Establishing Holiday Traditions As A Couple

Written with love, by Karley Kiker

My family followed several holiday traditions when I was growing up. For Thanksgiving, no matter which city or state we were gathering in, mom always ordered our turkey from a company based in her hometown of Tyler, Texas. We also had a tradition of opening one Christmas present a day early, and we spent almost every Christmas Eve at an annual holiday party hosted by my parents' close friends. My mom started a collection of Barbie ornaments for me when I was very young, and continued the tradition of gifting me with the new “holiday edition” Barbie ornament all the way through college. Each of these traditions are tied to memories I hold near and dear to my heart, which is why this year, I want to be intentional about starting a new tradition (or two) with Taylor. A few ideas I'm tossing around: 

 

1. For the Creatives: Design your own holiday card

Taylor and I had our first go at this two years ago, and I have to admit…we weren't thrilled with how the print job turned out. And yet, it made me so happy to see the little Christmas postcard we created together ("Beachy and Bright" was our theme) on the refrigerator at my in-laws' home. Our card wasn't perfect, but it also wasn't a carbon copy of anyone else's. This year we found a new printer, and I'm hoping to send out another card that's uniquely "us." Over the years I know it will be fun to see how our style has evolved! 

 

2. For the Jet-Setters: Collect an ornament from every place you've traveled together

Unboxing ornaments each year is such a wonderful way to revisit the memories they're linked to. Give yourself the chance to do just that by purchasing an ornament as a souvenir during every trip or vacation the two of you take together. Whether it's a hand-carved wooden shoe from Holland or a merry-and-bright palm tree from Barbados, each ornament you place on the tree is sure to transport you back to some of your favorite times together! 

 

3. For the Foodies: Contribute a signature dish to family gatherings

Mom's macaroni. Grandma's chicken and dressing. Uncle Joe's green bean casserole. What will the two of you bring to the table this year (and for many years to come)? Select a holiday staple, such as potatoes, then discuss ways to put a unique spin on the dish to make it all your own. Standard mashed potatoes, meet bleu cheese infused potatoes au gratin.

 

4. For the Party People: Throw an annual (themed) holiday bash

Maybe it's a fancy sit-down dinner with friends. Maybe it's an Ugly Christmas Sweater party for your church home group. Either way, if you're happiest when you're hosting, get started on those invites and make your fête an annual festivity!

 

5. For the Homebodies: Reserve a "decorating day" and deck the halls together

If nesting is your thing, set aside a special day—perhaps the day after Thanksgiving—to turn on the Christmas music, pull out those holiday items from the attic, and start decorating. In our house we have a relatively strict "no Christmas music until after Thanksgiving" policy (although I may or may not break said policy when Taylor's not around), which makes it so special when it's time to turn on my favorite holiday playlists and start trimming the tree.

3 Things in 3 Years of Marriage | From His Perspective

Written with love, by Karley Kiker

It was so important to me that in my book, Hitched in a Hurrythe wedding was never referred to as "the bride's day." True, Taylor wasn't quite as involved in the detail selection process (see: table linens and floral arrangements), but that shouldn't have relegated him to the role of co-star in the movie titled Karley's Big Day.

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 Marriage Advice - Marriage Blog

Our wedding day was also the first day of our life together as teammates, and thinking about that fact helped me keep my eyes on the prize throughout the planning process: a marriage built to last rather than an event that's over in 24 hours. I included a chapter written by Taylor in my book, and his perspective is every bit as important to me today. That’s why I'm turning today's column over to him! I love and value his point of view and I think you'll find it eye-opening, too. So without further ado, here are three things my husband has to say about our first three(ish) years of marriage! 

 

Q: What have you learned in the last three years?

"I have learned in marriage to be less selfish and to take my wife into consideration when planning activities. I can't just make decisions based on myself and what I want. (I mean I can, but it wouldn't be a good thing.) I've also grown in my ability to be vulnerable and I'm learning to use words to describe how I feel. Early in our marriage my instinct was to shut down if I got frustrated, but that didn't lead to things getting fixed."

 

Q: What do you enjoy about marriage?

"One of the best things about marriage is that I have a lover and a best friend always with me. I have someone around constantly who knows me—good, bad, and ugly—and still loves me anyway. My wife is strong in areas where I'm weak, and vice versa."

 

Q: What would you tell a single guy considering proposing marriage?

"It's kind of funny but I would say don't rush into it, and at the same time, if you know she's the one then don't wait. Do not just get married because you've been in a relationship for a long time. Marriage demands self-sacrifice and compromise. It will be tough for a lot of guys because you go from doing whatever you want, whenever you want, however you want, with as much accountability as you want, to (if you want a good marriage) making 99% of decisions together."

Silly Fights, Sage Advice, and Our Journey Journal

Written with love, by Karley Kiker

By this point I think you guys know how I feel about journals. I love them (as evidenced by the fact that I started filling one with letters to my future husband at the age of 14—you can read more about that in column 1). So I think you’ll understand the excitement I felt when, in the middle of writing last week’s column on four practical ways to cultivate intimacy in marriage, I discovered the coolest journal while scrolling through Instagram—the Our Journey Journal, a product that was created specifically for married couples!

Like we talked about last week, one of the most effective ways to foster intimacy in marriage is through communication. I loved the advice my friend Ericka shared, as it’s such a practical way to open the door to meaningful conversations: “Pray together and keep a prayer journal, or read either a devotional or marriage book at night before bed together.”

To me, the idea of keeping a joint prayer journal is a perfect ten. But here’s the thing. My husband has a serious thing against writing. As in...he loathes it. (Which is why it’s literally a miracle that he managed to write to me for six months before ever revealing that he had feelings of the non Pen Pal variety for me, but that’s another story.) But for my sake—and for the sake of actually taking the advice of my own marriage column—he agreed to try out the Our Journey Journal with me over the weekend. The verdict?

“It was a great conversation starter,” Taylor says.

Column advice was followed. Conversations were started. Intimacy was cultivated. Win win win! Since Taylor’s review is a little on the short side, though, here’s a little bit more about the Our Journey Journal from my perspective:

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  Writefully Said

Writefully Said

  1. It’s marriage-minded and requires joint participation...and I love it. The foreword says it all: “Marriage is a journey. It’s an amazing experience that’s unique to each couple! The trials, the triumphs, the milestones—they are all so important in defining your journey. So write it down, reminisce and reflect!” Taylor and I worked on the How We Met and Funnies sections this weekend and agreed not to look at each other’s answers until we had both finished. The biggest conversation starter turned out to be our responses to the “Silliest Fight” question...a disagreement about my desire to purchase an over-priced macaron while traveling in Vancouver (his answer) and the hurt feelings that ensued when he didn’t bring me back a donut from his morning Bible study at Dunkin’ Donuts (my answer). I know. We obviously need to lay off the sugar.

  2. It’s a memory-maker for now and later. The journal’s Cost of Living and Current Events sections will be fun to look back on later in life...and I love that it makes the assumption that we’ll still be together in the future to do just that. (For the record, I do too.)

  3. It’s lighthearted and serious at the same time. We can laugh while filling in our Firsts, Funnies, and Favorites, and talk seriously about our hopes and dreams when working through the Relationship Goals and Trials + Triumphs sections. Perfect balance.

  4. It encourages you to seek wisdom from family members. The Awesome Advice section requires handing your journal over to loved ones to seek wisdom, and I’m so glad that we did! I expected my parents to contribute one or two lines, but they both returned the journal having completed an entire page. Here are a few tidbits that they shared with us:

  • “Today you’ll hear, ‘I have to think of me,’ or ‘God wants me to be happy’ or ‘I don’t deserve this.’ Any statement that has ‘I’ and ‘me’ in it first smacks of selfishness. There’s no place for that in marriage.” -Mom

  • “Marriage is the classroom where the PhD of ‘dying to self’ is earned! The greatest achievement is in the discovery of the mystery, ‘The two shall become one flesh.’” -Dad

  • “Affirm, affirm, affirm. Look for what your spouse does right instead of pointing out the faults.” -Mom

  • “I believe God designed marriage to be the chisel that is used to chip away our character defects and help us become our best selves. It is best to remember this when we become angry, and especially when the enemy speaks lies to us about ourselves and our mates.” -Dad

My parents wrote their entries separately, but their advice shared a common

denominator—the unsuitability of selfishness in marriage. (More on that here.) I’m so

thankful to have their words of wisdom and encouragement down on paper!

  1. It includes a section for love letters (my favorite). Two weeks ago I shared that Taylor and I exchanged messages, care packages, and letters throughout our long-distance friendship turned courtship. As I was writing about the importance of continuing to pursue our spouses in marriage, though, I realized that I’m not fully practicing what I preach. I used to spontaneously send Taylor notes or emails just because I knew it would make him smile. Now that we live AND work together, I’ve fallen out of that habit...but I want to get back into it. I love that the Our Journey Journal has provided a place for me to do just that.

If you’re looking for a practical way to start applying some of the intimacy-building tips we discussed last week, I recommend picking up a copy of the Our Journey Journal from Aisle Always Love (and actually using it)! Cheers to you as you continue on your own marriage journey this week—through ups, downs, highs, and lows, it’s such a blessing to do life with your best friend. Even when he forgets to bring you the chocolate sprinkle donut you asked for. :)