Tag Archives: anniversary

Invest in experiences, not more stuff

They like signposts at Rum Point!

Find your next adventure.

Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, birthdays and other gift-giving holidays often have us wondering, “What would our spouse most want to receive?” At least within our budget. Sadly, most of us can’t recall the vast majority of gifts we have given or received. Ads bombard us with the message that the more we buy, the happier we will be. But there’s a better way. Research shows that spending on experiences rather than on things brings the most happiness.

The gift of travel is a great way to make lasting memories. My memories of fancy dinners in expensive restaurants pale in comparison to a long-ago simple Parisian picnic with my husband featuring baguettes, cheese and wine. Beach memories are another favorite. Having toes in the sand seems to lower stress levels and increase playfulness. I smile when I think of our beach rental houses with kids and not much on the agenda. Although it was more than 20 years ago, lounging in a hammock in Hawaii is the image I conjure when I need to relax.

Many people think they can’t afford to travel. Yet they spend hundreds of dollars each holiday on gifts that are soon forgotten. Many airlines offer credit cards that allow you to gain frequent flyer miles for spending a minimum amount. We have used them to take two overseas adventures for four people. Adventures can also be found much closer to home, such as in state parks where lodging and camping are very reasonable.

Travel allows us to try new things together—food, cultures, activities, adventures. Experiencing new things has been shown in research to be good for keeping our marriages strong.Whether your idea of fun is a pub crawl or foodie tour, learning to surf, reading a new book together, or taking dance classes, find something you’re willing to try.

Things don’t always go as planned when traveling, but these hiccups create challenges we can overcome together and become part of the memories we can laugh at later, like the very “rustic” lodge we stayed in while white water rafting with friends, or the seafood beach picnic that attracted hundreds of seagulls. Vacations (with kids or as a couple) allow us to have large chunks of time to focus on one another and away from our many screens and devices. Travel helps us experience nature in new ways and relax our minds and bodies away from the daily stresses of life.

Planning a trip takes time and effort, but from looking forward to the trip to the positive memories left behind, it’s worth the effort and creates more lasting happiness than buying more things. Forbes magazine suggests investing in experiences, such as dining out, a trip to the spa, or buying things for other people are a better investment in long-term happiness than buying things for ourselves.  Going to a concert instead of buying a new outfit, or choosing to rent a boat instead of buying one are examples of investing well in experiences.

“Nine times out of 10 you’re much better spending money on experiences and other people than on yourself. You’re much more likely to have genuine, fulfilling happiness as a result.”–Forbes contributor Ilya Pozin

What are the trips or experiences do you remember most with your spouse? What is your favorite travel memory?

Lori Lowe has been married to her husband, Ming, for 20 years. She is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Photo courtesy of Morguefile.com.

Lessons after 17 years of marriage?

Seventeen years ago, I married a young man who made me laugh, who shared my dreams, values and faith. It turned out to be the right decision.

We met young and dated for years. But you don’t really know someone until you’re both sleep deprived with toddlers, or grieving at the loss of a loved one. When you’re under the stresses of life, your true character comes out.

So, what have I learned after 17 years of marriage? I’ve learned that after day 6,206, when you get up in the morning, it still matters what you say and do with your spouse. We can’t say, well it’s been this many years, so we’ve made it. Instead we have to choose love each day, even when we don’t feel loved and appreciated (although we try to communicate these). We have to choose our response, our words, and our actions. We have to forgive and move on. We have to look for the best in each other and look for the best for each other.

We have to fit fun into our lives even when we’re busy–whether it’s a family trip away, an early tennis game, or a lunch date on a weekday. We have to make time to connect, to share, to talk.

Honestly, it doesn’t seem that long ago that all our friends and family surrounded us on a sunny September afternoon. But we’ve grown a lot as friends, as parents, as partners, as people. We aren’t the same people who walked down the aisle back in 1995. (Read my most popular post ever, We all married the wrong person.)  Thankfully, we’ve stuck close on the journey so that we’re closer together now than we were even on that perfect day.

Yet, tomorrow again, we will have the same choices to make.

What have you learned during your marriage that helps you keep proper perspective for the long haul?

If you’re a long-time reader of this blog, please consider getting a copy of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in all e-book formats at www.LoriDLowe.com.

Photo by Sharron Goodyear courtesy of Freedigitalphotos.net.

Best Advice from Readers: 19 Great Marriage Tips

A couple of weeks ago as I celebrated my 16th wedding anniversary with a Happy Anniversary to me post, I asked you to share one great marriage tip. Thanks for coming through with some wonderful advice. I decided to collect all the reader comments for you:

1. Remember that no couple is perfect and that every married couple has problems. What makes or breaks your marriage is how you confront problems, communicate about them and ultimately work through them.
2. Our marriages are reflections of God’s love for His church, and every choice, every thought, and how we deal with conflict matters. Our marriage tip is pay attention to whom you worship – if it’s God you will grow all the more closer to Him and each other. If you’re worshiping self or your marriage, it will only grow increasingly more difficult because God is a jealous God. As your love grows vertically it will certainly grow horizontally.
3. Learn to take delight in delighting your wife or husband.
4. Marriage is not only between the couple, but it involves two families, which can be very complicated. We learned a lot through the process, and we have been changed and grown up a lot.
5. Simply spend a little time each day focused ONLY on each other. This sounds easy, but it can be really difficult in the high-paced and distraction-filled times we live in. If you spend 15 minutes each day simply being a couple, your marriage will be blessed incredibly!
6. Stay connected to one another physically, emotionally and spiritually no matter what else is going on in your lives.
7. One key is mutuality. Spouses need to fully participate with one another in experiencing intimacy, paying attention to the other’s needs, desires, and value.
8. Keep a good sense of humor, keep your promises…never let go. Hang in there even when you don’t feel like it. And when you are mad as mad can be, think of your three favorite things about your husband/wife that makes you smile. Or at least something s/he said or did lately that was funny.
9. Do everything in your power to communicate unconditional love and acceptance to your spouse, making especially sure to show affection and speak approval whether you feel like it or not.
10. Spend money on your marriage – after 45 years of marriage – what fun we’ve had!
11. Remember that only YOU can make you happy. Always respect your husband, and respect yourself.
12. Mutual respect and compassion is the key to everything!
13. Nurture your friendship with your spouse. Spend time together. Ask for each other’s opinion. Extend grace. Hug. Listen. Share. Fight fair. Laugh together. Support each other’s interests. When a married couple authentically are friends with each other, so many positive results flow out of this (including great sex).
14. Be willing to grow and to let your spouse grow. Marriage is organic; it must be nourished. And its members may grow at different rates. The good news is that they ARE growing.
15. Which tape/CD are you going to listen to? Are you going to focus or dwell on the way your spouse annoys you, or are you going to focus on the positives, the many ways they bless you? I firmly believe it is a choice. We see what we want to see in each other.
16. Some of our most memorable ‘dates’ are very simple. We have a better time just hanging out on the patio with a bottle of wine versus spending a small fortune in a stuffy restaurant!
17. Write a note or card detailing what first excited you about each other when you met. Post it on the refrigerator. Refer to it often.
18. Marriage always gets better if you hang on, and the best is yet to come.

And one bonus tip from me, in gratitude for all your advice: Remember that love is a choice, not a feeling. Our feelings change with our mood and our circumstances, but our actions and attitudes speak volumes. When we act lovingly, we begin to feel more in love.

I am thankful for all the love and joy in my life, and I wish you all more of the same!

What is your favorite marriage tip?

Photo by photostock courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net

Happy Anniversary

 

Our happy day back in 1995

It’s hard to believe I’m celebrating my 16th wedding anniversary this week. We were certainly different people back then and have really grown up together. It reminds me that we shouldn’t be surprised when we think, “This is not the person I married.” We all change and grow so dramatically (or we should) every decade of our lives, that we can’t possibly be the same person years down the road. (Read We all married the wrong person for more on that.) It makes marriage much more interesting that our lives, habits, and interests change over time.

I wanted to give a quick thanks to all of you readers and contributors to this blog for teaching me more about a strong marriage. And, of course, a big thank you to my husband for his commitment, love and patience over the years as we have figured things out together. And to all those personal or virtual friends who have served as positive role models for loving marriages: Thanks to you as well. I’m very grateful for the friendship and love that have surrounded this blog.

How have we fared well so far after 21 years (including 5 years of dating)? A sense of humor and an openness to change have propelled our relationship. Our joy and challenges with parenting and our shared faith life have brought us closer together. Over the years, we also learned (slowly) that a willingness to forgive the little things and move on have kept us from carrying grudges that would weaken the marriage. We support one another’s hopes and dreams by listening and nudging each other along. We have a lot more to learn, and I can say I’m not bored or tired of being with the same person for more than two decades.

So in honor of our anniversary, how long have you been married? And what is one marriage tip you would like to share?