Boston & New England Wedding Photographer Deborah Zoe

Boston & North Shore Wedding Photographer creating timeless imagery for classic New England weddings with a fine art approach.

Marriage Mondays

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The Yearly Marriage Review

In 2013 I started a blog series titled Marriage Mondays, with my aim to encourage married and engaged couples alike with stories, experiences and advice that have encouraged and inspired me in my own marriage throughout the years. And for the first half 2013 I was very good about keeping up with the series until our son was born. After his birth blogging was very difficult to keep up and so this series took a back seat. 
 
Throughout the year though, I have always held a dear place in my heart for Marriage Mondays. Healthy and thriving marriages are something that I'm passionate about and incorporating that into my blogging and business model is very important to me. I want to celebrate marriage, encourage newly engaged couples and equipped married couples to live happy, healthy and thriving marriages, all while taking pretty pictures! 
 
As I thought about the new year I was determined to revive Marriage Mondays but I had to do so it in a way that I could do it well. What that looked liked was changing the Marriage Monday series from every Monday to just one Monday a month.  
 
And so, to kick off a new year of Marriage Monday's I'm sharing about a Year End Review that my husband and I "conducted" over the Holiday break. He brought up the idea of doing something like this after reading an article in the Wall Street Journal so in his eyes, it's cool;). We took advantage of a car ride up to New Hampshire over the holidays to hash out our year together in 2013.  
 
We had never really done something like this in our seven plus years of marriage and despite what I thought it was actually quite therapeutic! We discussed what worked, what didn't and what we we're looking forward to in 2014. And after the year that we've had with it's many ups and downs, challenges and joys, it was a needed task to take inventory on our relationship, where it was and where it's going.  
 
A few of our What Worked: 
-- The biggest theme we came across as we discussed our marriage this year was teamwork. From pregnancy, to the birth of a child, to late nights with a newborn, to a growing infant, to running a business, to selling, buying and moving a home, to living life together, we were faced with many challenges (and joys) this year. We worked together not only facing and conquering each hurdle but strengthening our relationship as well.  
-- We planned well this year. We made goals and worked through actions to make them happen.  
-- We set boundaries for our family, our time and our relationship with the hope that these boundaries or guidelines would strengthen our core family and marriage.  
-- Our friendship. Both Dave and I were pleasantly surprised to look back on this year and see a friendship that has continued to blossom and thrive. 
-- I felt an overwhelming amount of support from Dave this past year, especially as I thought about my pregnancy and the birth of Jonathan. 
 
A few of our What Didn't: 
-- While boundaries are one of the things that worked, it is an area that still needs to be worked upon. We are still finding our groove as a family unit and are still learning the things that are appropriate for our family and when we just need to say NO to things, events, and people. 
-- Our communication was an up and down struggle, certainly because we were TIRED. We need to learn how to communicate better when we are upset instead of falling into old habits. 
-- Relational intimacy had a tendency to be forgotten, especially when we were in the midst of late night feedings and diaper changes. We're looking forward to more quality time together in the coming year, hopefully with a baby who likes sleep 12 hours at night;). 
-- Our faith plays a huge role in our marriage but this year, as we dealt with the arrival of a baby, our jobs, and moving, spiritual leadership took a back seat. Dave and I will be seeking to be more proactive in finding ways to inspire and encourage each other in our faith this year. 
 
A few of our What's Next? Our S.M.A.R.T goals. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely): 
-- We will be meal planning and grocery shopping on Sunday evening, for four healthy meals a week.  
-- We will be doing quarterly marriage check ins as we have enjoyed this process! They will happen on the first of the month.  
-- We will be reading one marriage book together this year, most likely at bedtime. We're looking into The Meaning of Marriage. I'd like to start this winter and finish by Jonathan's birthday.  
-- We are looking into ways to serve at our church as a couple, as a family and as individuals.  
 
Having never done something like this, I could say that before we took part in our Year End Review, I never really saw the benefit of doing so. But afterwards I can safely say that it will become an integral part of our relationship, we even discussed doing a mini check in quarterly. One of the biggest ways that we can help our relationship grow, mature and blossom is to foster open communication with each other and to carve out a singular path to walk on together. The Year End Marriage Review is a fantastic way to do so, as it allows each person to express their thankfulness, their concerns and their dreams for the future. Doing this activity not only gave us something to talk about together, but it also put our minds and hearts on the right track when we thought about our relationship. Since our marriage is one of, if not the most, important parts of our lives then it deserves the time and review.  
 
We tried to keep it lighthearted and offered heaping amounts of grace and gentleness. (Though I will admit talking through What Didn't Work was a little rocky). At the end of our car ride as we reached Dave's parents, we were smiling. We hugged and thanked each other for this year. A year that has brought so much change to our relationship and family. I can truly say that we are very excited to see where 2014 will bring us, as a couple and as parents! Our Marriage Year End Review, an idea that helped us to both see how much we have to be grateful for in each other and who we are together.  
Marriage Encouragement on Marriage Mondays Deborah Zoe Photography

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by Deborah Parker