There are a lot of reasons to celebrate in a calendar year – most are recognized holidays (like Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving etc) or birthdays. The only date in a year that focuses on your relationship is your anniversary. Whether you are dating or married, making an effort to celebrate your relationship is really important because it causes both of you to take a moment and be grateful for the fact that you are together.
In my work as a relationship counsellor here in Vancouver, celebrating your anniversary is one of the more important things I stress because it becomes so easy to get wrapped up in day-to-day life and make everything else a priority, especially if you have kids. Sometimes, if we aren’t in a good place or have neglected our anniversary for a long time, the idea of doing this feels awkward or, as I’ve heard before, unnecessary. If you are feeling this way (or even if you aren’t) I would encourage you to think of all the things you are able to do in your life as a result of having someone there to help/support/love you. Making the decision to acknowledge this not only improves your connection but also shows your partner that despite the craziness of day-to-day life or despite the distance between you lately, you still notice him/her and he/she still means something to you.
In terms of how to celebrate, it doesn’t have to be a fancy dinner out. Maybe it’s making a picnic and heading out to the park for a relaxed evening. Or, if you have kids, putting the kids to bed and then making dinner for the two of you at home. Perhaps it is hiring a sitter so you can go for a drive together and just get out of town for the day or evening. If something prevents you from celebrating on your actual anniversary then set aside time at a later (or earlier) date. It is never too late to let your partner know that he/she matters and that you are grateful for having committed to him/her however many years ago.
If you are a couple who continues to celebrate each year, give yourself a pat on the back. If you’ve happened to neglect this side of your relationship, then start now and talk with your partner about how you want to change that going forward.