It doesn’t matter how long you’ve been married. Figuring out what to do to celebrate your anniversary can be sweat-inducing. The best approach is to decide what you’d like to do, and break it into steps.
A great first step is to pick out a card. It’s your chance to let your love know how you feel, even if it’s tough for you to say out loud. But even if you know what you’d like to say, figuring out how to say it is key. Let’s run through what you should write in the card.
And for those of you worried about gift buying, make sure you take a minute and check out our list of the best anniversary gifts by year!
First you need to pick out the card itself. That can be a daunting task in itself. You’ll see funny cards, romantic cards, cards associated with specific faiths, as well as cards that reference motherhood as a theme.
Think about the message you’d like to send and start there. Look for a card with an attractive image and with wording that conveys the general feeling of what you’d like to say to her. While finding the right card (or close-to-right) card can take a few minutes, it may help you as a springboard for the message you’ll be adding yourself.
You also have the option of getting a card that doesn’t have a prewritten message. You can find regular notecards anywhere, but local shops may have handmade cards by artists from your area, and that may be a perfect option for an anniversary card to your wife. It’s a nice touch if you get a chance to pick one up.
Once you’ve picked out your card, you’ve got to decide what message you’d like to send. You’ll find that preprinted message or not, there’s a lot of empty space in a greeting card, and just signing your name isn’t going to cut it.
This is part of why you’ll find so many commercially produced greeting cards with long poems inside—there’s less white space to fill, but it’s still unlikely to perfectly capture how unique your marriage and your wife actually are. No matter how much or how little you write, make sure it’s sincere.
Obviously, since this is an anniversary card, you’ll want to reflect on your years together and on how much you love your wife. If you plan to make a joke, be absolutely sure she’ll find it funny: what you have always seen as a couples in-joke may be something she actually interprets as passive-aggressive.
Leave the gentle ribbing for another time and focus on celebrating another year of matrimonial bliss. The stakes are high on special days, so there’s no reason to tempt fate with a joke that could fall flat.
Things You Definitely SHOULD NOT Write
We just touched on this, but it’s worth repeating: don’t use this as an opportunity to poke fun. Even if you’re not the most openly emotional person, focus on how much you appreciate her. Even if you’re joking, gently teasing her by calling her a nag or playing on the beating you with a rolling pin stereotype has no place in any celebration, especially not on your anniversary.
Think of themes like enduring love, consistency, and partnership. Make sure you talk about all the different ways your wife is special. Focusing only on her physical beauty or what a great mother only tells part of the story. Make sure she knows you understand that and touch on multiple facets of her personality so she doesn’t feel you see her as one-dimensional.
And really, it should go without saying, but do not compare her to other women, especially not ex-wives or ex-girlfriends. It doesn’t matter how fantastic your wife is. This is not the time or place to bring up other women. She may not be the jealous type, but this is a day the two of you share together—not with anyone else.
How to Win Brownie Points
Be specific! By all means, tell her you love her and you can’t imagine your life without her. But the way to make her really feel special is to go into detail about why you love her. This could be the way she smiles or laughs, or recounting the moment you knew for sure that you wanted to marry her. It’s your anniversary, so putting in sweet nods to your wedding day is always a plus.
But what about the year that’s past since your last anniversary? Was there a special moment or a tough time you saw each other through that reminded you of why you fell in love with her in the first place? If it’s something that can be expressed without digging up unpleasant memories, by all means, write it here. Many people keep greeting cards as lifelong mementos. Don’t let that intimidate you, but do know that it means you’re on the hook to truly write something special.
Oh, one other thing: how good is your handwriting? Don’t be ashamed if it’s not great. Most of us type more often than we write, but an event as special as an anniversary deserves something heartfelt and handwritten. She knows your handwriting well by this point, so she won’t be scandalized if your penmanship isn’t perfect.
But you’d do well to write out everything you want to say on a sheet of scratch paper in advance, then copy it down into the card when you’re sure it’s exactly what you want to say (pssst—check your spelling and grammar too!). Crossed-out words and the wrong “your” or “you’re” can distract from the heartfelt message you’re aiming for.
Ultimately, what matters is that you and your wife have a great anniversary together. A card is always a nice gesture, and even a little hiccup like a misspelling (unless it’s her name—yipes!) won’t ruin the day. But a little extra thought and care can turn a token gesture into a scrapbook-worthy keeper. Good luck, and happy anniversary!