Stronger Marriage

Making Wedding Anniversaries Meaningful

by Glen O. Jenson, PhD
Department of Family and Human Development
Utah State University


If you knew that your next wedding anniversary would be your last one with your spouse, would you do anything different? Persons who recently have lost a spouse through death often experience renewed grief and feeling of loneliness at anniversary time, demonstrating the potency of anniversaries. For most marriages the wedding anniversaries spent together will be less than fifty, pointing out the need to make each one count as though it might be the last.

During the month of June more wedding anniversary celebrations will be held than during any other month. There are lots of jokes and references to one spouse or the other forgetting their wedding anniversary; however, most remember it in one way or another. If a marriage was worth celebrating originally and has not ended in divorce or separation, then it ought to be worth re-celebrating.

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.

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, joy experienced, care given, love extended, hopes shared, comfort given in times of need, acceptances of weaknesses as well as strengths, feelings expressed and promises delivered.

Suggestions for Anniversary Celebrations

1. Take a vacation to some of the scenes of your courtship and early years of marriage. Returning to the place of your marriage and reminiscing over the events of that day can make a very enjoyable experience. A night or two in the motel where you spent your honeymoon always brings back pleasant memories of learning to live together.

2. Meaningfully express yourselves to each other in a variety of ways. These might include written messages, physical intimacy, services rendered, or gifts that have special significance such as: music from the era of your marriage date or a dinner out to a place where frequented during your courtship.

3. Reaffirm your old marriage vows. You might want to write some new ones that address current feeling and new challenges.

4. Spend a few evenings looking at pictures of events in the past pertaining to your marriage. Those evenings could also include the recounting of memories of special events or circumstances that stand out in your mind as meaningful and important.

5. Arrange to take the anniversary day off from your place of employment. The wedding anniversary ought to be at least as important as any of the national and state holidays we celebrate.

6. Do something that day that is entirely different than most holidays. For example, if you have children at home, make this day something that just you and your spouse do.

7. 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.

8. Anniversary time is a good time to evaluate how the marriage 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.

9. Plan well in advance to take a special trip together. Such a trip may be more expensive than a couple could afford every year. If such is the case, reserve the special trip to milestone anniversaries such as your 25th or 50th anniversary.

10. Put together a slide tape presentation containing pictures of past memories interwoven with music of years past that has special meaning to the two of you.

11. Invite all your children and their spouses if they are married to join with you in a celebration of marriage. Anniversaries can and should be very meaningful occasions and celebrations in a marriage relationship. A marriage frequently celebrated improves in worth and health.

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