be asked gently, ever so gently, to step outside.

That is not done. You do not send flowers to another man's woman. I don't care if I sound like I'm part of the patriarchy. You do not do that and not expect consequences for your actions.

Flowers mean things. There is a language to flowers. Roses, especially red roses, connote some very specific things in regard to male-female sexual/romantic relationships (or about death and mourning), and no man may speak to my wife like that but me (or unless I'm dead).

It's not about 'property' rushmc. It's about what is appropriate behavior, and whether or not a third party respects the accepted bounds of such behavior. If a man sends my wife flowers, he's not just disresepecting my wife, or me, but our relationship. And if he's prepared to make the statement, he'd better be prepared for my statement.
posted by geekhorde at 12:40 AM on January 25, 2005


Not everyone shares the same ideas you do, geekhorde. Trying to impose yours on the world is self-centered, rude, and impractical. Being an adult means trying to see other viewpoints and making allowances for other beliefs and behaviors.
posted by rushmc at 8:27 AM on January 25, 2005


One might almost interpret your rage as being motivated by the thought that someone might have "used" your "property"...

Someone like you might intepret it that way, but others might interpret it as respecting a couple's intimacy. Disrespecting people who have done you no harm is disturbing to me.


Hey sic, don't you know that generalizing about a group is racism? Don't let's be beastly to the Latins.


I suspect you are joking, but if not, I invite you to come to Spain, pick a block in any Spanish city, send flowers to other men's wives or other women's husbands on that block. Interpret the data from your hospital bed ;)
posted by sic at 8:30 AM on January 25, 2005


Trying to impose yours on the world is self-centered, rude, and impractical.

Truly ironic. Generally, people in a relationship have chosen to be with each other because they share certain beliefs. If you send flowers to jlkr, apparently her husband won't give a damn and it seems that they are both happy with that situation. Fine. However, if you send flowers to someone who's in a relationship where they want others to respect their intimacy, it is YOU who are imposing YOUR ideas on them. I believe the majority of the relationships on this planet prefer romantically interested outsiders to leave them alone (just tally up the responses to this thread for anecdotal evidence). If you are unclear on what kind of relationship they have, you should assume that it is best to leave them be, NOT assume that YOUR ideas are shared by all.
posted by sic at 8:40 AM on January 25, 2005


but others might interpret it as respecting a couple's intimacy.

I'm not going to debate with you in an AskMe thread anymore, but this is just a silly statement.

I believe the majority of the relationships on this planet prefer romantically interested outsiders to leave them alone

Who is talking about "romantically interested outsiders?" You are imposing a lot of your own baggage on the question.
posted by rushmc at 9:48 AM on January 25, 2005


I'm not going to debate with you in an AskMe thread anymore, but this is just a silly statement.

Ha! One might almost interpret your desire to stop this "debate" as being motivated by the lack of an argument... Anyway, my desire is not to debate you, but to give skylar sound advice and my advice is sound, despite what you may think.

Who is talking about "romantically interested outsiders?" You are imposing a lot of your own baggage on the question.

Skylar asked a question about sending flowers to someone he was romantically (at least sexually) involved with at some point and who has chosen to be with someone else. He is the outsider. He wanted to know, among other things, if people thought this would cause a confrontation with the husband which he wants to avoid. The majority in this thread was against him doing such a thing and some people, like myself, but not just me, advised him to expect a violent response (although not necessarily physically violent, but probaby). In any case, he should expect a disagreeable situation.

Now you may not like that people would get violent or angry in this situation, but that doesn't mean that they won't. You yourself may not get angry or curious if someone send's your SO flowers, but that doesn't mean that most other people wouldn't. Skylar sensibly has chosen not to intrude.

And just in case you haven't read the whole thread, let me repeat that this needs some nuance. For instance, if an ex flame sent my wife flowers out of the blue and didn't know she is now in a committed relationship, I wouldn't get angry. But I would expect my wife to tell him to back off. If he sent flowers or other such romantic gestures to my wife, knowing that she is married, I would be very angry, yes indeed. This is skylar's situation. He should back off.
posted by sic at 10:14 AM on January 25, 2005


Oh and skylar, I meant to write this earlier: I don't think you are a monster...
posted by sic at 11:14 AM on January 25, 2005


I would be very angry, yes indeed.

Your insecurities ideally should not inform your AskMe advice, but I suppose it's inevitable that they would.
posted by rushmc at 2:28 PM on January 25, 2005


Wow, you are so evolved.

Unfortunately the rest of the world is not as evolved as you. So when someone asks a question about how the rest of the world is likely to react to a certain act, telling the asker what is likely to happen is good advice. The responses to this thread give overwhelming evidence that sending those flowers will probably cause problems. He is after all asking what the husband's probable reaction will be.

But perhaps he should ignore me (and the other ten posters in this thread who had the same negative reaction), since, as you say, I am just insecurely protecting my property.

Do evolved people troll?
posted by sic at 3:34 PM on January 25, 2005


Wow, you are so evolved.

Would that more of you were as evolved.

I regularly get 3 dozen daisies on Valentine's day, regardless of where I am.

The bouquet was always accompanied by a note, signed "Love, Hal" and it inevitably got the 'Who the hell are those from?' question.
I never felt bad about getting flowers from my oldest friend in the world, however I did remove myself from the relationships as I felt bad for them that they could trust me so little.

Make that 'used to get'.
I'm going to miss my daisies this year. :(
posted by kamylyon at 9:34 PM on January 25, 2005


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