Stoking the Home Fires

It’s officially my anniversary month. In a few weeks, I’ll have been married for five whole years.  This seems at the same time to be totally normal and obvious, and yet completely implausible. I made a good choice. Of all the things I’m proud of, I’m proudest of my marriage.

So, in honor of five years, I’m sharing five things that I do to work on my marriage every week (er, month?). I’m human, y’all.

  1. Kiss Every Day: The Gottman Institute on marriage calls it the 6 second kiss. It’s the kiss that you want to come home to. The kiss that goes long enough to make your hairs stand up. It’s not a chaste peck. It is a powerful connection. We kiss every single day. We kiss hello, and we kiss goodbye, and on really good days we make out in between. When the kiss doesn’t last six seconds, I know something is wrong. I measure the weather by this daily ritual.
  2. Go to bed together (mostly): This is a hard one. I know what you’ll say, but I’ll come back with this: when you don’t go to bed together, you miss out on a large part of intimacy with your partner. Particularly during the early parenting days, when there seems to be so little time to slow down for a beat and just touch, I think that going to bed together, canoodling, snuggling, spooning, whatever you want to call it, before you go to sleep, is very important. It won’t work every night, but we try to prioritize going to bed together, particularly during busy weeks.
  3. You are who you’re friends with: Another hard one. Spend time with people with bad habits, bad attitudes toward each other, different attitudes toward marriage or love, and/or destructive behaviors like infidelity, and you are putting your marriage at risk. We make a concerted effort to be friends with couples like us- who plan to stay married forever, fight fair, forgive easily, and don’t tear each other down.
  4. Daily acts of service:  I plan to be married for my lifetime to the same man, so I’d like it to be great. Not just good. Greatness doesn’t just happen.  Marriages don’t wait for kids to be gone, and life to be free and easy. You have to nurture your marriage daily, so that it is there for you when you need it to be. This looks like lots of acts of service in the day-to-day. This year, I surprised my husband on the first day of college football season with a basket of things for Game Days (a smoker cookbook, growlers of his favorite beer, a new t-shirt.) Yesterday, I made his favorite breakfast. I carve out time for him to work out on the weekends because I know he won’t take that time for himself. I surprise him with a new and perfect bourbon cocktail.  It doesn’t have to be grand, but it adds up. Find out what love language you each speak, and become fluent.
  5. Commit to quality time alone: In the day to day, this means that I always make sure we talk about our days and check-in with each other. We have a date night out of the house about every two weeks. Annually, we take a trip away, just us, no matter what (on our anniversary). I have heard every excuse in the book for why people don’t have babysitters, but I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: your marriage won’t wait for your kids to grow up and leave the house. Budget concerns? Trade sleep sitting with another family. Caregiver concerns? Care.com has made those almost obsolete. Always putting it off? I’ve met you 10,000 times. Your partner misses you and wishes you’d plan a “playdate” for him. Trust me. Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Bump in the road? Cluster feeding infant? Health or money problems? Carve out time in the evening – take a bath, open a bottle of wine, burn a candle, play a board game, put down your phone, agree on something to watch, talk about the things you used to talk about. Stop making excuses.

Ok, I’m off to make-out with my husband. Stay tuned for more marriage musings this month. xo

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