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Picture this: you sit down to supper with your sweet spouse, put your napkin in your lap and prepare to dig into homemade chicken pot pie and a fresh garden salad with mason jars full of sweet tea… and two pretty cellphones on the side. This seems to be a standard menu these days, right? Welcome to our discussion about the hint we almost dubbed “Put Down Your Technology.”

After an extensive discussion with my other half, we decided that “Being Present” better encompasses the technology giant that prances around in the background of our day-to-day as well as the over-arching idea of taking a step back and appreciating life at it happens. These days, those two ideas often go hand in hand.

Before we begin, full disclosure: both my husband and I fail at this hint on a regular basis, which is probably why we think it’s so important. With our numerous responsibilities and multiple connections through social media, it’s not easy for us to unplug, and I don’t think we’re alone in this.

Here’s the struggle for us all: Technology is necessary. When used properly, it can be a huge blessing. We are currently living long distance from family and friends, which is made easier through phone calls and FaceTime, emails and Facebook. Plus, when lots of people our age don’t have a landline, our cell phone functions as an emergency contact, making us more hesitant to stash it away for hours at a time. However, we have to remind ourselves that this doesn’t give us an excuse to be nose-in-a-cellphone and slurping spaghetti at the dinner table instead of engaging in actual conversation with the person in front of us. It also doesn’t give us an excuse to take 311 photos on a hike then miss the sunset at the top of the mountain because we’re too busy trying to pick the perfect image to instagram. Ouch.

Making memories is about intentionally being present. As hard as it is to imagine, there was a time in OUR lives when we didn’t have such amazing technology but were still somehow able to remember, and even share, everyday moments.

To tackle these technological challenges and assist us with intentionally “being present,” Kyle and I have put a few policies in place. We have regular technology-free dinners, and we charge our phones outside the bedroom at night. We work to be purposeful about turning our computers off after working hours, and we set boundaries with social media. We work at these strategies, but are admittedly far from perfect. We keep trying, though, because we feel they’re essential to the health and longevity of our relationship.

Today’s summary? Make room for conversation. Sit down and look at each other face-to-face and have a real, live conversation. Go and make a memory. Unplug your technology and tune into your relationship. I promise you won’t miss out, and you might be surprised by what you’re able to experience when you’re genuinely ‘being present.’

How do you unplug? How are you deliberate about being present in your relationship? Share your hints and tips below. I’d love to learn from you!

P.S. Catch up on past hints here: #1, #2, #3 and #4!

All photos by Kt Crabb, one of our delightful Blue Ribbon Vendors. See them all in this Facebook Friday feature!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
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  1. avatar Hints for a Happy Marriage: Take a Deep Breath | Southern Weddings reply

    […] P.S. Catch up on past hints here: #1, #2, #3, #4, and #5! […]

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October 21, 2004 was my half birthday, and it also happened to be the day that was supposed to be my first date with my future husband. He was going to take me to the NC State Fair to eat cotton candy, nibble ham biscuits and visit the farm animals. Unfortunately, I woke up on that fateful Thursday morning with a dreadful 102 degree fever and a throat that felt as if I had swallowed a bucket of nails. One trip to student health later and a diagnosis of strep throat in hand, we spent our first “date” on my sofa, watching the state fair coverage on the news. He did bring me cotton candy and diet coke to make me “feel better,” and we managed a first date redo a few days later. The rest, as we now know, is history.

I am convinced that this next hint for a happy marriage is one of the most important, potentially the most fun, and likely the one that’s most easily pushed aside. Hint #4: Keep Dating. As in, continue to carve out dedicated, uninterrupted time to invest in one another; forever and ever, amen.

Y’all, dating is so important. You really got to know your sig-o by going on dates, having adventures and spending quality time together, right? It’s where you learned about his favorite foods, he learned about your love of all things monogrammed and the two of you started to form a bond stronger than pecans and sweeter than honey. Unfortunately, after marriage (and even while planning a wedding), life gets busy, and suddenly there doesn’t seem to be time to dedicate to uninterrupted quality togetherness. The pressure of life starts to overwhelm the calendar and that sweet regular date night is the first thing to go.

I would argue that you must make dating a priority because it’s a simple way to remind yourself why you started this whole marriage journey in the first place: a way to connect to your spouse and continue to get to know him and fall in love. Continuing to date, on purpose, gives you a chance to break away from the busy and focus on what really matters.

Dates don’t have to be fancy. They don’t have to be all-day affairs. They just need to involve you, your other half and limited unnecessary distractions (insert cellphones here). Certain dates and adventures become lifelong favorite memories just because they are with the one that has your heart, and the accumulation of those memories and experiences is what enriches a relationship over a lifetime.

Kyle and I both have busy careers and other important commitments, and we haven’t added the complication of littles to the mix quite yet. I can imagine this hint will only get trickier to execute with time, but continuing to date is something I am fiercely passionate about, and plan to fight tooth and nail to maintain no matter what life throws our way.

For us, date night is occasionally getting dressed up and trekking to our favorite Southern eatery tucked up a windy road from our house. They have great live music on the weekends, to-die-for grits of the day and provide a sweetly Southern atmosphere for an intimate and cozy dinner conversation. Other times it’s strolling downtown to grab frozen yogurt and snag a bench outside to sit and chat. No matter what we do, if we are doing it together, in an effort invest in each other and our relationship, it makes more difference that we can quantify. After all, why on earth would we stop doing something we LOVED doing before we got married?

I asked the SW gals about their favorite date memories (big or small). Lara loves visiting Fearrington Village and the beltie cows with Ari! Nicole’s most favorite date with her beau was an spontaneous Fourth of July adventure to the coast for a picnic and a day of catching rays. Marissa reminisced about a day spent playing hooky from school, riding roller coasters and giggling her way through Universal Studios with BDK. Lisa has the sweetest memories of her first camping adventure with her cute beau and his family. And Emily loves going to outdoor movies with John — they’re usually less than $5 per ticket (or free!), and they can bring along a picnic supper. From once-and-a-lifetime visits to amusement parks to regularly visiting the Fearrington cow, regardless of the details, the most important part is that memories are made and quality time invested.

So I am extending a challenge to each one of you. Join the Keep Dating movement. Take turns planning dates. Get creative and see what you can dream up. Make a date jar full of ideas and keep it on your counter. Be committed and block off your calendars. I promise that the time invested in planning and participating in the Keep Dating movement is so worth it!

Have a creative date idea to share? Spill the beans! Have a fun date memory? We want to hear about it!

P.S. Catch up on past hints here: #1, #2, #3!

P.P.S. Lovely session by Jo Photo, one of our Blue Ribbon Vendors! See more from this session in our Facebook Friday series!

kristin Written with love by Kristin
10 Comments
  1. avatar Samala C. reply

    I loved reading this! I could not agree with you more regarding setting that special time together. Having been married and divorced with 3 children, it was a lot harder when the kids came into the picture. But kids or no kids, making one another a priority will keep you both rediscovering why you grew to love one another, and give you more reasons to keep the love alive!

  2. avatar Madi Reid Sanders reply

    Sig-O! Love it! Great post Kristin!
    Sending BIG southern hugs!
    Madi

  3. avatar Stephanie Huxter reply

    GREAT post Kristin!! Oh we are so passionate about this subject! Life is busy for all of us, but dating our spouse really does need to be a BIG priority! It’s the way we stay connected, in love, and on the same page. When your marriage is happy and good, other priorities in life seem to fall in place. Our favorite date night – having a fire pit in the back yard with a bottle of red wine! All of our life, dream, funny conversations seem to happen there! Cheers to the Keep Dating Movement!

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Stephanie! Am I allowed to invite myself (and Kyle) over for a double-date in your backyard? It sounds dreamy!!

  4. avatar Brittany Lott reply

    This is so sweet and absolutely 100% true! It is so important to invest quality time and effort into your marriage.

    • avatar Kristin reply

      Brittany!! Yes, yes, yes! I couldn’t agree more. Quality time is so important.

  5. avatar keep dating | Piwo z Lody reply

    […] am not married, duh, but read this “tip for a happy Marriage” that said to keep dating.  I thought that it was sweet. I […]

  6. avatar Jessie at Gramercy Studio reply

    I loved reading this post & totally agree. Dating (and engagement) are really special times not to be rushed through. It is easy when you know you found the one to neglect this time – but it is really precious and should be enjoyed. I believe taking the time to work through things and learn about each other when dating relieves a lot of tension and fear when you do get married.

    Lovely post and VERY lovely photographs. You are stunning!

    blog.gramercystudio.com

  7. avatar Hints for a Happy Marriage: Get Away – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] rejuvenate you. Put some of those past hints in action: laugh out loud, put down your cellphone, go on a date. The WHOLE point of this hint is to recharge your batteries and to take time AWAY from the daily […]

  8. avatar Hints for a Happy Marriage: Take a Deep Breath – Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] I, and even for our future children. I long for dinners eaten at our table (more on this later), date nights, and the occasional lazy Saturday morning sipping coffee in our pajamas. So, I try my hardest to […]

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Welcome back to our discussion of all things anniversary! I loved learning the history of the traditional gift materials last week, and now we’re back with suggestions to fit the first five years. The best part about the traditional list? It’s SO flexible! In fact, it might help you come up with something even more creative than you would have with no direction, so don’t be afraid to think outside of the box on these, friends!

First anniversary: Paper
They gave us an easy one to start with! An album of wedding photos is a natural pick, and something that would be cherished for years to come. We also like the idea of purchasing a fine art print — Rebekka Seale will make an amazing one from her drawing of your house, and of course, we love some of the ones we have in our shop! Classic stationery (maybe a joint set with your married monogram?) is always a good bet, too.

Second anniversary: Cotton
Try a decadent sheet set or blanket (this one is hand-loomed) — we love the idea of matching it to your wedding colors! A commissioned painting (canvases are made from cotton!) would be an amazing addition to your home — choose a photo from your wedding day for extra points. For a Southern twist, we suggest a bow tie or a cotton boll wreath.

Third anniversary: Leather
The goodies are endless in this category! Think wallets, belts, shoes, bags, or watches (pictured above: this watch and this monogrammed tote from Mark & Graham). This “places to remember” leather book would be a great companion for a lifetime of shared experiences. If you skipped on an album for your first anniversary, a leather-bound volume could be a great pick on your third!

Fourth anniversary: Fruit and Flowers
At first, this one might seem fairly restrictive, but think outside of the box with me, here. You can, of course, go the traditional route, and order an arrangement of flowers. But what about a hydrangea or gardenia bush from White Flower Farm? I love that it would bloom every year — the gift that keeps on giving! An indoor lemon tree or outdoor flowering tree could be darling, too. Or what about a gift certificate for landscaping, to make your yard an oasis for lots of romantic dinners to come? If all else fails, there are LOTS of flower-patterned goodies to choose from — we love these casual plates.

Fifth anniversary: Wood
Trees would be acceptable here, too! Or perhaps a beautiful planter for outside, or a piece of beautifully-crafted furniture for inside. (My college graduation gift from my parents was a mahogany dining table that expands to fit twelve, and I love remembering that every time we sit down to eat!) For a smaller gift, a custom address stamp, wooden iPad case, or heirloom cutting board would be lovely.

What do you think, friends? Any suggestions to add to our list? I’d love to hear!!

emily Written with love by Emily
4 Comments
  1. avatar Melissa reply

    So fun! I have been thinking about what I might get my husband for our one year anniversary. I thought tickets might be fun! To where? Is the only question… I know we would like to go on a trip, so plane tickets to each other sounds great to me! :)

  2. avatar Kelly C reply

    We were just talking about this the other day in the office because several of our team members have anniversaries around this time of year. I suggested a Jenga set for a co-workers 5th anniversary. She could write some of her favorite memories of the past five years on the pieces and give it to him. On each anniversary going forward, they could get it out and add new memories.

  3. avatar Cassie reply

    Loved our first anniversary gifts…I got my husband a framed world map so that we could pin all the places we’ve traveled together and he framed a photo our wedding photog (the amazing Eric Kelley) took of the grape vines we were married in front of and then he also framed a wine label for the wine that was made using those grapes. I mean seriously? Major props for my sweet husband, I thought that was so creative of him!

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