The Wedding Anniversary: Make it a Big Thing
Glen O. Jenson, Ph.D.
Family and Human Development Specialist
Utah State University Extension
If a marriage was worth celebrating originally, then it ought to be worth re-celebrating. An anniversary is much like a shared birthday and ought to be a memorable occasion. Wedding anniversaries, like other celebrated days, are worth putting some time and effort into making that day something to be remembered. Hopefully, good marriages get better with time, so each year should be a celebration of making something that was good and meaningful into something that is even better. There are a lot of jokes and references to one spouse or the other forgetting their wedding anniversary; that is mostly a myth, most couples remember this day in one way or another. A wedding anniversary is a time to rethink commitments made in years past. It is also a time to set new commitments with each other that are in keeping with the growth and development of the marriage. It is a time to give thanks to each other for services rendered, joys experienced, care given, love extended, hopes shared, comfort given in times of need, acceptances of weaknesses as well as strengths, along with feelings expressed and promises delivered.
Anniversary time is a good time to evaluate how the marriage relationship is meeting the needs of your spouse. It would be a good time to do a year-end report on the profits and losses to the marriage relationship during the past year. It is an ideal time to set new goals for strengthening the relationship.
Some ideas for anniversary celebrations
Visit some places of your courtship and early years of marriage. Returning to the place of your marriage and reminisce over the events of that day. A little nostalgia can make a very enjoyable experience. A night or two in the hotel/motel where you spent your honeymoon brings back pleasant memories of learning to live together.
Find ways to meaningfully expressing yourselves to each other. These might include written messages, physical intimacy, sharing of services, or giving gifts that have special significance such as: music from the era of your marriage or dining out at a place frequented during your courtship or early years of marriage.
Reaffirm your old marriage vows. Get a copy of the vows or recreate on a paper the major phrases used at your marriage ceremony. Re-read them and ask yourself, how are you doing at keeping those vows. You might want to write some new ones that address current feeling and new challenges. Spend some time looking at pictures of events in the past pertaining to your marriage. This include the recounting of memories of special events or circumstances that stand out in your mind as being meaningful and important. Arrange to be away from your employment on the day of your anniversary. The wedding anniversary ought to be at least as important as any of the national and state holidays we celebrate. Make some concrete plans for that day. Do something that day that is entirely different than other holidays. If you have children at home, arrange for some child care and make this day something special for that just you and your spouse.
Do something that would be a pleasant surprise for your spouse. Gifts or activities are often more fun and meaningful if given as a surprise. Doing the unexpected usually makes meaningful memories.
Plan well in advance a special trip together. On milestone anniversaries such as your 10th, 25th or 50th anniversary, you might want to save money for a year or so some thing really special can be done. There are many places to go and things to do that are not overly expensive if advance planning is done.
Put together a video or slide tape presentation containing pictures of past memories interwoven with music of years past that has special meaning to the two of you.
Invite all your children and their spouses if they are married to join with you in a celebration of marriage.
Don't go anywhere just stay home, but tell everyone you are going to be out of town and enjoy a day with each other away from all everyday rush of things. Spend some time remembering activities you have done on previous wedding anniversaries.
Anniversaries can and should be very meaningful occasions in a marriage relationship. A marriage frequently celebrated improves in worth and health.