Project NEW-lyweds

How one local couple vowed to make their first year of marriage­ “legendary“—for blogging or for worse.

Joe and Betsy Lodico faced being newlyweds head on as they approached their wedding day in December 2009.

After seven years of dating, they decided that they didn’t want to just “survive” their first year of marriage—they wanted to thrive. Thus began “Project NEW-lyweds” on joeandbetsy.com, the blog the Highland Park residents use to keep in touch with loved ones in New York.

Project NEW-lyweds was Joe and Betsy’s commitment to trying something new together every day for their first 365 days of marriage. They did everything from attending an organ recital at Heinz Chapel to making origami animals, and they wouldn’t trade a moment of it. “Joe and I felt like we knew everything there was to know about each other,” Betsy says, “but with the ‘Project,’ we learn something new about each other every day.”

There is always something different a couple can experience together. Whether it’s daily (like Joe and Betsy), weekly, monthly or every once in a while, taking the time to connect by experiencing new things is invaluable.

“We’ll be carrying the mentality of doing new things with us forever,” Betsy says.
 

Five Tips for Your First Year

Even though the Lodicos would not recommend such a large-scale project, if you were inspired by their creativity, here are five tips you can use to try something new in your own relationship:

1. Turn off the TV. The most important part of Project NEW-lyweds is the effort that Joe and Betsy put forth to spend time together and get to know more about each other. Instead of sitting in front of the TV or computer, time can be spent creating new memories.

2. Plan ahead. (And stock up.) Joe and Betsy use sites like Twitter to help them come up with ideas, and they often plan activities ahead of time. The couple finds it helpful to have a stash of simple craft kits and card games on hand to keep up with such a demanding project—especially on the inevitable uninspired day.

3. Get in the kitchen. As avid cooks, many of Joe and Betsy’s activities center around food—whether it is trying out new recipes or attempting to cook something that they would’ve normally bought pre-made in a store. Even for those who are not quite as gifted when it comes to the culinary arts, the kitchen automatically opens a door to hundreds of things you’ve never tried before.

4. Get in the car. Betsy says: “Going on our road trip over spring break was the most memorable thing we’ve done. Usually we visit family … but this year, we came up with the idea to drive to New Orleans, stopping in 10 major cities along the way. It was one of those once-in-a-lifetime things we probably wouldn’t have done without the Project.”

5. Step outside of your comfort zone. One snowy night last January, Betsy surprised Joe by taking him to a partner yoga class. Despite a hint of reluctance on his part, they both enjoyed the experience and learned to trust each other a little more. A few months later, Joe and Betsy ate flavored, dried crickets from Memphis, Tenn.—surely not for the faint of heart (or stomach).

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