As we danced hand in hand, I had flashbacks of high school. Looking around the dance floor I was reminded of the sheer awkwardness of dancing with a boy in my youth. Sweaty hands, lack of conversation or bad breath usually made me eager for the song to be over. Now after twelve years of loving the same man, eight of them being married to him; it is with great pleasure we glide around the dance floor. I do not claim to have a perfect marriage, but I am smart enough to see we have a really good thing going.
I realize for many of you, you might be currently lacking that spark in your marriage or maybe even feel like it was never there to begin with. Let it be known I am a strong proponent of marriage, not the quick, sudden kind, but the slow, work hard for kind. Ten years of friendship prior to getting married has done wonders for our marriage. And now a few of my personal tips for a great marriage....these may not apply to you, but if they help one person look differently at their marriage then they are worth mentioning.
1. Decide early on the other person's happiness is your number one priority. This will mean different things for different people, but early on in our marriage this meant going on a walk when I was bothered instead of picking a fight or purchasing chocolate milk by the galloon even though I found it be disgusting. Now, this means packing my husband's lunch so he has a plethora of healthy food to eating during the day or driving him to the bus stop in the morning.
2. Maintain contact throughout the day. Given the ease of technology this is getting easier and easier to do. Whether it be a phone call, an email or a brief visit these are all easy ways to gauge how other person's day is. When our schedules allow I love to meet up for lunch dates.
3. Start all interactions with a kind word. Studies have shown the first words which are uttered set the tone for the rest of your time together. Maybe requesting the garbage be taken out or that they don't leave their dishes in the sink shouldn't be your first order of business when you see them.
4. Regular date nights. You needn't have a small brood at home to benefit from the positive effects of quality, planned time together. Taking the time to plan something to do together makes the other person feel valued and special. Over the years our dates have ranged from getting ice cream cones and taking long evening walk to kayaking or a hike.
5. Get away. As your schedule and finances allow plan overnight getaways. We often like to escape to another city like Portland or Vancouver for the weekend or even sometimes just for the day. If you enjoy camping, it is an inexpensive alternative to paying for a hotel room and might allow you to get away even more often.
6. Eliminate gifts. Several years ago we stopped giving each other gifts at holidays. Instead we save our money for experiences we could enjoy together like weekend getaways, big trips or taking a class together where we could learn something new.
7. Spend time together. This might seem like an obvious one, but our favorite thing to do during a busy week is go on walks together. This allows the conversation to flow freely and for us to not be distracted by outside sources. Leaving your cell phone at home is always a great decision to eliminate the temptation to check your email.
8. Eat dinner together. Each night we make it a priority to sit down and enjoy a meal together. The old saying goes, "the family who eats together, stays together".
Anything else you would add to the list?