Although The Wedding Anniversary seems to be the key date that most couples tend to focus on, for some reason I often feel that April 20th is the more significant of the two because this is day that I actually met Sara for the first time face-to-face. We’d e-mailed and chatted over the phone for a couple of weeks prior, but it was on this day in 2006 that we finally sucked it up and made plans to meet at a local Applebee’s down the street from Sara’s apartment – our first official date.

Of course, that was four years ago already – wow – and sometimes it’s amazing to think of just how far we’ve come together in our relationship. It certainly hasn’t been easy – most things worth doing aren’t – but on this day I thought I’d take just a moment to reflect back on a few key points that I’ve noticed about how we’ve gotten where we are now and “advice” that I might offer up to others, if you will…

Rarely will things ever be 100% equal.
Someone will always make more money, spend more money, do more than their fair share of the chores, or appear to have more free time to do the things that they want to do. It sounds like a great idea, but in practice complete and total equality just isn’t very realistic. The sooner you learn to accept that and embrace the ebbs and flows of responsibility, the less fights you’ll have over who’s turn it is to do the dishes.

Talk about the things that are awkward to talk about.
In fact, the more awkward they feel, the more important it probably is for you to explore those avenues and get those thoughts out in the open. I honestly believe that if your relationship is truly unconditional like marriage is supposed to be, there shouldn’t be anything that the two of you can’t talk about, and besides, often times you’ll come out of the experience even closer to each other than when you started. Talking is always a good thing.

Figure out your household’s finances … as quickly as possible!
It’s so easy to fight about money – not having enough, not being able to spend it as you wish or do the things you want, stressing to make ends meet. That’s why our #1 goal after Sara graduated was to really dig in and start focusing on getting our budget back in order because right now we’re simply not ready to take our next steps in life (house, baby, changes to my career). Of course, it’s a result of not being as fiscally responsible over the last several years a la wedding, vacations, and so forth, but eventually it comes time to pay the piper … and as a bonus, even only four months into our debt repayment, we’ve already made significant progress and are feeling great about it!

Take time to stop and enjoy your time together.
Especially when you’re focused and working really hard to achieve a major goal like paying your way out of debt, it’s easy to lose track of yourselves and grow farther apart as you each do your own thing. Don’t. Make the most of the time that you do have, plan extra time where you can be together and not be distracted – always keep in mind that the whole point of focusing on something important is ultimately to better your lives together, so don’t lose each other in the process.

Strive to make each other feel special.
It can be through little things like a random text message to say “I was thinking about you…” or a nice foot massage after a long day, or even more encompassing surprises like the mystery vacation that my wife is planning this year for our anniversary. Whatever you do, strive to always find new and interesting ways to show your partner that you genuinely care. In my case, sometimes that even means my wife willingly bringing peanut butter into our home – if that isn’t love, I don’t know what is!

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