I love my husband. We've been together for over 12 years and married for almost 8. He is my rock, my biggest supporter, hysterical, a great dad, and it helps that I'm still very attracted to him. But he's not perfect and neither am I. Like many couples we have our ups and down. We argue, I nag, he can drive me nuts, I drive him nuts, and then it's all good. I'd be lying if I said say that our relationship didn't changed after we had our daughter. In some cases for the better in other cases for the worse. Stronger, because we are a team and our objective is to raise a good kid. Worse, because alot of focus IS on the kid so our marriage has gotten less attention, but we both know this and try to make a conscious effort to work at it. According to scientific research gathered by Happify™ couple's with Preschool kids are the unhappiest in their marriages.
When you have children it's hard NOT to shift your focus to that little human. We want to raise them, pass down our traditions, teach them what our parents taught us (at least the good parts), create new memories, and hopefully not scar them in any way for life. What about our spouses and our partners? We shouldn't have to wait til our kids turn 18 to be happy again as a couple. We can cultivate our marriages day by day, month by month, and year by year til then and create loving memories and traditions of our very own.
So instead of buying her chocolates and buying him a watch every year, here are some couples traditions ideas that you can start on Valentine's Day (or any day), that will make your bond stronger, give you something to look forward to, and can help your marriage from becoming simple daily routine.
1. Relive your wedding & share a laugh.
Every year look at your wedding pictures and share a laugh. Create a "Funny Wedding Moments" page and add it to your album. Each year each of you writes something new you remember about that day that was funny to both of you. I know we will always laugh at "racoon eyes." In addition to a last minute wedding date change (thanks hurricane Thomas), my husband got a bad sunburn and thus "racoon eyes" was born ;D
2. Create a Wine and Dine Keepsake.
According to Happify,™ "couples that share an experience together are happiest." If you go out regularly to your favorite restaurant, save your wine corks and create a cork picture frame or some home art. Include a picture of the two of you enjoying a special meal there. Hint: Save the corks of the wines you really like, this way it's also a visual reminder of good wines to buy in the future.
Not a DIYer, try this Bottle wine shadow box holder from Amazon. It'll hold all of your favorite corks or beer caps and makes a nice visual reminder too.
3. Write your spouse an old fashioned love letter with a twist.
Ask your child, neighbor, or whomever to give you a random word no matter how crazy it may be. Each one writes a love letter that's centered around the word given. Maybe the word is inteligencia or maybe your 5 year old chose farts. Be creative, sweet, or funny. Collect them over the years, it'll be fun to read them back.
4. Attend a yearly festival or event that both of you love...
...and keep a tiny piece of it. I have married friends that attend Gasparilla in Tampa, or Wave-Gotik-Treffen in Germany every year. Maybe it's Burning Man, or Calle Ocho, or Comic Con. Whatever it is, you can keep the show flyer year after year along with a picture of you dressed up and reflect back on how the event evolved and how you evolved as a couple too.
5. Plan an Anniversary getaway.
My husband and I have religiously gone away for our anniversary date (or around). Each trip we go someplace NEW & buy a postcard or keep something reflective of the trip and write a little note on the back.
6. Buy Meaningful chocolate.
If you do buy chocolates every year, be creative and don't just buy them with the $6.99 Hallmark card. Even attaching a paper heart or sticky note with the words, "Te Quiero porque..." or "I love you because..." will be more touching. Do the same every year or every time you give them a card and collect them in a "love jar." Creating your own is easy, but if you don't have the time this one makes a great Valentine's Day gift and has everything you need!
7. Stay strong and Fit Together.
Run a yearly race together. One of our married couple friends (below) do races like the Cupid's Couple Run or ring in the New Year together as fit and strong couple. What better motivation and support system than to have your partner cheering along side with you. You can keep the race numbers write a little note to remember and create a keepsake like the one below.
8. Volunteer or attend an annual charity event that is meaningful to both of you.
Write down how much was raised on a card every year with a date. Keep in a keepsake jar or album. Through the years you can keep a tally of how much you're helping to contribute to a worthy cause. You'll both bring out the best in each other.
9. Learn together.
Years ago my husband and I took tango classes together. It was a wonderful experience that I will definitely do again. It helped us communicate and added spice to our relationship. Maybe you can take a cooking class or a painting class or an acrobatics class. I would encourage couples classes that focus on both of you as a unit as opposed to individually, who knows, maybe it'll add extra spice in the bedroom too.
10. Be spontaneous.
In my marriage I'm the one that has everything scheduled. I'm the one that likes to plan everything out. My husband is the spontaneous one and it's great, like the time he told me to pack a bag for tropical weather and my ID and next thing I knew we were in Puerto Rico! Being spontaneous takes us out of our daily comfort zone and allows us to be more present. It also keeps the marriage fresh, far from boring, and fun. So get out of your comfort zone and enjoy something new.
You have to work hard in anything in life that you want to have success in and marriage is no different. We must find the time to make that connection and it simply starts one day at a time.