I am very happy to say my husband and I will be celebrating our 1 year wedding anniversary on May 15th. There are some days where I still can’t believe we made it. Growing up, I remember a lot of people telling me how wonderful marriage was and how great of a life I would have once I got married. Let me tell you, do not set your expectations that high.
Now, I love my husband and I can’t imagine living without him and I wouldn’t want to. But our first year of marriage was a struggle. We fought A LOT during our first 6 months of marriage. When we finally got to a place where we weren’t arguing as much, our married life started to improve. Just remember, marriage is an adjustment. It is sacrifice, and it requires both individuals to change some of the way you are accustomed to doing things. In this post, I wanted to share some ways we were able to survive our first year of marriage.
- Attend couples counseling
I got my bachelor’s degree in social work and ever since then I have been wanting to combat the negative view of therapy. I think counseling can benefit anyone, anywhere. Now I am not a licensed therapist, nor do I plan on becoming one. However, I have talked to one and I plan on continuing to do so in the future.
My husband and I agreed we wanted to attend couple’s counseling early on in our marriage. We don’t view this as a sign that we are having trouble or that we are struggling. Instead, we view it as a sign that we are willing to fight for each other and our relationship. We want the best relationship we can possibly have with one another. Counseling is one of the ways you can do that because you are showing commitment to one another, and a willingness to prevent problems before they happen.
- Talk regularly about your finances
The number one thing my husband and I fought about during our first year of marriage was finances. He was still viewing money as his money and my money, where as I was viewing it as our money. Our arguments became so bad that I remember calling one of my best friends just a few months into our marriage and crying that I thought our marriage could be ending. When I talked to her recently she thought the same thing. It’s kind of heartbreaking to think about how close we came to a divorce over money of all things.
I realized though, one of the reasons we were fighting about money was because we weren’t talking about it enough. I mean, I would get mad at him for spending money on something that wasn’t necessary or he would get frustrated at me for trying to tell him how to spend his money. But we weren’t actually talking about our money together. Once we started to do this, our situation definitely improved.
I don’t think our arguments are over when it comes to our finances, but we are definitely making improvements to communicate and work together more in this area. I didn’t want to be with someone who wouldn’t include me in their spending habits, and he didn’t want someone controlling his every financial decision. Just make sure to talk with your spouse and decide what works best for both of you, and be prepared with the knowledge that this will involve compromise.
- Making a budget
As I mentioned before, the number one thing my husband and I fought about was how we allocated our funds. A solution to this is making a budget together. I realize there is usually one person who is more involved with the household finances (I am that person in our relationship). Regardless, it is still a very good idea for everyone involved to have an understanding of where money is going, and how much money can be used towards “fun” stuff or non-necessities. When I started making our budget several months ago, I noticed our arguments decreased. We still have a ways to go financially, but creating a budget was the number one thing we did to help us start working as team instead of fighting against one another. This will also help relieve some of the financial stress that may be present in your lives.
- Schedule time to spend together
For some couples, spending time together can be very easy. In our case it hasn’t been. Our jobs have changed frequently over the 3 years we have been together. This past year even more so because he started working overnight shifts. In order to see each other, even for a few moments, we spent many nights or mornings meeting in a parking lot to say hello and goodbye. We made it work and are always striving to continue finding ways to spend time together.
I think this kind of dedication is very crucial in helping a marriage grow. Not having a lot of time to spend together also helped us appreciate the time we did have to share and to utilize it more effectively. I think it’s a great idea to just schedule time to talk, watch a movie, hang out, etc. It doesn’t have to be a huge planned event, just letting the other person know that you want to spend time with them is enough.
- Celebrate life events
We lived about 5 hours away from each other for about 4 months prior to our wedding. This meant we didn’t get to see each other very often and spent a lot of time communicating on the phone in the months leading up to our wedding. Now that we are married and live in the same area again, we wanted to enjoy our marriage. I truly feel it’s like living full time with your best friend. It’s not always easy, but it’s always comforting knowing he’s there.
However, we have learned that we celebrate life events differently. I like to plan something special for birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, etc. He doesn’t really enjoy planning such things. This has caused some frustration in our relationship and I think it’s completely justified that it did. Once we had a conversation about how each of us wanted to celebrate specific events or holidays, we have started to become more understanding about the other’s actions. I strongly recommend having a conversation about how you are going to celebrate such events in your lives so that you can know what to expect in the years to come, or what you will need to compromise on to make each other happy.
- Learning to love each other the way the other needs love
It really is true that you grow to love someone even more once you are married. I don’t think I understood the depth of my love for him until a few months into our marriage and there was a very real possibility of it ending. It is very easy for me to tell him I love him or to give him affection. The same is not true for him. He shows love by greeting me, telling me goodnight, or just being in the same room. We really had to work on showing love to each other in the way the other one needed. One of the ways we are working on this is by reading the book titled “The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate” by Gary D. Chapman. This book is really helping us identify what love language we need from each other. A good way to look at this is by thinking about how your spouse shows you love. That is often times the way they need love to be shown in return.
- Create a household chore plan
Going into our marriage my husband and I had very different viewpoints on who was going to do what in the house. Although he would never admit it, he wanted me to be responsible for everything. I was very adamant that this was not going to be the case. We are still in the process of figuring this out, but we are getting better about helping out in areas that the other doesn’t enjoy doing. My husband does not enjoy cooking and loathes shopping at the grocery store. I am the one who does these things the majority of the time. I hate doing the dishes when I cook though, so I ask him to clean up once the meal is prepared. Figuring out ways to work together on the household chores can definitely decrease arguments and the stress resulting from a messy home.
- Switch your mindset from mine to ours
Marriage really is about two people forming a partnership. Now I am all about maintaining independence after marriage, but marriage does require sacrifice and change. I have heard many people state that if someone asks you to change who you are then you don’t need to be with them. In the cases of change being negative this is true. But in a marriage, this is mandatory. I don’t view changing our mindset from “you and me” to “we” and understanding that I needed to adjust the way I did things prior to being married as a bad thing. Neither did he, and we are better for it. Just keep in mind that you will need to adapt to this new married life even if you were living together prior to marriage. It can be a struggle, just don’t give up.
- Don’t go to bed angry
Before we were married, my husband and I agreed we would never allow ourselves to go to bed angry. I am happy to say we have kept this promise to one another. There were nights were I told him to sleep on the couch, or he told me not to come home, but after a while we would talk through our problems more calmly and even if our problems weren’t resolved, we made sure the other knew we loved them before closing our eyes for the night. I am very appreciative of this habit and I strongly recommend it to any couple.
If you are married, or are just in a committed relationship, I hope you founds these tips to be helpful. We are not perfect by any means, but we aren’t giving up either. I hope that you will find the strength and willpower to fight for your relationship and that your marriage lasts for a lifetime. Share below what tips you find helpful in preserving your relationship!