The passage of another year of marriage is a great excuse to splurge and do something special with your spouse.
Dinner out, hosting a party with family and friends, or taking a trip together are all great ways to celebrate another anniversary.
We like to enjoy and reward ourselves. We even use anniversaries as an excuse to give each other gifts. And for some, the longer the marriage the more expensive the gift!
Despite the lure of more expensive gifts if we hang in there, a large percentage of first marriages fail. Given the emotional cost borne by parents and children and the severe economic and social costs, there must be a better way to celebrate another year together. There is.
Should you stay or go?
Let’s make believe for a moment. Suppose that on your wedding anniversary either spouse can decide to leave and dissolve the partnership, at no cost of any kind.
Think for a moment and answer candidly. Would you consider leaving and starting over with someone else? Or are you still in love with your mate and see your relationship as an enduring, fulfilling opportunity to move forward together? Or are you somewhere in between?
You may consider this evaluation to be uncommon and extremely personal. It is. It will also be profoundly useful in showing how to improve your relationship with your beloved.
Use each anniversary as an opportunity to examine and discuss your relationship.
How is it going? Are you still having fun? Are you still in love? What is working? What is not working? What does each of you really care about right now? How much is enough?
Most wedding vows include a promise to love, honor and cherish your spouse. The flip side is that you promised to forever be lovable, honorable and cherishable in the opinion of your partner.
Set some ground rules.
Prior to beginning the conversation, you must agree on some ground rules. The point of the conversation is to identify areas in which you can behave better toward one other, empower each other and strengthen your partnership. This is a time to “lower your shields” and be vulnerable.
If your spouse has a persistent and hurtful tendency to be sarcastic and dismissive of your feelings, for example, share this concern. Be open to listening to the concerns and complaints your partner may express and be sure to share yours. What you want to do is to reveal those patterns of behavior, your own and those of your partner, that may make life miserable for you.
Rewards and celebration.
Then, reward yourselves with a second glass of wine and move to another important topic. Celebrate the strengths of your relationship with each other. Share how your mutual affection and respect enable you to plan effectively and more nimbly deal with life’s many unpredictable ups and downs, victories and failures, and great joys as well as tragedies. Review the highlights and lowlights of the year just past.
Take notes and reflect on the conversation for a few days.
How can you intervene with yourself to address complaints expressed by your partner? Are you able to understand why she or he said what they said? What would life be like together if you both made adjustments indicated by your mutual evaluation? What was your reaction as you listened to your mate talk about you?
You may need the help of a third party skilled in the design and reconstruction of relationships. Many of us require help in learning how to formulate, deliver and listen to well-grounded and well-intentioned assessments offered in the spirit of enhancing your loving partnership.
You may need help with the process.
These are difficult conversations. Ask for help the first few times. Develop this muscle. Both of you will find being “one” together much more enjoyable. Remember that time is your scarcest resource.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave into his wife and they shall be one flesh. KJV: Genesis 2:24