The end of August is always a funny time for us. It’s the winding down of the summer holidays and the simultaneous gearing up for the return to school. It’s the tail-end of the summer and the looking ahead to the beginning of autumn. And it’s also our anniversary. The very last day of August, the 31st. Chosen, perhaps subconsciously because it isn’t easy to forget!
This year, 2018, James and I will have been married for 11 years. If 10 years was a milestone, 11 years feels like we’ve entered into a comfortable period. We should know what we are doing by now…surely to goodness! And it is something which we are often asked about. I suppose it comes from being married in our early 20’s, there was a small expectation that we would grow apart rather than together but I have believed from day one that we were a team and I know the same for James. We have worked hard to ensure that our goals and dreams align with each other’s, and have grown and matured together.
I am not going to write out a whole list of ways to keep your marriage going but as it’s something I often get asked about, I wanted to share my favourite piece of advice. This is something that we haven’t always been great at, but something that we have tried to incorporate into our married life as much as possible. And that is to constantly try new things together. I don’t think life should stop when you reach a certain age, or when you’ve been married for X number of years, or your children are grown up…or any of the excuses we might think up for ourselves. I think that life should continue to be exciting and interesting and it’s certainly something we’ve found has been hugely beneficial to our marriage. Whether we are celebrating 11 years like today, or 25 years…whether we are making the most of right now or embracing life after 50…there are many reasons to keep trying new things and ensuring that we don’t become stagnant in our every day.
We started a little tradition when we began dating, to keep things from becoming ‘samey’ of going through the alphabet. We took it in turns, and we had to plan a date which began with the relevant letter of the alphabet. So I went first and we went to see ‘Aladdin’ at the panto, then James took us to somewhere beginning with B. These dates didn’t have to cost a lot of money, if any…it was more about being creative and trying different things together and it was a whole HEAP of fun. With trickier letters we’ve maybe had to stretch the rules a little bit but it has occasionally pushed us from our comfort zones, made us have to think, and forced us to make that little extra effort when we’ve perhaps not really felt inclined. We’ve continued this with regular date nights and although children and work and life commitments do sometimes get in the way, it’s important to us to carve out this time together.
Believe me, I know that it can be so much easier to come in from work and collapse on the sofa. After you’ve put the kids to bed the simplest thing is to stick the TV on and unwind by watching your favourite shows. And that’s amazing. We’ve done that so many times over the years, binge-watching box sets. But it’s also fun to venture out for new things. Whether that’s a bit of vintage roller-skating or enjoying a simple indoor picnic chatting to one another. Finding half an hour to go for a walk in the woods, or booking a class and learning a new skill. From the tiny moments to the big; it’s all about not letting things go stale.
Is this mind-blowing advice? Possibly not but I know from my own experience how easy it can be to fall into the every day routine, and then wonder why you’ve begun to feel bored and dissatisfied. And I don’t think that is how life should be!
And if there is honestly one piece of advice that I could give to newly married couples that would be it. Life will throw all kinds your way but try to find that time to spend together, to laugh and be silly, to try new things, to fail at new things, to experiment and experience. And I really think you’ll enjoy it.