When a couple is struggling in their marriage, the last thing they want to focus upon is their wedding anniversary. And the questions begin to swirl around in their minds:
Will we go out to dinner together?
Should I get him a gift? A card?
What will I do if he wants to have sex?
I hope he doesn’t post something on Facebook, extolling his lasting love for me…
Maybe I should make other plans to take the pressure off…
Wedding anniversaries can elicit fear and confusion when the marriage is on the rocks. It can make us question everything we think we’re supposed to do or what we’ve done in years before.
Here are five key survival strategies to get through the day, manage your emotions, remain true to yourself, honor your needs and maybe even feel good about it:
1. Do “you”
Plan something nurturing for yourself on the day of your anniversary. Not for you as a couple, but for you personally, so that you can be in a calm emotional space for whatever the rest of the day holds. Go to the spa for a long massage. Curl up with a great cup of coffee, a warm blanket, and a great book. Have lunch with a girlfriend that has always been loving and supportive of you.
2. Focus on your actions; Not his
Sometimes when there’s a conflict between couples on the day of their anniversary, they become afraid of not doing enough to acknowledge the day but hesitate to give too much and potentially send the wrong message. In such a situation, do what feels good for you, without overthinking it. Don’t worry about how he’ll interpret those actions or feel about it. His reaction or interpretation is not your business; your intention and following what feels good for you is your business.
3. Commit to personal honesty
Be honest with yourself about how you’re feeling and what you’re emotionally capable of in any given moment. Be honest with yourself about what you need and don’t be afraid to express that to others, so they can be equipped to meet your needs. Lastly, be honest about what you express to your spouse; only share loving sentiments that feel sincere and authentic for you so that you’re not betraying yourself.
4. Plan in advance
Think of you with your head down on your pillow to finally go to sleep the night of your anniversary. As you’re drifting off to sleep, what are three descriptive words that that describe how you want to feel in that moment: Content? Proud? Relieved? Hopeful? Peaceful? Start the day by setting the intention that when this day is done, you will feel how you intended to feel and you will have shown-up as the woman you wanted to be today.
5. Let it be gentle
You know how you put all this pressure of New Year’s Eve every year and make big plans only to inevitably be disappointed? Even when it’s fun, it never seems to live up to the hype and the pressure. It’s the same with your anniversary when your marriage is struggling. Don’t put a lot of pressure on it one way or the other. Don’t assume it’s going to be either amazing or a debacle. Don’t put the weight of fixing what’s been broken into a single day. Let it be gentle. Let it unfold organically. Let it feel as nurturing and filled with as much ease as possible
One day is not going to heal months or years of pain within a marriage, to do so actually sets you up for both failure and disappointment. It can be a day, however, where you treat both yourself and the relationship with kindness, compassion, honesty, and intention. It can be a day that leaves you feeling proud of how you handled it and yourself. It can even be a day that gently opens the door to the possibility of the next year of your marriage feeling much different than the last year of your marriage.