The idea of “surviving” your first year of marriage may seem strange. “Of course, we’ll survive!” you’re probably thinking. “Not only survive, but it’s going to be awesome!” And the truth is that you are absolutely right. Your first year of marriage is absolutely incredible, filled with so many more “firsts”, so many adventures, so much love. Most couples do make it through their first year of marriage, and they do so without a hitch. That doesn’t, however, mean that the first year is unimportant. And that doesn’t mean that it’s always easy.
The first year of marriage is the foundation for the rest of your marriage. And while most couples do fine, they miss out on opportunities to create a relationship that will get them through those harder times down the road. So many couples find themselves so busy their first year of marriage, with careers, home hunting, family planning, etc., that they overlook key things. And these things are what can mean the difference from a long, happy marriage and one that is short, unhappy, or both.
These ten tips are what help separate the couples that last from the couples that don’t. While some seem obvious, especially at the beginning, towards the middle and end of the first year they start to be overlooked – or just not thought of as being that important. But remember, they are important. And by doing them you will find yourself not only surviving your first year, but decades more to come too.
1. Learn To Communicate What You Want
Throughout your marriage you’ll discover that communication is key. In fact, you’ve probably already heard people tell you this and have learned it from past relationships too. But knowing you should communicate and actually doing it on a daily basis are two entirely different things. Men and women speak a different language. Here’s a simple example: A woman might say, “Gosh, the trash has gotten so full in the kitchen,” meaning, “Hey, husband of mine, take out the trash.” The man, on the other hand, only hears, “The trash is full,” and looking over will agree, totally missing the message to actually do something about it.
This doesn’t mean your husband is a bad guy – it just means it didn’t get what you wanted him to do. Cut to the chase ladies and say what you want, “Take out the trash.” It will save you both a lot of frustration.
And, this works for everything. Want to go on a date? Tell him! Want to try that new restaurant? Tell him! Want more flowers on the table when you get home? Tell him!
2. Continue Dating
Some couples feel that once they’ve sealed the deal, they no longer have to worry about dating. But dating is what keeps the magic alive when you’re married. Now that you are both seeing each other all the time, some of the spark starts to fade. Continuing to date give you both a reason to get dressed up and to get out of the house. Some of the happiest couples are the ones that manage to work in weekly date nights, no matter how busy life is. They make it a priority to make each other feel special. Don’t underestimate the power of having something fun to look forward to on a regular basis.
3. Learn Each Other’s Love Language
There are numerous books and blogs out there about the concept of “love languages”. And while some may come across as cheesy, the basic message behind it is super important. Everyone receives love differently and has a natural tendency to give love differently as well. When you know each other’s love language, you are better equipped at knowing what “little” things will make a big difference.
For example, your wife might receive love through gifts, which means that bringing home small tokens of your affection (flowers, coffee, a book) regularly will keep her feeling loved (i.e. happy). If her love language is gifts, chances are she will give you lots of gifts herself. But if that’s not your love language, you might start to feel like you’re not getting what you need – like physical touch or words of affirmation.
Knowing from the beginning how your partner best receives love is a sure-fire way to keep you both feeling good (and can help get you out of trouble when you find yourself in a hole). Not sure what your love language is, take this quiz to find out!
4. Talk About Long-Term Goals
Most couples, long before marriage, have discussed their long-term goals, hopefully as individuals and as a couple. But not all of this registers the same way until you are married. Your husband might have told you years ago that he wanted a big family, something you found endearing on that date. “Aww, what a sweet family man!” But now that you recognize you would be the one having those five children, it might not seem so wonderful. Or maybe it does! The point is that the sooner you get on the same page about the big things (where you see yourself in five years, ten years in your family, your career, etc.), the better prepared you both will be when it’s time to actually make those decisions.
5. Don’t Take Mistakes Too Seriously
It’s easy to blow things out of proportion, but it’s important to remember that your marriage is just beginning. There is a lot to learn in this first year, which means lots of mistakes will be made by you both. And while it’s crucial that you communicate about how you feel, try to remember that you have a lifetime together to get things right. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt, laugh about what happened, and start fresh the next day. Life’s too short to waste your time holding grudges or feeling upset. Take a deep breath, tell them what they did wrong, and move on.
6. See The Romance Behind The Little Things
When you spend a good portion of every day together, when you’re starting to take on those daily roles of cleaning the house, grocery shopping, cooking, etc., it’s easy to overlook the little things. But these little things are reminders of how much you love one another and of the commitment you have made. Instead of finding yourself complaining about your partner not doing extravagant things to show their love to you, take a step back and look at all of the little things they are doing to help keep your day-to-day life happy.
7. Have Lots of
Sex Good Sex
This, hopefully, is a no-brainer, but it’s actually fairly shocking how many couples stop having (good) sex within that first year of marriage. Sex for many couples suddenly turns into an expectation, something to check off their to-do list (Each other? Check!). But that’s not what marriage (or sex) is all about. Good sex should be about making sure the other person gets what they need while simultaneously making sure you are getting what you need. Your sex life should be fulfilling and exciting for both of you. The second it isn’t, you need to hop on a cruise, order champagne service, and remind yourself.
8. Learn Something New Together
Looking for a way to take care of date nights and lots of good sex? Learning something new together is another staple behind relationships that last. Try taking dance lessons or learning a new language. Start a garden or read the same book together. Learn about wine or motorcycles or weather patterns! Find cooking classes to go to together. Seriously, learning anything new together is fun. And the best part is that it ensures you’re spending time together (perhaps laughing at each other) – and that’s a big part of a happy, successful marriage.
9. Take Trips Together To New Places
Whether it’s Spain or Cincinnati, traveling together is important. It gets you out of what can become your daily rut (wake up, work, eat, go to bed) and gives you both something to look forward to. So many couples only travel when they feel like they can do something big, which itself is a big mistake. Don’t overestimate the power of the day trip or the weekend getaway. Go explore your town together. Hop in the car and eat the world’s best cheeseburger. Go to local festivals. Go to … wherever!
The big picture behind this is that not only will you be making memories together, but you’ll be experiencing new things (a la dating), and spending time together (which, in case you haven’t been paying attention, is kind of key to having a successful marriage!)
10. Don’t Neglect Your Life
Yes, you love your partner. And we’re sure you want to do everything you can to make sure your marriage works. But you absolutely cannot forget to neglect the things that are important to you – your friends, your family, your passions. So many couples, in the name of love, forget to take time for themselves, especially in the first year. Don’t miss out on girl’s nights or guy’s nights. Don’t feel bad about taking a day to yourself to go do something you love. Yes, sacrifice is part of marriage, but the second you start to feel unhappy, chances are, your partner is unhappy too.
Schedule time each week for you both to do something on your own that you love. Just make sure that, when you see each other later, the sex is really, really good.