7 Tips for a Smashing First Year of Marriage

With star-studded eyes, the bride gazes at her new husband. (Or is it just the glare of the wedding photographer’s camera flash?) The guests have started to leave, and happily, the newlywed make their way to the hotel room where they would spend their first night alone as a married couple. The next day, they would whisk off to some exotic place for their honeymoon, where they would sip icy cocktails on lounge chairs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, munching on chips and little sandwiches that the waiter holds out on a tray. Life couldn’t get better than this! 

And then, the honeymoon ends and they fly back to their rented apartment. The dishes start to form inside the kitchen sink, the laundry begins to morph into insurmountable mountains, not to mention the bills that come knocking on the door. 

Where did the honeymoon go? 

If you’re like most couples, the first year of marriage can be both the happiest and the most challenging time in your life. Why do we say this? Obviously, we’re all thrilled to be with the one person we love most, finally, 24/7. But that’s also where the challenge lies: it also means adjusting, 24/7, to living with a whole different person who has an entirely unique worldview, habits, quirks, and preferences—some of which may clash with yours! 

    
The first year of marriage also means adjusting, 24/7, to living with a whole different person who has an entirely unique worldview, habits, quirks, and preferences---some of which may clash with yours!  
    
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Top 7 Tips to Enjoy the First Year of Marriage to the Fullest

Why do we say that? Here are what we believe the top 7 benefits of undergoing premarital counseling:

1. Continue dating each other. 

Before marriage, a lot of us would look forward to the times when we can spend some quality time with our special someone. After marriage, some people can let that slide; after all, you live with your spouse, so it doesn’t feel like you need to make any effort to see each other. 

But quality time is not just any old time you pass each other in the hall; it means you have set aside time to have a heart-to-heart conversation, or even just to spend time in companionable silence. Regular date time is proven to be one tool that can keep married couples connected and growing in love. In your first year of marriage, continue to find time to “date” each other, and it will form a good foundation for when you start having kids and needing to take care of all those little people in your home!

2. Regularly express appreciation.  

We are made to thrive on good thoughts and words, and we shrink at criticism or complaint. Make it a habit to verbally express your appreciation for your spouse on a regular basis, and we believe it will spell a difference in how your relationship grows over the first year of your marriage. 

Of course, that goes without saying that it’s an important habit to carry on way past the first year! 

3. Learn your partner’s love language.  

According to Gary Chapman, each of us feel loved in at least five different ways: words of affirmation, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and touch. Take time to find out which of these five things speaks the most to your spouse, and find ways to express your love through his or her top love language. That way, you can make sure that you’re not getting your signals crossed, and this goes a long way to preventing a lot of unnecessary misunderstanding. 

4. Practice healthy communication. 

Of course, every married couple will have conflict, no matter how much you pay attention to expressing love and appreciation. When misunderstandings come up, learn how to express your feelings and thoughts in a healthy way. (If you’re not sure how to do that, our book Can’t We Just Get Along?! may be helpful!) 

One of the best ways is to learn how to use “I” messages, where you express what you feel or need instead of focusing on what the other person did wrong. For example, if your wife’s constant nagging annoys you, you might say, “You know, when you keep repeating things, I feel pressured,” or “I feel pressured when you keep bringing up the same things. I need some time to get to it.”  

5. Keep getting to know each other. 

It’s a long-going joke that honeymoon is the “peak” of all marriages and that it goes downhill from there. Joy and I beg to differ; the more you get to know each other, the more exciting the marriage can be, and you can keep growing in appreciation and love for each other. 

Each of us comes into the marriage with our own worldview, our own experiences, our own baggage, even. Keep asking each other questions to get to know more about your spouse. If you need ideas to spark conversation, check out our FREE E-BOOK on 101 Questions as conversation starters. 

 

6. Prioritise each other above all.

We believe this is a foundational principle in all marriage: once you say “I do,” the marriage relationship takes precedence above all other relationships in our lives. This includes even our parents, our siblings, and our children. 

This can be a bit tricky especially for couples who live with one of their parents, especially if the parents want to keep getting involved in their marriage, or eventually, in the way they raise their kids. In our case, sometimes when my parents come over, they might make a comment here and there about our kids. I’ve always been clear with them, “Look, we love you and we appreciate you, but this is the way we’ve decided to raise our kids.” They know that I’m firm with my decision, and they respect that. 

7. Build shared dreams together.  

Perhaps one of the best things you can do from the first year of marriage is to start building a shared dream together. Having something that you can both work on brings in a lot of positive energy, gives you an instant conversation topic, and also helps you come closer together. Check out our post on Building Shared Dreams.

Thriving in the First Year of Marriage 

We believe the first year of marriage can be a challenging time of learning each other’s idiosyncrasies, but it can also be a wonderful opportunity to build strong foundations for your marriage. Choose the good path and commit to learning important skills as a couple, and we believe you will come out stronger and better together! 

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