A guide to strengthening your union daily, weekly, monthly and annually.
The well-known marriage therapist William Doherty once said that there are strong forces in the modern world capable of pulling any of us in any direction; therefore, we must decide whether we will choose to make a U-turn or allow ourselves to go wherever the current takes us. For him, the key to success is “being intentional about the rituals in our family life.”
Having a marriage calendar can do just that. It allows couples to spend quality time that will lead them to create and fill their lives with great memories which, in turn, become an important means of caring for their married love.
When couples incorporate into their lives daily, weekly, monthly, and annual dates and special times as a couple, these scheduled “rituals” become key to keeping their marriage strong as they become ever more united and committed to its long-term fruitfulness.
Every day is full of opportunities for love! You can be at the supermarket picking up your spouse’s favorite chocolate and in this way, unknowingly, be weaving conjugal union with the simple thread of the common chores of everyday life. Having a scheduled daily ritual allows the message of love to be more clearly delivered and more directly received.
A daily ritual might include the intentionally-planned exercise of giving each other a warm hug for a whole minute every day; of giving each other more than just a peck, but kisses that actually last several seconds; spending time sitting face to face and looking at each other deeply in the eyes; or sharing a moment to pray together in the morning or at night.
Amidst the hustle and bustle of seemingly non-stop daily activities, scheduling a day every week to spend some time alone as a couple is becoming increasingly important. It can be an outing to talk over a cup of coffee or dinner, or to enjoy a movie, go to the theater, share a hobby together, or just go for a walk.
Some outings may involve an expense, including paying for a sitter if there are children who need to be cared for while the couple spends a few hours their relationship. This is an expense worth incurring and can be seen as a real investment in marriage and family life.
If the couple has agreed, for example, that Friday night is the best time of the week to have their date, they will avoid allowing other things to conflict and reschedule other outings in favor of their appointment together. Furthermore, their prescheduled date will become known and respected by the people around them who will come to see it as a natural part of their lives.
We are often so busy, living under the tyranny of our mobile devices and facing this or that crisis, that we can end up spending long periods of time without nurturing deep and meaningful conversation and communion with our spouse.
There is a great need for husbands and wives to sit down together to plan and, in a certain sense, create their future mentally and spiritually.
Spending a day alone, going to another town or to the countryside, taking a bicycle ride, and in other ways getting away from work and the grind of daily life at home is good. Making time to share what’s happening in their lives and to discuss problem areas and concerns that need to be addressed and resolved, can be incredibly helpful.
Making a retreat together or taking a daytrip together can have a tremendously positive effect allowing us to return renewed and more centered. This kind of retreat is vital for marriage and family.
Fears or feelings of guilt might arise when leaving the children behind if retreating farther away or for longer periods. The important thing to remember is that giving priority to marriage is actually good for and a means of strengthening the whole family.
The main celebration of the entire year, of course, is your wedding anniversary. This date should in itself be a great occasion for a celebration and, with the use of some creativity, can become a moment for a special encounter with the other. It might include spending a weekend together, going to the very hotel where you spent your honeymoon or wedding night, or perhaps taking a trip if you can.
This annual encounter provides a powerful and proactive response to the challenge of keeping love alive in today’s society. It is a practical way of making the relationship a priority. And it sets an example of commitment that shows your children how important marriage is.
Taking pictures of those good times shared together, printing them, and placing them in an album or in plain sight elsewhere in the home will further help keep these important moments alive as you relive them.
These special and intentional daily and weekly, monthly and annual experiences create shared memories, fill our emotional tanks, and help satisfy our fundamental needs as a couple.
There are no words to describe the importance of spending quality and quantity time alone with your spouse. A couple that makes time regularly for these experiences will increasingly see its intrinsic value and the fruits this one-on-one time produces in their marriage – and, in the future, they will want to take care of their grandchildren so that their grown married children can do the same with their spouses.