SGR 022 | Why Celebrating Your Anniversary is So Important
Do you remember back in the beginning of your relationship when you’d mark every date or month together as a milestone?
If you watch teenagers who are dating, they are constantly counting their time - “we’ve been together 3 months!” They acknowledge and celebrate each milestone (no matter how small). We’ve talked in previous episodes about how we can take some cues from teens. They are in a perpetual honeymoon stage - acting lovey dovey, prioritizing physical affection and sex, and they can’t get enough of each other.
We’ve noticed that as time goes on, the whirlwind of life starts to take over - crowding out opportunities to celebrate these important milestones. We feel like we’re just “too busy” to carve out the time to celebrate, it’s not a priority in comparison to the other things we have going on, and we may even feel silly for wanting to celebrate “at this point in life.”
Celebrating your anniversary means acknowledging that your relationship is important and that together you’ve reached another checkpoint. It’s a long-term ritual of connection - something you can look forward to and count on happening every year.
It can be very powerful to have a routine around how you celebrate. Go back to where you had your honeymoon for a mini-vacation. Have a date night where you first met. There are so many things you can do to revisit the past and acknowledge the building blocks of your relationship.
On this week’s episode, we’re talking about:
- What anniversaries mean in the context of our relationships
- What makes anniversaries important to celebrate
- How to break out of the “flowers and chocolate” routine
- The best ways to celebrate
- How to look forward to the next year together
If you’re short on ideas for how to celebrate, be sure to download The Ultimate Guide to A Meaningful, Fun + Sexy Anniversary Celebration.
SGR 002 - Getting Back to the Honeymoon Phase - One Habit at a Time
SGR 010 - Bringing Sexy Back
SGR 013 - When Marriage Doesn't Feel Like A Fairy-Tale
SGR 015 - How To Get Your Partner To Support Your Life’s Dreams
SGR 021 - How to Have an Awesome Date Night in the Midst of Holiday Chaos
Short on time? Here’s a list of today’s topics and when to listen:
What anniversaries mean in the context of our relationship - 1:48
What makes anniversaries important to celebrate - 6:05
Ritual of connection - 8:45
How to break out of that “flowers and chocolate” routine - 9:30
Collaborating with your partner - 11:04
Best ways to celebrate our anniversaries - 14:03
Our favorite ways to celebrate - 17:00
How to look forward to the next year together - 24:03
Gratitude journal - 26:49
Meredith and Marina’s takeaways - 28:29
Marina: Hi there and welcome to episode twenty two of the Simply Great Relationships podcast. We’re so glad you could join us. I’m Marina Voron, this is Meredith Silversmith. And today, we are talking about “Why Celebrating Your Anniversary Is So Important”. We’ll be covering what anniversaries mean in the context of our relationships, what makes them important to celebrate, how to break out of that flowers and chocolate routine, best ways to celebrate our anniversaries and how to look forward to the next year together.
Meredith: I like that one.
Marina: Yeah! So, a really nice, positive episode! Make sure you stay with us until the end because we’ve got a really great bonus for you and we’ll tell you how to get it at the end.
Meredith: Yup. So Marina, this topic is very timely because I know you and George just had your anniversary of first meeting, right?
Meredith: Would you celebrate?
Marina: We definitely celebrate it. It’s a big, big celebration in our lives.
Meredith: That’s nice! Well, congratulations!
Marina: Thank you!
Meredith: Tell us a little bit about your thoughts. What do anniversaries mean in the context of our relationships?
Marina: For George and I, and I think this is not just George and I, translates to a lot of people. It’s like milestones for growth in our relationship as a couple, as individuals. It’s just like a really nice time to reflect and say, “A year has gone by. This is how we’ve grown as partners. These are all the awesome things we did together. These are the things we’re looking forward to. This is how our relationship has evolved and this is what stayed the same and we’ve embraced even more.”
Meredith: Mhmm! Yeah! That’s a great point! I look at anniversaries a bit like a marker of commitment. You think of, I always think back to when you’re a teenager and you’re in one of your first relationships and you’re like, “It’s our one month anniversary. It’s our two month anniversary.” You know, back then it’s really like that’s your scale of commitment and later in life, it could go to a year mark. But I think it’s a bit of an accomplishment and you look back and you say, “Wow! Look at all we’ve done it 3 years, in 5 years, in 10 years.” So it’s taking a second to pause and say, “Wow! It’s been this span of time that we’ve been committed to one another and working on having a good relationship.”
Marina: Yeah! And I think also, it’s just an opportunity to celebrate. And it’s an opportunity to celebrate something great which is your relationship. George and I love celebrating. You do not need to twist our arms. But I think people like that, so we make it a big deal so our friends and our family make it a big deal that this is our meeting anniversary but everybody knows that we celebrate it and we make a big deal and it’s like a really important ritual of connection that we have. It just creates an opportunity to celebrate it and create these really wonderful memories around. We’re kinda lucky in the sense that our anniversary always falls around the long weekend so we make like a weekend out of it and it we get to really create like very awesome memories.
Meredith: That’s great!
Marina: So, no complaints there!
Meredith: No! No complaints for celebrating. And I’m sure you look back at the times you’ve spent together and just consider everything you’ve accomplished since then as individuals and as a couple. It’s sort of an opportunity in time to turn around and say, “Wow!”.
Marina: Yeah! Definitely! As you know, you and Tom can definitely relate to this, we’re so, so busy and there’s so much stuff constantly going on and sometimes it’s just nice to hit that pause and go, “Hey babe, look at everything we’ve accomplished without losing our minds and still being together, we must have done something really right here!” In the context of supporting each other and just taking that pause and giving yourself that credit and giving yourself some time to reflect, we don’t get to do that often enough but I feel like anniversaries are such a key time to be able to do that because we get so caught up in the day to day and it’s nice to give yourself and your relationship that credit of all the progress you made because I know, at least for me, I would not have progressed in my professional area of my life if I didn’t have my relationship. I know how important that support is for me and how integral it is to me being motivated and staying on top of my business and I know how important that is for George also.
Meredith: Sure! Yeah! It’s a lot of good stuff to look back and celebrate. Many reasons to celebrate!
Meredith: That’s great! There’s a lot of reasons but what do you think, we probably think of a few different things, but what makes it so important to celebrate, making it a priority?
Marina: I think, again, it’s like setting that intention and like scheduling and doing the planning around something, it’s saying that it’s really important. It’s communicating your relationship as important which if you listened to our previous episodes, something we keep coming back to over and over again that sending that message that your relationship is important is something that really enriches your relationship - huge deposit in the emotional bank account.
Marina: I think just that is a really good kind of starting point as to what makes it important to celebrate. It’s the message it sends into your relationship.
Meredith: Definitely! And it’s, you know, concretely, it’s an opportunity to look back on that first day or your wedding day and reminisce, right? Most of us have had good memories there and can look back and say, “Oh, what a great day that was! I remember this, I remember that!” and sort of get back in that headspace when you were in the honeymoon phase and just remember those feelings and those experiences and you can go back to episode ten of the podcast, Bringing Sexy Back, and reminisce about the old, sexy day, too. “Back in the day, we used to do this, we used to do that, that felt really good.” You can look back throughout your relationship in that way as well!
Marina: Yeah! I know whenever George and I walk by the pub where we had our first date kind of, we always have such fun memories and smiles on our faces and a lot of times, we’ll go in and grab a drink and sit at the same table and talk about really funny stuff that happened on our first date when George told me he wasn’t much of a reader and he also didn’t do mountains, because I asked him if he liked to snowboard. It’s fun, it’s funny, it creates that feeling of closeness and that feeling of reminiscing which is really nice. And again, huge deposit in that emotional bank account especially where it’s holidays season, things are stressful. To make a giant deposit like that, really, really great buffer, really great cushion for stressors!
Meredith: Absolutely! And it is a type of ritual of connection, right? So we talk a lot about rituals of connection and we think of them being daily, weekly, monthly, but yearly as well. The traditions that you have in your relationship for how you celebrate different milestones, those are rituals of connection. So it’s important to have a conversation, “How do we celebrate our relationship? What do anniversaries mean to you? What do they mean to me? How do we celebrate? How do we want to celebrate?” because that’s going to flow into whether it is enjoyable and positive and goes well or if there are disappointments and hurt feelings and unmet expectations, things like that. So we wanna help you avoid those things to the extent possible.
Marina: Mhmm! So how do we break out of that kind of, and I think this ties into expectations and routines, like the flowers and chocolate routine.
Meredith: Yeah. And not that there’s anything wrong with that, right? I think we’re using it sort of jokingly to say the “old standard”, right? The sort of not thought less but not super mindful way of celebrating. It’s sort of like auto-pilot celebration, of flowers, chocolate, card and that’s it. It’s done. Check it off the list.
Meredith: How do you create a more unique, personalized, meaningful celebration of your anniversary? I think that the way there is to have conversation and to really think about and talk about what makes you unique as a couple! What do you enjoy doing together? What’s fun for you? Really essentially brainstorming what you both enjoy and how do you create a shared vision for how we celebrate our anniversary.
Marina: I love that. I love that it’s a collaborative effort as opposed to… I see a lot of couples come in butting heads because “He didn’t surprise me on our anniversary.”
Meredith: Oh, yeah!
Marina: I think wanting a surprise is always a little bit of setting your partner up for failure.
Marina: You’ve created your relationship together. I think an anniversary is the best time to collaborate on what you’re gonna do that day, weekend, whatever, you know? I love the, “What makes us unique? How do we want to spend this day together?” as opposed to, I think more traditionally, the expectation is like, “Well, the guy has to treat the girl” and kinda heteronormative relationships where I don’t always think that does your relationship justice. I think it sets it up for some sabotage and some hurt feelings.
Marina: That collaboration really buffers against that.
Meredith: Mhmm! Absolutely!
Marina: And asking your partner “What can I do to make you feel loved?” because that is the key, right? That’s the feeling you’re going for and workshopping from there and doing it together makes you feel, again, just like another accomplishment to add to the things you’re celebrating.
Meredith: Yeah! It’s funny, I’m just think of the couples that I work with who are listening. They know I ask this question or better, more truthfully said, I have them ask each other this question in session periodically, “What’s one thing I can do this week to make you feel loved?”, and a lot of my couples feel a little bit silly asking that question. I think it’s a bit intimate and vulnerable but I think it’s really important and they’re almost always surprised by what their partner says because you expect maybe something bigger or more predictable, something that you would expect. When I’ve had couples say “bring me home a cupcake” or “record my show for me” or “rub my feet”, you know? It’s nothing crazy but it’s really powerful to see when someone gets asked that question, they’re sort of taken back by it.
Marina: Yeah! Learning what’s meaningful to your partner. One of the ones that really stand out for me was I was having a session and I had partners ask this question and one partner just said “text me during the day and say ‘What’s up’”, and the other partner looked shocked that that’s all their partner wanted to feel loved, that it was such a small, insignificant, low effort gesture that would make them really internalized, loved, to know that their partner is thinking about them and checking in with them. So doing that for your anniversary where you can have it be a bit more production is really, really nice.
Marina: So, speaking of, what are the best ways to celebrate anniversaries?
Meredith: Well, I think the most basic tenant to follow is to do something you both enjoy. It’s not all about one person or about the other person, this is truly a shared day, shared experience and it should be something that you both like.
Meredith: That’s important.
Meredith: You don’t want one person to feel like they’re going along with something that they really aren’t gonna like. It’s not your birthday.
Marina: Yeah! I love that!
Meredith: It’s not your birthday!
Marina: I love that! And going with that, plan ahead for that thing that you both like. Do you need childcare? You probably do! Plan that ahead! Agree on how you will celebrate, get on the same page and then really break it down into “this is what we’re putting on the calendar, this is what needs to happen, I’ll book the hotel, you book the restaurant”. Plan it almost like you plan a vacation.
Marina: Right? Divide and conquer to really say like vacations are important. A lot of planning goes into those. This is no different. Think of it as almost like a little tiny, mini vacation, and put that time and effort and diligence into planning it ahead.
Meredith: Yeah! And if you need help brainstorming, I think a really good way to think of “what do we wanna do” is to sit down and say “Okay, what are things we’ve done in the past? What activities or experiences that we had in the past that we both enjoyed?” or “What are some new things that we’ve been talking about wanting to do but haven’t gotten the opportunity to, yet?”. So you can totally repeat something from the past if you just loved it and you know that it’s something special that you’re only gonna do then or try something new!
Marina: You can do both! Right? Because there’s a real benefit to both. So when we do things that we’ve done before, it’s almost like we’re revisiting that brain circuitry that made us fall in love and brings back all those really nice memories.
Marina: When we do new things, research shows that’s when couples report feeling most in loved when they’re going through a new experience together. So kind of combining both is a really ideal thing and there’s plenty of new things to try out there and old things to revisit and you can get as creative as you want. This is a great opportunity that your relationship has here to create a really great memory.
Meredith: Yeah! What are your favorite ways to celebrate your anniversary?
Marina: Okay, so I will say this. George and I are big celebrators. I will preface it with this. We do not celebrate in mild ways and we plan our anniversary pretty far in advance and like I said, because we get the opportunity to make it a weekend, we make it a weekend. So we really love restaurants and we have ongoing list of places we wanna try and places we’ve been to where we wanna try different things than we’ve had before, and we love theatre and we love experiential theatre, and we love going out to bars and then there’s a hotel we really love in the city because I’m obsessed with their bathtubs. So we usually have a little city staycation where we stay at a hotel in Manhattan that we really love and that’s like a part of the old is we stay there, we really love it there, we know kind of all the accommodations and it’s really close to a lot of things we love but we’ll try new restaurants so we always book like a really opulent restaurant meal and then we’ll go to a show and then we’ll go out and go for drinks or go out dancing. So we try to really incorporate all the stuff that we really enjoy into one weekend.
Meredith: And then do you do brunch the next day?
Marina: Of course!
Meredith: Of course! Okay.
Marina: Of course. I mean, what anniversary weekend is complete without brunch?
Meredith: So it’s a full 24-hour plus celebration.
Marina: Like a 48-hour.
Meredith: 48’er. A 48’er. Okay!
Marina: It’s a 48’er. And it’s a very phones away, everybody knows that this is what we’re doing. Do not reach out to me unless it’s an emergency. No social media kind of event where we really just focus on each other and we get to be lazy and sleep in late and sometimes we get massages to the room and just kind of indulge and be like hedonistic a bit.
Marina: And then we also... emotionally though, what we do a lot of is we do a lot of reminiscing. We share a lot of the fun memories that we’ve created throughout the year and we also talk a lot about what want the next year to look like and what kind of new stuff we wanna try, what do we wanna do, where do we wanna travel, how do we wanna make our relationship even richer in the next year and we kind of try to focus on those two topics. We put a lot of boundaries in terms of no talking about work, no stressing about work. We really protect that time and really focus on us and creating really fun memories, really creating experiences and talking about what has been great and what will be great in the year to come. What about you guys?
Meredith: How do I follow that? I don’t know if I wanna share. No, it’s fine. So we do something different-ish. Similar in some ways, different in others. So Tom and I had a winter wedding and it was very wintery and we wanted to have a wintery honeymoon so we went to Vermont to a really beautiful resort and there was a spa and it was really, really lovely. I don’t know. For me, it’s very much about the winter, the snow, like that feeling that brings me back to that time. So since we got married, we’ve been going back to that same hotel for our anniversary and spending a couple of days there and go into the same spa and having couple’s massage and go into some of our favorite restaurants there and just relaxing. So a lot of sitting by the fire, reading, having a drink, having good food, just total relaxation. I think you guys like to do more. We like to do less.
Marina: What kind of emotional atmosphere do you create when you go out to Vermont? What’s the focus for you guys there?
Meredith: I think for us, definitely phones away, the same deal. Phones away, we leave the phones in the room a lot of the time just kind of mill around and see what we can do. We do a lot of recharging as individuals and as a couple. So a lot of reading, a lot of just sitting and just being present and even if it’s so silly but even, I know what this sounds like they have a little library where there’s a chessboard so we’ll go play chess once in awhile and just be together with no distractions and just feel really calm and just like be. That’s the best way I can describe is to just go back to just being together and doing whatever we want which we really like.
Marina: Mhmm! Yeah!
Meredith: Who doesn’t like that, right?
Marina: Yeah! So it sounds like the emotional atmosphere you wanna create is that presence for each other which when things get busy, you don’t really get a whole lot of that.
Marina: I know with our schedules, our relationships just don’t get it done but that sounds really lovely, though!
Meredith: Thanks! No, we like it. And it’s funny, I wonder if everyone listening feels the same way but when I listen to you talking about your way of celebrating, I’m like, “Ugh! I wanna go see Tom!”, you know? When I’m thinking about those nice connecting activities, I’m like, “I wanna go home! Let’s play hockey and go home and spend time together.” I hope you guys get that feeling too because that’s the ability to hear about somebody else’s celebration and for that to kind of bring up those kinds of feelings and it is really important.
Marina: Yeah! For sure! I’m like, “I bet George would love a maple cream in Vermont”. Those were my thoughts.
Meredith: So Marina, it sounds like you and George really do this when you’re celebrating anniversary, looking forward to the next year together and I know you shared some of your tips that you two used to talk about, but what else do you think is important?
Marina: I think just on a very practical level, it’s talking about what are your individual goals and what are your couples goals coming into the year. I think it’s always really nice to be very clear on your goals and to be able to share them with your partner and it’s also really nice to be clear on your couples goals like we talked about in episode fifteen, How To Get Your Partner To Support Your Life’s Dreams, co-creating that dream together and the bonus there is really great, the co-creation of the dreams mind map. I think that is a perfect anniversary activity because it allows to in a very real way focus on where you want your relationship to go and allows you to share with your partner where you wanna go and what kind of support you may need.
Meredith: Yeah! That’s a great one! And I also think anniversaries are great time to refresh your rituals of connection. Again, it’s a milestone. You could pick any date on the calendar to do this but why not pick your anniversary when you’re very focused on your relationship’s health? So go way back actually to episode two, Getting Back To The Honeymoon Phase. Go through your rituals of connection, go through the bonus for that episode of, you know, here’s a list of rituals that you could choose from, when do we wanna do them - daily, weekly, monthly, and put them in your schedule. That’s a really good opportunity to look at what’s been working, which rituals do we wanna keep going with, keep using, which ones we wanna change or swap out, and what to expect in the coming year. So I think that’s really important.
Marina: Yeah and I think it’s a nice way to incorporate maybe some stuff you’ve been thinking about. I always think it’s nice to commit to a new ritual for the year. A very small one, nothing major, nothing big, but even if it’s like six-second kiss every day or like hugging ‘til relaxed once a week. Incorporating something like that and saying like “Year #9, Year #10. This will be our little social experiment.”
Marina: It’s a really fun way to see how a little thing can really enrich your relationship. Another one, we’ve talked about this before because we both love, is gratitude journal.
Marina: And doing one for your relationship.
Meredith: Yeah. I love that! And again, it’s writing down three positive things about your partner or your relationship everyday and you can share them with your partner with some consistency whether it’s weekly or monthly or on your anniversary. Actually, I think that’d be a really cool gift if you journaled about your partner and the relationship all year and then gave them that book.
Marina: That’s a really good cheat you’re giving them right now!
Marina: I love that!
Meredith: Yeah! Right? I think that would be a really, really nice gift. A very powerful gift.
Marina: Very meaningful gift also!
Meredith: Very meaningful!
Marina: Much nicer than flowers and chocolate.
Meredith: Yeah! Absolutely! So that’s one that really enhances your relationship. It shifts your mindset from looking at problems to looking at what’s going right and what’s going well which helps any relationship, and it gives you a tangible! So I always recommend that.
Meredith: So as always, we don’t want you to just listen. We want you to listen and integrate it into your relationship, so we’ve put together our ultimate guide to a meaningful, fun and sexy anniversary celebration. Oh, boy! You gotta get this one! You can get it at our website www.simplygreatrelationship.com/022.
Marina: So let’s talk about takeaways.
Meredith: My biggest takeaway is actually to really, really plan ahead for an anniversary because I have to say we’re not the best at that. It’s like, “Oh, it’s coming! It’s coming up!”. So now, I’m thinking now at this point how can we start to plan to create that protected time, like you said, to not just reserve that day necessarily, but to look at what do we wanna do, how do we wanna celebrate, and make the necessary arrangements to be able to do that. I like that!
Marina: Yeah! My big takeaway is the amazing life hack you gave people which is to gift that gratitude journal, like wow, how powerful is that? What a beautiful message to send to your relationship to give somebody a year’s worth of gratitude.
Marina: I feel like that is worth it’s weight in gold.
Marina: So that’s my big takeaway. I’m actually really considering doing this!
Meredith: Yeah for next year.
Marina: So hopefully, George, act surprised!
Meredith: That’s awesome!
Marina: Yeah because I loved that! I think that could be such a great gift. So, that’s all for today. We hope that you take these tips and start using them right away, I know I’m going to. We’d love to continue the conversation with you so come and join us in our Facebook group where we’ll be hooking you up with tips, tricks, live streams all exclusive for our members and you can find our group at www.facebook.com/groups/simplygreatrelationships or you can click the link on our website www.simplygreatrelationships.com.
Marina: We would love to hear all about how you celebrate your anniversaries.
Meredith: Yeah, absolutely!
Marina: Alright, see you next week!
Meredith: See ya!
Marina and Meredith: Bye!