Near the end of 2013, Eric was inspired by a business coach he followed to dedicate each year to a specific theme. Not only did we incorporate the theme into the journey we took our readers on in our blog that upcoming year; we also used the theme as a reflective thought throughout our personal marriage that year.
At first, I did not care for the idea; and, of course not… it was change. But, after a while, I started to see the value in declaring a theme. It gives focus to the year. Without it, an entire year can pass by with little growth to show for it.
Below are all the themes we have done so far!
- Connection (2014) – As a feeler and cuddler, this first theme made me happy. We focused on ways to foster connection – in long distance relationships, through technology, through increased relationship coaching colleagues, and fostering a better connection with our clients. As a theme, I highly recommend trying it one year!
- Experience (2015) – For my entire life, I have hidden from the unknown; yet, a part of me has always wanted to burst out of my comfort zone and push my adrenaline to the max. Eric believed it would be good for us to focus on experience. Twice a month, I had to try something new and write about it. That year, I rode an elephant, held a snake (am terrified of them), went horseback riding, attended Mayberry Days, and went indoor skydiving (just to name a few). At the end of that year, I felt quite accomplished. I faced some fears and did not settled for the status quo (with Eric’s help and occasional prodding). It was awesome. Whether you are an adrenaline junkie or tend to stay home under the covers like me, a year of experience will do you much good!
- Blessings (2016) – I love giving presents and blessing others. During the year of blessings, we gave gifts to our readers (from free products to even free sessions) and focused on ways to bless others in our personal lives. Taking a year to pour into your significant other/spouse and others in your life and community is great for the soul. When we seek to bless others, it is amazing how much we end up blessing ourselves. Giving is the most fun you can have with time and money!
- Perspective (2017) – If there was ever a theme from which we could all benefit, it is perspective! Especially in our current political climate, it is good to suspend judgment and hear other sides to all issues. We specifically took time to cultivate discussions and listen to people with whom we would not normally dialogue and listen to (admittedly, Eric did this much more than I did). In marriage, you will be faced with different perspectives when living together in your home, raising children together, and making decisions together. Take a year to work on understanding each other’s ways of thinking (as well as others with whom you would normally disagree)!
- Simplify (2018) – Hearing Eric utter such statements as, “let’s keep it simple” made my heart smile! If there is a way to turn something complicated into something simple, I am all for it. This theme was helpful in our personal lives in getting rid of clutter – which made me feel lighter – Marie Kondo would be proud! We also used this theme to discuss topics more simply and to get back to fundamentals. Take a year to make your life less complex!
- Creed (2019) – I confess that I struggled with this one, especially from a blogging perspective. However, I know it is important to study and understand what you believe (cf. I Timothy 3:13-17). If you and your partner have different beliefs (and especially religious beliefs) or if you want to solidify your beliefs, dedicate a year for study and then write your personal and couple’s creeds. You may also find benefit in studying religious creeds such as the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.
- Hindsight (2020) – Since I tend to live in the past, I enjoy looking back, reminiscing, and observing growth and lessons learned. This year has been unprecedented… quite ironic for a theme of hindsight. But, having the theme of hindsight has helped us to reflect on the past with the posts we have created and in our personal lives.
We did not start this theme tradition in our marriage until several years in, but you can start right away. Maybe your first year could be something like new beginnings, home, or firsts. Keep a theme journal where you list your annual themes. In it, write lessons you have learned and themed stories you want to remember. Also consider buying a piece of artwork for each year to remind you of your current theme (and to commemorate past themes) so you have a visual reminder of your theme. It is can be easy to forget without those visual reminders. (We have a small, wooden sign which says Simplify hanging in our living room. In the hallway, we have a few pieces with the Apostles’ Creed. And next to our bathroom door, we have a small mirror which at the bottom has etched the word hindsight.)
There is much power in focus and you can come out of each year with a sense of growth and completion! If you try it, let us know how it turned out for you!
What will your theme be for next year (and why)?