Stay Smitten: Elf, Brunch & Vacays

Jenna Walker Photography

Jenna Walker Photography

Stay Smitten” is a recurring blog feature filled with tangible relationship advice to help make sure your honeymoon is more than just a phase. That it’s a way of life. Why? Because marriages in which love shines the brightest have the power to change the world.

About a week before Christmas every year, Mr. Smitten and I find a piece of paper and scribble the same things on it we did 365 days earlier:

  • Brie

  • Fig spread

  • Gluten-free crackers

  • Shrimp

  • Cocktail sauce

  • Gluten-free egg rolls

  • Champagne

  • Milk duds

  • Sweet tarts

Then, about two nights before Christmas Eve, we set the smorgasbord on our coffee table, pop the bubbly, slip into our pajamas, watch our pups open one gift (seriously) and push play on the movie Elf for the 1,347th time.

We know that Buddy makes it across the Candy Cane forest. Finds the World’s Best Cup of Coffee. Falls in love with Jovie. And, eventually, makes it back to Papa Elf in the North Pole.

The familiarity of the movie—and every warm, fuzzy feeling it conjures—is exactly why we repeat the pattern before every Christmas. While we have traditions with our larger families, too, reserving some for just the two of us—both holiday traditions and others throughout the year—is another way for us to stay smitten.

After all, our traditions are opportunities for us to create new shared memories, which make us smile to talk about after the fact—like the year J got his new Orvis bed and, within minutes, started snoring and didn’t stop until Elf’s closing credits. The moments build connection, bond us, strengthen our relationship. Plus, they’re just plain fun.

If you and the love of your life need some inspiration for creating a few traditions of your own, here are a couple others that keep Mr. Smitten and I looking forward to them rolling around on our calendar, whether it’s week after week or year after year.

Sunday morning brunch

Weekends in the Smitten household tend to be busy, which means the hubby and I don’t always get to spend Friday evenings or Saturdays together. To ensure we get some one-on-one weekend time, Sunday morning brunch has become a staple in our household. The standing date usually consists of one of us sizzling omelets, pancakes, bacon or whatever we have on hand, and catching up on life, listening to a podcast or playing a board game.

One vacation every year

This one is a no-brainer for any travel lover, but if you’ve followed Smitten Honeymoons for any length of time then you know this tradition’s roots run deeper for Mr. Smitten and me than the fact that we enjoy exploring new destinations together.

On our honeymoon, we met a couple who said their secret to a happy marriage was committing to at least one vacation together every year—no friends, no kids, just the two of them. The time away allowed them to prioritize their marriage and show each other that their relationship matters more than any obligations at home. Of course, I agree with them 100 percent, especially once you factor in the inevitable ways in which travel forces couples into new experiences (i.e., teaches, connects, inspires, rejuvenates, etc.). This tradition has become one of my non-negotiables.

What is your favorite tradition you share with the love of your life?