Who better to ask what works best for happy couples than someone who spends all her time helping them make lasting wedding memories and beyond? Celebrity wedding planner and interior designer Diann Valentine knows all of the dos and don’ts, and today she’s sharing. Grab a notebook, ladies!
Remember the dates you enjoyed before you said, “I do?” They were adventurous and spontaneous and exciting. Well, you must make those dates common practice, and if your creative juices are not flowing, then simply re-create a few of your best ones. I’m often called on to create intimate dinner parties, and while I can be known to sometimes go a little overboard, so can you. Remove the furniture from the living room and store it in another part of the house. Set-up an intimate table for two—designed any way you like it. Hire a private chef or plan a menu from one of your favorite restaurants (as long as you pick up the meal and get it home and in your own containers before your hubby finds out) and you are golden. Create an iPod playlist of your favorite slow jams and dress to impress the man who put a ring on it.
Us girls love to read notes from the men that love us, and writing love notes is a safe place for men to be vulnerable and express the sentiments in their hearts to the women who will protect them. Many couples get caught up in the need to orchestrate a big production to express their love, and this tends to only be on holidays or special occasions. I know that a simple note left on the toilet paper roll in the bathroom or a Post-It note left on the front door will make your lover’s heart race. My husband writes me the best love letters, and when we got married I re-created some of my favorites on mirrors throughout the penthouse suite where we tied the knot to honor his efforts and to remind him to keep them coming. Any heartfelt scribble is far better than any assistance you can get from Hallmark.
I’m honored to help so many couples kick off their marriage with the greatest party of their lives. Unfortunately that newlywed bliss quickly fizzles for many couples. Make it a practice and appointment on your calendar to engage in fun. Brush up on the wobble in your socks sliding across the kitchen floor. Engage in your favorite board games and raise the stakes with bets of rewards. Role Play …and you can define that one any way you choose!
As the years of marriage proceed, tears are certain to fall. Some will be tears of joy while others may be from frustrations after a long day, a terrible disappointment or life-changing catastrophe. Men must remember to be there to catch them when they fall. His heart should bleed when yours aches and vice versa. Connected partners can sense the emotional state of one another and anticipating the remedies to ease these emotional moments will keep your bond stronger than ever!
Having a support system outside of your marriage can be vital to your well-being and the lifespan of your marriage. Choosing this person wisely is equally critical as their ability to exercise wisdom, discernment and unbiased advice can help you confront the challenges that may arise. Watching the bond between Tichina Arnold and her sister Zenay on her wedding day brought tears to my eyes because with just one look I knew that Tichina already had hers!
I’ve witnessed many couples engage in nice-nasty behavior prior to their weddings and this was always an obvious sign that divorce was eminent. Verbally assaulting your partner under any circumstances should be unacceptable for men and women alike. Harsh words, even if masked behind a subtle laugh, or a “Girl,you know I’m just playing” is downright disrespectful and, with time, the partner on the receiving end of these lashings will pack their bags and run for the hills or into the arms of someone else!
Being alone with one another is the best way to remain friends in a marriage. I’ve observed how being together allows many couples to grow together as they journey through life even if on slightly different paths. Career responsibilities and our quest to reach our goals can disconnect us from the one relationship that is most important so spend time together and find a quiet place, even if it’s under an oversized chandelier in a crowded room!
When you and your partner are committed to putting each other’s needs first, you will ultimately satisfy both of your own needs simultaneously. There is no need to keep score in a marriage with a checklist of who did it first or better. When two people understand that their own happiness can be found in making their partner happy—the stars align, joy fills your home and each new day feels like an extended honeymoon.
When your partner can count on the words that come out of your mouth, he will respect your commitment and cause him to carefully keep his commitments to you. Be home at the time you commit to be. If Tuesday night is date night, then be ready to go when your love walks through the door regardless of the kind of day you experienced. Your partner is likely listening to what you say less and watching what you do more to see if he is in fact at the top of your priority list. You see—it is not hard at all for us to keep our commitments, because we all keep them for the things that matter most.
No relationship will be successful without a strong spiritual foundation. The trials of life can send your relationship into a tailspin and many happily married couples have discovered that their spiritual base has kept them lovingly committed to one another when their relationship no longer feels like a throwback romance novel. This is not about religion but more so about knowing that you had better believe in something that is bigger than this world for that faith is the only thing that will get you through the really tough times!