From our marriage & parenting contributor, Mary Carver.
My husband and I are in the process of selling our first home and buying a new one. It’s not the first place we lived together; we actually lived in five different apartments in the first four years we were married. But it is the first home we owned and the only home our kids have known.
We’ve painted every single wall in this tiny house, and we’ve replaced the flooring in every room but one. We’ve sunk thousands of dollars into what we not-so-fondly call our money pit, and we are beyond relieved to finally sell our “starter home” after 13 years. But it’s not just 1,000 square feet of wood and plaster and whatever crawl spaces are made of (spiders and mud?). And it’s more than four walls and a roof over our head and a mortgage payment each month.
It’s where we have laughed and yelled and cried and cussed and prayed and loved and worked and lived. It’s where we have hosted countless parties and showers and small groups and barbecues and holiday celebrations. It’s where we have hurt each other and spoken so harshly, so regrettably, and it’s where we have healed and grown stronger and closer than ever. It’s where we’ve taken turns rocking our babies to sleep when the baths and the stories and the bottles don’t do the trick, and it’s where we’ve taken turns rocking each other to sleep when the world and the pain it brings us has been too much to bear.
Much as we have lamented the years we’ve been stuck in our little house, we also can’t deny its comfort over seasons of change. Jobs, friends, churches, family dynamics, opinions, even the culture and climate of our world: these things have all changed drastically and multiple times over the past baker’s dozen years. But our home, well, it’s stayed right here, waiting for us day after day.
I’m super excited about our new house and the changes this move will bring, but I’m glad to have a few more weeks before we leave this place for the last time. Of course I’m grateful for the chance to pack and pick out appliances and figure out how to get our mail forwarded to our new address. But mostly I’m thankful for the chance to give our old home a proper goodbye.
All this reminiscing has me thinking about the way places play such an important part in our relationships and our memories — and our lives, really. I think about how certain streets or states or benches or bridges remind me of moments and people and events that have mattered to me. And I think that our marriages can really benefit from this idea of place. Here’s how:
First, think about the places that have been significant to you and your husband. Answer as many of these questions as you’d like.
- Where did you meet?
- Where did you go on your first date?
- Where did you first fall in love?
- Where did you first kiss?
- Where did you break up?
- Where did you get back together?
- Where did you meet each other’s families?
- Where did you get engaged?
- Where did you get married?
- Where did you first live together?
- Where did you bring your babies?
- Where did you have that fight?
- Where did you make up?
- Where did you go to counseling?
- Where did you go out with friends?
- Where did you celebrate a job offer?
- Where did you comfort each other after a loss?
- Where did you dream or plan or brainstorm?
- Where did you finish that project?
- Where did you make a big decision?
- Where did you go to church?
- Where did you cheer for the team?
- Where did you tell him you’re pregnant?
- Where did you have fun?
- Where did you laugh together?
- Where did you cry together?
- Where did you join something together?
- Where did you quit together?
- Where did you feel free?
- Where did you remember why you fell in love?
Second, find a way to honor your marriage by celebrating these places.
- Create a scavenger hunt of your most significant places and literally walk down memory lane.
- Take photos of each important place and put them in a scrapbook, photo album or frame.
- Choose 12 of the most meaningful places to revisit over the next year.
- Plan a date in a place you have gone on a date before. Talk about everything that’s changed since the first time around.
- Take turns visiting special places to you as individuals and sharing their significance with each other.
Those are just a few ideas, but once you start thinking about all of your places, the possibilities are endless. Perhaps one of these ideas will spark your own creativity as you use the idea of place to improve your marriage! I know that, now that I’m thinking about it, I’m determined to work PLACES into my next date night (which just happens to be near my anniversary: a perfect time for reminiscing and celebrating!).
What’s an important place for you and your husband?