Remember the last thing your husband said that made you laugh? Or what you dreamed about on your honeymoon? Or an adventure you went on together, where things didn’t go as planned but you had a good time any way?
Or maybe you didn’t, maybe you had an argument, and then you made up and you kissed under a waterfall. Or you had an argument and then kissed in the car. Remember that? That’s more likely. Marriage isn’t all rainbows and waterfalls.
These are the stories of marriage. The small. The everyday. The moments. The little things that paint a bigger picture. They are well worth remembering.
We put much effort into recording and remembering the moments we have with our kids, and it recently occurred to me that we need to start recording these moments in our marriage.
That’s why my husband and I have marriage journals. It’s something we started before we got married, and it has been really wonderful for us, so I wanted to share this little idea with you.
Our marriage journals are two very special notebooks that hold the stories of our marriage. We pull them out every now and again when we need encouragement, or when we want to write.
Our marriage journals include things such as:
- Notes from our marriage preparation course (such as our vision for our marriage) and things we’ve agreed on that we want to remember (like our money motto).
- Letters we’ve written to each other on significant occasions, like the day after our wedding, the week before our first child was born, or when I kissed my husband goodbye and left South Africa not knowing when we’d see each other again.
- Anniversary reflections. I nearly always pull them out on our wedding anniversary, along with some reflection topics to write about, such as One thing I want to remember from our first year of marriage is…. One of my favourite things about marriage is…. One thing I love about my spouse is…
- Prayers and poetry and gratitude lists.
- Quotes about love and marriage that I want to remember.
- Conversations, funny moments, hopes and dreams for the future.
My top tips for marriage journaling:
1 – Don’t get hung up on how often you write. It doesn’t need to be much. There are different writing programs you could follow and some suggest you write something small (even one line) every day. If you can do this go for it! But for us it is much less frequent and that’s ok. In fact we didn’t open them for more than 18 months…
2 – Don’t use it to vent or process negative feelings. This is a valid and important part of journaling so if you need space for this start another journal. Your marriage journal should be a place only for words that are encouraging and positive. Things you are grateful for, not frustrated about. Moments you want to remember, not those you wish to forget.
3 – Look back on it. I rarely read through my other journals but this one makes me feel great when I do.
4 – Forget cards. Instead, start a tradition of writing a birthday letter in the journal so that it is safe and easy to find.
5 – It’s never too late to start.
One of the things I love is that I married a writer. So we write our marriage journals together. Nothing makes me happier than a take away coffee, a beautiful spot, sitting next to my husband and choosing a discussion question to write about.
But if your partner isn’t interested that’s ok too. I have no doubt that writing a marriage journal on your own will still build your marriage. It’s about focusing on the good bits, being grateful and remembering that marriage really is a collection (hopefully a very big, long collection) of stories. These stories are well worth remembering.