Five Ways to Create Traditions as a Newly Married (or Engaged) Couple
With the Holidays coming in hot, I feel like we're surrounded by tradition. Like, as soon as the calendar turns to November, someone starts "Tradition" from Fiddler on the Roof. It's a feeling that I crave and cherish. You with me, friends?
I'm a firm believer that creating and cultivating traditions in your relationship strengthens and deepens your connection to one another. So when Andy and I got engaged just about this time last year, I put a renewed focus on creating new traditions for the next phase of our lives together. Today, I'm sharing five of our most successful strategies for creating and cultivating traditions as a newly engaged or married couple in hopes that it allows you to deepen your relationship with the one you love.
A note to our friends with beautiful dating relationships, this absolutely applies to you too! As someone who took the "decade plan" towards marriage, I know how important it is to lay the groundwork of your traditions in your dating season of life, and more importantly, the importance of recognizing that your relationship is just as real and meaningful as a couple who is engaged or married.
Talk it out.
Andy and I got engaged after dating for seven years, and living together for almost five of those years. We had definitely fallen into a routine, and even though it was a routine that worked for us, we knew that once we were engaged we wanted to take planning for a meaningful marriage very seriously. We talked a lot about our wants for our relationship vs. the realities of our relationship. Andy is an accountant and works incredibly long hours during tax season - which happens to end right as wedding season begins. Time is a real issue for us (we often joke that we only have two months together throughout the year)! So we decided that to try and bridge that gap, we'd create a quarterly bucket list with no more than four items on it. In this season of life, four meaningful things feels like a treat! Now, I look forward to the changing of the seasons and the new bucket list it brings.
We also talked about non-negotiables. We asked ourselves what were the things we know we wanted to do together and what were the things (at least for now) that we were okay forgoing. For us, we knew it was about making sure we spend all the major holidays together and carving out time to continue some of our favorite traditions with each of our families, like cooking Thanksgiving dinner for my family and spending Fourth of July out on the lake with Andy's brother and sister-in-law.
If there's one thing that's stuck with me in the past year, it's that you make time for the things that matter. Life can get cluttered - meetings, obligations, the iPhone that's seemingly glued to our hands - and in that clutter we can let the things that matter slip by. Traditions require time, and time requires intentionality. So whether it's a weekly routine like making homemade pizza on a Friday night, or something a little more special, like a drive through the best neighborhood in your city to see the Holiday lights, be intentional about creating time to begin these traditions. Take a look at your schedule and carve out the time together, then make sure to follow through! Netflix may be calling your name, but trust me, you'll feel even more connected after taking time to do something special together.
Don't be afraid to go it on your own.
I'm going to be honest - I'm truly trying to practice this myself. I come from a very close knit family with deep and rich traditions of our own, especially around the Holidays. Andy has spent nearly the past decade being incredibly understanding as I've struggled to imagine a world where I don't have a sleepover with my sisters on Christmas Eve. As a side note, this is something my Christmas-loving, middle sister takes very seriously. One year, the sleepover included a "flying reindeer show" where we watch a menagerie of deer-like beanie babies spin around the room while tied to the ceiling fan.
When we got married, I knew that it was even more important that I was willing to (at least try!) to let go of some of the wonderful things from my past in order to make room for wonderful things in my future. Disclaimer: This does not mean that I'm dropping every single family tradition like Taylor Swift drops new singles. Far from it! It just means that I'm willing to try some new things to deepen my relationship with Andy and begin traditions of our own. This year, we're going to try spending Christmas Eve Day - which also happens to be my birthday - together before joining the rest of my family for dinner at night. Baby steps!
Trying to figure out life as a newly engaged couple or newlyweds isn't always the easiest. You're in a weird space of being your own family unit, but somehow the pressure to spend time with your OG families seems even higher - which can translate into little time with just the two of you together. One way Andy and I have tackled this problem is by being creative about how we cultivate our own traditions. Like our just-the-two-of-us-can't-skip-mini-Easter celebration. We get up early, make homemade cinnamon rolls together, and pop some bubbly for mimosas as we exchange little Easter baskets (fine, I'll admit that my favorite part is giving our pup, Beau, his Easter basket #itsanobsession). Then, because it's tax season, Andy heads into work (necessary sidebar: if Andy's going to work, he skips the champagne) and I generally go into the ALD office to get some work done.
We call this a micro-tradition. A tradition that doesn't have to be a huge production, but is something we very much look forward to throughout the year.
Embrace what falls into place.
I'm generally the one in our house who does the grocery shopping (I'm being so serious when I say that grocery shopping is one of my favorite things). I try to go first thing on Sunday mornings, often when Andy is still sleeping. I'll get home and bring the bags into our kitchen, where inevitably Andy will ask "so whatdya get?". I'll pull out the grocery items and show Andy, telling him about the dinners I've planned for the week along with whatever funny stories I have from my shopping trip. It's become a thing. So much so that a few months ago, I came home from grocery shopping and put all the groceries away while Andy was still sleeping. He woke up legitimately disappointed that I didn't go in and wake him up for "the grocery unveiling".
Meaningful traditions don't have be picture-perfect, grand or ornate. Life is not a Currier and Ives painting, so Andy embrace and celebrate the traditions that fall into place. Those can turn out to be the best memories of all.