During our first 10 years of marriage, we never failed to celebrate our anniversary in a splashy manner -- befitting of a young couple very much in love.
I remember once my husband gave me a package of six ballroom dance lessons -- a staggeringly romantic gesture from a man who, once released from the awkward rituals of dating, seemed determined never to set foot near a dance floor again.
But what about those unofficial milestones or private moments that aren’t card-, gift- or champagne-worthy but signal the growing comfort and caring between you? Twenty minutes of vetting over a venti latte screens out the ditzy chicks, dogs and douchebags.
Official milestones like these celebrate stages of intimacy, bring couples closer and legitimize their bond. That way, you know it’s the right number, and now she has your digits. The first cuppa joe you had together came with a paper sleeve and a double shot of skepticism.
You catch a whiff of someone wearing her signature scent and … 23 First time he introduces you as “my girlfriend.” (Sigh.) 24 First time your bro calls to make plans with you and you factor her schedule into the decision. 39 First time you say “fiancé.” 40 Last condom you’ll ever wear. 41 First change of beneficiary on your life insurance. Illness, foreclosure, infertility, bereavement: You’ll see what your marriage is made of. In a society replete with disposable connections and meaningless sex, these celebrations have an even deeper meaning.
You forgot to pack your curl moisturizer, so your ’do has gone from Afrolicious to awfully frizzy. A car exactly like his passes by, and it doesn’t trigger a reaction. You get a “save the date” message for your high school reunion six months away. 38 First time you’re jealous when (s)he mentions something the office spouse did or said. “I’ve seen how a forgotten birthday or overlooked anniversary can hurt a relationship.
But, after a lovely 10th anniversary party, the reality of three children and two full-time jobs and home renovation and extended family issues started to encroach on our couple time and I began to believe that simply being able to count on this man was worth its weight in anniversary chocolates any day of the week.
As our marriage matured, I assumed we'd always be together and that people who have to celebrate occasions like anniversaries and Valentine's Day are really pretty pathetic. Over a few glasses of wine, I've told girlfriends that, somewhere along the way, the passionate kiss I used to plant on my husband's lips when he walked in the door from work morphed into a peck on the check that eventually morphed into -- on some days -- an inability to even look up from my email inbox.Shouldn't couples be kind to each other every day of the year? As I've watched several of my friends' marriages end in divorce, I know for certain how potent a force -- and how dangerous -- complacency can be in a relationship.And so these days I believe celebrating one's anniversary must never be overlooked, as it reinforces the fact that your marriage is a priority. It is the kind of action that makes onlookers think, ‘Get a room! His ego is marked “fragile,” so handle this sitch with care. Your apartment’s tiny, moo shoo pork deliveries take forever and you don’t have premium cable channels. 16 Fifth time in a row he calls you “just because.” Checking in has become a habit—and signals that he’s been thinking about you all day. Tip: Take along the top of the empty box to ensure you get the right kind. Mom and Dad, Granny and her sister, too, will give her all sorts of interesting feedback about the potential of a future with you. 29 First Facebook listing as “In a relationship.” 30 Fourth mundane chore you tackle together. Your relationship is no longer a nice escape from the every day. It’s more than a quick squeeze or a fleeting smooch. That look on her face may be contorted beyond recognition, but you’re the one who put it there, and it’s as sweet as her smile. Let’s face it: You live 15 exits (or train stops) from downtown. 15 First time you sleep with her—without having sex. Next time you serve up a hot, stinky air biscuit, maybe you’ll trap her under the covers with it. All this purchase says about you is that you have a girlfriend, and she isn’t pregnant. (S)he made you soup and rinsed vomit out of a trash can? 32 First time one of you “needs space.” Because, hey, this is getting serious. Your presentation is in 40 minutes, and your flash drive is at her place.