Last week a few of the blogs I read (Home of Malones and Mix'n'Match Mama) posted on the topic of "How to Make Marriage Work"...and in honor of Valentine's Day, I thought I'd throw my two cents in the game.
Joel and I have been together for TEN years next month! Pretty dang insane. We have walked a lot of life together, have grown up together, and have ebbed and flowed in what we like, what we want, and we need together and apart.
Every stage of life has required different things from each other, but when I thought about what has been consistent for the last ten years, these are the few things that I think have kept our bond strong.
Find things you both like doing outside of the house and do them...as often as you can.
Joel and I don't operate well being at home constantly and being entertained by the television. We both like to stay active, and we have a lot of fun when we are active together. We really like to play tennis together - we're going to join a pickle ball league this summer together - or back in California we really tried to get in a hike together every week. We also really like to play games, and even more so at a bar, so we try to do that whenever we can. Just doing things that help keep things fresh and fun.
My family will tell you...but I live and die by traditions. They're my absolute favorite thing about life and I like having marriage traditions too. Watching our wedding video at our anniversary, staying in together on New Years Eve, whatever they may be are fun and help connect us.
Surprise each other
Honestly, I don't think this has to be grand or extreme, but a note under my pillow when Joel leaves for a business trip or cooking his favorite dinner after a bad day at work makes us both feel loved. It feels nice when someone goes a little bit out of their way to make the other one feel special.
Go on adventures
There's nothing more I love than going to new places with Joel. Sometimes it's a new town or a new country - but I love everything about it. We both enjoy the anticipation of adventures, and we both dive into the place we are going to. We like to research and find the best places to eat, see, visit....and it's fun to get out of our sometimes stale routine.
Try not to air your dirty laundry
I think we all have been guilty complaining about our loved ones...especially after a few glasses of wine with your girlfriends. When its been a tough day, tough week, or tough year, its tempting to go to your girls and be reassured that "he's an idiot", but, for the most part, after I've done that, I wished I hadn't. I don't like my girlfriends to think poorly of Joel - and more times than not - I'm keeping my part of the argument out of the story. It's just a tough position to put everyone in, and I try really hard to stop myself from doing so.
Set yearly goals on your anniversary
We have done this for the last 3 years, and its something I really like doing. We spend our entire anniversary dinner talking about how the previous years goals went, and setting ones for the following year. We both try to come prepared with a few ideas, and a lot of the goals end up getting repeated. We try to pick a financial goal we want to reach by the end of the year, a romantic goal (like more date nights), a family goal (go to church more), and a travel goal (like go to Europe). Sometimes the goals are a bust, sometimes a success, but more than anything, its nice to be on the same page about where we want the year ahead to take us.
There's got to be something more in a marriage than just a roommate or co-parent. Kissing hello and goodbye, finding time to make out, and just remembering your attraction to your husband or wife, is pretty damn important.
We are lucky in the fact that if given the choice, [for the most part], come Friday or Saturday night, there really isn't anyone else we would want to spend time with besides each other. Joel is everything I need in a partner. He balances me, calms me, motivates me, and loves me and I truly Thank God I was smart enough ten years ago to see that and not let him go.
We're obviously not perfect, and we have a lot of room to grow in our relationship, so I'd love to hear what you feel like you are conscious to do in your current or previous or future relationships!