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Amazing Anniversary Ideas

you can reuse

year after year

My wedding anniversary was last week. For the first decade of our marriage, the hubs and I navigated our anniversaries like walking through a minefield.  Anniversaries are meant to be romantic, but often, the romantic gesture one person hopes for isn’t what their partner has in mind.

Ah, expectations. The potholes of every relationship. Part of the struggle is that each of us expresses and receives love in a unique way…and it is rarely the same way as our spouse.

The Five Love Languages is an amazing book that explains very simply that each of us gives and receives love in one of five specific ways: Words of Affirmation, Physical Touch, Gifts, Acts of Service and Quality Time.

Now you may look at that list and think: I want all of those things! (Don’t we all, sister.) But there is usually one love language that rises above the rest. There is a quiz you can take here to find out yours if you haven’t read the book.

My hubs is an Acts of Service guy all the way. He is quietly doing things in the background all the time to take care of me. But he really struggles with literal gift giving. His gift to me is his everyday availability and willingness to serve.

Meanwhile, Gifts are my love language.  I am an expert at finding exactly the right thoughtful gift for people. But I’m not as great at serving.

A few years ago we FINALLY hit on a formula that takes the pressure off of him to think up something new and exciting (yet again)  and it gives me the thoughtful gesture that I want.

And we agreed that this would be how we would celebrate every year. An anniversary tradition.

This is what we do…We write each other a love letter and go out for a fancy dinner. We don’t have a favorite restaurant, so we are able to change up the dinner experience from one year to the next. And writing out how we feel about each other also gives us a keepsake to revisit later. (Like when we start to get on each other’s nerves, just as an example.)

Since we now know how we are going to celebrate, we can relax and enjoy the anticipation of the occasion instead of dealing with trying to outdo last year’s efforts: which usually just led to frustration and disappointment.

There IS a way to make your anniversary special without one of you always feeling like your partner doesn’t understand what you need.

 It does require you both to think about what actually makes you feel loved by your spouse. And to agree on one (or even two) things that you can do annually that will make you both value the passing of the years together.

Here are a few amazing ideas to experiment with that you can reuse year after year!

If your partner’s love language is Acts of Service:

One of the best things you can do for an Acts of Service lover is take something off their plate and do it yourself. Willingly. Enthusiastically, even. Another way to accomplish this is to offer to come alongside and help them do something they might not be willing or able to do solo!

Do a project together.

This can be around the house, in the yard…even a class they want to take, anything that your partner has been secretly wishing to do.

Give each other a To-Do List.

This may not seem romantic to any other of the love languages, but for an Acts of Service partner, the gift of follow-thru on mundane tasks can be seriously romantic. Just make sure you agree on a time limit for accomplishing the tasks.

Plan a trip.

Trip planning is a huge task. Offering to make all the plans for a yearly romantic getaway is a HUGE gift.

If your partner’s love language is Physical Touch:

The Love Language of Physical Touch doesn’t necessarily mean sex. It is about actual physical closeness, which can be holding hands, putting your arm around each other, or snuggling.

Go dancing.

You could plan for a night out on the town or even a dance class to learn one of the romantic dances: the waltz or tango.

Spend the night in a swanky hotel.

Get a room with a view and sit close together and drink cocktails. Order room service and snuggle.

Take a carriage ride.

Sit together and take in the scenery and each other.

If your partner’s love language is Words of Affirmation:

The secret to the heart of a Words of Affirmation spouse is authenticity and thoughtfulness. Take a moment and really consider what feelings you want to convey.

Write a love letter.

Write out what your partner has meant to you this past year. Bonus points because your lover can re-read it over and over!

Renew your vows.

Publicly with your friends or privately, just you two. This could be a re-creation of your actual vows as a heartfelt re-commitment to each other. Or you could choose to update your vows each year according to what is going on in your life to make them even more personal in the present.

Create a shared journal or jar of happiness.

Each year start a journal or jar where you write notes and thoughts to each other. Each year on your anniversary, read each other’s thoughts.

If your partner’s love language is Quality Time:

The real gift for a Quality Time lover is undivided attention. Physically sharing the same space can provide comfort, but giving your partner your undivided attention: no kids, no pets, no work, no technology…that is the gift they are looking for.

Plan to do something neither of you have ever done before.

Sharing new experiences with our partner strengthens our marital bond! Find something you both want to try: sky-diving, pottery class, and do it together as a gift to yourselves.

Plan a picnic.

No phones allowed! Plan to go somewhere with few distractions and leave technology at home. Bonus points for bringing a board game or a box of conversation starters.

Go on a road trip.

This can be a short overnight or a longer getaway, whatever the current year allows for. But time together traveling in the car and seeing sights in a new place away from the normal routine is a gift every Quality Time partner will love.

If your partner’s love language is Gifts:

Gifts are probably the most misunderstood love language, because people assume it is focused on material things. But it really isn’t about expensive gifts at all.

The catnip for a Gifts lover is the thoughtfuness and attention that goes into a well-selected gift. It shows you have paid attention to their likes and interests and taken time to handpick something just for them.

Plan a night out.

Make a reservation at a new restaurant your spouse will love.  Or, if fancy restaurants aren’t her thing, how about cocktails and a Broadway show!? Planning the occasion is the gift, so don’t make her choose the venue.

Choose a gift according to the number of years you have been married.

The theme is already set for each year, so this really narrows down the focus. But there is still plenty of room for creativity!  Possibly set a monetary limit so your gifts are equitable.

Start a collection.

Each year choose something you both love to splurge on: a painting by a favorite artist, a Waterford crystal tree ornament, a first edition of a favorite book. Each year you can enjoy the hunt to find the perfect item and be able to look back over your collection and see your years together.

Know what the best thing about these ideas is??

Each one is something that can become a tradition in your relationship. You have the ability to do some minor tweaking from year to year to keep them fresh, but you don’t have to keep coming up with something new.

Now there is much less pressure each year to top last year’s experience. Instead of stressing out about what you are going to do, you already have a basic plan in place and can enjoy refining it for the current year.  You both will be able to look forward to the event with healthy expectations.

Because the celebration is really less about the how…and more about the WHO, right?!



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