Day 10: Celebrate

This post is a part of The 15-Day Relationship Challenge. If you’re just now tuning in, click here for the whole series.

Celebrate! What we have accomplished. 

Good morning. Welcome to day 10, cellll-ebrate good times, c’mon! 

We’re at day 10, and in case you’ve missed how we got here, take a look at where we’ve been in this 15-Day challenge:
Day 1 – Hello! The gift of welcome. 
Day 2 – Roles. Where we come from.
Day 3 – Personalities. Who we are.
Day 4 – Top 5, Part 1. Keystone Stories of Loss.
Day 5 – Top 5, Part 2. Keystone Stories of Joy.
Day 6 – Growth. Who am I becoming?
Day 7 – Rest. Let all things be.
Day 8 – Remember Us. Our story. 
Day 9 – Grace. Sweat the small stuff. 

Today, we’re going to talk about celebrations.

Have you ever noticed that your photo albums are all full of pictures from happy moments? There may be a stray picture or two about something sad, but generally we take pictures of happy times. Why? I think it’s because we need more help remembering the good times. Difficult times stick to us like velcro, thus we don’t need help remembering those. It would do our lives good to think and reflect about the happy times as much, or more, as we do for the hard times. 

I often talk with couples about the relational problems that stem from competition. Competition means that there is a winner and a loser. No one likes to be a loser, and no one wants to be with a loser. So it’s really a lose-lose situation when competition is present in relationships. You might win the argument, decision, debate, but you will ultimately lose. Win the battles lose the war is a horrible strategy. So let’s talk about a different kind of strategy, and a different kind of winning. 

There are battles, and there is a war. The best strategy is to choose your battles, and fight together in the war. Unfortunately it’s easy to confuse our spouse as being the enemy. When this happens, competition is nearby. The real enemy are the threats and forces that are out to break the two of you apart. Societies thrive and prosper when families are in tact and committed to a common purpose together. There are threats a plenty that don’t want socieity to thrive, nor do they want your marriage to prosper. 

Teammates win together, and they lose together. When we get married we create and join a team together. We give up our individual rights, and together create new rights that serve the team, not just the individual. Tomorrow when we talk about losses, we need a foundation that allows us to grieve together the difficulties and losses in our relationship. 

Winning as a team means that we’re competing together against a common goal, a common enemy. When we win, it calls for celebrations to rejoice and remember the goodness that can be accomplished if we work together. Couples desperately need these monuments of good to remember and hold on to, especially when the storms of life show up and challenge us to the core. 

Reflection Questions

  • What did I think about my spouse in reading today’s material? Was it kind? Was it thoughtful? Was it loving?
  • Did I have feelings, thoughts, questions, or stories that came to mind?
  • What is something I can do for them today?
  • How can I welcome and receive what they have done for me today?

What are the top 5 most celebratory moments of your marriage? Answer these questions about each story: 

  • What happened?
  • What did I feel? 
  • How did I respond?
  • What was amazing about this event?
  • What did I do with the joy I felt?

Give yourself some time to complete today’s assignment. You might need 30 or more minutes to appropriately answer the above questions. Be thoughtful, be kind, don’t rush through this assignment. 


Hello! Welcome back. Great to see you again. How was your day?

Stories are awesome, and I hope you have some great stories to tell after today’s assignment. Stories give us hope, and help us and others express this hope in profound ways. I think this is why we love movies so much. 

Take 10-15 minutes tonight with your spouse to talk through your day. 

  • What were the highs and lows?
  • Where were you surprised? 
  • Was there anything different about your day because of the assignment(s)?
  • From this mornings reading, what stood out to you? 
  • If you’re willing, share your answers to the assignment. 

Assignment Connection
We need to remember these stories of goodness and joy. Go on a date together and visit a local home decor store.

You’re going to buy two things: A container and a bag of smooth rocks. The container needs to be small enough to fit on a shelf or table, but big enough to hold 25+ or so rocks about the size of a silver dollar. The rocks need to be smooth so that you can write on them. Look for river stones at the store (A store like TJ Max, At Home, JoAnns, etc) 

Go home, put the container in a visible place in your house. Take 5 rocks, and write a phrase on the rock that represents one story of celebration. Fill the jar with as many stories as you can. Continue filling the jar in the days, weeks, and years ahead. This is your monument jar.

In the future, when your relationship feels like it is “on the rocks,” take out the rocks and look at what is on them. You’ll be reminded of what goodness has happened, and what goodness can still happen.

Day 5: Joy

This post is a part of The 15-Day Relationship Challenge. If you’re just now tuning in, click here for the whole series.

Top 5, part 2. Keystone Stories of Joy.

Good morning. Welcome to Day 5 of 15! 

Yesterday was a big hurdle you made it over! Good for you for taking the time, energy, and responsibility to engage in those difficult stories (if you didn’t, that’s ok. But stop here and complete yesterday’s daily assignment before moving into today’s reading and assignment). 

Remember that a keystone is a stone that a builder places at the top of an arch to connect the two sides together. This allows the archway to stand on it’s own, hold weight, and be a central focus of the building. There are two categories of keystone stories in our life: Joy and Sorrow. Today, we’re going to talk about Joy. Joy is so much better than sorrow, right? Yes, and no.

I think we are more afraid of what is good about ourselves, than what is bad. For the entire history of mankind, we have yet to discover something good and not attempt to use that for power and control. Wendell Berry says it best, “What man has not discovered, man has not destroyed.” Some of us are afraid of discovering the joy and goodness in our lives, and inappropriately use those. 

Just as the painful experiences have shaped your life, so to have the glorious experiences. We often take pictures of these events because we need help remembering these moments. Pictures become a memorial to remind us that there is good in our lives, and this good needs to be celebrated. When we celebrate, we invite others to celebrate as well. When we don’t celebrate, we envy those who have something to celebrate about. 

Celebration is an emotional muscle that only grows with exercise. One of the biggest holes in marriages today is that husband and partner get seduced into contempt and criticism towards each other.

Here’s a secret that will change your relationship: Celebration and contempt cannot coexist. They are like oil and water. The glorious and celebratory stories of your life are the ones that need see the light of day, and to share the joy with those you are closest to. 

Reflection Questions:

  • What did I notice about me in reading today’s material? 
  • Did I have feelings, thoughts, questions, or stories that came to mind? 

Write a brief description of the top 5 most joyous experiences from your life prior to marriage. Be as detailed as you can. Answer these questions about each story: 

  • What happened?
  • What did I feel? 
  • How did I respond?
  • What did I do with the joy I felt?

Give yourself some time to complete today’s assignment. You might need 30 or more minutes to appropriately answer the above questions. Be kind. 


Hello! Welcome back. Good to see you again. How was your day? 

This morning we talked about joyful experiences, which is way better first thing in the morning than talking about difficult stories! I hope the assignment was revealing and helpful for you and your day. 

Take 10-15 minutes tonight with your spouse to talk through your day. 

  • What were the highs and lows?
  • Where were you surprised? 
  • Was there anything different about your day because of the assignment(s)?
  • From this mornings reading, what stood out to you? 
  • If you’re willing, share your answers from the reflection questions. 

Assignment Connection
Pick one story from your assignment list, and share that story in as much detail as you’d like to share. 



Life is full of comparison. Babies are born, measured, weighed, and immediately placed in comparison with all the other records of babies born, “she’s 7 pounds 2 ounces, which is in the 67% percentile”.  Kids are measured at school based on test scores, and parents participate by asking their kids to be more like so-and-so. 

As if a life of comparison wasn’t enough, we double down and celebrate competition as one of the highest forms of success. While this works great on the field, it is an awful ingredient for home and work life. When there has to be a winner and a loser, everyone is a threat. Sometimes that includes ourselves.

Ultimately comparison results in two stances in relationships: Inferiority or superiority. Neither of those two kinds of people are enjoyable to be with. It’s either a bottomless hole of pity, or an untouchable pedestal of amazingness. The result: Everyone is looking at someone else to tell them if they’re ok or not.

Want out of the comparison rat race? Celebrate. Rejoice in the successes of others.

Celebrate the gifts, efforts, and attitude of someone (including ourselves), not just the results.

Celebrate them as a human being, not a human doing.

Be a cheerleader, not a critic. 

(And try not to compare how well you’re doing celebrating!)


Marriage Junk Food

It’s easy to get a Twinkie off the shelf, and eat it. Donuts are great, too. But they are not all that good for the body. 

Marriages have a lot of junk food options: Blame. Contempt. Resentment. Criticism. Name calling. Silence or Stonewalling. 

These actions, or reactions, all taste pretty good in the moment, but they don’t nourish us or our relationships. They are empty calories that make for an obese relationship. 

Getting healthy might not feel good in the moment, but it is worth it. Instead of Blame, take responsibility. Instead of contempt, celebrate. Forgive. Forgiveness chokes out resentment. A cheerleader (not necessarily the school kind) is always better to be around than a critic. 

What marriage junk food do you need to throw away?

Celebrating the Big Days

A few months ago I was with my family eating at Chick-Fil-A and I noticed an advertisement next to the counter. It said, “Make your reservations today to spend Valentines with your Love here at Chick-Fil-A. We will be serving a candlelit dinner for 2 from 5:00-9:00pm.”

As we were leaving, I showed Stephanie, my wife, the ad, and half-jokingly told her that I’d made reservations for the two of us. She shot me a look that very clearly said: “Don’t bring me here for Valentine’s Day.” Yes, I was half-kidding, but I was also half-serious. Thankfully, I listened and we celebrated elsewhere.

Birthdays, anniversaries, and Valentine’s Day are all jam packed with hopes and expectations. It’s really no surprise that Stephanie and I have had our most difficult fights surrounding these big days.

The distance between expectation and reality is the feeling of disappointment, hurt, and anger (unless, of course, the expectations are exceeded). As one who has failed mightily, the overarching advice for these days: Do not just go through the motions. These special days are far too valuable to be wasted by a half-hearted approach at celebration.

This day might be complicated for you or your spouse. Because birthdays are celebrated, or not, uniquely in different cultures, you or your spouse might have to have some big changes to the way you celebrate each other. In advance of a birthday, spend some time together talking about past birthdays. Ask questions like:

  • What was your favorite, and/or the most forgettable birthday in your life?
  • What was the most cherished gift you received?
  • Do you like surprises (parties, gifts, trips, etc)?
  • How best can I celebrate you on this one day of the year?

A friend of mine was thrown a surprise birthday by his wife over 15 years ago. He does not (and did not) like surprises. Today, they both still talk about this birthday as one of the low points in their relationship. Unfortunately as is the case with most of life, you will learn about how to celebrate your spouse by failing more so than you will by doing it right.

Valentine’s Day
Let me speak from a males perspective for a moment. Most men that I know do not particularly care for this day. This isn’t to say that all men don’t like it, but most do not. I think the reason is that there is a huge cultural expectation for this day to be the affirmation of a couple’s love for one another. It’s been marketed as a holiday that is focused on getting a gift for the woman in your life.

I have often heard from men that they don’t want a holiday to be what defines their love for their spouse. Some of this is because we men are arrogant and selfish. My advice to men is to think outside of the box on Valentine’s Day. Don’t just get her chocolates, cut flowers, or a balloon. Find a way to make this day special and uniquely centered around the love in your relationship. One of our favorite Valentine’s Days was when we went to a park, cooked our dinner together, and then had a “drive-in” movie in the back of our SUV (we watched a movie on a laptop).

Neither one of us remember the Valentine’s Dates when it was just about a gift, dinner, or just going through the motions.

The great thing about Anniversaries is the two of you will create this day together. There is usually little personal history around this day for husband and wife, which makes creating a celebration a little less complicated than other special days. Similar to the questions in the birthday section, consider engaging ahead of time about what you want this day to look like together.

Thankfully, as I see it, redemption is only one year away. These special days come around every year, which means that if something goes awry this year, you get a chance at redemption the next year. The key to making these days special is to be intentional, plan ahead, and be creative. Do those three things and your spouse will feel loved and celebrated.

(article originally published at Start Marriage Right)