The hubs and I celebrated twelve years of marriage this year. Right after typing that sentence, I had to go and look up the traditional gift for Year 12: silk and linen. We did not celebrate with gifts, but we also did not celebrate in basically any other way than with words, simply saying, “Happy Anniversary, honey. I love you.” To be fair, we were in separate states on our actual anniversary, but on that day I was thinking that we should have celebrated earlier. We just moved from where we knew people and had good friends to a place where we don’t. We probably should have asked one of our friends to keep the boys and let us go out for a pre-anniversary celebration of our marriage.
I posted about our anniversary on Facebook, a little tribute to our marriage with a link to a song that I think fits us pretty well. In the Facebook post, I mentioned that my hubs and I were the only ones who acknowledged our anniversary to one another, and my best friend saw that. Later, when I was talking to her, she mentioned that the same thing happened to her and her husband this year. She said she thinks maybe it just becomes the norm, that you end up just celebrating your special day with each other and that’s just the way it is. I realized that I had been part of that non-acknowledgment. Her anniversary had passed, and busyness got in the way of me picking up the phone, sending a card, or texting. I felt terrible. And then I thought, Why do I feel terrible about it? The same thing happened to me!
The whole experience led to me thinking about how important anniversaries really are. Birthdays are important, too. It is good to acknowledge, appreciate, and go out of our way to show our people we love them and we celebrate their lives. But an anniversary is this whole other deal wherein two people are loving and putting up with each other. They are doing life together, which is sometimes harder than doing it alone because relationships are work, and we sometimes hurt each other rather than loving well. Marriage means each person thinking about the other first, and our selfish nature makes that challenging. Celebrating another year together gives us the opportunity to see all the work we have put in. Purposefully celebrating gives us the opportunity to think about how we need to grow as a couple, where we need the work of the Holy Spirit in our marriages, and to reflect on all the ways we can see God’s hand in our unions, the joy he has given us, and the sorrows he has brought us through.
Our recent move and anniversary experience gave me my own reset and centering moments. God used it to create in me a desire to be part of celebrating my people and their marriages. I am sure I will not do this perfectly, but my plan is to look through my birthday list and figure out who I would like to add to my anniversary list. My plan doesn’t include anything elaborate. Send a card or make a call or even just acknowledge the special day with a Facebook message. I shouldn’t beat myself up if I miss one, but I should try to celebrate the years my people are spending doing the hard work of being married.
Are there people in your life who could use a little encouragement that they are seen in this way and that someone else knows their marriage is a cause for celebration? If so, I encourage you to let them know that, like Paul, “We give thanks to God always for all of you, constantly mentioning you in our prayers, remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 ESV).
Carla Clemens enjoys a crazy, beautiful life with her military husband and four sons. A baby and toddler interrupt her homeschool days in the best ways, and she is always attempting to live with mindfulness of each moment. She hopes to look at the world and each person in it in light of our amazing Creator and therefore, to see each moment presented as an opportunity to love and serve him more. Carla relishes time to ponder God’s Word and have quiet moments with him and her coffee. She loves doing life with other mamas and encouraging them to simply be who God has made them to be.
Photograph © Pablo Heimplatz, used with permission