As the August turned over to September, I couldn’t help but thinking about what a big month August always is for me and Zak. We went on our first date in August six years ago, and we got married in August two years ago. Now, we’ll always have the memory of the time we spent some days in the hospital during my pregnancy, and how he took such good care of me. A few weeks ago, I asked for questions about our relationship on my Instagram story. What I got asked about the most is how we keep our relationship solid, especially through life’s ups and downs. So, we sat down and put a list together of what we think are some of the most important things we do to keep our relationship healthy and happy.
P.S. We put this together before I was given strict instructions to take it easy, so we will be modifying some of these over the next few months, but that’s all part of the formula for success…you have to be open to change.
1. We both clean the house. This may sound silly, but it’s an example of how we live as partners, as equals, as teammates in our life. Zak is so good at keeping the kitchen clean when I make a mess of it cooking dinner. Neither of us views keeping the house maintained as just one person’s job. And when one of us needs help with something, we ask for it.
2. We have a wind down routine. Once it’s time for dinner, work stops. We talk over a meal and then watch some binge-worthy series. The Americans was our most recent obsession. It’s so good. I highly recommend. We are about to finish season 2 of Ozarks. Also so good, but so dark. If you’re looking for a lighter option, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is incredible!
3. We exercise together. On weekends, we lay our mats down next to each other and do a yoga practice using the Down Dog app. We decide how long we want to practice, sometimes we go for a walk first and then do a 30 minute practice and other times we practice fo 60. We laugh through the whole thing. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. If we acted the way we do when we practice at home in a studio, we would get our asses kicked out so fast it wouldn’t even be funny. Smackin’ each other’s butts, laughing at the funny sanskrit words, complaining about the creaks and cracks in our 29 year old bodies…it’s pretty entertaining.
4. We genuinely like each other. This one is an intangible. There’ no routine for this. We just honestly want to be by each other (mostly) all the time.
5. We do weekly check-ins. We have evaluated the core things in our lives that are most important to us individually and as a couple (like, work, health, family, friends, education, etc…) and check in on Sunday nights to see how we are maintaining and innovating in each domain of our lives. This helps us to stay grounded in what matters to us.
6. We have a date night or day date at least once a week. We love to find good food and try new, cool spots. We love going to walk around downtown Birmingham and have brunch at Commonwealth. Pop’s for Italian, One-Eyed Betty’s, and Greenspace in Ferndale are some of our other favorite places for date night.
7. We do nice little random acts for each other. For example, when I had a particularly difficult week at work, Zak brought me home two of my favorite candle scents. Another time, I mentioned how much I liked a flower arrangement at a restaurant and the next day he got me flowers just like the ones I said I liked. I like to write Zak little notes and leave them in his lunch or around the house to let him know how much I love and admire him.
8. We speak each other’s love language. If you don’t know about The 5 Love Languages, I’d highly recommend giving it a read. It’s so helpful to what your own love language is, as well as the love languages of the people in your life (not just your partner). You can also take a quiz online to find out what yours is!
9. We are each other’s biggest cheerleaders. Zak’s great at asking really good questions to help push me forward in life when I am feeling stuck, and I am literally his personal pep talker when he starts stressing out too hard.
10. We pray together. We were raised in different faiths, but we both believe in something greater than ourselves. Every night, without fail, before we close our eyes to sleep, we pray together. It felt a little strange at first, but it has easily become one of my favorite things we do together. It keeps us connected to each other’s hopes and dreams, and sometimes to our fears and anxieties.
11. We travel together. We have made it a priority to get out and explore. Creating new shared experiences helps bring us closer together. Some of our favorite memories together are from our vacations. We loved going to Boulder, CO for a long weekend. We had an awesome honeymoon trip to Napa, San Francisco, and Monterrey. And most recently, we went to Italy. Here’s a little video highlighting our time there:
12. We grow together. We continuously seek out opportunities to learn together. We read and recommend books to each other. We have done life training courses together. We work with life coaches (someone we check in with for one hour each week who support us in staying committed to our core commitments and purposes). I cannot overstate the importance of this one. I think that it is one of the main reasons our relationship is so strong.
Are we perfect? Absolutely not. My students always tell me we are #goals, but what I tell them and what I want you to know is that our relationship isn’t some magical accident. We take time to nurture it because it’s the most important thing in the world to us.
Sam and Zak