My husband and I celebrated our first anniversary when we were in Spain the last week of December. Or perhaps celebrate isn’t the correct word, since my poor husband was sick and we didn’t do much other then fly to Seville, eat, and rest. Our first year of marriage has been a whirlwind of great memories and some not great lows as well. Here’s some of what we’ve learned about each other and marriage along the way (and that we are still actively implementing, by the way):
1. Forget everyone’s marriage advice- Likely you will get more marriage advice in the first year then you did wedding gifts. Ignore most of it. People will tell you to not go to bed angry. People will also say that going to bed angry is the best thing for their marriage. The first year of marriage is about figuring out what works for the two of you, not what has worked or not worked for everyone else. Yes, there is some wisdom to be found in other people’s experiences. But if something doesn’t work for your marriage, it doesn’t mean you aren’t doing marriage right, it just means you and your spouse need to find what works better for you. Comparing yourself to other couples leads to nothing but frustration in the long run.
2. Don’t expect the other to read your mind- I have a problem with expecting my husband to just know what I am feeling or what I would like from him at any given moment. Just because he knows me well does not mean that he will be able to read my mind. It is important to be direct about your feelings and what you need from your spouse. This leads to less frustration, confusion, and disappointment on both of your parts.
3. Travel together- Me and my husband love to travel together. It is a great way to explore the world around us and experience different cultures. It can also be really challenging and require you to use your problem solving skills and learn more about the other person then you were ever prepared for. It is good to have a combination of those stretching trips and ones that just are about relaxing and enjoying each other’s company.
4. Your way isn’t always the right way- You’ve spent a lot of years doing things your way. Your spouse has also spent a lot of years doing things his way. And just because you’ve spent all those years doing it that way doesn’t mean that it’s the right way, even though it may seem that way. From how you fold the laundry to what time you eat dinner, be willing to compromise on the things that aren’t a really a big deal.
5. Still date each other- Once you get married and move in together (if you weren’t already living together) it can be easy for the special and romantic moments to get overtaken with the practicalities of laundry and house repairs. Planning and having special date nights should be part of your routine, even if you need to schedule them. They give you the opportunity to laugh and have fun together, share your interests, and continue to build your relationship.
6. Develop your own rituals and traditions- You will bring your own traditions into your marriage, but it is important to create your own as a couple as well. Several of the most meaningful things we’d done over the last year have been creating a set of rituals for bedtime and having special traditions for holidays.
7. Don’t fight about the stupid stuff- Our first married fight was over how the dishwasher should be loaded. It sounds ridiculous and it was. There will be disagreements about things that actually matter, so figure out what’s simply not even worth having a discussion about and then don’t.
8. Make your significant other feel special and loved- Do you know what your spouse’s top love language is? Knowing what makes your husband feel loved and appreciated is so important. My husband’s top love language is physical touch, so holding his hand, giving him a hug, and scratching his back are all ways to show him that I care. Giving him my undivided attention when he talks about his day, giving him thoughtful gifts, and providing words of encouragement and congratulation are some other ways to show him love and support.
9. Don’t keep things from each other- Lying to your spouse, by omission or otherwise, can be damaging to their trust and your relationship. Sometimes out of love for your spouse you may keep things from them to avoid causing them pain, worry, or stress. While your husband or wife shouldn’t be a dumping ground for absolutely everything you are thinking and feeling at any given moment, you shouldn’t actively keep things from them (even if you think you are protecting them). This can led to feelings of hurt and betrayal. Part of sharing the journey of marriage together is being transparent about what is going on in your life and your head.
10. Don’t forget your own needs and interests- As much time and energy as you are and should be focusing on your marriage and growing your relationship with your husband, make sure you don’t lose yourself in the process. It is healthy and necessary to have time apart from your spouse to indulge in and grow your own interests. And your relationship with yourself is just as important as your relationship with your husband, and as I’ve found can actually throw it out of wack if it’s unhealthy.
What are some lessons that you’ve learned so far in your marriage?