Much like birthdays, anniversaries can become smaller and smaller events as the years go on. The busyness of daily life just takes center stage, leaving these special occasions a bit overlooked for many couples.
But even if a pandemic, financial constraints, or just the chaos of your usual routine make it difficult to go out and celebrate, it’s still so important to rejoice and remember the start of your marriage with your spouse.
To help you reconnect, here are a handful of ways you might find the time to make it an event this year.
1. Watch the first movie you ever saw together. You can browse your DVD collection, streaming services, or digital rental platforms to find it, then settle in on the couch and feel like you’re dating again. Sometimes, this first shared movie will be just as you remember it—but often, you might have a very different perspective on it now than when you first watched. After it ends, talk through these impressions.
2. Write up a family mission statement. Whether you’re a family of two or ten, it all started with your wedding day—so why not make this, your anniversary, a new starting point as well? Sit down together to draft a family mission statement that can help you capture your love and values, and tell the world who you are. It’s a project, but it can be so fruitful.
3. Dress up to stay in. Staying home doesn’t mean you can’t get fancy. If it’s something you or your spouse enjoys, plan to put on your best clothes and get dolled up. You can set a timer on your phone’s camera (or have a family member or neighbor help you out!) to get a great picture, and then you can either get back into comfier outfits or stay fancy for the rest of your evening. It’s a small but effective way to make a day feel special!
4. Go through your storage boxes of old mementos. You probably have boxes somewhere in your home, full of sentimental items from your early years together, wedding gifts you don’t use very often, or things you each brought from your childhood into your shared life. Take an hour or two to peruse them. It’s a fun way to rustle up new memories to share with each other, and reminisce on moments you haven’t thought about in a while.
5. Take turns making each other’s favorite meals. Preparing your spouse’s favorite food is such a simple but significant act of service. Try to plan ahead so one of you can make breakfast, and the other can make dinner—and be sure to serve your spouse’s very favorite things when it’s your turn (without asking them what they want first).
6. Light every candle you can, slow dance to your first song—and then fast-dance to your favorite wedding party songs. Both a dimly lit romantic moment and a playful one, taking some time to share this intimacy and silliness will be a great reminder of why you fell in love and what it was like to be called “man and wife” for the first time.
7. Talk about how your wedding might look different if you planned it right now, with your current tastes and more recent trends. Do you think you’d change anything? Might the venue be bigger, or the food fancier, given your budget and preferences today? Or would you want every detail just the same? There are no wrong answers—your wedding is the start of your marriage, not the heart of it, and you might think another kind of party would appeal to you in your current life stage.
8. Get a large map, and mark all the places you’ve explored together—and where you’d like to visit next. Make it a map of your state, your country, or the whole world. Whatever you do, dream big—but make these dreams as attainable as possible, so you can work toward them instead of only wishing.
9. Pretend you’re writing your marriage memoirs, and think up an appropriate title for each year’s installment in the series. Consider major milestones, look back through photos to spark memories, and try to come up with the words or phrases that define each year of your life together so far. Do you each have different ideas on these, or are you mostly in agreement on what they should be?
10. Think back to what you expected marriage to be, and talk through what you were right and wrong about. Sometimes, these disparities are hilarious: “Did you really think that you would be the one to wake up first every morning?” Other times, they might be more thoughtful. Either way, these reflections will help you remember how it felt to look forward to marriage and all of its promise—a precious feeling every married couple should take care not to forget.
11. Laugh over funny “what if” conversations. What if you had to choose one language for speaking, and a different one for writing and reading? Which would they be and why? What if you had a new baby right now? What would you name him or her? You can find loads of these prompts online. When you’re with your spouse all the time, it might feel like you’ve talked about everything—until you ask him something like, “What if you woke up tomorrow and, instead of using spoken language, everyone just acted out popular GIFs to express their thoughts?”
12. Share one way your spouse has helped make you a better person. It is the great duty of marriage to help our spouses get to Heaven. Give them the gift of pointing out how they’re fulfilling this great and holy task. Bonus points if you take an extra minute to get vulnerable and share where you’d like help next—taking care to refrain from criticism, whether or not they return the gesture.
13. Recall some of the other weddings you’ve attended since yours and discuss what you loved most about them. What did you think about witnessing marriages as a married couple, and how was it a different experience than when you were single? What family weddings have been the most fun to attend? These are family-building events, and it’s such a delight to think of your extended family in your anniversary musings.
14. Discuss lessons you’ve learned about marriage from the example of other couples. What are some qualities you admire in your parents’, grandparents’, friends’, or siblings’ marriages? With this in mind, what are some things that help you take pride in your marriage when chatting with these loved ones? And what do you hope to teach your own children, grandchildren, friends, and siblings about married life?
15. Create something together to help you mark the occasion. Can you work on a puzzle, a paint-by-numbers, a couple of simple paintings, or a collage together? It doesn’t have to be something you hang up or display, but it could be a fun project to share between just the two of you—and something to put in your box of mementos to make activity #4 more interesting next year.