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On April 9th, 2019 my husband and I celebrate our 31st wedding anniversary. In many ways, it seems like we just met yesterday while at the same time, it seems like we have been together forever. And we know that we will be together for all eternity. You can find out more about us here on the connect page of Lisa Designs Life.
We are not perfect, we have struggles, ups and downs just like you and every couple on the planet. We have gone thru tremendously difficult times and we are blessed with much. So why does our love persevere, and why has our marriage sustained the test of time while many marriages have crumbled around us? I don’t have all the answers, I am not a counsellor, read my suggestions and do what works for you and your relationship, I pray it may it flourish over time.
1 – First and foremost, make the effort, make the time.
Romance, love and a marriage take time and effort. It’s often easy to settle into a routine that basically takes your spouse for granted, but easy is not best when it comes to a lasting relationship. Instead, please put your relationship first, and always treat your spouse with love and respect. You know the time you made dinner for a friend who was under the weather or you picked up that cutesy home decor sign or stationary item because it reminds you of your best friend and you want to surprise her/him with it. Well, think of your spouse first!
Start thinking of your spouse as your ‘bestie’. The next time you do an act of kindness for a friend, or pick up a little something to make them feel special, stop and ask yourself this. When was the last time I did the same for my spouse? When you are out doing errands, take note of anything that makes you think of him/her and pick it up as a surprise. How about taking them their fave specialty coffee or surprising them with a hot lunch you take to their workplace. The simple ways you can show your love are endless.
Random acts of kindness or a small gift, bought or homemade (this does not have to be expensive) but given for no specific reason will nourish your love. You and your spouse may have a different ‘love language’ that speaks to each of your hearts. I highly recommend the book The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman which includes an awesome profile assessment so you can discover your love language and that of your loved one.
2 – Keep a love jar.
Choose a special container/jar, for your love notes. We like to use wooden jar with a lid that we bought together while on vacation. On our last trip to Cabo San Jose, we purchased a beautiful handmade jar carved from a lemon tree. It smells divine and every time we pull out a love note, it is also a special reminder of the time we spent together celebrating my birthday and New Years.
Write a love note to your partner every day for a week. Focus on a different quality you love about him/her, something you are proud of in them, something you respect, or simply thank them for something they do. You can find many beautiful boxes >> HERE.
At the end of the week, make a special dinner or carve out time together over a glass of wine and sweetly read the notes out loud to your partner. Switch it up the next week with the opposite partner writing and reading the notes, or if you prefer have two jars and share them all at the end of the week.
Taking a few minutes each day to focus on the good in each other, and sharing time together discussing these qualities will definitely help sustain your love.
3 – Reflect and remember why you fell in love. Forgive and move on.
What qualities and traits drew you to your spouse to begin with? How have they changed and grown into an even better person today? Is there anything bothering you in your relationship? Over time the habits you fell for in your spouse actually may become annoying but realize that we all have good habits, and we ALL have annoying habits or quirks. These are the things that make us unique and do not mean we are less lovable over time.
Annoyed, frustrated and fed up? You need to talk to your spouse about it, talk about the little things that annoy you and don’t let them become big. Do not let things simmer inside until it all explodes out of you. Many couples who get to this point, then give up on their marriage or relationship altogether. Don’t give up.
Remember that you likely have just as many annoying habits that drive your spouse up the wall. None of us is perfect, heavens knows I am not. Talk, talk and talk! Forgive each other and forgive yourself and move on. Need help learning how to forgive yourself and others? Check out this book “Forgiving Yourself,” for a step by step guide to making peace with your mistakes and getting on with your life.
4 – Have a date night.
Carve out special time together. No, this is not easy. Yes, life is busy, kids are demanding, work days are long but if you don’t set aside one on one time together, you will grow apart. Life speeds by, time is fleeting, make date night a priority.
Date night does not have to cost money, plan it for any time of the day that you are able to spend together interruption free. Try taking a little picnic under the stars in your own backyard, grab a bottle of wine, cheese, crackers and some grapes. Keep it simple, the important thing is that you spend time together alone.
This is something you can do after you put the kiddies to bed or if you are too tired in the evening, go for a backyard picnic in the afternoon while the littles take a nap, a bottle of sparkling water and a fruit basket will do.
If it’s cold where you live, or the winters are long (like up here in B.C. Canada), set out your picnic on a bench or side table in the bedroom. Spend the evening together without tv, cell phones or tablets! Just conversation and whatever else might follow ;). Yes a healthy, active sex life will boost the feeling of love you have for each other, so enjoy always!
It’s fun to head out and try something new for date nights too. For instance over the past year, we made one of our regular date night a special meal out together once per month. To make it a little more interesting, we try a new restaurant and when possible we order a dish we haven’t eaten before! This really worked out well as it made us both look forward to the night out. Add a little twist to your date night, mix it up, and be sure to schedule it in!
5- Spend time learning about and/or doing what your spouse enjoys.
This doesn’t mean that if your spouse loves hockey (like mine), that you need to run out to buy hockey skates and goalie pads and get in the game. But rather, take time to learn about the sport, google some fun facts about his favourite team or player, and start-up a conversation.
Surprise him with tickets to watch the local hockey team. If this option is too hard on the budget, simply invite friends over to watch a NHL game and plan a fun intermission game using hockey trivia questions. Your spouse will be so appreciative that you care enough to learn about what he/she finds fun and enjoys.
6 – Attend a small group together.
A Bible Study group, a small home group devoted to supporting one another and sharing life’s trials and joys. Nothing has been more important to our lasting relationship over the years than being connected to a small group of caring, loving friends. The people in our small group hold us up when we fall down and keep us accountable to what we believe in. They remind us to focus and rely on God first.
Allowing God to fill you up and meet your needs takes a lot of pressure of your spouse. With Jesus filling you daily, you will not look to your partner to fulfill every human and spiritual longing in your heart.
7- Volunteer together.
Change your focus now and again. Instead of looking inward at your life, head out into your community to serve other. Volunteering opens your eyes to see the abundance in your own life and relationship. If you are blessed with someone who loves you and is always by your side in the good and the not so good times, be thankful for them.
Serve a meal at your local Gospel Mission, offer to take a shift at the Salvation Army thrift shop, find an opportunity to go on a mission trip with your church to serve together in another country. We have so much to be thankful for, by serving those less fortunate and counting your blessings you will draw closer together into a deeper, more meaningful relationship.
8 – Each person in a healthy relationship should have outside friendships and interests.
This is critical. You likely have similar interests and couples who are your friends, but you must take time to pursue a craft or hobby that you love outside of the joint activities and friendships. Spend time with your friends doing girl things, have a mini spa in your home, attend a paint night or hey ho, head to the mall and shop til you drop. Have tea together, set up a pretty tray and chat for hours with your best friend.
Make your friends day by offering to do their nails after the tea. Fellows, offer to pay for that beer your friend ordered at the pub while you watch the game. Taking time out from each other, nurturing special friendships will make you a better partner/husband/wife, and strengthen your marriage.
9 – Love notes.
Leave love notes on the mirror, in his/her lunch bag, on the dash of the car, in a briefcase or anywhere he/she will least expect it. There is something about seeing love expressed in writing that warms a heart and sticks in a mind.
Feeling loved is crucial to a lasting commitment in a relationship, everyone has an innate want to be loved. Please read my post You are Loved Today and Always and know you are loved always.
10- Flowers or a plant.
My hubby doesn’t express in so many words that he likes to get flowers, but I have seen a change in his disposition and attitude for the better when I send him a plant or flowers at his office. So even if you think your guy isn’t one for flowers, give it a try, his reaction might surprise you! There is something heart warming about bringing a bit of nature inside.
And guys, listen up, your wife wants flowers in her life! You know whether she is the kind of gal who prefers a flower bouquet, a potted pandanus plant or an outdoor plant for her garden, go ahead and treat her with one just because. No special occasion or holiday needed to give the gift of greenery!
11- Do his/her chores.
If you have a set of routine chores at home that are usually done by your spouse, surprise him by doing one of his. I don’t know about your house, but in ours there just seem to be certain chores my hubby usually does and vice versa.
If your hubby usually takes out the garbage or mows the lawn, does the laundry, do it for him before he gets home from work or early on a Saturday morning before he even starts the work.
In our home, we each do our own laundry as a rule, but when my hubs is having a difficult week at work, or I just want to bless him, I do his laundry to show love to him. Because this is not something I always do for him, he appreciates it and recognizes it as an act of my love for him.
Goodness knows I do not want him to do my laundry, EVER. Unless he wants to buy me a new wardrobe every week, after he shrinks mine all teeny, weeny. But he knows that I love a clean car and love it when he vacuums my car, fills the tank, and goes thru the car wash. Think about what your spouse would appreciate the most and just do it!
Will you be using any of these recommendations in your current relationship? What advice can you share with others that has helped your relationship grow and flourish? Please leave your thoughts in the comments below.
So until next time, thanks for stopping by, here’s to another thirty years together!