Celebration is important. We tend to replicate what we esteem. Our relationships can become a dead zone of celebration. Life together can be monotonous, routine after routine. Caring for one another is not always exciting. And, therefore, we have a difficult time remembering how great it is to be in one and how much we need to celebrate.
Marriage can become a constant evaluation of what is wrong and what fire needs to be put out, what fears are creeping in and what battles we need to wage. None of that needs to be thrown out the window. But if we aren’t careful, fixing problems becomes all a relationship is. We lose our appreciation of it, the joy that comes with doing life together, and the amazing opportunity to celebrate.
One of the reasons we don’t celebrate is because we aren’t really sure how to. We are busy (with those fires and all). It seems lame or forced. Your relationship doesn’t have to be this way. Like everything else, celebration takes intention. Here are a few ideas to get you started:
A lot of what we call “celebration” is vacationing. The difference between celebration and vacationing is intention. A vacation is a break from work. Celebration is a focused and active party.
We heard recently about a family that is trying to go to all 30 Major league baseball stadiums before the kids graduate high school. It got us thinking about odysseys we might embark on. State parks. States themselves.
Instead of random vacations, give yourself a long-term odyssey to dream about and pursue over time. It doesn’t have to be away from home; we know a couple who count all the new restaurants in their hometown that they have visited. I think they’re at 58.
Some friends we know have a mason jar in their living room. Whenever they experience something fun together, a silly story, the onset of an inside joke, or a major event, they write it down on a scrap of paper and put it in the jar. Every New Years Day, they methodically read the slips of paper and remember all the joy from the year before.
You can make a jar with all sorts of things. It is a great idea because A) it helps you to be on the lookout for things to celebrate. We find what we are looking for. Looking for things to celebrate will cause you to celebrate more. And B) it helps you to remember. Days come and go and even something we really enjoy can get lost in the sheer volume of memories, ideas, and emotions we experience throughout our lives. I’m sure our friends have a great laugh every New Years remembering joy that otherwise might have been forgotten forever.
A lot of times, we think positive things but don’t say them. One of the reasons for this is because it seems so clear to us. My wife is so clearly joyful, so caring, so honest and courageous. When I see it, I often beam with a sense of joy and appreciation for getting to share life with her.
What I don’t do often enough is say it out loud. To her. Initiating a process of speaking the positive thoughts out loud will transform your marriage. A genuine compliment is the most effective way to celebrate a relationship.
Vision and Milestones
This last one will require a little innovation on your part. But it needs to be said that the best way to celebrate your marriage is to celebrate the vision, the purpose of your being together. We love to celebrate anything. But nothing matters more than the things that matter most.
We coach individuals to organizations to celebrate their vision and to tie their meetings and their celebrations into their organizational vision. This has lasting effect. You can do all the activities above with this in mind.
Naming what we love and why we are together connects us to our values. And nothing matters more to us than our values. Innovate ways to celebrate your marital vision (and your partner’s individual one).
Celebration isn’t just to make us feel better. It is an exercise in sharing truth. It is the practice of putting voice to the meaning of our relationships and our lives.