Here we are 11 years ago:
On our honeymoon:
Here we are today(and we have 5 children we've added into our family):
Since ten is a note worthy number, last year for our ten year anniversary I posted, on my blog, ten personal stories/examples from our marriage. You can find and read that blog post here. I know 11 years of marriage isn't much in comparison to many (my parents have been married for 40+), and my degree in Marriage really only gave me 'successful marriage ideas from a text book" but I thought I'd share five specific things we do to continually nurture and strengthen our marriage.
1.) Weekly planned dates. It is so important that you nurture your marriage and part of that is continuing courtship. These dates don't need to be expensive, in fact, most of our dates are 'in-home' dates where we'll put the kids to bed early and then Scott and I will play a game, get take-out, do yoga, make a smoothie, work on a hobby together, watch a movie etc. Most of those things are free! About once a month we actually pay for a babysitter and get out of the house on a date, which is SO nice but it also costs a little more:). It's important to put some thought into your dates and plan ahead, even if it is an in-home date. You could switch off planning every other week or talk mid-week and plan something together, but make a plan so you have something to look forward to and be excited about with your spouse each week.
2.) Go to bed together. This will allow you time each night to be together alone, to connect, and to have uninterrupted "talk time", and don't forget to pray together. Going to bed together will also (hopefully) keep you from watching some late night trash on tv or just wasting hours on mind-numbing electronics. Also, if you go to bed together you'll be on the same sleep schedule. You'll be tired together; you'll be able to sympathize more and help each other get up early to exercise, if you like to do that kind of thing, which we do :). So go to bed together.
"Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh." Genesis 2:24
3.) Give love notes. This can be in the form of texts or emails, a little love note on a napkin in their lunch, a sticky note left on the bathroom mirror. A simple and short expression of love written down so they know you were thinking loving thoughts about them when they were away, can go a long way.
4.) Be respectful. Speak kindly to one another. Demonstrate patience. Have control over your emotions, don't let them control you. This goes against the media's portrayal of happy families which are sarcastic and disrespectful, always teaching you to one-up the other guy, but don't let that fool you. You would be wise to follow these prophetic words written thousands of years ago:
"A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger." -Proverbs 15:1
"Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minster grace unto the hearers." - Ephesians 4:29
"And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive." - Alma 7:23
Great advice that was true then, and is still true now.
5.) Put your spouse's needs above your own. And that being said, don't keep score! Love and serve one another and don't expect anything in return. Be a good listener so you know your spouse's needs. I love this quote, given by a prophet of God:
“True love is not so much a matter of romance as it is a matter of anxious concern for the well-being of one's companion.” - Gordon B Hinckley
A good marriage, like anything in life, requires work, effort and constant nourishing, so plan your schedule accordingly! Make your marriage a top priority.
Happy Anniversary Dear! You're the best!