Love

5 Fun Things Couples Who Actually Stay Married Commit To Doing Throughout The Year

Photo: Jacob Lund / shutterstock.com 
Couple outdoors in cool weather, playing around and kissing

We go into marriage hoping that it will last forever. But on our wedding day, we aren't given an instruction manual, a guidebook to help us navigate marriage and all its challenges.

As a result, many marriages die a slow death, often unnoticed by spouses until it’s too late!

I was married for 20 years prior to my divorce. In retrospect, it is quite clear to me how leaving my marriage untended ultimately caused its end.

So, I would like to share my experiences and the experiences of my friends and clients who are still married — the wisdom they've gained about how to stay married. 

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Here are five fun things to do to keep your marriage strong.

1. Give your marriage a check-up.

I have a client who has been happily married for 10 years. Very, very happy! When I asked her the secret to her success she told me it’s because they give their marriage an annual check-up, much like the one they get when they see their doctor, to check on the health of their union.

They do it every January after the Christmas decorations are put away, in front of the fireplace, sipping Manhattans.

What questions do they ask during their check-up?

  • Are they still friends?
  • Are their lives still compatible?
  • Are there any frustrations that have been ignored or left unsaid?
  • What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses?
  • Should they stay married for one more year, at least?

The conversation isn’t always easy. Marriage is hard and asking yourself tough questions about the state of it can be challenging, maybe even something that would be easier avoided.

But my client says that it’s worth it. After they have their check-up, they are definitely happier and feel hopeful about the year ahead.

So, have a check-up with your spouse. Bring the Manhattans or the hot chocolates. You will be glad you did.

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2. Get away together.

I know, I know. Who has the time, or money, to get away from it all? Or even, maybe, any interest in doing so.

For married couples, life can be chaos. They work crazy hours and have to drive the kids to their various activities seven days a week. They have to eat and clean and visit relatives and sleep. Ah, elusive sleep.

Taking a vacation from all that would only make things harder when they come back.

So, start small. There is no need to run off to the Caribbean (although definitely do that if you want to) but make a plan to go away for a long weekend, to somewhere that you would both like to visit.

If you live in the suburbs, choose a city close by. Or, if you live in the city, choose a new place out of town. Somewhere where you can just be yourselves, even if just for 72 hours.

My friends and I used to have an agreement that we would take each other’s kids when we wanted to get away. It might have added more stress when my friend was away but I knew that the time for us to get away for our long weekend would come.

And what could happen on your long weekends together? Could you actually have fun? Could you do the things that you used to do when you first met? Could you actually have sex that wasn’t a quickie? Could you have two drinks instead of one because you knew you wouldn’t have to wake up at 6 o’clock in the morning?

Be lovers, not spouses and parents on your long weekend away.

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3. Getaway apart.

One of the problems with marriage is that we become so familiar with our spouses that we sometimes take them for granted.

Every morning, they are there at the table, drinking coffee. Every night, we try to fall asleep while they snore. The days fade in and out, so we start to not even notice each other.

Even worse, there are times when the more time that we spend in a marriage the more we lose touch with ourselves.

I know that the best thing about getting divorced was that I was able to be myself, to do the things that I wanted to do. It made me very happy and, now that I am in a relationship again, I am determined not to lose touch with who I am.

Luckily, you can reconnect with yourself without getting divorced! Phew!

How? By going on a trip without your spouse.

Alone, or with a friend, you can do the things that you love to do. Perhaps it’s shopping in the city, hiking a mountain in Peru, relaxing at a spa, or visiting and playing with your sister.

For a short moment, you can step away from your life and take some time for yourself.

And, I can promise you that your spouse will notice your absence. When you return, they won’t be taking you for granted. They will know what it’s like to be drinking coffee at the table alone and they will have an increased appreciation of your presence in their lives.

And, you taking the time for yourself will bring you happiness and joy and a happy spouse leads to a happy marriage.

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4. Celebrate the little things.

Ok, be honest, over the course of your marriage has celebrating the little things fallen to the wayside?

Is life just too busy to stop and recognize something special, something different?

I know that, when I was married and life was harried, the little things often came and went unnoticed.

Birthdays and anniversaries and Mother’s and Father’s Day and Easter and Halloween and Groundhog’s Day. All ignored.

I know that those things don’t seem like that big of a deal, and maybe even sometimes feel like Hallmark holidays. But the reality is that stopping and celebrating these things is one of those fun things to do in 2023 to keep your marriage strong.

Why? Because it’s the little things that keep the marriage strong, the little things that make someone feel loved, the little things that, when shared, can connect people in a lovely way.

Think back to the beginning of your relationship. Did anniversaries come and go without being noticed? Did birthdays pass with no card or gift? Was Halloween just another day of the year?

Or, were anniversaries recognized, if only in a small way? Did birthdays involve something special – perhaps breakfast in bed or a loving card? And did you revel in the spookiness of Hallow’s eve, so different from every other night of the year?

And were those times of love and connection?

I know that a client of mine never received anything from her husband for their anniversary. Often times he forgot it on the day itself. And how did that make her feel? Unnoticed and unloved.

Why did this happen? Because he figured that they had been together for so long that recognizing their anniversary was no longer important. That she knew that he loved her and that he didn’t need to do anything to remind her.

Over the years these uncelebrated events made her feel ignored and unappreciated. And, with each event that was ignored, she found she loved her husband even less.

Always pause and celebrate the little things — the small rites of passage in your lives that you might take for granted.

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5. Retell your love story.

This is one of my favorite things to do – to retell the story of how my boyfriend and I met and how we fell in love. Why? Because those were such magical times.

We are 5 years into our relationship now and, while we still have a lot of fun, romance is often on the back burner. And so, sometimes, often after a gin and tonic, I tell our story again.

About the first time, I saw him and how I knew right then and there, and how I then walked out of the room and didn’t think about him for 4 months. About how the first time I saw his beat-up pickup truck and how I wondered if he had another, nicer car. About how we agreed to be friends and then he kissed me. About the day that we moved in together and he learned what it was like to live with a dog. (It was good!)

And believe it or not, even if he is a guy, he loves it. He loves to hear our story and to remember the beginning, to remember the adventures we took, the late-night conversations, all the fun sex we had, and the feelings of being truly loved. Those times were magical and remembering them brings us close and reminds us why we are still together after all these years!

So, there you go. Five fun things to do in 2023 to keep your marriage strong.

I hope the idea of doing these fun things with your spouse makes you feel hopeful. That giving your marriage a check-up might feel daunting but ultimately worth it. That getting away together, and apart, is something that you will look forward to eagerly and that celebrating the little things might even be refreshing.

And, do you see that by doing these things to keep your marriage strong, in 2024 you will have even more of a love story to tell?

You can do this! You can keep your marriage strong and healthy. All it takes is taking the time to have a little fun and reconnect with all of the things that brought you together in the first place!

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Mitzi Bockmann is a certified life coach and relationship coach. With over 10 years of experience, she helps clients find happiness in love and life.

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This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.