Love is in the air in the Chicago Tribune newsroom, particularly for the Lifestyles team, where three of our staffers are engaged to be married.
Writer Christen Johnson and editors/online producers Susie Moskop and Randi Stevenson each got engaged within a six-month span (August, September and January, respectively). Johnson's and Moskop's weddings are scheduled a month apart. (August and September, respectively.) Stevenson hasn't nailed down a date.
We're basking in their glow and delighting in the ins and outs of wedding planning. And, of course, we have advice.
When my husband and I travel, I always get a Christmas ornament from wherever we went. Ideally, it says the name of the place and maybe a design of something we did there, like kayaking in Charleston, S.C., biking in France or even eating a corn dog at Cozy Dog Drive In in Springfield. (Believe it or not, that greasy spoon does indeed sell its own Christmas ornaments.) Every December, when we break out the Christmas tree, we unpack our growing cache of ornaments and reminisce about our trips together. The ornament collection helps us keep those memories alive, serving as a highlight reel of sorts for our greatest adventures together. Whether or not you decide to do the same, try your best to cherish and celebrate your special moments as a couple. And may your tree – literally or figuratively – be full of ornaments, forever and always.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Bellingham Herald
– Lori Rackl, editor/writer
You don't always have to say something. Too often someone wants to get the last word. There's power in silence. Remain silent especially when it comes to talking about past relationships and comments about your spouse's body – unless they are compliments, of course.
Continue to date your spouse. Share the responsibility of deciding on what to do for date night. Don't let the kids, work or being tired get in your way. But also hang out with your friends too. Your whole existence shouldn't be tied to your spouse.
His mom calls and wants to know plans for Christmas? Defer to your spouse if there's a question involving his side of the family, and make decisions about your side.
– Rochell Sleets, editor
Kiss each other good night.
– Kasondra Van Treeck, visual journalist
People say not to go to bed angry, but I think that's crazy. Sometimes you're so mad that it can't be helped, and sleep is an effective way to reset. Things feel different in the morning. That said, fight fair. Don't name call. Don't exploit insecurities. Try to consider what the other person is feeling.
– Lauren Chval, former writer
Embrace your partner's interests and differences. That's what attracted you in the first place. You've fallen in love with someone – yes, because you have similar interests – but also because you find this person to be unique. Those differences add to the conversation and bring a positive tension to the relationship that keeps it interesting – as well as respectful. Remember that some of the quirky differences that your partner has are what made you fall in love. Embrace his or her passions and differences to empower your partner and empower your relationship.
– David Syrek, editor
Never raise your voice at each other. Love leaves things open for debate. There are many people you can live with, but only one you can't live without. Remember that before you go nuclear on your loved one, and just hash it out. Resolutions may not be 100 percent, but hearing the other person is everything.
Looks go, patience is out the door, memory may fade. But you know what stays? Humor. As long as you can make each other laugh, you got this. That's not to say getting in sync with financials, dreams and goals doesn't factor in, but when all else is going haywire, finding humor in the situation and sharing it with each other make all the difference.
– Darcel Rockett, writer
Life will throw a lot of big challenges at you both, but sometimes it pays to sweat the small stuff, as in simple words of kindness and appreciation. Say "please" and "thank you" and "I love you" and "I'm sorry" and "I hear you." And possibly the best thing you can ever ask your spouse: "What can I do to help you?"
– Cara DiPasquale, editor
I think a successful marriage is one that is always filled with love, regardless of what is going on around you. Remember to appreciate that love and the special, lucky partnership that is marriage, and never miss an opportunity to say, "I love you."
– Kate Thayer, writer
And here's mine: Be on the same team. When your spouse comes to you with a complaint about work, a gripe about a brother-in-law, a tale of woe about a particularly bad day, receive it and respond to it as a friend would. Commiserate. ("You're kidding! That's terrible!") Empathize. ("I'm so sorry that happened.") Listen. ("Then what happened?") Don't point out what your partner should or shouldn't have done. Resist the urge to one-up. ("You think that's bad ... ") Don't feel the need to solve or fix it. (Unless your partner is overtly asking you to.)
My husband is wonderful at this. My friend Bela says he's always on Team Heidi.
Be on Team You Guys. It's the only way to win.
Join the Heidi Stevens Balancing Act Facebook group, where she hosts live chats every Wednesday at noon.