Every marriage experiences friction. But often, in the first year that friction can seem overwhelming and sometimes impossible to deal with. You may wonder, “Can I make it through this first year.” And if I can, “How will I?”
We scrimp and save, plan and schedule everything possible for that perfect wedding day. Some couples plan their wedding for over a year. That most wonderful and perfect day comes and passes. In all that planning there wasn’t a single thought about preparing for that first year of marriage.
If you’re still engaged, while planning your wedding, take some time to discuss what married life is going to look like that first year. Get to know each other and start communicating with each other about things other than what type of cake you like and what your song is going to be.
If you are already into your first few months of your marriage, it’s not too late. Don’t lose hope if you are already having a little or a lot of friction. It’s completely normal to have these challenges. But they should not remain. You must work on them and overcome them to have a successful marriage
If you have mentioned to others that you are having problems, you are probably getting a sleuth of “advice”. Some good, and some, not so good. It can be hard to process the information others are giving you, especially if it’s coming from someone that doesn’t have a good marriage, or isn’t even married. Bad idea. Keep on loving those well-intentioned friends and family members, just don’t take their advice.
Finding a mentor or couple that can help you through the tough times is ideal. That couple or mentor should be in life where you want to be or go. They should have the “fruit on the tree”. There marriage should be moving forward, even through struggles and challenges.
Another great resource is the Courtship Journal and Keepsake. Don’t be discouraged by the “courting” word. This journal was created by a dear friend of mine. It’s really a journal to get to know each other. You can use this before or after your wedding. She created it when she realized there were many things she didn’t know about her husband. Like the fact that he didn’t like chocolate chip cookies, but she always made them for him thinking they were his favorite. Can you imagine the revelation that came from learning this!? It’s the little things that we don’t think about that cause some of the biggest arguments and problems.
The list below is essential in succeeding in your first year of marriage. If you can get good at these, then you are setting yourself up for a long and successful marriage.
No one plans on having a hard time and giving up on marriage. But it will happen if you don’t plan and prepare. The divorce rate has grown every year. Don’t follow that crowd and be another statistic. Fight for your marriage. It’s so worth it!
25 Tips for a Great First Year of Marriage
- Communication. This may be the most important thing on this list. If you don’t communicate with each other you will never, ever know what each other needs and wants. Just think. What if NASA didn’t have any commutation with their astronauts in space? Sure, the astronauts are skilled at being astronauts, and sure, they may be able to make it back down to Earth safely. But the chances are slim. They could accidentally go off course a quarter of an inch and that’s it. The end of the journey. The Space Control Center is there to talk them through all problems and even the non-problems. If the astronauts need help, they communicate between each other to find a solution. It takes a tremendous amount of communicating to have a successful mission and stay alive. Don’t let, “Houston, we have a problem,” become your marriage mantra.
- Commitment. Marriage is a commitment. You are going to have bad days, weeks, months and even years. When you decide to make the commitment, to stick it out, no matter what. When those hard times come up, you don’t have to worry about your spouse giving up on you. You know that you will have to do whatever it takes to get through the challenge.
- Pray. Pray together. Pray alone. Just pray.
- Serve. Keep in mind that you are there to serve each other. Serving helps to eliminate the selfishness that can come and steal your joy. Remember…do unto others…
- Associate. You’ve probably heard that word your whole life. But there something to be said about the old saying, “you become who you associate with.” If you want your marriage to be terrible, then associate with a couple that is mean to each and shows no respect to each other. If you want to have a good marriage, then find a couple, preferably someone that has been married for some time and talk to them. Look up to them and listen to their wisdom.
- Expectations. We all expect certain things from different people or situations. If you don’t talk about those expectation with your spouse, then you can never hold him accountable for failing to meet your expectations. This goes back to #1, communication. You must talk to each other. Don’t expect what he or she can’t give you, or provide for you right now. Your expectations should be realistic and understood. Yes, you should always have goals and dreams, but you must decide on these together with your expectations in mind.
- Apologize…often. You won’t always be right and neither will your spouse. Unfortunately, you will do things that will hurt each other, either accidentally or on purpose. When you come to your senses, Apologize!
- Become One. Realize it is no longer just you and it’s no longer just him. During your vows, you agreed, you said “I Do,” to becoming one. That means you have to learn to live and work together as one. It’s no easy task, but you can do it.
- Love and Respect. She needs love and he needs respect. Honor those most sacred needs of your partner. If you don’t provide those needs, your spouse will find someone else who can!
- Sacrifice. Marriage isn’t about just you as we talked about in #8. Sometimes you will need to sacrifice your comfort for theirs. Always do this with a willing heart. This will come back to you, we reap what we sow.
- Listen. Just listening can be one of the most important and hardest thing to do in any type of relationship. Learn to just listen without having a comment, remark or giving advice.
- Forgiveness. We all make mistakes and need forgiveness. Saying, “I forgive you,” can eliminate big fights and ill feelings towards each other.
- Give Space. During a fight, and yes there will be a few, give your spouse some space and time to cool down. Some arguments get out of control because emotions are taking over. A cool down period will let you both take a breath, calm down and sort out what the true problem is.
- Best Interest in Mind. Your spouse is probably not doing things on purpose to upset you. They have your best interest in mind. Remember you’re both trying to figure out married life and living with someone for maybe the first time.
- Support. Don’t talk to people that aren’t going to support you, even during the though times. You may not want to talk to your families about marital issues, unless they have great positive marriages and won’t hold a judgement against your spouse just because you are having a tough time.
- Teamwork. Your’e on the same team. A team never accomplishes much until they are united and working together. Fight together against problems that arise, don’t fight against each other.
- Likes. Learn what you like to do together. Enjoy that togetherness and each other’s likes. Even if your spouses hobby is not your favorite activity, find some common ground, or serve him or her by doing what they enjoy.
- Have Fun. Did you forget how to have fun with each other due to the fact that you are trying to figure each other out? Remember back, just a short time ago, all the fun you had. The excitement and joy of being with someone new. You likely did things you never did before, experienced new activities and enjoyed the simple things. Write down a list of all the fun things you used to do. Revisit those activities and make that your new First Year Marriage Bucket List!
- Laugh. Quit being so serious! It’s hard to have fun and enjoy each other if you’ve stopped laughing. If you take every minute too serious, you will miss out on so many special moments that should have become memories.
- Sex. This can be a touchy subject, no pun intended. Talk about your expectations and preferences in sex. Sex is a part of marriage and should never be used against each other as punishment. Communicating about this subject will relieve awkward situations and disappointment. Communication is key in all aspects of your marriage, especially this one.
- Become Closer. Find joy in learning about each other. Most likely you are fairly young and have yet to discover your own personal likes. As you uncover new things about you and each other, share and experience life together. Your spouse is your best friend, or should be. Grow closer by sharing life, together!
- Budget. Discuss the budget! Money can be a marriage killer. Decide who’s going to take care of what. Be open about your finances. If you start hiding things about money, it will cause problems. Have a plan of what you will do if money becomes tight and there is no wiggle room. Make a list of low-budget activities that you can do together when money is low.
- Adventure. Be adventurous together. Plan an exciting vacation once a year. Visit a new place. Do an activity you’ve never done before. Step out of your comfort zone together and experience new adventures. There’s nothing better than your spouse feeling like you are relying on him for your safety, trust and guidance.
- Comparison. No one wins at the comparison game. Whether it’s between the two of you or you are comparing your marriage to another marriage. Every person, couple, marriage and life is completely different. You can look for guidance for marriage input, but never compare your marriage to anyone else’s. If you need to compare something, compare your marriage now to your marriage before. Has it grown and been nourished. Do you see positive things that weren’t there before. Are there things that can be improved upon?
- Just Keep Swimming. As Dory would say, “Just Keep Swimming.” You will face battles, you will have hard times. There will be moments you wonder why you ever got married. You may not be able to see the future of your marriage. But…as long as you made the marriage commitment and stick it out, you will make it. Just Keep Swimming.
Question: What was your biggest challenge your first year of marriage? How did you overcome it?
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