Welcome to 2020! The new decade, full of new year and new me promises. It’s the time when gyms are at capacity, and stores are selling out of their whole foods stock. It’s the month of honest attempts and genuine reflections.
Last year was a different type of New Year’s Eve for me. It marked the first time I celebrated as a married couple, and due to my partner and my relationship it felt like our first New Year’s Eve together. We opted for a low key night since my husband was unwell. We stayed in and fell asleep well before the midnight kick-off.
When we woke on January 1st, 2020, it truly felt like any other day. Nothing special and no huge mark in our timeline. However, the conversation wasn’t a self focus of ‘New Year, New Me’. It was a combined reflection. How great was 2019?! We got engaged, and then married, we travelled and we moved in together, we were experiencing all of our marriage firsts; first home cooked meal, first family vacation, first Christmas, etc. How was 2020 going to top it?! It was a fun, exciting conversation full of dreaming up grand plans, and expressing desires for our 5 and 10 year anniversaries.
And then like every person who talks about new year resolutions, on January 2nd we went on our merry little way.
Throughout 2019 my husband and I were engaged to be married. As we were planning our vows we would often question couples we respected to analyze what’s their secret. It prompted many conversations about what we saw and wanted for ourselves.
One marriage really made an impact on me in 2019, leaving an imprint even into 2020. My aunt and uncle separated in a ‘come-out-of-nowhere’ shock that makes you re-evaluate the past 30 years. I have always known them to be a happy, married couple; quirky but no two people could have been better suited for one another. They had raised their kids into adulthood, and were loving the new grandparent roles they had acquired. No one was prepared for my Uncle to leave my Aunt and move out of the country to start a new life. We were only three months into our wedded bliss when this happened, and like every newly married couple we decided: It will never happen to us.
And I thought about that. As confident as I am in my marriage, I know I can’t ignore that this is a reality for many people and so it was worth reflecting on. When you think about starting ‘with the end in mind’ that’s exactly what our vows covered: “Til death do us part”. That’s what I want. That’s my goal. To live a full life with this man until my time on earth has ended. I don’t want a premature out.
How can we make that happen? We decided we needed what we called, ‘relationship insurance’; something we can look back on in those 30 years. We decided it had to hold for us all the reasons why we married and all the evidence that our marriage was worth it. It had to be something we could use in times of struggle, and to celebrate when things were good.
After some genuine reflection we realized we needed to create something that allows us to fulfill our marriage goal.
With January being nicknamed “divorce month” by most attorneys, I figured many relationships are in need of that relationship insurance. A plan to help us achieve the end goal. Because as the ‘New Year New Me’ attitude is all about setting goals for yourself, who is out there making sure that your relationship is also going to make it?
I know there’s plenty of articles on how to start and stick to a resolution, that’s not what I’m outlining. Use those skills, but what I’m proposing is that you choose to try something, anything, that focuses on supporting your marriage. Here are some of the things my husband and I discussed.
Creating an online photo folder
On our phones we have plenty of pictures that will never be seen again. Using things like google drive we decided to create a folder that would be available for years to come. We agreed a memo would be written to explain the premise of the photo, a memory, or reason why it was taken. It’s common to forget what was happening in your life 3 months or even 3 weeks ago. Looking back over photos often jogs our memories and those are worth holding onto.
Weekly check-in and prayer time
We set a recurring alarm that goes off once a week, well before we would be falling asleep. This just acts as a reminder to fully question and listen to each other about what is happening in our lives. Many times we talk throughout the day to each other and we think we already know everything, but that extra dedicated time to stop allows us to lift each other up in prayer.
There are many apps that are marketed towards relationships and list creations. Can I encourage you to check them out. One that I’m excited to try this year is the One Sec app which takes one second clips and strings them into a year review video. Grabbing both the mundane of everyday life, mixed in with the exciting parts. Other apps to consider are the 5 Love Languages, Time Hop which works for your social media platform, and Marco Polo which offers video messaging that lasts so it can hold onto the silly ways you communicate with one another.
At our wedding, a journal was gifted to us that has various relationships prompts for us to fill in. Sometimes together, sometimes separately. Making time to fill this in more consistently, or on various special moments strings together our whole marriage timeline. I’m personally excited at the idea of what it will look like 10-15 years from now.
365 days of memories
Sometimes journaling can be overwhelming, and downright difficult to allocate time to. One idea we’ve had was to leave a little notebook by the bed that we write just a single sentence in every day. A single moment or memory. Pinterest gives a whole bunch of ideas such as placing them in jars to open at the end of the year; having it by the bed makes sure it happens whether you are an early riser or a night owl. Other options would be to create a list of memories on your phone, chances are you’re never very far from it so maintaining it could be a breeze.
Consider marriage mentoring or a marriage conference
If you are at the point of needing assistance, find help. Even if everything is going well it’s worth taking the time to invest into your marriage. FamilyLife has it’s 2020 schedule set and maybe a destination to Hanmer Springs will be the relationship getaway you’ve both been needing! Otherwise conferences are available in Auckland, and Taupo.
Hopefully this list sparks an idea of what can work for you. Our desire at FamilyLife is to help couples build strong marriages and families. Let 2020 be the start to helping you reach your own marriage goal. Have a wonderful 2020!