How Wedding Anniversary Symbols Support and Strengthen a Marriage

Anniversaries are opportunities to reflect on where you have come from, understand where you are, and get clear on where you are going. They are also a wonderful time to adjust the compass and chart a new course together or just revel in your journey thus far.

As my husband and I are approaching our second wedding anniversary, I have spent some time reflecting on our first two years. We have grown and strengthened our bond and communication as well as conquered new challenges together. In my reflection, I wondered, "How can I celebrate this milestone in a way that truly honors myself, my husband, and our marriage?"

A married couple wrapped in a blanket on their anniversaryTraditional Wedding Anniversary Symbols

The traditional anniversary symbols are well-known representations of each year’s milestone. The traditional symbol for the second anniversary is cotton. The first year’s symbol is paper. Paper? Cotton? What do these things have to do with marriage? The greater the milestones, the more precious the representations become. Delicate fabrics, precious metals and jewels represent anniversaries beginning around the ten-year mark. Earlier years are marked with more simple symbols and materials.

To help me understand the correlation of the second-year symbol, I explored the cotton plant itself. Cotton plants need lots of direct sun, long growth periods without frost, and consistent rain. Once harvested, cotton is then spun into yarn and woven to create a soft, durable fabric used for items ranging from clothing to tents, book bindings—and marriage.

What does cotton have to do with marriage?

I recently came across a blog, What Are the Traditional Wedding Anniversary Gifts by Year? from Truly Experiences when searching for second anniversary ideas around cotton that explained this traditional symbol. Truly Experiences offers “experiences for people who collect memories, not stuff.” In this blog, Truly shares the traditional anniversary gifts by anniversary year as well as insight on the tradition and gift ideas.

“Durable and versatile, cotton holds the qualities of a marriage that’s made it to its second year. The underlying meaning behind a cotton gift is that your marriage needs to be able to stay strong even when faced with difficult changes. Accomplish this, and the two of you will grow ever closer, your lives becoming intertwined like interwoven cotton fibers.”

Weaving the Fibers of Our Relationship

The above explanation of the relationship between cotton and a marriage resonated with me. In the first two years, we have woven the fibers that strengthen our bond.  We have learned about each other more intimately in these first two years, we have faced struggles, and found new ways to move through the world together.

A loom weaving a blanketThere are two woven objects that come to mind when I think of how our marriage has weaved our lives together in these first two years.

The first is a woven blanket. As our marriage bond strengthens, our relationship supplies warmth and comfort like a cozy and warm blanket. Well-constructed woven blankets are durable and crafted with skill and love, much like a solid marriage. My husband is my greatest comfort and the blanket of our marriage provides great comfort and warmth to me.

Like marriages, handmade blankets are all unique, woven with many different fibers, patterns, and colors.

The second meaningful woven object is a basket. A basket keeps items neatly organized that you can take with you. With items contained, you always know where to find them. Our marriage is always with me and something I can count on. Also, like a bird’s nest, our marriage nest is like a basket that we return to when needing rest and nurturance. Birds build their nests with a single fiber at a time, which can take days or weeks depending on the size of the bird. Hand woven baskets can take weeks or months to create! Much like a marriage, these crafts require time and skill to be suitable for their purpose.

What are the fibers, colors, and patterns that weave a marriage?

Our marriage blanket, nest or basket are about coming back to our vows repeatedly. These vows are prominently displayed in our home and are a compass for our marriage, especially when we feel lost. They supply direction, help us to find our way through struggles, and give us values to stand upon proudly. Our vows reflect and uphold how we wish to live our lives, both as individuals and a couple. They represent our love, values, goals, interests, traditions, routines, and rituals.

Related Reading: You Create the Quality of Your Relationship

Career changes, the COVID-19 cycle, major home renovations, and the loss of family members in the last two years have tested our bond. These challenges have put the woven threads to the test! All experiences become the fibers that weave our blanket and basket. These symbols remind us of our love and the gift of marriage. And in reflection, it is clear that the tests have woven the bonds of our relationship as skillfully and beautifully as the joyous moments.

A black couple relaxing on their couch

3 Ways to Weave and Strengthen the Fibers of Your Relationship

As your relationship grows and changes, it is not only outer experiences that impact your lives. You are weaving the fibers with intentions, words, and actions with your partner in each interaction. Here are some ways you can strengthen the fibers of your relationship daily.

1.  Say please and thank you – consistently and genuinely.

This may sound simple, but it is easy to forget the power behind these words. Gratitude goes a long way in partnership. Especially with simple things, gratitude prevents us from taking each other for granted. Children especially notice this practice and are more likely to show gratitude when modeled by their parents.

2.  Seek to understand.

As you learn and grow with your partner, you will cross uncharted waters within your marriage and yourself. Asking questions and listening to understand the perspective of your partner will help your partner feel loved and understood. Showing kindness and empathy to both yourself and your partner can also help you weather the storms and sail through to the calm seas.

Related Reading: Keys to Healthy Love and a Happy Relationship

3.  Take responsibility for your words and actions.

Misunderstandings and disagreements are part of partnership. Getting clear on your roles and responsibilities prevents many conflicts. You must take responsibility for your role and actions daily. We are interacting with life at every moment based on our past experiences, which create filters. Sometimes we act unkind and our behavior is not about our partner, but ourselves. Taking responsibility for your actions and words in these moments (and working on issues within yourself) can be a huge asset in your relationship.

With each year of marriage, building blocks of the passing year are celebrated with the symbols standing for each milestone. As our relationship deepens, I am excited to have the ritual of symbols to reflect upon the growth of my marriage. Understanding these symbols more, I realized that they have now becoming an important thread to the weaving of our marriage. Each unfolding new symbol gives us something to celebrate and reflect on each year as our basket, blanket and nest become stronger and more brilliant with new threads.

Each word and action either weave the threads stronger or weakens them. The threads can weave symmetrically or chaotically. With love and intention we eliminate tangles. The quality of our weaving depends on us.

If you would like support for your relationship, call us at Heartmanity 406-577-2100. For personalized support to make your relationship sweeter, check out our relationship resources. For premarital counseling or marriage coaching, contact Heartmanity today!

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Christina MaxwellChristina Maxwell
Christina has a B.S. in Business Administration and two decades of management experience across multiple industries. She was first introduced to Heartmanity as a coaching client in 2013 and quickly fell in love with the work. After experiencing significant transformation in all areas of her life, she became deeply committed to the Heartmanity mission. Christina joined Heartmanity as COO in early 2020. Christina brings tremendous expertise and is an invaluable asset to support the growing demand for Heartmanity’s business programs.

Posted in Love, Marriage, and Relationships