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Q&A with J: How to Celebrate an Anniversary

It’s another Q&A with J day, but frankly I’m exhausted. I went a conference in Chicago last week, and then my husband joined me for a few days of rest, relaxation, and sightseeing. On Sunday and Monday, I walked over 14,000 steps, and on Tuesday, I walked 18,848 steps!

So let’s imagine this is the question y’all asked: How should a couple celebrate their anniversary?

It’s a good question, right? Surely, someone out there wants to know the answer!

Blog post title + illustration of couple embracing

1. Acknowledge your interests and values.

What do you both enjoy doing? What do you do together well? My hubby (“Spock”) and I love to explore new places and visit museums. So when I scheduled a trip to Chicago for a conference, we saw the opportunity to explore a city we hadn’t been to before and set The Art Institute and The Field Museum as our two must-sees.

J and Spock on the steps of The Field Museum with Chicago skyline behind them
On The Field Museum steps with Chicago Skyline behind us

Other couples would prefer dinner and dancing, a party with family and friends, a beach vacation, a tent-camping trip (what’s wrong with you people?), or even snuggling up on the couch for a weekend movie marathon. That’s great! Don’t fall for the pressure of This Is How You Celebrate; rather, do your own thing and let your celebration remind you of why you enjoy being in one another’s company.

2. Allow for each other’s quirks.

My husband is one of the most deliberate human beings on the face of the earth. Like how he spent five full minutes folding and putting his jacket into his suitcase. I also know that if we pause at a museum plaque, we’ll probably be there for a while.

I used to get really antsy about such things, but now I embrace that that’s just who my guy is. (Also, I prayed for patience a long time ago and God has a sense of humor, so it’s really my own fault.) I just build that time into my expectations and don’t sweat if we’re not moving through as quickly as I might on my own. In fact, that’s the point—doing our anniversary together.

View of park and Chicago skyline from Maggie Daley Park
Taking a leisurely stroll through Maggie Daley Park in Chicago

When you consider how to celebrate your anniversary, think about your quirks and your spouse’s quirks. If she’s always late, don’t plan something where timing is crucial. If he’s a picky eater, don’t go to the new Asian-Mexican-African fusion restaurant. Plan for the quirks you know you already have so that you can avoid anxiety and just enjoy one another.

3. Avoid stress-producing topics.

While on our trip, it was tempting a couple of times to use our extended time to discuss current politics or some financial issues we need to cover. But we navigated away from those very quickly, because we simply wanted to refresh and reconnect. And wouldn’t you know—discussing Congressional hearings or retirement planning is apparently not the way to relax!

Yes, you might have some topics you need or want to discuss — whether your relationship, your children, our finances, or something else — but hold off. This is a celebration! No one stops in the middle of an Easter egg hunt or Christmas present opening to discuss heavy issues. Your anniversary deserves the same kind of focus.

4. Appreciate the good years.

Spock and I have been married for 25 years. How many of those were good years? Definitely not 25. Maybe 20? But we held on in those five or so years and rebuilt our relationship with a solid foundation that set the stage for many happy years to come.

J and Spock sitting on the bench in the elevator of the Drake Hotel
Sitting on the lush bench in the elevator of The Drake Hotel in Chicago

On the day set aside to honor your marriage, you don’t need to dwell on the bad stuff or even the stuff you still need to work on. Embrace what makes you glad you’re still married and celebrate that. Commemorating the positive will give you inspiration and hope for the future.

5. Arouse and excite one another intimately.

When I posted the above picture in my closed Facebook group, a couple of people commented that they expected some hot things to be going on between Spock and me in that elevator. I added the comment: “Wow, what y’all think of us! Lol. Our hotel room was only steps away, you know. ;)” And yes, we made reasonably good use of the bed. Gaye of Calm.Healthy.Sexy. wrote about this with 5 Ways “Hotel Sex” Can Improve Your Marriage.

Whether you’re in a posh hotel room, your own bedroom, or the floor of a camping tent (seriously, how is that a vacation?), pay extra attention to your physical connection. Take a little more time with one another’s bodies or try something different. Express extra affection as you touch, caress, and kiss. Remind one another of why this relationship in particular is different from all others—including the intimacy you experience as one flesh.

But all of this actually can start with holding hands as you walk into a restaurant, a party, or a museum; lingering with your eye contact; speaking lovingly to one another; and flirting with playful innuendo and suggestive touches. This is the time to awaken all those senses and enjoy the mutual experience of physical pleasure.

Your turn: What are your tips for having a great anniversary?

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21 thoughts on “Q&A with J: How to Celebrate an Anniversary”

  1. You went all the way to chicago to see museums and did not go to the museum of science an industry to see the u-505? Praying for you J. ?

    1. It was third on our list of museums! We just ran out of time, meaning we have to go back someday. 🙂

  2. My husband is one that loves tent camping (in mountains) for vacation. I enjoy it too, but he REALLY likes it. So we do that for most vacations (with kids). But he knows that I don’t prefer intimacy when I haven’t showered in several days. So he has learned to plan a hotel stay every 4-5 days or so, depending on how long we’re camping. And there are times when we do the nice hotel stay just for us, sans kids.

  3. I hate anniversaries. And birthdays. And new years. And valentines day. any other day thats supposed to be a “celebration”.

    Only once in 25 years.

    1. Why? It’s an opportunity to show extra appreciation for something in life. I actually like the personal holidays best: birthdays, anniversaries, etc.

      1. Admittedly, it’s a difficult concept to grasp if you’re not wired that way to begin with. The problem is it’s not “acceptable” for a lot of those people, and that’s their problem to work through.

        For me, it’s attention-avoidance; just don’t acknowledge the fact that it’s my birthday, and we’ll be fine. If you need a special dinner or gift or trip to commemorate our anniversary…fine…I can accommodate that. I’ll be present & pleasant. My only ask is that you please don’t give me grief when I tell you I don’t want or need anything to commemorate it.

        For me, it even carries over to work; I’ve gone to great lengths to keep my name off of the monthly emails that go’out to our entire department that identify the upcoming birthdays and anniversaries. My bosses have all asked, “Why this is such a big I casually point out that it’s them rehashing the topic; I simply copied them in on my request so they knew not to do something amongst our team to acknowledge it.

        1. Oh well, I don’t celebrate my birthday on Facebook. I will cop to that. Because I’d rather it be a smaller celebration, so I guess I sort of, kind of understand. But when you’re in a relationship, you might need to negotiate that a little. Sometimes it’s important to someone in your family to acknowledge your birthday even if you’d rather not, and letting them do so shows respect and appreciation for them.

      2. When I said once in 25 years, I meant only once in 25 years was sex ever a part of any celebration. Thats including anniversaries and Valentine’s day.

        Thats why I hate them.

        1. John,
          Was your wife like this when you were dating? (Not the sex part) but lack of affection, acknowledgment etc?

    2. I’m with you here, John; celebrations…especially ones that involve me directly…are events I do everything possible to avoid.

  4. Sounds like Chicago was awesome.

    My wife and I like to watch HGTV together. We know that some of it might be staged, but house hunters, hawaii life, island life and fixer upper we like.

    Farmers Markets and going on a trip once a year.

    The nice thing about trips, is mentally the trip starts a couple of months before departure as we figure out where we are going stay as the anticipation of going to beach and romancing together. Even a couple of months after the trip is over, the memory of that trip is still fresh.

    Hawaii is a favorite destination. Love going to the Royal Kona Resort Hotel, where there are portraits of Hawaiian Royalty dating back centuries that ended in the late 1890’s.

    Would consider next trip in the Carolinas or a Gulf Coast state as we consider where we will retire.

  5. I love going on a special date on Valentine’s with my wife, when it comes to Anniversaries we’ll have a special little date as well.

    We’ll combine our birthday and Anniversary gifts into one, our vacation trip as it seems we have collected enough physical gifts.

    I’m glad Valentine’s day exist as it gives couples the opportunity be mutual “sweeties”, though we should be sweeties anyway.

    Anniversaries gives us the opportunity to appreciate that special day when we said “I do”.

  6. We try to have the same meal for our anniversary as we had for our wedding night. For our tenth anniversary we happened to be near the beach where we got married, so on our anniversary Eve we camped in the sand dunes, and woke up the next morning to watch the sunrise from where we said ‘I do’ (while drinking tea out of a thermos) It wasn’t fancy, but was very ‘us’ and was full of memories and reminiscing about our first ten years.

    This year (12th) we got a combined anniversary gift of a bigger thermos, so we can drink even more tea when we are not near a kettle! (We don’t actually do a lot of camping, but we do quite a few day trips)

    For the first few years, celebrating our anniversary was not particularly important to either of us, we would do something, but it wasn’t a ‘big deal’. Lately, I have been feeling like it has become a more important celebration, even if what we do hasn’t really changed much, i appreciate the celebration each year in a way I kind of took for granted in the early years.

  7. We don’t typically take anniversary “trips”; most years I get an arrangement of flowers (roses for the first 12(?) years, one rose for each year, then it started varying), I get him a card and we go to dinner. The best anniversary I can remember was our 8th at the Grand Canyon, as we were on a road trip around the southwest and this was where we happened to be when the day came. After a hike down and back up Bright Angel trail (well, part of it) we sat in the Arizona Room (although we weren’t staying there) overlooking the Canyon and eating prime rib and chocolate lava cake :).

    We’re about to take our first “real’ vacation in 10 years, and while it’s not an anniversary trip per se we did just celebrate 18 years a few weeks ago. This time it’s Wyoming – Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. No camping (although we do this occasionally), but we both love the National Parks and hope to be one of those “old” couples we see hiking around together. Given that it will still be chilly in that part of the country, I’m sure there will be snuggling back at the B&B after spending the day looking for bison and wolves, and photographing everything in bloom. Then we’ll come back home and prepare to move from our house into a trailer across town while we wait for our new house to be built. As I told the husband in his card, “Whatever the adventure, as long as we’re together!”

  8. One thing I love about anniversaries is taking a trip down memory lane. I love it when we reminisce how we started. Looking back all the years that have passed and having where we are now in our marriage makes me so proud.

    1. Indeed! We actually talked about how the wrinkles we’ve gotten through the years are just laugh lines from the times we’ve had together. 🙂

  9. I had to really think about the last time we took a trip somewhere for our anniversary – wow, has it been that long?? Virginia Beach, 2010. Ocean City, and Luray, Virginia, famous for its caverns were frequent spots before that. We always do something, though, no matter how small. Even if it’s a nice, order-in dinner at home with a movie. She loves the beach; I love the mountains. It pretty much works in reverse, too: I like the beach; she’s okay with the mountains. She can’t do camping; I could, but obviously never have, with her. But we never, ever skip an anniversary celebration of some kind.

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