In many ways, this pandemic is humbly bringing our lives back to a focus on the basics: wholesome foods and fresh air have become more important in place of delicacies and gym routines. We’re spending our money on what we need, instead of excess.
In the case of romantic relationships, fancy outings and exciting trips aren’t options we can use to show our partners we care.
Instead, anniversaries this year are a time to pare down by connecting with loved ones in simple yet thoughtful ways that really matter.
Why anniversaries matter
When a special occasion arrives, we tend to want to celebrate with gifts, outings and trips that are as equally grand as the milestone, said professor and psychologist Terri Orbuch, who’s also known as The Love Doctor and author of “5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great.”
There’s nothing wrong with those things, but sometimes extravagance can take center stage while the smaller, more intimate details recede to the background, Orbuch said.
Anniversaries are still worth celebrating without the luxury. And at a time when your options for celebrating are limited, it’s important to remember the true purpose for celebrating an anniversary in the first place, said Jeremy Nicholson, a psychologist who specializes in dating and relationships.
Anniversaries are ultimately about accomplishing three main psychological and interpersonal goals, Nicholson said. One is “to remember the past, particularly the love stories and successes that led up to the present moment.” Another is “to share in the present, especially being grateful for the unique and special things that each [person] brings into the relationship.”
And lastly, Nicholson said, we celebrate anniversaries to “recommit to the relationship and shared goals for the future.”
Commemorating anniversaries indoors
Given those goals, there are multiple ways to make your anniversary more romantic and meaningful by connecting over certain topics, Nicholson said. Here are seven ideas to try:
Retell and remember important stories. How did you meet? What have been your most romantic moments together? What moments do each of you remember that are positive, loving and fun?
Share appreciation and gratitude in the present. What do each of you value and love about one another today? What are you grateful for, especially considering the day-to-day things that may go unsaid?
Reaffirm your commitment to each other. What are your shared goals and dreams for the relationship in the future? Where do you hope to go, and what do you plan to do? What’s meaningful and important to you both?
Recreate special moments. If there’s a memorable dish you and your partner anticipated having again at a certain restaurant, or perhaps a meal you ate at your first apartment together, try recreating it if you have the funds for and access to the ingredients, Orbuch suggested.
Have an old, favorite song you both share? Play it through your phone and dance to it in your kitchen or living room. Share how the song reminds you of one another, where you were the first time you both heard it and why the song has cemented its importance in your lives.
Light candles and dress up for dinner. Over the meal, get to know your partner again by asking 36 questions for increasing closeness, a list from the University of California, Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center that’s famed for each question being more probing and soul-searching than the last.
Get creative with gifts. Gift giving may look a little different this year, and that’s OK. Try ordering online a gift that your partner really needs, such as a stress reliever or something that would help if they’re working from home, Nicholson said. Or, Orbuch suggested, make your significant other a card with printed photos from your past together.
Learn something new. One way many couples spend their anniversaries is by taking a class together.
“Doing new activities that you haven’t done together as a couple also creates passion and excitement and arousal,” Orbuch said.
You could mimic this experience by taking part in online classes focused on cooking, dance, art, exercise, meditation or wine tasting. Participating in new experiences where there’s a joint outcome, Orbuch added, can lend adrenaline, intimacy and bonding to your r