How to keep joy in your life [marriage] all year long

This has been quite a winter.  The holidays were great, but very busy.  It was the first time in 12 years that we were all together – children, spouses and grandchildren on Christmas Day.  Three weeks later our youngest son was married to a fantastic young woman.  A wonderful weekend filled with joy and love as it was shared with family and friends.  We had made plans to go south to escape the cold but it is not exactly warm where we are in the South.  Hopefully it will warm up as the month unfolds.  While I would have preferred being on the beach this morning, we lay snuggled in bed with the heat on and began to talk about what we should write this week.  I came across another article by Michelle DeAngelis from Redbook magazine that, while aimed at everyone, has some specific insights that can be applied to marriage.

Play more!

The past months have been quite busy.  Our best attempts at having fun together involved a quiet lunch out once in a while.  We have for some time known the value of having a little fun together.  While this might take different forms for different couples, having play time is important.  Many young families today make play dates for their children, so perhaps making play dates with each other is equally as important.  Before we were married and, being poor college students, we began to play by going to a park with a picnic lunch, visiting furniture stores to dream or going to book stores and talking about books we’d each like to read.  Early in our marriage we began to tour model homes.  While we did purchase our homes from doing this we toured model homes even when we weren’t looking for one.  We still enjoy doing this even when we are away from home.  Going to an outlet mall is another thing we do, even if we aren’t particularly shopping.  Lately we have begun to watch several TV series together.  We have always dreamed about traveling, and while we did a little when our children were young, since they are on their own we do at least one major trip usually outside the country each year.  Sometimes playing is just making silly remarks to each other.  We have placed a priority on having fun together.  Our ways of playing may seem lame to others but it works for us and that is what is important.

Experience the power of choosing.

“How was your day?” is a question often asked of spouses when they reconnect at the end of the day.  The response is often’ same old grind’ or ‘just like yesterday’.  Weekends are often the same for couples as well.  Laundry, cleaning and other chores must be done.  Children need to be driven to activities.  Church at the usual time is fit into many weekends.  Many couples even make love at a given time each weekend.  While routine is good and freeing, at times it gives us the sensation that we are in a rut.  Choosing change is not a option to be avoided.  Make some decisions to help make your life more fun.  Skip the chores one week and play more.  Get a sitter and go to an event you’ve wanted to attend for sometime.  If you frequently spend the weekend bickering, make a decision to not do so for a time.  The important thing to remember is that we have the power to change our lives.  We have the power to make things different in our relationship.  Do a few jobs together.  Talk with each other about your needs and expectations.  We start most days by asking each other what is the POA.  What is the plan of action?  We have found that we can make changes, have fun and still accomplish much of what we need to do.  It is important to choose things that are fun as well.

Release what you don’t need.

I have never been a saver and Bob has pack rat tendencies.  We together have learned through the years to give up things we don’t use or need and to let go of emotional or psychological things that weigh us down.  We try once a year to go through the storage area in our basement and get rid of things. We also try to clean up the garage as well, as it becomes the dumping place when we are busy.  In addition, each year after Christmas I donate decorations we haven’t used in a couple of years.  There was a time when I thought of passing things on to children and I will do so with a few treasured things, but for the most part they want to acquire things that having meaning to them.  I operate under the idea that everything should have a place and be in its place.  Many people comment on the organization neatness of neatness of our home.  I find that this has made my life easier.  When we get home from this trip we have already decided to work together by taking everything out of our closets and putting back what we need and to do the same in the kitchen and in the garage.  We actually have fun doing this as we discover things we hadn’t seen in a while, sometimes years, and share memories of the time we bought an item, or thought we needed it.  It is also good to do this with emotional baggage.  Letting go of things you can’t change about each other or friends and family makes life easier.  There are enough new things happening that I don’t need to hang on to things from the past.  Streamline your life, whether it is possessions or hurts and regrets.  Get rid of things you don’t need and put more joy in your life.  If you can’t get rid of things because they are filled with memories, take pictures of them.  You will find that pictures often do the same thing as the actual item and they take up much less space.

Be present.

While learning from the past and preparing for the future are important, living in the present is of utmost value.  We might not have to revisit the past so much if we are conscious of the present.  Spend time actually listening to each other and being present to each other.  I know I’m not doing that when I have to be reminded that I did know something or was told something.  As years pass I recognize that they get more precious.  Yes I want to have memories as we age and perhaps at some time I will be alone, but to do so I must live in the moment.  Take a walk whether it is on the beach, as we hope to do today, or just in the neighborhood.  Speak with each other about what is going on in your life.  Especially share the good things.  Set aside a particular time each day to be present to each other.  It might be first thing in the morning or the last thing of the day.  It could perhaps be a fun lunch together when the kids are at school.  This works if your jobs are near each other.  It might be a phone call, email or text in the course of the day.  Let go of everything else if only for a few minutes and give each other the attention you gave to him/her on your wedding day.  It will make the future brighter and there will be less from the past to regret.

Put a little joy in your life.  We’d appreciate comments or feedback.

 

Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:

Living Together in the Word

Bob & Rita’s book:  Forever and Day:  An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us.  Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time.  Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.

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About Rita & Bob Boeke

Rita Boeke has experience teaching scripture and with her husband Bob has experience in enriching marriages through workshops and retreats. They post a weekly blog at thewonderofmarriage.com and co-authored Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime.
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