Ideas for 10th wedding anniversary in midst of marital stress?
September 18, 2012 8:10 AM   Subscribe

How should my husband and I celebrate our 10th anniversary given some recent marriage difficulties? I am looking for ideas that honor our years together but aren't traditional romantic gestures, which might feel a bit hollow or forced right now.

My husband and I are coming up to ten years of marriage, and we have two lovely, healthy children. Over the past several months I developed strong feelings for another man, a friend, which culminated in a night of drinking and a couple of kisses. I told my husband about this soon after, and the emotional fallout has been, not surprisingly, incredibly stressful for both of us.

We're working on these issues now. I'm in therapy, and we'll be in couples' counseling soon. My husband has been incredibly supportive and amazing, including when I've needed some space to mourn the end of my friendship and relationship with this other man. I am beginning to think my marriage might recover and we can move forward, and that's a good feeling because it's been a while since I've had much hope for us.

My husband went into romance overdrive when he found out about my infidelity, and he started planning a romantic anniversary weekend away. I prodded him all spring with ideas for our anniversary weekend, and he never liked any of my suggestions for various reasons, so this was a bit of a sore point for me in addition to feeling like something I couldn't do sincerely. I asked him to pull back on plans for the romantic weekend, and he was hurt but understanding.

Now I am looking for ideas of how to celebrate this anniversary, possibly but not necessarily with our kids, and probably not with a romantic date night, which might feel forced given our recent problems. I'm also reluctant to throw a party where we'd have to perform some version of perfect couple for our friends. I'm open to ideas for gifts, outings, gestures, anything that would help us recognize and honor our marriage and what it's given us.

Please be gentle. I messed up, and we both know it, and he's forgiven me and I'm working on forgiving myself, and we are healing and trying to move forward.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Congratulations on the two of you moving forward on healing. My prayers are with you!

I have always looked as romance as a sort of by-product of activities, rather than trying to make it the intended result. Are there things that you just enjoy doing together?

- Going to a play or a show?
- Are you an active/outdoorsy couple? Perhaps take a bike ride or hike together?
- Do you live near a museum or museums?

Consider an activity or activities where you're just spending time together doing things that you both like. Having a light-hearted good time in each other's company is a great way to produce an easy pleasant romantic feeling and I have seen it work well in the context of your question.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:16 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Maybe a weekend skills workshop -- a context where you are both learning a new skill together? (It's applesauce canning time where I am. That's a family-friendly activity, or if you and your husband choose to do it, it's a wonderful work-together undertaking.)
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:18 AM on September 18, 2012 [3 favorites]

my reaction was also to spend a special day as a family. maybe each person picks one thing (breakfast, dinner, a movie, a park or someplace to go).

I think, although maybe this is a romantic gesture, sort of, making sure your husband knows the things you just told us - really knows, as in, you wrote them down - would also be nice. I think "I have hope for me and for us because of your amazing support" is a perfect sentiment for an anniversary in a time of renewal.
posted by dpx.mfx at 8:20 AM on September 18, 2012 [11 favorites]

What about doing something that reminded you of some of your greatest times/moments? Recreate your first date (wear the same type of clothes, eat the same food, etc) maybe.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:22 AM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

First of all, congratulations for nipping the infidelity in the bud and getting it out and working on it. That's very smart and brave on both of your parts.

The fact that he went into "romance overdrive" tells me that he's still hurting and scared, possibly more than you realize. How about recreating either your first serious date, or where you were and what you were doing when he proposed? Taking you both back to a headspace where the infidelity hadn't happened yet, and things were still new and exciting.
posted by jbickers at 8:29 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I agree that activity is key: if you're just sitting around eating and trying to be romantic, that'll feel forced. So maybe do spend the week with the whole family but make it special - spend a day doing something fun and autumnal like choosing pumpkins or going to a corn maze or apple picking. Have a fun indoor destination nearby (science museum or something all-family) as a back-up if the weather is bad.

And then be sure you guys get a little alone time in there, even if it's a movie or something, so that you feel like a team, just the two of you, even without the kids. It's great that y'all are putting in the team effort here!
posted by ldthomps at 8:35 AM on September 18, 2012

I don't think it's forced to have a romantic date night; for one, you can reminisce about all of the great times you have had, while also remembering how it was that you fell in love. Going to a restaurant you once had a memorable date at or taking a walk if that was your thing might help ease a little bit of the tension and provide a few laughs or cries.

Often the most romantic dates are a little awkward; that's actually a feature, not a bug.
posted by Rodrigo Lamaitre at 8:50 AM on September 18, 2012

I read something not that long ago about how doing something a little bit scary as a couple tends to bond people - so maybe skydiving or some other kind of adventure like that?
I would avoid doing it as a family - I think that sends a message that you don't want to be alone with him. You can spend time together as a couple and reconnect without rose petals and chocolates.
A note expressing that hope would probably be appreciated too.
posted by mrs. taters at 8:51 AM on September 18, 2012 [4 favorites]

I actually think a romantic weekend, even if it is a bit forced, might help you to reconnect and remember why you got married in the first place. But, that's not what you're asking for, so I'd suggest doing something that will perhaps remind you of the good times without necessarily being overly romantic.

I think it would be kind of tough to celebrate an anniversary in a way that is not romantic at all, but instead of champagne and a hot tub at a fancy hotel (i.e., obvious romance), perhaps you could recreate your first date. While this is certainly a romantic gesture, it doesn't necessarily have the same "forced" feeling. Obviously, this will depend somewhat on what you actually did on your first date but, if it involved going for dinner and a movie, maybe do that: go for dinner at the same restaurant and then either go to a new movie or rent the movie that you watched on your first date and watch it at home (send the kids to a friend's place for the night). This is simple, not romantic in the cliche "roses and violins" way, and still a good way to remember and honour your years together. It might even help act as a new beginning; you've gone through some tough times, but by going out on a new "first date" you are starting over and trying to rebuild your marriage.
posted by asnider at 9:09 AM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've got a weird suggestion for you, why don't you do either something that one or both of you thinks (even better, KNOWS) they won't enjoy, or something which will be somewhat of a tedious challenge.

That sounds weird, but let me give you some examples - of the former, for me it would be ice skating. I hate it, SO enjoys it, I'd go and tell him I'm going to hate it and then laugh at myself hating it and afterwards let him laugh at how much I sucked at it. I would enjoy him laughing at me, and it would give us a lot to talk about over a casual not-cliche-romantic dinner at the nearest bar/cafe.

Of the latter, we both like to walk but we don't like hills. We're gentle folk not mad fell-runners. So something we do occasionally is go for a walk that we know will be hilly, and complain about it the whole time. This includes smiling at other walkers and then furiously insulting them when they are out of earshot, for looking like they are having a nice time when we are not.

I get this from my late grandfather whose enjoyment of activities used to be acutely proportional to how much he was able to complain about them, during and after.
posted by greenish at 9:22 AM on September 18, 2012 [10 favorites]

I don't have much in the way of specific suggestions, but perhaps it would be helpful for the two of you to view reaching this milestone as an accomplishment? You've faced significant challenges to get to this point, both worked hard, and so you have absolutely achieved something by making it to your tenth. Maybe do something that reflects that shared achievement. Celebrate the work you've put into the marriage. It could also be a good reminder that he (and your marriage) is worth the work that's gone into it.

Also, when talking about the milestone, you can be frank about the challenges that you've faced, and connect it to the future you are still excited for and hopeful about.

Best of luck with everything.
posted by dry white toast at 10:26 AM on September 18, 2012

For our 10th anniversary after some serious problems we flew to San Francisco for New Years weekend. We saw our favorite band, which helped us remember when we first met. We went to the SF MOMA, and I learned we share a deep love of modern art. It was the best weekend of our marriage, with no kids to worry about, something to remind us of the good times, and an opportunity to learn something new about each other. Maybe you can figure out something that similarly fit your bill?
posted by Requiax at 11:53 AM on September 18, 2012

I agree with Ms. Taters. Do something outside both of your comfort zones, it might bring you together and you'll have an "I can't believe we just did that!" moment, always fun! :)

It's hard going through a tough period in your relationship (trust me, I've been through something eerily similar), but remember that you BOTH got through it, that in itself is something to celebrate.
posted by Danithegirl at 12:18 PM on September 18, 2012 [1 favorite]

Is there something your husband loves or has always wanted to do that you've been less willing or enthusiastic about? I don't know, golf, antiquing, a visit to a particular place? Maybe planning that -- possibly as a surprise -- might be a way for you to send the message that you appreciate his support and are committed to moving forward as a couple. (Assuming that you can really make an effort to enjoy it for his sake.)
posted by chickenmagazine at 12:33 PM on September 18, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not quite the same thing, but I recently met a woman who asked her daughter if there was anything she's always wanted to do that she's never had a chance to do. She said if so, mom and daughter would do it together for the daughter's 40th birthday. You know what the daughter chose? Working on a Habitat for Humanity build! Consider that, or something like it, where you have a project to do that benefits someone else, thus taking the emphasis off your relationship concerns and just doing something for the good/fun of it.
posted by Doohickie at 2:09 PM on September 18, 2012

This totally depends on your personalities, but if I were in this situation, I might propose a hike that's a little bit out of your comfort zones. There's the chance to talk/interact but also the chance to huff/puff/not talk as the moment calls for it (or to comment a lot about the beautiful scenery). There's the opportunity to cheer each other on/support each other. You'll get all sweaty and gross so it's not your stereotypical romantic outing. And finally you'll have a real accomplishment at the end that you can look back at in a positive way - like wow, can you believe we did that??!! If you want to add an optional romantic event at the end, hot tubbing is a great way to ease sore muscles (you could play it by ear and see if you're in the mood to go that route).
posted by rainbowbrite at 5:11 PM on September 18, 2012

Paint pottery together! It's SO fun, and if you call the shop ahead of time, you can go at a time when there aren't too many kids. I've done this with two sets of friends, and it's really mellow, and provides a great context for hanging out and talking.

If you're near a Color Me Mine, they also have Bring Your Own Wine nights.
posted by spunweb at 6:02 PM on September 18, 2012

For my 10th anniversary with my partner, we took six days and we explored a place we had both wanted to see but never quite made it to. We have an adventure to remember, and the joy of discovering awesome places and things together. We hired a car and just drove until we found the next thing that interested us, then stopped there. They weren't particularly romantic things, either - once it was a geothermal power plant (a closed geothermal power plant, at that!) but it was still interesting, and we both smile when we remember the trip.

I understand that not everyone can afford the time off or the cost of a week's holiday, but how about something on a smaller scale? Perhaps as an alternative to a romantic weekend; rather than focusing on yourselves and the relationship, base the weekend on shared experience, ideally doing something you'll both enjoy? In some ways, it's a practical application of that Antoine de Saint-Exupery quote - "Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but of looking outward together, in the same direction."
posted by Someone Else's Story at 12:26 AM on September 19, 2012 [1 favorite]

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