Nearly 23 years ago, I eloped with the man of my dreams, tying the knot wearing jeans and a black turtleneck in a tiny attorney's office in Antigua, Guatemala. During our first 10 years of marriage, we never failed to celebrate our anniversary in a splashy manner -- befitting of a young couple very much in love. I remember once my husband gave me a package of six ballroom dance lessons -- a staggeringly romantic gesture from a man who, once released from the awkward rituals of dating, seemed determined never to set foot near a dance floor again.
But, after a lovely 10th anniversary party, the reality of three children and two full-time jobs and home renovation and extended family issues started to encroach on our couple time and I began to believe that simply being able to count on this man was worth its weight in anniversary chocolates any day of the week.
As our marriage matured, I assumed we'd always be together and that people who have to celebrate occasions like anniversaries and Valentine's Day are really pretty pathetic. Shouldn't couples be kind to each other every day of the year? Well, of course they should -- in theory. But now I think I was wrong.
Over a few glasses of wine, I've told girlfriends that, somewhere along the way, the passionate kiss I used to plant on my husband's lips when he walked in the door from work morphed into a peck on the check that eventually morphed into -- on some days -- an inability to even look up from my email inbox. As I've watched several of my friends' marriages end in divorce, I know for certain how potent a force -- and how dangerous -- complacency can be in a relationship.
And so these days I believe celebrating one's anniversary must never be overlooked, as it reinforces the fact that your marriage is a priority. An anniversary celebration also allows you to pull back from your daily grind and relive a moment that changed your life forever. My mother always used to say that anyone can pull out all the stops on their wedding day. But when a couple makes it to 10 or 20 or 60 years of marriage, well, now that's something that really needs celebrating.
We asked our Facebook fans whether they still celebrate their anniversary -- and we were rewarded with an earful.
"Being married a long time is a source of pride in today's world of high divorce rates," said Susan Speetzen. "Of course being married 30+ years call for a bigger celebration than the first few years."
And here are the ways in which our fans celebrate. Have your own ideas? Let us know in comments.
1) "We will be married 45 years in March and we celebrate every year in some fashion. Some years bigger than others but always with our children and grandchildren. This year we are going to have a large family portrait done!" said Chrisenda Smith.
2) "We use it as a 'free pass' for doing something special or purchasing something to spoil ourselves to honor another year properly -- and to add to our memories. Depends on the year but we sometimes get the kids together for a cruise, a trip to Hawaii, or we purchase some item we're both in love with. We do some kind of joyous thing together that celebrates our 'us' and marriage together," said Anna Gregerson.
3) "We do dinner, movie, share memories and sometimes we even watch our wedding video," said Nancy Brovelli Mercurio.
4) "We go to a great restaurant, just the two of us. We make a plan to purchase something that we'll both enjoy," said Denice Loritsch.
5) "It depends on what's going on that day but it's always celebrated, but maybe not with a night out or gifts. One day my husband never forgets and always celebrates in some way is the date we met. Nineteen years later, we always remember that day!" said Terri Tuscano Stokes.
6) "We just celebrated 32 years and why not? We're still deeply in love and look forward to our special day every year. Sometimes we celebrate with a dinner/movie date or a day sightseeing someplace we haven't been. Sometimes we go away for a weekend. We're always looking for new ways to celebrate our long-lasting marriage," said Kate Burt.
7) "We take a cruise," said Rachel Cracken Herbig.
8) "On Dec. 19 it will be 45 wonderful years. We usually go eat at a good Chinese restaurant. My husband is retired with chemical depression and we just enjoy thanking God for what he has done for him. He doesn't like to get out so we will probably eat and get back to our side-by-side recliners. Sometimes we talk to each other without ever saying a word. God gave me the best," said Lois Daniel Skipworth.
9) "We always make a point to celebrate... next month is 31! Marriage is hard work, and celebrating all you do to stay in love and happy is very important. We often plan a vacation around our anniversary but at least dinner and a nice time to be together and talk about us. We don't normally buy gifts, but instead buy a memory," said Laureen Lund.
10) "We always go out to a nice dinner, just the two of us, and talk about the best parts of the last year and what we hope to do and look forward to in the next year," said Rachel Jacobson.