I love, love, love thinking of new date ideas. Sure, I adore going out to fancy dinners with my husband, but in all honesty, we can do that anytime. It’s so much fun for us to think outside the box and go on dates that are new and different for us. And bonus points if we’re making our minds and bodies healthier at the same time!
Sweat it out. Get your mind out of the gutter! I’m talking about the gym! Make a date with your significant other to get your sweat on a the gym. Spot each other as you lift weights, do some cardio side-by-side, and then when you’re done, treat yourself to a smoothie.
Head to the farmer’s market. Ahh, one of my and my husband’s favorite things to do together! Schedule an early Saturday morning date at the farmer’s market to enjoy the warmer temps, get some fresh air, and snag some delicious, healthy grub. Bonus points if you score some yummy produce to make dinner with that evening for your second date of the day! (Another one of our favorite things to do!)
Take a garden tour. Now that the weather is starting to warm up, schedule a tour of a local garden for you and your spouse. Enjoy the fresh air, admire the new blooms, and then get your energy back at a local coffee shop.
Take a hike. No…literally. Pack a picnic for just the two of you (I won’t tell if you sneak in a bottle or two of wine) and go hiking at one of your favorite locations, or a new-to-you trail! Once you’re done and have worked up an appetite, find a spot to enjoy a picnic together.
Head to the dog park. Grab your pups and head to the dog park for a fun-filled day of play, fetch, and walks! Your sweet fur babies will thank you, too.
Now if you’ll excuse me…I have a picnic to pack.
Oh, weekend mornings, I adore you so. There are few things better than waking up and knowing I have absolutely nothing on my plate for the next 48 or so hours (except, perhaps, some tidying around the house, but if I stay on top of that during the week, there’s even very little of that needed!).
I’m a big fan of most mornings, not just weekend mornings, which means weekend mornings are that much sweeter. And when shared with a spouse? Well, you’ve got a recipe for pure bliss!
A dollop of coffee. This is important, you guys! My quiet coffee ritual is my absolute favorite of each and every day. Even if you’re not a coffee drinker, find a leisurely way to enjoy those quiet few moments each morning…especially on the weekends!
A dash of yoga pants and messy hair. What would mornings be without this luxurious duo? I’m a poster child for yoga pants and messy hair, so on Saturday morning, you’ll find me quietly sipping my espresso all decked out in my best yoga pants and a horrifically messy top-knot.
A splash of brunch. Did someone say brunch?? Be still my heart…my favorite meal of all time! Whether we plan on a late brunch out at some of our favorite local joints or we cook brunch at home together, my husband and I are a huge fan of brunch (he even mentioned it in his wedding vows to me, but that’s a story for another day).
A side of hilarious husband. What’s coffee, brunch, yoga pants, and messy hair without some major fits of laughter mixed in? There’s nothing I love more than my husband making me laugh with his witty jokes and unending stories.
Mix them all together and you’ve got the absolute best leisurely weekend morning around! Oh, I am so looking forward to this exact scenario tomorrow morning! If you need me anytime between 8am-noon, you know just where to find me…
I hesitated about writing this post. 99.9% of the time, in the wedding industry, we read about how absolutely blissful marriage is. About how we should love our spouses well and honor them. And all of those things are true – oh, so true! My husband and I are coming up on our five year anniversary and I am still in the blissful stage – and hope I never leave it!
But when you’re immersed in the wedding industry where engagement and marriage are rosy and sweet and charming, you can sometimes feel like the odd person out when you’re feeling frustrated with your spouse. Believe me, friend, you are not alone! When you are spending hours upon hours and days upon days with one person for all of eternity, you are bound to get frustrated with one another!
Communication is key. Just like any other aspect of your marriage, communication is so important when you and your spouse have differing opinions. Be open, honest, and willing to listen, too. Don’t talk for the sake of talking, but talk so that it moves the conversation forward so you can come to an agreement quicker.
Know and understand your arguing patterns. Some of you may feel it’s best to walk away from a disagreement for a little while, but some of you may want to nip it in the bud right away and get back to your normal routine. And you and your spouse may just have opposing views on that, too. Understand and respect each other’s patterns and decide before disagreements occur how you’ll compromise on finding a solution. Will you be okay with handling it right away if you normally prefer to take a breather? Talk these things through (read: communicate!) so you’re on the same page if you do have a disagreement.
Agree that you’re always on the same team. In the end, know and understand that you’re both on the same team and are working towards the same ultimate goal of a happy, fulfilling marriage. Think about whether or not your disagreement is really worth arguing about. Bring your conversations full-circle and remind one another what it is you love about each other and your marriage and move past it.
I know there’s so much more complexity involved in each individual relationship, and that some disagreements dig deeper than others, but for the most part if you agree to remain open with one another, and communicate clearly, you’ll be able to move past your disagreements much quicker and build a stronger bond between the two of you in the long run.
You may be cringing at the thought of shelling out thousands of dollars on a honeymoon immediately after shelling out thousands of dollars on the wedding of your dreams. Or you may just have no desire to travel for from home and just want to spend some quiet time as husband and wife, no matter where you are. Either way, there are so many great, more affordable alternatives to the extravagant honeymoon destinations that are just as fun and romantic!
Your own city. Yep, you read that right. Be a tourist in your own city for a week! Get a hotel room, map out the restaurants you’ve always wanted to try, museums others seem to enjoy that you take for granted, and the side streets you’ve never really thought twice about. Tour your own hometown for the week, enjoy being married, and don’t worry about breaking the bank either! Not only will it be a refreshing vacation “away”, but it will also shed new light on the city or town you may have been taking for granted. My husband and I have done this on three separate occasions already (one was the two nights following our wedding!) and we’ve made some of the best memories on these excursions.
A state-pride road trip. Wanting to venture a little further than your own hometown? Map out the places in your own state you’ve always wanted to visit, and take a mini road trip throughout your home state! It can be across the state, or just a few areas close by – it’s your call! You’ll see your own state has so much to offer outside your hometown, without breaking the bank! And you’ll get to enjoy a little QT as newlyweds along the way. (Another trip some of our favorite memories started with – mini road trips with no schedule or care in the world!)
Home sweet home. Really wanting to have a great honeymoon, but just don’t have the budget for it right now? There are millions of ways to create your own honeymoon right in your own home. Take the week off work, order takeout from your favorite restaurants, load up on movies you’ve been waiting to watch, plan a board game night with prizes for the winner….the possibilities are endless! The only restrictions? You must turn off the internet, home phone, and not worry one second about any cleaning or laundry that needs to be done! Pretend you’re in a hotel room for the week and take advantage of all the amenities this hotel has to offer! (And if you need ideas for how to make this feel like a honeymoon…I’ve got your back, just shoot me an email! As much as we love to travel, my husband and I are also the king and queen of vacationing in our own home!).
I’m sure you think I’m crazy, but I promise you this could set a new precedent for your future vacations! You may want to start taking one or two vacations a year in your own home after your honeymoon!
Photo by Caroline Lima | Styled by Amanda Day Rose
My absolute favorite part of wedding design is the marriage that comes afterwards! We create these amazingly spectacular events, centered around those who love us most and the heartfelt details that make us who we are all as a beautiful prologue to marriage.
To me, it’s so important that those blissful days during your engagement and as newlyweds last forever, not just during this special season in your life!
So now that we’re well into a fresh new year, I want you and your spouse/fiancé/significant other to think about something…and hopefully turn it into an activity you can communicate to one another and share throughout the year! I want you to think about the ways you can honor your vows and commitment to one another every single week (and day, hour, minute!) of the year. Make them personal to you as a couple so they are even more meaningful! Celebrate your unique relationship and personalities. Share the commitment you plan to honor in the coming week with your spouse and communicate about the previous week’s commitment to one another. Communication is key when it comes to fulfilling marriages, y’all, and what better way to strengthen this bond than by sharing the most special vows with one another every single week?
When my husband and I tied the knot almost 5 years ago, I honestly had not even considered the idea of meal planning. As a result, we dined out more nights than we cooked at home. I had no idea how to properly grocery shop and often got frustrated at the grocery store. And then I got frustrated again when I had to throw perishable food away later in the week because it spoiled and I never used it.
These days, though, meal planning is a standard part of our week. In fact, I’ve come to enjoy planning our meals each week. Not only are we saving money, but I also have a very specific list when grocery shopping, making the entire trip much more focused and enjoyable.
Even if you hate cooking and don’t spend much time in the kitchen, I encourage you to try meal planning. Plan meals you know you’ll be comfortable (and enjoy!) cooking. Keep the whole process easy on yourself so you don’t get overwhelmed or frustrated. Who knows…you may end up enjoying your time in the kitchen!
Set aside a dedicated block of time every weekend. I prefer to do my meal planning on Sunday mornings, but pick a time and day that works best for your schedule. Keep in mind you’ll want to do your grocery shopping after planning your meals for the week, so make sure you meal plan in plenty of time to shop for the week, too. I spend about 30 minutes each Sunday jotting down each night’s dinner, a list of items to have on hand for breakfast and lunches, and then I create a grocery list based off our meals for the week.
Prep your food after grocery shopping. If at all possible, prep any foods for the week you can ahead of time. For instance, wash and dry all your fruits and vegetables, bake any protein you plan to use, and place individual portions of items in Ziploc bags or tupperware to quickly grab for breakfast or lunch.
Take the week’s schedule into account. If you know you’ll be late returning home on night, plan to have extra leftovers from the night before ready or put your slow cooker to use. This will ensure you’re using the food you’ve paid for and not deciding to order takeout because you’re starving and haven’t even thought about dinner.
Buy bulk items and prepare them differently throughout the week. Bulk items are often going to be cheaper than smaller quantities. Buy in bulk and prepare the same foods in different ways throughout the week to save money. So you don’t get bored with the same foods, switch up which bulk items you get each week.
Plan meals around your coupons. If you’re a coupon clipper, check your coupons before planning your meals. Plan meals around the coupons you’ve clipped to save money on your grocery bill.
Buy what’s in season. For produce, stick with items that are currently in season in your area. Seasonal items are much fresher, taste better, and are cheaper than out-of-season produce.
Leave room for leftovers. This is a new tip I’ve just recently learned after weeks and weeks of meal planning. I found I was still wasting money by buying excess food we weren’t eating and throwing away. We have leftover food two or three nights a week, so I always build in one or two days each week that I don’t plan to prepare dinner. On those nights, we have leftovers or I turn our leftovers into a new meal. Another option is to have leftovers for lunch and you won’t have to plan any lunch items during your meal planning session each week!
For long-term couples and married couples, Valentine’s Day can sometimes feel like one of those last minute “What are we supposed to do?” holidays. I, admittedly, never really know if we should celebrate it or not, because I love my husband fully and completely every day, and we share so many fun adventures together throughout the entire year. But it is really fun to do something a little different on Valentine’s Day as a couple, even if it’s as simple as staying in and ordering takeout.
Pack a backyard picnic. Pack up your favorite bottle of wine, a favorite meal, some disposable utensils and a few candles and head to your backyard for a romantic evening “out”!
Plan a game night. Grab you and your significant other’s favorite cocktails, a few easy appetizers (crackers, cheese, fruit, vegetables, and sliced chicken are a great start!) and pick out 2 or 3 favorite board games. Turn the electronics off, and enjoy spending time together without any distractions!
Cook an elaborate four-course meal together. If you both enjoy spending time in the kitchen, research some really amazing, elaborate recipes together ahead of time, pick up the ingredients the day before, and spend time in the kitchen creating a gourmet meal to share.
Put your dreams on paper. Order your favorite takeout, grab a pen and a notepad, and plan out the rest of the year’s dreams together. Where do you want to travel, what goals do you want to accomplish, what adventures do you want to have together? Write them all down, pick out your top three, and start putting an action plan in place to make them happen.
Settle in for a movie marathon. Pop some popcorn, change into comfy PJs, grab a few beers, and take turns popping your all-time favorite movies into the DVD player.
Get all gussied up for a date night in. Put on your Sunday best, set the dining room table with your finest china and some candles, turn on some music, and invite your significant other to join you for dinner. Whether it’s leftovers, takeout, or a gourmet home-cooked meal, enjoy the quiet time together!
Watch the stars. Grab a few cozy blankets and head outside to watch the stars and share your dreams together. Leave the electronics inside and enjoy the night sky and each other!
Plan a coffee date. Grab some extra-good coffee, some gourmet muffins and chocolate, a couple of good books and spend the morning (or evening!) curled up together sharing coffee, sweet treats, and a good book together.
Whether you prefer an elaborate date night or a laid-back evening in, I hope you enjoy spending a little extra quality time with the one you love most!
Yep, you read that right. Just ONE THING helps keep the clutter in our home at bay. Now let me also follow that up with a little disclaimer – we do still have plenty of messes and clutter in our home (who doesn’t?), but my personal pet peeve are the little things lying around that you just have no clue what to do with and can’t find a home for. You know those things I’m talking about? Tape dispensers. Scissors. Safety pins. Extra dog leashes. Batteries. The list goes on and on.
Oh, and then you know how annoying it is when you can’t find two AA batteries to save your life because you have no idea where you put them, so you buy more at the store, only to find an economy-size box of AA batteries as soon as you get home? Drives. Me. Bananas. That’s where this one product comes into play and will save you money and trips to the store for duplicate items forever!
A canvas shoe tote.
That’s right, folks. Who knew a canvas shoe tote could be so brilliant? I have to admit, this was not originally my idea. My husband and I were visiting friends of ours and my husband needed a pair of scissors and they told him to check behind the pantry door – and there it was in all it’s glorified brilliance. A canvas shoe tote filled with all of those little knick knacks you’ll ever need. We keep ours behind our bedroom door, and you could actually get multiples if you wanted to keep one in a guest bedroom for guest toiletries and items they may forget, too!
We have a lot of little knick knacks in our house, and it’s such a breath of fresh air to now know exactly where those things are, and that they have a proper home (my rule of thumb is, if it fits in a shoe compartment in the tote, that’s it’s new home). We haven’t even filled ours halfway up yet, either!
So if you ever come to our house and need AA batteries, AAA batteries, Scotch tape, packing tape, scissors, safety pins, glue, an extra phone or laptop cord, a dog collar, miniature lightbulbs, a new phone case, pens and pencils, paintbrushes, or miniature wrenches…just check behind the master bedroom door.
So you’re newly married, settled into your home together, and thinking you may want to adopt a dog as the next stage in your life. Does this sound like you? Well first of all, bless your heart. As a mama to three sweet, hilarious fur babies, I know firsthand the perks of pet-parenthood. But believe me, y’all, there are also some cons to pet ownership, too, so today I’m going to be really honest with you about both the pros and cons to help you make an informed decision!
Does my and/or my spouse’s schedule have room for a dog?
If both you and your spouse have busy professions outside the home and are away for more than 4-6 hours during any given time, it may not be the best time for you to adopt a pet…unless you’re willing to shell out a little cash for your fur baby to go to doggy day care (which is totally fun, too, by the way). If, however, you work close enough to come home and take breaks, or one of you is home at least every 4 hours or so, it may be a good opportunity for you to add a furry friend to the mix!
Do my spouse and I have the time (and energy!) to train a dog to fit our lifestyle?
Training a dog is serious work, y’all. It takes plenty of time, patience, and energy. I don’t have kids of my own, but I imagine the beginning stages of bringing a dog into your home are not much different from bringing a baby into your home, quite honestly. Younger dogs require frequent potty breaks, often have to eat more times throughout the day, and really need plenty of playtime and attention so they are constant balls of energy. Properly training a pet requires putting them on a schedule that fits your lifestyle and strictly maintaining that schedule for several months, if not longer. We’ve trained, raised, and owned many dogs over the years, so we have learned a training routine that works best for us, but if you’re new to pet-parenthood, you’ll need to research training techniques ahead of time. If you don’t feel this is something you have the time or energy to do right now, it might be best to wait. On the other hand, if you’re ready to take on this adventure and don’t mind sticking to a puppy schedule in the coming months, now may be a great time to adopt!
Can our current living conditions comfortably accommodate a pet?
If you’re currently living in an apartment with little to no yard access, you may consider waiting until you have more space for your dog to play. It’s not, however, a deal breaker if you’re willing to walk your dog frequently and/or take them to a dog park for plenty of playtime! You’ll also want to make sure there’s plenty of space inside your home for your dog to relax comfortably.
Can we even afford it at this time in our lives?
While it may seem like adopting a dog is not a financial investment, it absolutely is! Dogs require routine vet visits (especially as a puppy), check-ups, and shots that aren’t always cheap. They also require toys to keep them entertained (believe me, you don’t want a bored dog in your home!), flea and tick medication, crates/beds, and food as some of their basic necessities. These items add up quickly, so if you don’t feel financially sound already, I can guarantee adding a pet to your family isn’t going to make it any better!
Can we provide a good home for a dog?
If you answered “Yes!” to all of these questions, you just may be seeing a sweet furry friend in your future. Now is the time to really communicate with your spouse about whether or not this is something both of you want, and if you’re both willing to provide a loving, comfortable environment for your dog. As a mom to three dogs right now, I know first-hand that they have the sweetest, funniest, most caring personalities if you treat them with love and respect.
My three babies; Kip (shown above), Bridget (shown below), and Buckley (our newest baby, shown at the very bottom) bring so much job to my life every day, so if you’re ready, I promise you won’t regret taking the plunge! And if/when you do adopt, send me all the pup photos to “ooh” and “aah” over all day long!
Marriage is fun. I love being a devoted wife to my husband who is constantly encouraging me, supporting me, nudging me to continuously grow and learn, and cheering me on. (Not to mention putting up with my crazy antics and horrendous singing that only he gets to experience because I’m a textbook introvert.) I love that every evening feels like a school-night sleepover and that my morning routine includes my best friend by my side (even if I’m not quite ready to talk before my coffee).
And while marriage does involve a little work (hello, anything you do with another human being involves a little work – not everyone thinks, feels, and acts just like you!), continuously communicating your expectations will make it seem like almost all fun and very little work.
While I can’t tell you exactly what expectations to communicate (that’s something you need to think about for yourself and your marriage), I can help get your wheels turning on communicating marriage expectations.
Household duties. If an outsider were to see my husband I taking care of the household chores, they would probably be really confused by the convoluted ways we work together. But it works for us, and is a system we’ve managed to (almost) perfect over the years. Consider communicating who will be responsible for various household chores so you’re not resenting your partner down the road for something they had no idea you wanted them to do.
Children. While you’re probably already aware that it’s extremely important to discuss whether or not you plan to have children (likely something you’ll discuss before you say “I do!”), it’s also important to communicate when you would like to grow your family, if kids are in the cards for you. Down the road, as you continue communicating your expectations, you’ll also want to consider your children’s education experience and how you’d like them to be raised.
Communication. It seems a little silly to communicate about communication, doesn’t it? But believe me, it’s not. You may want to discuss how you’ll address conflicts, if it takes you more than one cup of coffee before you’re willing to even say “Good morning”, and even your personality traits with regard to communication. An introvert like myself will certainly not want to chit-chat as much or as often as an extrovert. Making sure your spouse understands these traits will help them understand when you need some quiet time or (for extroverts) when you need to chat away.
Spirituality. I highly recommend discussing religion and spirituality with your partner. This is a line of communication you’ll likely want to keep open indefinitely as your relationship with spirituality grows and strengthens. Discuss how your spirituality will affect decisions throughout your life and how you plan to practice your beliefs.
Friendships. What better companion to discuss friendship with than your best friend? Consider discussing how often you’d like to spend time with friends away from your spouse. If you’d like to see your girlfriends every weekend, but your spouse’s expectations are much different, you could be setting yourself up for conflict sooner than you think. You also may want to discuss what activities are within reason when you’re out with friends.
Major purchases. Keep the lines of communication open when it comes to major purchases. This will ensure you’re on the same page financially, but it will also help you negotiate and communicate with salespeople who are pushing you to purchase a higher end countertop for that new kitchen, or a fancier car you’ve already told your spouse was just not necessary for your household.
Continuously keeping the lines of communication open in your marriage is just one way to help set your marriage up for success. Be open to hearing your spouse’s point of view, clearly communicate your expectations, and understand that you’re on the same team! If you keep that in mind, your marriage will win every time.
Let me tell you a little story. When my husband and I first got married, I didn’t know a single thing about gardening. I was a horrible cook (unless you asked for spaghetti!) and the thought of growing my own produce seemed really daunting to me. We spent our honeymoon in Spain, and I was in awe of all of the beautiful, fresh food we were easily able to get our hands on, and how easy it looked to prepare. Both my husband and I came home with a sense of energy about gardening, growing our own food, and using our own food to prepare meals. That’s honestly how we became interested in gardening.
A few months after we got married, we bought our first home together, and that spring we planted our first garden. I was instantly hooked. I checked my garden every single day (I still do to this day – I’m always amazed at watching how the plants grow and change every day) and gave it the TLC it needed. That first year, I learned what vegetables I was good at growing and what vegetables I should probably just purchase from the farmer’s market. I learned what I should grow more of because I love to eat it, and what I probably didn’t need to grow at all, even if I was good at it. I also learned that I really didn’t need to plant an entire bed of herbs because, y’all, herbs grow like weeds and I had way more cilantro, basil, mint, and oregano than I knew what to do with!
Gardening started off as just that for me – a hobby that I could use to lower my grocery bill and eat more fresh produce without batting an eye.
Since then, though, gardening has planted a much bigger seed in my heart than I could have ever thought possible. God really does work in mysterious ways, doesn’t He?
The art of gardening has taught me:
I’m sure you’re thinking…”Seriously? How in the world can you learn that just from planting a few tomatoes?” Believe me, if you had asked me that a few years ago, I would have wondered the exact same thing. It’s taken a lot of soul-searching and contemplating, but I honestly can’t imagine my marriage without the concepts of gardening in it anymore.
Beginning in just a few short weeks, I’ll begin sharing stories here from other couples who have used the concepts of gardening in their marriage and they didn’t even know it! You might already be doing some of these concepts in your own relationship! I’ll also be sending out weekly activities and discussion questions to email subscribers throughout the month of August to show you exactly how you can use the concepts of gardening to strengthen and nourish your own marriage, and I hope you’ll join me! Happy and fulfilled marriages aren’t always easy (hello, overtime hours, kids activities, and endless loads of laundry!), but they are so worth it and you and your spouse are so deserving of a fulfilling marriage.
So, I feel like I need to give you a little backstory on how this idea came to fruition. I was chatting with a sweet client of mine, Sarah…(Actually, I think we were probably drinking a glass of wine and talking about food, but…details). We were joking about how all it would take to have a happy marriage is a cookie from Sweet Bella Bakery every day. (It’s true. Her cookies not only look amazing, but taste amazing, too!). Of course we thought it was hilarious and only partially true.
But then it made me start thinking. If all it takes is a cookie to make me (and sweet Ms. Sarah) happy, than happy marriages really are sometimes just comprised of the small gestures we often overlook, right?
For example, nothing makes me happier than when my husband makes the bed, or surprises me with a nice bottle of wine, or folds the laundry, or tells me he thinks I look beautiful. Those are such simple gestures that really go a long way. They are also gestures I (and probably you) sometimes take for granted.
Whether your in a committed relationship, engaged, or have been married for 50 years, let’s start the movement of #100daysofhappymarriage. Each day, for 100 days (or as often as you can!), on social media (you can find mine on Instagram and Facebook) post a photo or write a sweet, simple moment or gesture your spouse did for you that day and watch those tiny gestures build up in big ways. And once the first 100 days are over, do it again and again! The second-best part (the first being having a happy marriage and recognizing all those tiny gestures, obviously) is that you can get ideas for small, simple gestures your spouse or significant other will appreciate, just by searching the tag #100daysofhappymarriage on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!
Today my husband and I celebrate our 4 year anniversary. It’s crazy how it seems like the time flies by in just a blink of an eye. I still remember our wedding day like it was yesterday! I thought and thought about how I wanted to honor or wedding and, even more, our marriage. I debated posting about the lessons I’ve learned in our marriage. But in 4 years, we’re still learning new things about one another and our marriage every single day. I don’t think that will ever end – I hope we’re always growing and learning together.
Then I thought about how much our marriage has changed over the years. When I was planning our wedding and how we would celebrate our love together, I was so focused on planning that one special day. But that was just the beginning of our life together. It was just the beginning of many special days together. Now that I realize that, I clearly see all the ways our marriage has changed in the past 4 years.
I couldn’t imagine going on this journey through life with anyone else, and I’m so grateful for the changes in our marriage. The day we got married, I never imagined I could learn more, love more, or be more – but I’m learning every single day that those things will never stop progressing.
Last week, I shared with you my mom’s wisdom and advice on marriage and love after 42 years together. Today I’m excited to share with you my dad’s story, and take a trip down memory lane through their marriage! I’m so lucky to have parents who are amazing role models for my own marriage, and hope these insights resonate with you as you begin to plan your happily-ever-after together!
I met my wife, Rhonda, in elementary school at the sweet age of 6, but she first caught my eye in 1966 when we were in 6th grade. At the time, I lived only 3 miles from her, and I thought of her often. She had a very well-known family, so I was too shy to approach her. I never got up the courage to say “hi” at all throughout middle school.
In high school, I joined the football team, where I met and became good friends with Rhonda’s brother. Her brother and I began hanging out almost every day after school, and eventually Rhonda began joining us. Before you know it, I was asking her out…without her brother. By the end of our senior year in 1973, Rhonda and I were seeing each other every night. That June, we were engaged and we married on December 29, 1973 at the age of 18. We were young, and it wasn’t a long engagement, but at the time I felt like I had known her and loved her my whole life.
In 1976, while both working full-time, Rhonda and I built our first home together and had our first beautiful daughter. Once our house was completed, we decided to both go back to college at night as we both continued to work full-time during the day. Life was busy for us, and the years began to fly by in the blink of an eye.
In 1982, we both decided I would quit work so I could finish school and get my degree as soon as possible. Later that year — the very last day of 1982 — we had our second beautiful daughter. For the next 2 years, my sweet wife had a full time job and took care of both of our little ones so I could concentrate on my studies and get my degree. Hard work but she never complained – that’s real love!
1984 was a big change for us. I graduated from college and was immediately offered a position in Richmond, Virginia. How in the world was a young couple – who both grew up in a tiny rural Southern town – supposed to relocate to a “big city” like Richmond? With a toddler and a 6-year old in tow! I thought I had really accomplished something by finishing college and getting a great job in a “big city” but I knew leaving our families would be hard for Rhonda. My sweet wife amazed me by saying ‘yes I’ll go’, and she continued to amaze me throughout the relocation process, too – making me love her more. She got a great job right away, and began moving up the corporate ladder quickly. All while finishing college at night and making time for all the activities little girls get involved in. I don’t know where she got all that energy!
Fast forward to today. This December we will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary. The girls are both married and have families of their own now. We have both worked since we were 16 and are now retired from the corporate world. We still stay busy with the hobbies and tasks that inspire us. My wife has found her passion for helping others since retiring. She’s always been interested in helping those in need, but her passion has really flourished since retirement. Rhonda has been there for others in their last moments of life and continuously helps raise funds for those in need. She is also always there when needed for our grandchildren. I don’t even try to keep up with her on most days! These things make me love her more every day.
Even after all these years, I can’t imagine spending my time with anyone else. We simply enjoy being together and never get tired of spending time together. She will always be my sweetheart, my best friend, and my “business partner.” I love her as much now – and more – than I did the first time I kissed her.
I’m so excited to share today’s post with y’all! Today’s post comes from my wonderful mom, sharing wisdom and marriage advice after being married for 42 years. She and my dad married at the young age of 18 (right out of high school!), so she has so many great ideas to share with you! Enjoy!
It’s hard to believe that my husband and I will celebrate our 42nd wedding anniversary in December. It seems like such a short time ago we were planning our wedding and dreaming of all the things we would do together. Our love has carried through countless situations – some happy, and some sad. But most importantly, we’ve weathered the good times and the bad together.
I look in the mirror and am sometimes surprised at my reflection. Years have passed and I have changed. But in my heart and mind, I am still that crazy-in-love-18-year-old-girl who married the ‘man of my dreams’!
After almost 42 years, I’ve learned a few things about love and relationships. Some of these things are not new for many couples, but they are certainly worth repeating.
Love is so beautiful. The passion and love you feel with a first kiss is indescribable. But intimacy comes in so many unexpected ways as your love grows – the profound love you experience with the brush of your spouse’s hand, a quick kiss on the cheek that causes a tingle, or just a familiar loving glance. Over the years, our love has grown. The roots are deep and solid and we have a comfort in knowing that we love each other unconditionally. But being ‘comfortable’ does not mean we take each other for granted. The love we experience today is so much richer, deeper, and wider than it was years ago. It reaches into the depths of our souls and we are truly ‘one’. Being able to experience love on so many levels is truly a gift that has kept us together and always will. And when you love someone so intensely who loves you back the same way – it’s truly a gift!
My husband and I were both raised in Christian homes. At the young age of 18, we were totally in love and we didn’t give a lot of thought to our faith, or even talk about how it would impact our future. But over the years, our spiritual growth has led us to unfathomable heights of joy and happiness. Bible study that was once a private time for each of us, has become a time of sharing and discussing our beliefs together. It has strengthened our faith and our marriage. It has allowed us to glimpse inside each others soul in a way that nothing else can do. Sharing our faith and beliefs openly has helped us weather storms in life, and see more joy and happiness than we ever thought possible.
Nothing compares to being parents. Three years after we were married, our first daughter was born and soon we welcomed a second sweet baby girl. Being parents is the most exciting, fulfilling, rewarding experience you can imagine. Oh, sure there are some difficult times. And we were there together to handle those too. We love being parents and now grandparents. We adore our daughters and their children. Raising our children together brought us closer than we ever were before. Seeing my husband as a loving father made me love him even more. And when our nest became empty, we created a new life and kept moving ahead together. If not for our love and the fact that we like being together, it would have been much more difficult to find ourselves empty-nesters. Of course, being BFF’s (‘best friends forever’) is also a bonus.
No one makes me laugh like my husband. He knows exactly how to do it. A phrase, a word, a memory, a face, or a funny story has tears streaming down my face. At night when we get in bed, he’ll often come up with the most ridiculously funny story and we laugh for what seems like eternity. We often laugh and others aren’t quite sure why – but it’s those little things you know about each other after 42 years that make the simplest comments become hilarious. And yes, he makes me laugh at the most inopportune times!
My husband and I share feelings of gratitude for so much. We are so grateful for two beautiful daughters who are gifts from heaven. We are grateful for the families they have established, and we are grateful for the career opportunities, personal relationships, and wonderful life we live. We are grateful for the faith we share, the dreams we share, and the happiness we experience daily. We often share our thoughts on gratitude and remind each other how blessed we are. It sounds like a simple thing, but it is so powerful in our lives. Hearing your spouse verbalize all the things he is grateful for is a reminder of how two lives intertwined are such a gift. And expressing gratitude is one more way to express love.
You can imagine that 42 years have not passed without a single disagreement (or two)! But what’s so special about being married to someone you truly love is that you are able to forgive and even forget. Whether I’m the one asking forgiveness, or the one forgiving him for something he’s done or said, it’s all about being open, honest, and forgiving. Even after 42 years together, it’s still important to say “I’m sorry” when I do something to upset him and he does the same. We take nothing for granted and are always willing to forgive – or ask forgiveness. While most people obsess over things other people do to hurt them in life, it’s different with the person you love the most. Forgiveness is a gift we give each other – AND ourselves.
You would think that after 42 years, acts of kindness would be few. But in our lives, it’s quite the opposite. My husband is the kindest person I know. He still opens my car door, carries the grocery bags, or holds my hand to steady me walking in the snow. He awakens me each morning with a cup of coffee by my bedside, helps with all household chores, unexpectedly fills my car with gas, and considers me before making any plans of his own. When he traveled with his job, I wrote notes and tucked them in his suit pockets and briefcase where he would find them. I prefer a heavier blanket on the bed than he does, so I make our bed with a light cover and spread an extra blanket only on my side each night. It’s these little acts of kindness that continuously bind us together and make our love stronger.
There are no words to describe the depths of my husband’s heart when it comes to giving. He wants to help so many people. His generosity and caring for other people are one of the things that make me love him more every day. As we have gotten older, giving has become a tremendous part of our lives together. Our experience of giving to others has strengthened our marriage and made us happier than we would be otherwise. It’s through giving that we get so much! Giving comes in the form of money, acts of kindness, help with a problem, and even a word of encouragement. It’s a natural extension of who we are as individuals and as a couple.
Yes, 42 years sounds like a long time to newlyweds, but it seems like the blink of an eye to us. Every day together still gets better and better. And to all of those who said “it wouldn’t last” when we married at the young age of 18, keep watching! The best is yet to come.
Today I’m sharing something with you that may seem so completely obvious, but hear me out, okay? I know there are a billion and one ways to love your spouse – and many of them are only ways that you can love your spouse, in a very specific way. But sometimes life gets busy and complicated and stressful, and we forget to show our spouse just how much we love them with our day-to-day activities.
Here are 25 easy ways to love your spouse. My hope is that some of these will be new to you and you can begin implementing them into your own marriage right away.
I love date night, even after 4 years of marriage. I look forward to it every time my husband and I plan one together. My favorite date night idea? The ones where we stay home and I can hang in my yoga pants and messy hair. Sure, I love getting all dolled up occasionally, but there’s really nothing better than spending the evening with my best friend in yoga pants (that may or may not have bleach stains on them…) and hair that may or may not have been brushed that day…and he still loves me and wants to spend the evening with me. If that’s not true love, I don’t know what is.
We don’t even have expectations for a fancy dinner, either, so there’s no stress of cooking. Our favorite date night meal is throwing together a tray of cheeses, veggies (bonus points if they were picked from our garden just hours before), crackers, and fruit. Throw in a bottle of wine, and date night is on!
If you want to plan a similar date night this weekend (yoga pants and all), how about throwing in a fun conversation starter game? Have your significant other write a few questions on a small scrap of paper and fold them up (no peeking!) and you do the same. Throw them all in a cup, jar, bowl – whatever is closest to you that you don’t have to go searching for (this is an effortless date night, remember?) and pour yourself a glass of wine. Spend the evening sharing answers to your questions and seeing where the conversation and the evening go. You may just learn a thing or two you never knew about one another!
And if you’re at a loss for question ideas, here are a few to get your wheels turning:
Have fun with this! It’s a fun way to learn more about one another and steer the conversation in a different direction than what you’d typically chat about on date night. Oh, and for real. Take the love languages quiz – my husband and I were surprised at our love languages, and we’ve both made it a point to appeal to the other’s love language ever since we took it! Win-win.
My husband and I will celebrate four years of marriage at the very end of this month. Four years is nothing at all in the grand scheme of things, but we have learned a few lessons along the way. Navigating your marriage isn’t always an easy task (if you’ve ever tried to blend two different decor styles, you know what I mean!). Over the years, we’ve learned to practice these tasks to keep our marriage strong, fulfilling, and happy.
God has always been a part of my and my husband’s relationship. When we first started dating, we would occasionally have conversations about spirituality and God on the surface. You know the conversations I’m talking about – the ones where you talk about the “easy” parts, but you never dig deep enough to really have an intimate conversation. Over the years, we’ve delved more deeply into our spirituality together and have much deeper, meaningful conversations about God. Not only does practicing and discussing spirituality enhance your relationship and your beliefs, but it also brings a more intimate level of meaning to your marriage.
Believe me. There are going to be days when you are overly stressed, tired, anxious, or just plain irritated. It happens to the best of us. Remember that your spouse is in your corner, so when you’re feeling like taking out your stress and anxiety on him or her, take a deep breath and remember to practice kindness. You’ll probably find that many of your anxieties and stressors vanish when you practice kindness with your spouse. And over time, the thought of even taking out your irritation on them will simply disappear.
My husband and I love to travel, try new restaurants, and practice new hobbies. We enjoy doing these things together because it’s time well-spent, we continuously learn about one another (who knew both of us enjoyed anchovies so much!?), and trying something new brings us closer together. Whatever your adventure may be, plan it and experience it together.
I’m not talking about buying each other gifts all the time. I’m talking about practicing giving your spouse your time, attention, and gifts already within you. That’s why you fell in love in the first place, right? Continue to give one another these gifts and you may find that the honeymoon phase of your marriage never goes away.
My husband will be the first to tell you that, as an introvert, he sometimes has to pull, yank, and lasso thoughts and information out of me. It’s not that I don’t want to share these thoughts of mine with him, it’s just that, as an introvert, it’s not in my nature to always share them. I’ve learned over the past few years that it’s important for me to let myself be vulnerable and intentionally share my thoughts with him to strengthen our marriage. In turn, he knows that sometimes it just takes me a little longer to share my thoughts, and he is very patient with me. Those things that make you vulnerable? Share them with your spouse. It’s very freeing.
Sometimes you’ll want to practice adventure, as mentioned above, but there are also those times you’ll want to be still. Enjoy a night at home together. Relish in the quiet hums of your surroundings. Just being with your spouse, without even worrying about conversation, is a joy. Don’t feel like you always have to be on the go or talk about what John told Mary at work today.
It’s no secret that laughing is an instant mood-lifter. My husband is the best at making me laugh – sometimes at inappropriate times. But he knows exactly how to make me laugh and I try really hard to be just as funny as him. Isn’t it funny (no pun intended) how laughing makes you feel closer to a person? Always keep each other laughing and you’ll never get bored.
My husband and I are both small business owners. That means that, at times, we are both completely wrapped up in our work schedules – and not always at the same time. It’s easy to do. Early in our relationship, we just accepted this as reality and were fine with it. But as time went on, something was tugging at our hearts. Why were we making work one of our top priorities when, really, our marriage and family should be at the top of the list? Over time, we’ve practiced walking away from work at the appropriate time to concentrate on nurturing our marriage. I now have set office hours, where I once worked at any random hour during the day or night. I stopped giving my cell phone number to clients and stopped answering (most) emails on the weekend. I love my clients dearly, but I am a much better, calmer, and happier designer and business owner when I put my marriage first. Only good things can come from making your marriage a top priority.