My friend Kathleen told me recently that she likes the way I like to celebrate everything. This past month has put that aspect of my personality front and center as I worked to get my second book published.
When I finally finished editing Unexpected Superhero, I threw my hands in the air and high-fived God! 😉 Then I made something delicious for dinner, opened a bottle of wine, and squealed when John came home.
Then I worked another couple of days to get the Kindle version of the book ready and for sale on Amazon. More good food – chocolate was involved this time – more squealing and celebrating.
It took me another week to get the print version out. (It just came out on Saturday! Woo-hooo!) Margaritas, baby! More celebrating.
I've been working full-time-plus on this book since March, plus many, many many months of work before that. If I had waited until Saturday to finally begin celebrating, I don't know that I would've had the strength and energy to keep up so many long days in a row.
And that's just a book! It takes a lot more energy to live with and love another person every single day for 40 or 50 or 70 years! So here's my recipe for adding some positive energy to your marriage.
1. Celebrate Small Victories and Accomplishments
All those steps above, and many smaller ones, got some kind of recognition and celebration from me. And my wonderful husband usually joined in, if only with a “Good job, baby, I'm proud of you!” It gave me energy to keep going. Marriage needs that, too.
Maybe it's making the final payment on a credit card and making a ceremony out of cutting up the card and promising each other never to use it again. Maybe it's unpacking that last box, or finishing the unfinished basement together. There is so much never-ending work in life, we need to add in some fun.
Do you need to spend all weekend doing lawn work and spring cleaning? When you're done, make s'mores in the fire pit, or put up your beach umbrella in the back yard and listen to the radio and dance together.
Getting ready for a garage sale? Decide to take $40 of the proceeds and go out alone together doing something you both like to do – a favorite restaurant, a musical event, even if the $40 only covers the babysitter, you can go for a hike or a bike ride or something else that you like to do together.
2. Celebrate Big Victories and Accomplishments
This one might seem obvious, but when you're going 100 miles an hour, you often feel you only have time for gassing up in the pit stop, and new tires will have to wait. I don't watch NASCAR, but I've seen segments where a car's tire blows and the driver knows he's lost his edge. You can minimize this in your marriage, just like a great NASCAR team can minimize this in a race.
My friend Kathleen brought up my tendency to celebrate often when I asked how she was celebrating her third book coming out, and what is she going to do to celebrate finishing her contract on time, even though the fourth book wouldn't be out for a few months yet. (No Ordinary Owl, book 4 of The S.A.V.E. Squad series, by Lauraine Snelling and Kathleen Wright, comes out September 1. You can buy the whole set for your pre-teen in time for Christmas!) Lauraine and Kathleen and I went out to lunch together and make a big deal of it. I think it gave Kathleen a boost of energy to work on her next book.
These examples are to remind you of what you can be celebrating right now in your marriage. Anyone get promoted? Miss the lay-off? That's a good reason to celebrate! Another month or another year of being cancer-free? Celebrate! The anniversary of the day you decided not to get divorced and work this thing out? Celebrate that day as well as your wedding anniversary.
3. Celebrate each other (and other people)
Some days I just feel like making John feel like the most special man in the world. No particular reason why. I want to eat whatever he wants, do whatever he wants, spoil him in whatever way I can. (Foot massages are often called for here.) Sometimes he looks at me suspiciously and asks me why. No, I'm not buttering him up to ask for something. 😛 I just want him to know that I'm very grateful he's a part of my life.
John and I also try to make a point as often as we can (and I too often feel I don't do this enough with enough people) to celebrate our friends' victories. Our friend Doug just bought a new house – yay! Our friend David just got promoted to detective – yay! Our friends Sean and Catherine are starting a new adventure in Virginia soon – yay! And those are just the things we celebrated this weekend!
Life is hard. We need injections of positive energy and gratitude to keep us going. Keep your eyes open and you'll find all kinds of things to celebrate about each other and with each other. Without trying to dissect the biological and spiritual reasons why, the fact is that gratitude makes life better, easier, and more fun.
So find a reason to celebrate – and do it together!