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Celebrate your marriage!

After forgetting your third anniversary in a row, he’s definitely not high on your list of people to treat! And the bunch of wilted carnations he bought from the corner shop only made matters worse ... Are you being unreasonable?

On the contrary! If hubby forgot your anniversary, he deserves little more than the cold shoulder from your side. But is it really worth punishing him? Probably not. He didn’t forget the date because he wanted to punish you, but because he simply isn’t geared to remember it, say countless psycologists. (Yet he has no problem remembering a colleague’s bachelor party, or the Bull’s next game ... how do you explain that?) Celebrating your wedding anniversary is vitally important for your relationship, advise experts. They also say that it isn’t only your wedding you should celebrate, but also your marriage, on a regular basis. So, if the Adam in your life has selective memory, make sure he reads this article!

Why all the fuss?
A wedding anniversary is one of the most heartfelt celebrations a couple can share. It’s a great way of showing that your love and commitment is still as strong as the day you made your vows to each other, and of remembering why you chose to spend your lives together in the first place. While some couples go away for the occasion, others purchase traditional gifts of paper, cotton, and other traditionally symbolic items. But why so important? This is a time to honour the love that you share with your partner and to commemorate the hills and valleys that you’ve conquered in your married life. It confirms your commitment to your spouse and allows a glimpse into the future and a look back into the past, especially the day you made a lifelong commitment to one another.

Why do anniversaries cause a mind block for so many men?
When it comes to anniversaries, men are inclined to either forget them, are too lazy to remember them or they feel so overwhelmed and anxious about choosing the perfect gift that they feign forgetting it. In the well-known sitcom Friends, Chandler experienced this same worry when Monica decided they had to give each other homemade gifts for their anniversary! Time is also a common problem for modern couples who usually only realise its their anniversary the day before, by which time it’s too late to plan anything special. Make a note of it in your diary and also a few weeks before so that you have enough time to plan something special.

A few tips for your first anniversary:

1. Give each other a gift that commemorates your anniversary. It doesn’t have to be something extravagant — there are few things as romantic as writing a heartfelt poem or letter, which won’t cost you anything but time and creativity.

2. Many couples freeze the top layer of their wedding cake and then eat it on their first wedding anniversary. If you didn’t freeze your cake, you could make a similar cake to your wedding cake and decorate it with the cake topper or the kinds of flowers you had at your wedding.

3. Enjoy your first dance as man and wife again! Put on your finest outfits, play your song, and take each other for a spin across your living room floor, bedroom or garden — whichever is most comfortable.

4. Make popcorn, snuggle on the couch, and reminisce about your wedding while watching the video of it and going through your album again.

5. Go back to where you had your reception and order something that was on your wedding menu. If you can’t make it to the same venue, cook something from your wedding day menu at home.

6. Return to your original honeymoon destination — or pick a new romantic getaway where you can spend this special day. If you do return to your original destination, you can visit all of the places you went and enjoy doing the same things you did on honeymoon. There’s no lovelier way to celebrate an anniversary than by de-stressing in a beautiful place with nothing to do but spend time with one another.

7. Having an anniversary party might seem like a very clichéd idea, but it’s an especially great one for couples who never had a reception or for those who eloped. Celebrating with close family and friends is a way for you to thank them for their continued help and support during your first year as husband and wife.

8. Buy your favourite brand of champagne or make the signature cocktail you served at your wedding reception, and toast one another. This is a great way of sharing the feelings you have for one another a year after you committed to spending your lives together.

9. You can renew your vows formally with a pastor, and guests can attend as they would a wedding. Or you could do something more private for just the two of you.

10. Relive your wedding night with great sex! This is a great way of starting your second year of marriage together. Cover the bed in rose petals, light the candles, put on your sexiest lingerie, and enjoy one another.

For him: If you want to stay in her good books ...
If you’ve ever thought that the concept of an ‘anniversary’ was dreamt up by a florist who saw an opportunity to prey on vulnerable romantics, and that it’s ‘overrated’, think again! You’re sure to get into big trouble if she doesn’t agree. Here are a few ideas to celebrate the perfect anniversary, even if it is only for the sake of the beautiful woman who picks your socks up every morning!

  • Start the day right by getting up before she does. Prepare her a special breakfast and serve this to her in bed. Plan the menu beforehand and buy all the ingredients the day before your anniversary. Place a single red rose on her breakfast tray for romantic effect.
  • This next suggestion takes a little more time and effort, but it’ll be worth it when you see her reaction! Compile pictures and videos from your wedding and make a slideshow of these videos and pictures. Let her watch this while the two of you cuddle in bed.
  • Present your wife with a huge bunch of her favorite flowers. Nothing makes a woman feel more special than her husband giving her flowers. Order these a day in advance and have them delivered straight to your doorstep.
  • If you both love music, arrange for tickets to a concert happening on your anniversary. If there aren’t any, going to a musical or a play is also a good option.
  • Use your wedding anniversary as an excuse to go on a much-needed vacation, or to explore new places together. Have you and your wife been dreaming of a visit to Paris? Were you planning to visit the Maldives one day? Plan ahead of time to save up for that dream anniversary destination.
  • Another way to spend the day is to go to a spa together. Resorts and day spas usually offer a variety of holistic and romantic experiences for couples to enjoy. They focus on rejuvenation and physical pampering — perfect if you are both stressed from work.
  • Instead of the usual watch and jewellery set, why not surprise her with something you’ve both been meaning to do. If she’s been dreaming of taking a hot air balloon ride, arrange this as a surprise for her. It’ll definitely give you something to brag to your grandchildren about!

For her: a few unusual ideas ...

  • Give him a ‘first date’ basket with an assortment of items that symbolise your first date. If you visited a coffee shop, give him a packet of coffee beans, a slice of cake and a CD with the music that was played that day.
  • Look up that day in history. You can look up the history of any day online — the top movies, historical happenings and more. Make a list of these things (including your wedding day) and get it framed or arranged into a scrapbook.
  • Record your love story. You probably have a very unique love story and putting it together in the form of a book can be a wonderful way of treasuring those memories in time to come.
  • Make a memory box. You probably have all sorts of wonderful memories from the past year of being together. Place everything that reminds you of your time together in a pretty box. This will make a wonderful gift and when he opens it, he’ll be reminded of how wonderful it is to be married to you!

Traditional anniversary gifts

FIRST: On your first anniversary, it’s traditional to give each other paper (which could be a huge disappointment after the huge stone he gave you, if he isn’t careful!). Modern times also dictate that a watch is acceptable. Paper can include: a beautiful piece of art, notebook, photo album, tickets and books. A watch can be anything from a wristwatch to a decorative wall clock.
The right flower? a Carnation

FIFTH: For the fifth year, the traditional gift is wood and the modern one silverware. If you prefer wood, you can give something such as wooden beads, a pretty frame or wooden art.
The right flower? a Daisy

TENTH: Diamond jewellery is given on the tenth anniversary. If this doesn’t suit your pocket, tin or aluminium is the traditional gift — which can be given in the form of a watch, cups, jewellery holder or even décor.
The right flower? a Daffodil

TWENTIETH: For the twentieth anniversary, the perfect gift is porcelain, with the modern one being platinum. Porcelain can be given in the form of cups or pretty functional art, and no-one will say no to a set of platinum earrings.
The right flower? a Crysanthemum

TWENTY-FIFTH: If you’re priveleged enough to reach your twentieth anniversary, the acceptable gift to give is silver or sterling silver in the form of silverware, plates, bowls and vases.
The right flower? an Iris

THIRTIETH: Pearls and diamonds are given by a coupe who has reached their thirtieth wedding anniversary and can easily be given in the form of jewellery.
The right flower? a Lilly

The years that follow these consist of predominantly precious and semi-precious stones. Coral is traditional for the thirty fifth wedding anniversary, while rubies are given for the fortieth, sapphires for the forty-fifth and gold for the fiftieth. Emeralds are given for the fifty-fifth, while diamonds symbolise the sixtieth and platinum the seventieth. Interestingly enough — if you’re lucky enough to reach your eightieth anniversary, oak is the traditional gift (we kid you not!) and if you’re still alive and healthy enough to appreciate a ten-carat diamond, you can give that to each other on your hundredth anniversary!

Celebrate your marriage ... every day !
It isn’t traditional spoils that keep a marriage together, but those small things you do for each other daily that remind you of why you found eachother attractive all those years ago and confirm your commitment to one another.

1. Tell him you love him
Share your most loving thoughts. "We tend to get caught up in complaining — he doesn't say this or do that — but it's so important to affirm out loud what a great guy he is, and why you fell in love with him, and love him so much today," believes Gloria Richfield, Ph.D. Next time he makes you laugh, tell him how incredible it is to be married to a guy with such a terrific sense of humour; or first thing in the morning, before your feet touch the floor, let him hear that whatever the workday holds won’t phase you, because you know you'll see him tonight.

2. Talk about the future
All new couples love to daydream about the future — the places they'll go, the parties they'll throw, the house they'll renovate — but that habit tends to fall by the wayside when you're in a long-standing union. To get that sense of anticipation going again, and ensure the coming years contain the highlights you're hoping for, visualise your future together. Plan a romantic getaway, a wilderness adventure or something closer to home, like putting a Jacuzzi in your bathroom — and make this happen.

3. Give "just because" gifts
Instead of going for expensive items on suitable occasions, a writer and mother of three in California and her husband, Bill, give gifts when the appropriate occasion strikes, despite what the calendar may say. "When I noticed that I was bored silly with seeing him in the same suit everyday, I took him shopping for a new one, and when he saw that a writer's conference was coming to a college near us, he signed me up to help my journalism career along," she says. "Those kinds of gifts make us feel connected, like we're looking out for each other all year long."

4. Keep a sex diary
"During our first anniversary dinner, after a little too much wine, my husband toasted our sex life and a particularly unusual spot in which we'd done the deed," exclaims a portrait artist from Texas. "We began reminiscing and wrote down, in the back of my datebook, every place we'd ever had sex. Now, every anniversary dinner, we update that list, and if the new locations aren't numerous or exciting enough, we challenge ourselves to do better next year. It's silly but fun, and allows us to obsess over our sex life a little."

5. Take the "happy" challenge
Your child's favorite shirt has gone AWOL and you've forgotten to pay the electricity for a week now. On top of all of this, you're expected to commit random acts of kindness for your husband! Well, yes, say the experts — you've got to make an effort to pamper that life partner of yours. "Ask yourself: 'What one little thing can I do to make this person happy today?” suggests Judith Wallerstein, Ph.D. It can be something as small as bringing a cup of coffee with just the right amount of milk or calling during the day to say, "I'm thinking about you." Those little deeds make a guy feel appreciated, nurtured — and altogether in love with the institution of marriage.

6. Toast each other
Be sure to recognise the good stuff regularly. "We inherited this huge champagne glass from my grandparents — it holds almost a whole bottle of bubbly — and any time we have an excuse, we bring it down and drink to our life together," explains one woman who works at a law firm. "We've used it on anniversaries, when we closed on our house and when either of us got a promotion or a new job." If you didn't receive a pair of champagne glasses as a wedding present, buy some now and put them to use — often.

7. Get professional photographs taken
If, like most couples, the only recent photograph you have is of your forearm bracing your child as she tries out her new Jolly Jumper, invest in having a professional photo taken of you and your man, frame it, and squeeze it in between those baby pictures covering the hallway wall. This permanent record of the two of you, beaming at each other, will reinforce your happiness whenever you glance at it.

8. Avoid usual topics
When you do have some quality time together — maybe on Sunday morning while the kids are watching cartoons — don't let conversation fall into its usual rut, says Dr. Wallerstein, be it complaining about the boss or strategising about how to get your toddler to eat something other than peas. "Really talking — about your hopes, say, or your innermost thoughts — has an energizing effect on the relationship and helps you better know and appreciate each other," she says.

9. Check on your sleeping children — together
The ideal time to moon over them is when they're sound asleep, like little angels. Tiptoe in together and revel in the fact that you made these wondrous little creatures, together. And remember, be very, very quiet.

10. Plant something
Some couples talk about how satisfying it is to plant a tree in their yard and watch it grow bigger and stronger every year as their marriage does the same. If you can't commit to something that major, even a houseplant the two of you can nurture will do.

11. Declare an extra anniversary (or two!)
Should the only celebration of your marriage be that one fancy-dinner-with-good-bottle-of-wine a year? Not a chance. Add both the day you met and the day you got engaged to the calendar as excuses to go out or give each other a special gift (even a simple candlelit massage will suffice). "I've been really inspired by a couple I know who celebrate their 'month-anniversary' — they make a big fuss over each other on the date of their wedding, every month. Hard for me to pull off, but a good goal to aim for," says one mother of two.

12. Meet someplace all dressed up
Decide to rendezvous at a venue such as a bar or museum, but do your makeup and wiggling-into-sheer-black-stockings routine at the office while he puts on a great dinner jacket and tie at home. When you then (surprise!) see each other looking your best, you'll each realise what a stunner you've landed and feel that much more intoxicated with one another.

13. Feather your nest
Futon couches are for single people. Now that you're married, acquire the goods that married folks are allowed to have, like a dining room set. Or, follow the example one New York couple sets and become art collectors: "Over years we've bought paintings or photos on themes we're interested in. They're permanent, visible, and they remind us of shared passion in our lives."

14. Make notes for each other
"My husband and I work different shifts, so we barely talk during the week," explains one mother of two from Michigan. "So we leave notes for each other in a spiral notebook. I'll say, "Last night was awesome!" and come home to find a funny little comment he's added on. Sometimes I flip through the book, and it brings back a lot of good, recent memories about our life together."

15. Bank on it
In the olden days, women known as ‘housewives’ had just-in-case funds for an emergency or, more likely, an impulsive splurge. Adapt this tradition for modern-day living by trying to save your change into a piggybank as a special anniversary-dinner fund. For more immediate gratification, you can use the cash for buying a nice bottle of wine or dinner when the kids have sleepover dates.
(Taken from 23 Ways to Celebrate Your Marriage)
There are certain occasions in life that deserve special attention, and your anniversary is one of these. There is nothing more special than celebrating the union of a happy marriage. In this day and age, divorce is so common that a 10th year of marriage can be considered a milestone in a couple’s life. Always celebrate your anniversary! This is a time to honour the love that you share with your partner. “Celebrating your marriage symbolises: ‘We’ve tackled the challenge, and look- we’re a year further than we were last year, we’ve experienced so much, and enjoyed and learnt along the way. We cherish the time we’ve spent together as husband and wife’” Advises Wilmé Steenekamp, medical doctor, psychological therapist and sexologist: “Make this day special for your partner and allow him to discover afresh why you’re the perfect life mate for him!”

What others have said about their anniversary ...

* “Our wedding was many years ago. The celebration continues to this day.” ~Gene Perret
*  “A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.” ~Paul Sweeney

*  “An anniversary is a time to celebrate the joys of today, the memories of yesterday, and the hopes of tomorrow.” ~Unknown