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Conversations by Pamela Lamp

Our Marriage Notebook – Dates With A Little Red Book

A few years ago, I gave my husband a simple and inexpensive valentine – a small,  red notebook. Inside the front cover, I wrote a message to my sweetheart.   I proposed, with this notebook in hand,  we sit down a few times a year and talk about our marriage.   My concept was to document our hopes and dreams for the coming months, our aspirations, what we’d like to work on personally, and as a couple, that would benefit our relationship.

VALENTINE: a card or gift that you give, usually to someone you love, on Valentine’s Day

Merriam-Webster Dictionary

Initially, we pulled our notebook out of its drawer 3 or 4 times a year. We talked about our life together and our relationship and our desires and jotted down thoughts in our little book.  We came away from our notebook sessions feeling  engaged and energized  about our ideas and plans.  We realized  that our relationship, and we as individuals, are always changing.  These ideas give us direction – and a focus for growing and developing and adapting.  We eventually added notebook time to New Year’s Day and our wedding anniversary.     We schedule our notebook conversations as if they are a date and anticipate them, each of us planning what we will contribute.  We keep it loose, not always on a set schedule, but always with a degree of specialness.  We may spend time discussing things over dinner at a restaurant or a glass of wine on the patio. 

We may talk about –

  • Our calendars and, if we have to be apart, ways to stay in touch
  • Ideas for dates or activities, events we might want to check out
  • New and different and scary  things we may enjoy trying
  • What we can do to enrich our lives, our marriage
  • Our personal needs and expectations
  • Ways to make obligations, and stuff we MUST do, more special
  • Vision for the holidays or an upcoming vacation
  • Friends to connect with, people to meet
  • Community activities
  • Family concerns

Sometimes we need more direction in our lives and our notebook makes extra appearances.   After our sons were grown, my husband’s job took us to a new city.   Although the people in Nashville were extremely welcoming, we (especially me!) struggled.  We were missing our 20 year history with Texas friends, our community, our infrastructure.  So – we began making step by step goals in our notebook.  Go out to dinner with one new couple. Try a restaurant in our new neighborhood.  Find a church.  Call the person that my aunt knows and invite her to lunch.  Introduce ourselves to 3 new neighbors.  Sign up to volunteer. By making simple plans and goals in our notebook, we felt accountable to accomplish them.  And, little by little, we met people and our new city became home.

SWEETHEART: one who is loved

Merriam-Webster dictionary

This easy gift helps us appreciate each other and our relationship.  It causes us to slow down, stop the busyness, make an effort.   Our notebook dates are a  reminder to tend to things between us, nurture our marriage, keep it thriving.  It is fun to look back at prior entries and see where we were then, where we are now.

The biggest endorsement?  My son and future daughter-in-law have started their notebook.

Happy Valentine’s Day! 

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