Celebrating love and commitment on an island

Last weekend Jan and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. We took a trip to the beautiful Danish island of Bornholm.

It was my first time there and I wasn’t disappointed. Beautiful scenery, tons of history, great food and the time to relax and re-connect, and forget about our busy work lives.

I feel very blessed and thankful to have met Jan. Let’s just say that prior to meeting him, I’d had a chequered love life. I’d had my fair share of draining and dysfunctional relationships and got to the point where I knew enough was enough.

I couldn’t keep getting involved with men who were emotionally unavailable, or domineering bullies or psychologically abusive, or just plain confused, insecure and needy. Like a true people pleaser I had tried to help them all, to the detriment of my wellbeing and self-esteem.

Starting to love myself more opened up space in my life for healthy connections. I stopped dating and began to think about what I really wanted in a relationship and what sort of partner I wanted. I wrote a Wish List. And when I least expected it, Jan walked into a Dublin pub and into my life.

Our trip to Bornholm made me reflect on how we’ve both grown as people since we met and got married. Like a lot of couples, we’ve had great times and also faced challenges along the way. I know this has made our love and commitment stronger than ever. Tough times can be as bonding and strengthening for a relationship as the good times, and far richer in terms of lessons learned.

I think it’s important to celebrate milestones in a relationship – wedding anniversaries, the date when you first met, when you first moved in together, Valentine’s and so on. It’s not just fun, it also serves as a reminder as to why you want to be with this person and stay together, and also a reminder that any relationship requires effort and attention.

It’s important, I think, to mark these key dates to show each other that the relationship matters, it’s worth celebrating.

Too many couples drift into assumptions: they assume their partner knows they love them and care about their relationship and so don’t need to make any other gestures. This can especially be the case if you’ve got young kids and limited time (and energy).

But for the sake of your children, it’s vital to show how much you value your partner. Some of the most powerful relationship lessons we learn in life are as kids watching how our parents interact with each other. We are all influenced by our parents and their relationship.

There isn’t a great tradition in Sweden for sending greetings cards (in the UK we send cards for just about everything) but each year I give Jan a wedding anniversary card and he gives me flowers. Like the trip to the island, it’s our way of saying Thank You to each other for another year of a precious relationship. It helps to mark our time together with more great memories. It’s our way of celebrating love and commitment.

Over to you: How do you celebrate your relationship milestones?

K.J. Hutchings creates relationship art and writing to help you feel good about yourself and feel good about your relationships. She lives with her husband in Sweden, and likes to drink lots of green tea and watch a romcom or two.

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