Celebrating Marriage: Cultivating a Joy-Filled Relationship With Your Spouse

This last week held some wonderful milestones for our little family. Our sweet girl celebrated her second birthday, and Michael and I celebrated our ninth anniversary–all on the same day! We have walked through much together in these last nine years, and my hope and prayer is that Michael and I will have the gift of continuing to walk together for many, many decades.

Celebrating Marriage: Cultivating a Joy-Filled Relationship With Your Spouse www.annswindell.com

One thing that Michael has learned about me in these past years is that I am, by nature, a celebrator. I love any excuse to throw a party, share a special meal, or take a short trip. I grew up in a family full of celebrators, and I also think that God values celebration: his Son’s entrance into the world was marked by a heavenly chorus of worship and joy, Jesus loved to share meals (with sinners!), and the end of all time will be marked by a wedding feast. God is, by nature, abundant and generous. The best kinds of celebration are full of those things, too.

And this past week, when Michael surprised me with a surprise stay at a favorite hotel and dinner out, I was reminded, again, at how important it is for us to celebrate each other. The time away as just the two of us–even thought it was less than 24 hours–focused us, again, on the beauty and power of marriage. We reminisced on all that we have walked through in the last years; we dreamed about what is ahead. And we praised God for the gift of one another, celebrating Him and the Us that He has been making. It was a gift.

Here are ways that we can celebrate one another in marriage–in big and small ways, every day of the week:

1. Celebrate the small things. Praise from a boss on the completion of a project? A child that is finally potty-trained?  Overcoming a personal obstacle? Look for ways to celebrate each other–search for ways to celebrate each other. Our marriage has been one in which we have come to enjoy celebrating one another, not just on anniversaries and birthdays, but for any number of reasons. Celebration doesn’t have to be big all the time, just intentional. An unexpected cupcake is a great way to celebrate a small victory, as is coming home with balloons to acknowledge the end of a challenging week!

Look for ways to celebrate each other--search for ways to celebrate each other. #marriage… Click To Tweet

2. Celebrate what you love about one another. One of the worst patterns we can fall into as spouses is focusing on what we dislike in our partner. We can become nit-picky, discouraging, and frustrated when we think about all that we don’t like in person we married. Instead, choose to celebrate–not just acknowledge–the wonderful aspects of your spouse. Is she a woman who is gifted in hospitality? Consider celebrating her abilities as a host by buying her something that will encourage her gift–a new set of sheets or a cookbook she’s been eyeing. Write her a note telling her that you see and appreciate how hospitable she is with others–and that you want to encourage her gift. Is he artistic? Purchase an art class voucher for him at the local community college, or set up a mini work space in an unused space in your home. Write him a note acknowledging that you value his artistic abilities and that you celebrate him pursuing that gift!

Choose to celebrate--not just acknowledge--the wonderful aspects of your spouse! #marriage… Click To Tweet

3. Celebrate in unexpected ways. Does your spouse love camping but you avoid sleeping under the stars? Consider a mesh of what you both love when it comes time to celebrate something big: perhaps glamping could bring your worlds together! Is one of you a die-hard sports fan while the other could care less? Consider getting tickets to the big game and give the gift of your time and attention to what your spouse loves for an evening or weekend–knowing that the celebration will mean that much more to your partner. When we stretch ourselves to celebrate the other in ways that are outside of our comfort zone, we may find ourselves surprised at how much fun we have!

No matter what type of celebration you bring into your marriage, the important thing is to celebrate the gift that you have in one another. Any marriage that stays together and honors the Lord is a miracle in itself–worth celebrating any day of the year!

Still Waiting by Ann Swindell

The Gift of Celebration, The Gift of Friendship

Celebrate well

I’m a celebrator by nature. I love throwing parties, surprising people, and making up excuses to celebrate the people I love. I love being the one to gather friends together to show them why they are worthy of encouragement, attention, and time. Celebrating is a love language for me.

But my birthday falls in January, which, I’ve found, is not a great time to have a birthday if you like celebrating. For most of us, January is recovery month. We’re tired, we’ve used all our vacation time, we’ve made New Year’s resolutions that forbid us from eating sugar or carbs, we’re sick of seeing people, and we just spent a lot of money at Christmas. We’re tired of celebrating once January rolls around. We want to hibernate. We want to hole away.

Therein lies my problem; birthdays are special to me.

But then, last year, a friend asked me how I would feel most loved for my birthday. She wanted to celebrate me, she said. Even in her asking, I felt loved. And I told her the truth: I wanted to be with my closest friends, and I wanted to share a meal together. No gifts, no songs—just time gathered around the table.

And that is what happened, in the cold and dreary month of January. Ten of us shared a meal. We paid for babysitters so that our conversation could go deep; that in and of itself was a precious gift of time and money. Each friend surprised me by sharing an encouragement for my coming year of life. They told me how they saw Jesus at work in me, and they prayed for me. I sat there and felt deeply celebrated, and deeply welcomed into the new year of my life by the friends I loved the most. In my memory, it remains a holy and beautiful night.

To me, I have come to realize how that night encapsulates what is meant to be at the center of every gathering; in fact, what is meant to be at the heart of friendship. For true friendship is a kind of gathering. It is pulling people together around a shared table or on a soft couch, and it will cost us in time and even in money. True friendship means giving those things that my friends offered to me on my birthday night—time, encouragement, intentionality, welcome, love. And true friendship is celebration; it is seeing what is worthy of encouragement in those we love and declaring those things over them. It is seeing the presence of Jesus in the other and acknowledging his beauty through them.

Birthdays only happen once every twelve months, but gathering to celebrate those we love—to speak truth and hope and encouragement to them and over them—that can happen any time of the year. We can gather in coffee shops and pray for one another. We can gather on playgrounds and encourage one another. We can gather around kitchen tables and welcome one another. We can gather in restaurants and celebrate one another. And we can gather, always, and love one another—no matter where, no matter when. 

If this blog post was encouraging to you, I would be honored if you would consider partnering with me as a writerClick here to read more!

 

It’s OK to Want to Be Famous: An Article at RELEVANT Magazine

It's OK to Want to Be Famous at Relevant Magazine by Ann Swindell

Do you ever feel the desire to be famous? I do. Honestly, I think it’s a desire that is inside all of us at some point or another–and I think it’s a desire that comes from God.

How we use that ache for fame, though–that’s a different story.

Wrestling with this idea is what my newest piece is about over at RELEVANT Magazine. I’d love for you to read it and share your thoughts!

The desire to be famous could point you to God...