Twenty-two years ago today my husband, Mark and I spent our first day together as husband and wife. We packed up and headed toward the Grand Canyon for our honeymoon. Looking back on that trek out west, I now see how our first 14 days of married life was simply a preview of the years to come. We laughed, we cried (ok — I cried), we argued, we pinched pennies (whose idea was it to camp on our honeymoon?), we talked, we explored, and we began a life-long journey of getting to know one another.
Now twenty-two years later we’re still doing those same things! And yes, there is still much to learn not only about each other, but also about ourselves and about marriage! Each year on our anniversary we celebrate our relationship. While a marriage needs regular investment, the annual celebration of an anniversary gives us the opportunity to practice the three R’s: reminisce, rejuvenate, and re-evaluate.
Here’s how that looks: Each year we remember how we met, our dates, engagement, wedding, and honeymoon. On your next anniversary, take time to enjoy the memories. Here are some ideas to get you reminiscing:
- If you have a video of your wedding, watch the video together.
- If possible, visit the location of your first date or where you met.
- Reenact your wedding with your children. I remember doing this with my parents as a child. Mom pulled out her wedding dress, my sister’s and I were bridesmaids and we re-enacted the wedding while listening to a recording of the ceremony.
- Look at your wedding and/or honeymoon pictures together, remembering stories you haven’t thought of in years.
Along with remembering, we pull away from the busyness of life and take time for the two of us. Whether your anniversary is fast approaching or months away, here are some ideas for rejuvenating your relationship:
- Use priceline.com to find a great deal on a hotel for an anniversary getaway. Whether you are going for one night or a whole week, it doesn’t have to financially devastate you. We’ve celebrated in Chicago for the past few years and never paid more than $40 per night for a 4 star hotel in Chicago using the “name your price” system at priceline.com.
- Trade years for planning the celebration. I have a friend whose husband handles the odd years and she is responsible for the even year celebrations. This keeps both husband and wife involved in the process.
- If your spouse likes surprises, arrange for something fun and make it happen! If your spouse doesn’t care for surprises, honor their preference and plan something together. When finances are tight, ask a friend or neighbor to watch the kids and spend a special evening at home. Turn off the phone, light some candles, and serve your favorite meal or dessert.
- Don’t be afraid to leave the children for an evening, for a night, or for a week. Our children need to know that the marriage relationship is a priority.
Each anniversary gives us the opportunity for an “annual review.” Consider these questions and goals when you re-evaluate:
- Are we dating? If you haven’t been taking weekly or monthly dates, commit to do so. Arrange a regular sitter and set aside the time on your calendar.
- Do we need some help? If you are going through a difficult season of marriage and have not sought help, consider counseling to assist you in moving beyond your struggles.
- Do we need to seek God together? If God hasn’t been a part of your marriage relationship, evaluate your faith and seek out a church to attend regularly. There is truth in the saying that “a couple who prays together, stays together.”
- Are we continuing to learn about marriage? Pick up a book about marriage and read it, or better yet, attend a marriage conference together. Marriage conferences take care of a marriage in the same way a yearly physical takes care of the body.
Good marriages don’t just happen. To grow a healthy marriage, we have to take time for one another and intentionally invest in our relationship. Our anniversary is a celebration of the commitment we’ve made and a reminder to reminisce, rejuvenate, and re-evaluate! Copyright © 2006 Jill Savage, used with permission.
Read more from Jill at Hearts at Home Jill Savage and husband Mark live in Normal, Illinois. They are the parents of five children ages nine to twenty. Jill is the founder and executive director of Hearts at Home. She is the author of four books including Professionalizing Motherhood, Is There Really Sex After Kids, and Got Teens?.