Here’s a picture of us in our limo on “the first day of the rest of our lives.” I married my husband on June 27th of last year. Nine months in, I can say that being married *finally* doesn’t feel so new. Don’t get me wrong—the newness can be invigorating. But it’s nice to feel settled. We’ve made it to the other side of the half-year mark, and we will soon be celebrating our 1 year anniversary! Yay!
The growth that we have experienced as newlyweds has been exponential. For one, we didn’t live together alone before our wedding day. The journey has been quite an experience for both of us. Here are 7 things I’ve learned as a newlywed:
1. Connect Spiritually.
I can’t stress this enough. It’s important to know what drives you and your spouse, and whether your beliefs are compatible. Each person brings their own life experiences to the table, but underlying values shape and mold a person at their core. Consider the term “Soul Mate.” Many situations that you experience as a newlywed couple will parallel these ideals, whether it’s obvious to you in the moment, or not.
2. Fight Fair.
This is a new experience for both of you. Even if you’ve been married before, you haven’t been married to this person. One of the things we’ve learned to do is pick our battles. Every couple has disagreements. In fact, disagreements are healthy because they are opportunities to strengthen the partnership. If you agreed on everything, why would you ever need to consider your partner’s point of view? When you do disagree, communicate clearly, and respectfully. Continue a heated conversation during a time when you’ve both cooled down and are equally committed to hearing each other out—and if one of you needs to step away in order to cool down, acknowledge that need, and agree on a better time to continue the conversation.
3. Be Considerate.
When you’ve lived in your own space before moving in together for marriage, sharing space can be a jarring reality. You’ve both got your own habits, and even experiences learned from childhood will begin to leak into the way you think the other should contribute to the house. Gender roles? You’ll find out quickly whether your partner subjects to those. One thing I know to be true after nine months is: regardless of who you were before you got married, you’ll have a much more pleasant experience if you consider your partner’s needs than if you reject them, especially if your perspective of them is based on some preconceived notion (more on that in tip #6) you’ve been conditioned to view your partner through. If both of you are putting each other’s needs before your own, then you both win. Ask your partner how they can help alleviate some of the stress you experience at home. Ask them how you can help them. Once everything is out in the open, the synergy can be quite freeing.
4. Have Fun.
So, you married your best friend. Congrats! Then life happens. Whatever that means—maybe one of you is spending more hours at work, maybe babies come. When things happen, it feels great to be able to lean on your spouse. Coming home night after night to the same person becomes more and more exciting. Inside jokes are funnier. Common experiences overlap more, and introspective conversations become more and more genuine. This can truly feel like a match made in heaven, but it takes a little work to stay there. Did something exciting happen? Try to get in the habit of telling your spouse first. Read a new article? Email it to them and chat about it over dinner. Schedule date nights! The more you prioritize the excitement in your relationship, the more stimulating it will be.
5. Learn Your Routine.
One thing we learned early on was how different our schedules were. I’m not sure if I thought our schedules would magically align after our honeymoon, but my husband almost immediately started graduate school and a wrench was thrown into our previously-in-sync-routine. What did we do? We created a joint calendar. I let him have a little more space to finish his work and filled my extra time in with things I enjoy doing. The best thing about aligning our calendars is that we communicate better now that we can see when we’re both busy and free, which enables us to navigate our schedules a lot more easily. We also adjust our expectations as needed. Which brings me to my next tip:
6. Forget Expectations.
What are those? You know, things that blogs said where the reasons why perfect couples are perfect. Or things that our parents instilled in us about love with their example. Or even—dare I say—how your spouse told you they would be after you got married (before you got married). The fact of the matter is, you won’t know what it’s like to be married to each other until it happens. At best, when you align on tip #1, you begin to understand how to approach daily life with your spouse. It’s a lifelong learning experience, and you will both be changing the entire time. Compromise, compromise, compromise. And when you compromise, as someone once told us, it’s unrealistic to think you should both be getting all of what you want, all of the time. But both of you should be getting everything you want, some of the time.
7. Know That It’s Your Marriage.
People have opinions, and everyone’s opinion will make sense from their own perspective. Take advice with a grain of salt. Analyze it, take it in, use what you need and what applies to you, and discard what doesn’t. Only the two of you know exactly what your marriage is like, so keep it sacred and try to work things out before letting others in. Once you share the most intimate parts of your marriage with others, you can’t take it back. Others are more likely to recall the bad things you’ve long forgotten even after you’ve made up.