Transition, compromise, bliss, difficult, exhausting, work, exciting, stressful, peaceful and amazing are some of the words used to describe the first year of marriage amongst my friends and colleagues.
Most married couples would agree that the first year of marriage can range from bliss and excitement to adjustment and transition. Blended families, first time married couples, previously married couples and family history can have a huge impact on the first year of marriage. Each couple will experience their unique share of successes and obstacles.
My husband and I are both only children, never married before and do not have any children. We are approaching our 2nd year marriage anniversary and have experienced our share of transitions and excitement. The words that have resonated with me in describing our first year of marriage are communication, patience, selflessness and adjustment.
Whether you dated for several years prior to marriage or courted for a short time before tying the knot; the following tips will help you to adjust and enjoy a successful first year of marriage.
Create your own tradition
Daily routines and holidays are common traditions that have been instilled in us from our families. You are bringing your traditions, rituals, habits, backgrounds and beliefs into your new family. Oftentimes, these traditions clash, which can lead to conflict in your new marriage. Start a new tradition in your new family. Instead of having to choose which family’s house you will attend for the holidays; host a holiday celebration with your new family, plan vacations, weekend-getaways or any other activity that will strengthen the bond with your new spouse. Remember your spouse comes first and s/he is YOUR family.
Discuss dreams and goals
Dreaming and goal setting does not end when you get married. This is the beginning as you now have a life-long partner to share these dreams and aspirations. Make a plan for the goals you want to achieve together and write them on paper to hold each other accountable. When it comes to goals such as children and finances, it is important to be on the same page. Discuss dreams and goals early and often.
Keep lists of all the good moments and successes
Oftentimes the obstacles, complexities and hardships of life can overshadow the good moments and small successes we experience. As a couple, you will have your share of adversity and hardships, so it is imperative that you celebrate successes, big and small, whenever the opportunity presents itself.
My husband and I recently started a “Success Jar” where we each write a good moment or success we experienced as a couple. We plan to withdraw each piece of paper from the jar at the end of the year to cherish all the good times we shared as a couple throughout the year. It is also another great tradition to celebrate your wedding anniversary!
One of the biggest gifts you can give to the person you love is communication. To communicate as a couple; there is one listener and one sharer. More importantly, while you are listening, remember you are listening to understand your spouse as opposed to listening to respond. Having the uncomfortable, but necessary conversations will strengthen your bond. While communication is ongoing, it is imperative that we do not hold grudges, withdraw our love and affection or punish our partners with the silent treatment. Communicate often, let it go and never go to bed upset with each other.
Create a technology free evening
In 2017 email, social media and text messaging have become the go to when communicating, even with loved ones. How many times have you seen a couple on date night with their heads buried in phones? Our lives are so full of distractions and oftentimes, technology can be the biggest distraction or barrier to communication. Try committing to 1 evening per week (even if it is a few hours) to no technology. Focus solely on each other, really date each other and keep that fire burning.
Set aside “Me time” or time with friends
You exchanged marital vows, you are “one” and…..maintaining your identity and individuality is essential to your marriage. Neglecting our individuality or losing our identity in our marriage can result in feelings of regret, loss, resentment, anger and frustration. Scheduling time apart also allows us to be more appreciative of the relationship and makes the heart grow fonder.
No marriage is without flaws even in the “blissful” first year. Remember, each day is different, each marriage is different. Just because your first year is not filled with vacations, roses and expensive gifts does not make it any less special. Expect challenges in the first year. Embrace these challenges and obstacles as opportunities to grow as a couple. The first year of marriage is laying the foundation to a strong, loving and lasting marriage. No matter what comes your way remember that you are on the same team.
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.