The feeling of getting married to your SO is quite exhilarating. However, the years to come are going to be less so; because it is so much more than you expect it to be. There are going to be good times and also tough times, but how you deal with your marriage depends on the marriage lessons you learn in the first year of marriage.
The first year of being married is not a piece of cake. On some days it might feel like one, while on other days you will want to burn your house down. The first-year of marriage is at the highest risk of divorce and the risk may extend to the second year. You could actually end up fighting all the time in your first year of marriage and even feel that you made the greatest mistake by getting married in the first place.
But if you end up surviving the first year of marriage, then maybe you are indeed ready for the long haul. To shed more light on the same, we have complied a list of 25 marriage lessons people learn in their first year of marriage with the help of some experts who specialize in couples’ therapy.
25 Marriage Lessons: Our First Year Of Marriage
Getting through the first year of marriage can be tough for a few, especially since love is not the only thing that binds a couple together.
Jordan got married one year ago to his childhood sweetheart. Here’s what he says about the relationship lessons he learned in the first year of marriage:
“When you live with a person, like really live with a person after being married, you notice the little things that you never did before. Morning breath does not seem so sexy. Her cooking is most often unsavory. And don’t even get me started on hair stuck in the shower drain. I mean how does one even have hair left after losing so much? So, after I brought these things up in the middle of a fight, there was furious upheaval at my house.”
He goes on to adds though, “But interestingly, I have gotten used to seeing that chunk of hair there. I don’t feel icky anymore. I don’t feel the need to go on about this anymore, just like she does not nag me for occasionally picking my beard while sitting at my desk. Both hairy things are disgusting but we have both made peace with it. My wife makes it a point to keep the shower drain as clean as possible and I have gotten over my nasty habit of plucking my beard. Co-existing and letting go of minor flaws and faults are important marriage lessons we learned in our first year of marriage.”
Related Reading: The Importance Of Leave And Cleave Boundaries In Marriage
Marriage lessons we learned….
“Marriage problems in the first year were mostly based on the things we did not know about one another. Like I didn’t know she got crushes on random people too often. At first, it threatened me a lot and insecurity crept up quite a lot, but after a few couples’ therapy sessions at home, I learned it was just me being weird for my past trauma of being cheated on by my girlfriend.
“I learnt that developing crushes is normal. Also, my wife is too lazy to go do anything about them, so that always helps and that’s also one of the marriage lessons we learned.”
Moving on from Jordan, we have collated an extensive list of marriage lessons for you. Based on real life instances and expert inputs, here are the top 25 lessons marriage might teach you.
1. Love will not get you through everything
Marriage is more than just love. Trust, honesty and communication — this is a deadly combo. You get these right, you will not have to depend only on love to make a blissful marriage. Mess this up and get ready to pay for it.
Psychologist Prachi Vaish says, “For instance, you can ask your wife about her ex, but how you ask is equally important. You cannot do it from a place of distrust, but maybe from curiosity. And how much should you ask about an ex is the important question. Definitely don’t ask her about intimate details or share what she said when spending time with friends. Don’t pester her about her past relationship and bring it up too often.”
2. Let the little things go
This is an important marriage lesson that one learns in the first year of marriage. Learn to let go. Especially if there are habits that annoy you. Don’t try changing them as per your likes and dislikes. Unless their nasty habit is picking their nose in public — that has to stop for sure! In case, they lack table manners teach them the right ways subtly.
Both partners will have annoying habits, but unless it really affects your relationship don’t keep harping on about it. If your husband likes walking around the house in their towel after a bath, don’t nag…just sit back and enjoy the view (wink!).
3. Spice up that bedroom
Cover them up in Nutella and lick them good and proper. Whipped cream tastes good as well. Is jam you jam? Well then, why not?
Consider this a marriage lesson you cannot miss. Marriage does have a tendency to take out the spark from your sex life and make things routine and mundane. But keep working on it and you might just be able to keep the erotic spark alive in your relationship. Don’t keep thinking that things are not the same anymore. Things like this happen in the first year, take it in your stride.
4. You can lean on your spouse
This is mostly for the men out there; it’s okay if you have had one too many drinks and can barely stand up. Let your wife help you home for a change. It will require a lot of cussing and dragging you through the road to get to the cab, but let her be there for you once in a while.
There’s no need to feel guilty about it. Drunk or not drunk, it’s okay to lean on your partner on your off days. They have the strength to carry you. After all, you’re in it for better or for worse, right? Support one another and ask for it when you need it. It’s one of the most important marriage lessons.
5. Do not go out of touch
Quite literally — touch more and touch often. Not necessarily sexual, but a little pat or hand holding goes a long way. Non-sexual touch is also very important in a relationship.
The more you discover this in the first year of marriage, the marriage lessons learnt will take you a long way. Psychologist Jaseena Backer says, “Men find it tough to admit to their partners that they want to feel safe and nurtured. They think it is not manly enough to think so. They think it takes guts to let their woman know they may want sex, but more important is their need for security, love and nurturing. They feel vulnerable. A hug, holding hands, or a peck on the cheeks make them feel secure.”
6. Equality is not 50-50, it’s 100-100
Mathematically, it doesn’t make any sense, but the basic tenet here is that housework and everything else in your life has to be divided equally. That’s the smartest way to go about it. But of course on days your spouse is sick, you will have to put the clothes away, cook the meals and clean the toilet. You have to give your hundred percent.
That extends to finances too if both partners are working — splitting expenses in an equitable manner is important.
Related Reading: 12 Tips For Married Couples To Split Finances
7. Don’t put off important conversations
You probably put off important conversations in your relationship, just because you are uncomfortable and don’t feel like bringing it up. But to have a long-lasting marriage, that is just not going to cut it. The biggest reason why relationships fail is because of a lack of communication. Need to talk about having kids? Do it now. Don’t just let it hang in the air. Need to discuss chores? Do that as well.
Senior consultant psychologist Dr. Prashant Bhimani says, “Improving communication would mean you better your problem-solving skills, get better at anger management and deal with your differences constructively. You should learn how to talk tactfully and listen well to have a good marriage.”
Like really listen. Listen to your wife while she is getting her hair done. Don’t tune out the rant about her boss. You don’t need to offer any advice, all you have to do is listen to her.
Dr. Bhimani further says, “To foster a healthy relationship, one needs to be attentive, curious and eager to listen to one’s partner. A relationship becomes unhealthy when there is a breakdown of communication. You need to hone your listening skills.”
9. Mutual understanding is essential
If your spouse says, “The music is driving me crazy”, don’t ask what kind of music they want to listen to. Just turn off the damn speakers.
This is a tricky thing to learn and many people get it wrong in the initial years of marriage, but one can learn. And it remains one of the most helpful marriage lessons. In the first year of your marriage, you develop this understanding about your spouse, about what makes them happy, and what irks them. Understand where they are coming from and be more mindful of each other’s likes and dislikes.
Related Reading: Here’s How You Can Improve Your Relationship By Listening Better
10. You are never right
Say it with me: I am never right. In marriage, you don’t need to prove who is right and who is wrong. Your spouse is always right. The tables can be turned later when you prove them wrong and get to say, “I told you so”, but until then, the spouse is always right.
Arguments don’t help all the time. Sometimes it’s better to just hunker down and compromise a little. Your partner would gradually appreciate you for that and will do the same when you decide to put your foot down. However, don’t compromise in a relationship for things that are gravely wrong.
11. Cute won’t stay cute forever
What you found cute in the beginning of this relationship, might start to annoy you eventually. But that’s marriage — no matter what, you gotta suck it up. You cannot know all their quirks before marriage. So even though you didn’t rush into marriage, there are marriage lessons you learn only after the first year of marriage.
The paunch she tickled during the pre-marriage days might take a bigger shape in the first year of marriage and that might not look as cute it was before. Accept it and move on.
12. Fight, but with a plan
Aidan, a software developer in Kansas city says, “Three months into our marriage, my wife and I continued fighting as we used to when we were not married. We used to abuse each other as well and not use very good language. While fighting now, we do not abuse each other because we have realized the power of hurtful words and how they should not be thrown around carelessly. It’s one of the most important marriage lessons we learned.”
Have conversations about boundaries; about what’s okay to say and what’s not. One of the marriage lessons one learns in first year of marriage is that fighting without a plan can turn into a war. Instead, make ground rules for when you are both angry and don’t cross the boundaries.
13. You cannot and MUST NOT throw your spouse under a bus
You should be united and act as a team, especially when you are in the company of other people. If your spouse does not like one of your friends and doesn’t want them to know, but you go ahead and tell them that anyway — it’s a terribly wrong move on your part.
Always second your spouse, no matter what. Within the four walls of your bedroom, you can tell them what you really feel, but don’t get into an argument in front of friends or even criticize your spouse in some way.
14. Learn from one another
Reagan said, “My husband is from Texas and I’m a New Yorker. We are worlds apart and met at university. Our lifestyles and approach to life is very, very different. Even the way we cook food is different.”
Remember that differences within a relationship is not a bad thing. From world views to whether you like mustard on your hot dog or not, differences can actually help you come together if you work on learning and growing with one another. Don’t let the minor differences make you two start drifting apart. You can conquer these.
15. Expect the darker sides of your partner to come up after marriage
What you know about your spouse before getting married is just the tip of the iceberg (in a very non-threatening way).
If you learn darker things about your spouse as you go along the way, don’t overreact. There’s no point in that; you are married now.
Also, remember that every human being has their own set of secrets and flaws. You do too, so don’t be judgmental of your spouse when they come up. You might not like what’s exposed, but you should try to make your peace with it. That being said, if you feel that your partner is fishy right from the beginning, don’t rush into marriage with them and first clear your doubts.
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16. Do things to make them like you more
They might love you, but after a point, they might not like you. Yup, that’s marriage for you. So when you feel like the romance is lost or things are not the same anymore, put an effort into the relationship to make it like the pre-marriage days again. Do things like you used to when you were going out. Show them you are not going to stop making an effort just because you are married.
Buy them chocolates on the way back from the office. Grab their favorite croissant from the bakery. Small gestures go a long way in making your marriage beautiful. It is a marriage lesson you will learn the first time you forget to wish them on the first month anniversary of your marriage.
17. Don’t skimp on date nights
This cannot be stressed enough. Skimping on date nights means you are letting yourself get lazy and that’s just not cool.
Be enthusiastic about a date like you used to be before marriage. Plan your date night with as much enthusiasm and enjoy your togetherness. If you want things to work out in the future this is what you need to do at present.
18. It’s okay to go to couples’ counseling
If you feel like you cannot deal with that bit of tension in your marriage, it’s alright to seek professional help for the same. What you cannot say to your spouse at home, you might be able to to a counselor.
Consultant Psychiatrist Dr. Rima Mukherjee said, “Couples counseling can really help in ironing out the creases that can trouble a relationship. When couples go together and talk to a counselor they get a perspective about their own relationship. A good counselor will make couples talk and discuss the issues in front of them and then help the two of them to see things and understand from a third-person viewpoint.”
Related Reading: 10 Ways Marriage Counselling Can Solve Your Issues
19. Life decisions are important, take one step at a time
Don’t rush into things when it comes to future life plans. Planning to buy a house? Be extra sure you want to take that loan. Discuss it through and through. Impulse buying should not be on your list.
Don’t make major decisions a stressful affair. If you think you can’t handle it in the first year of marriage then give it some time. For instance, don’t plunge into a huge mortgage to buy your dream home as soon you get married. Settle down in your new life first and then take any major decisions.
20. When in doubt, travel together
Even if that means a short ride to a resort near your city. This is not just a marriage lesson. This is a marriage mantra. Traveling as a couple is the best thing to do and if you can do road trips and train rides then nothing like it.
Travel makes you discover each other and this is my most important first year of marriage advice.
21. Don’t let things get monotonous
Also, keep the weekends mostly free to spend together, even if that means laying around on the couch. Spring surprises on each other. That can be a lot of fun and can help you lay the foundation for a happy marriage.
22. Don’t expect a blissful first year
There are days when you will go without talking, throw things at each other and question why you married them in the first place. But do remember, that these feelings are all normal and there’s no need to get too worked up about them.
23. Passive-aggression does not have a place in marriage
Just don’t do it. You married for love’s sake! Don’t say you are okay if you are not. Don’t start stonewalling your partner or try to give your spouse the silent treatment for days if things don’t go your way. This is not the way to treat the person you love.
You could have a tendency to clam up when angry then let your spouse know you need space when you are upset and once you have processed your anger, just bounce back. Don’t keep festering. This is our very important first-year marriage advice to you.
Related Reading: Is Stonewalling Abuse? How to Deal With Emotional Stonewalling?
24. Stay less on social media
Yes, marriage can survive without Instagram stories. If your spouse does not like broadcasting your personal lives on the internet, maybe tone it down a bit.
Consultant Psychiatrist, Dr. Kushal Jain, says, “This is a very common issue that I encounter with couples in relationship counseling. They frequently complain about their partners checking their phones or keeping track of their Facebook and WhatsApp activities. Social media has become another reason for individuals to become more suspicious and paranoid.”
25. Do not trash talk extended family
If you do not like your spouse’s second cousin and if you have a foul mouth, it’s better to not voice those opinions. They are your spouse’s family and no amount of trash talking is going to change them. But it might just hurt your spouse so is it really worth it? The right answer to that is a no. So do tone it down in places where it’s really unnecessary otherwise you two will never stop fighting in this relationship.
The first-year of marriage is sometimes more about surviving it and learning from it. It will set how you grow from a newlywed to a happily married couple. As much as you should enjoy yourself in the beginning, it is equally important to know what works for you both and what doesn’t. At the end of the day, to each couple their own. But hopefully, these few basic lessons will help you kickstart your journey better.
The first year of marriage culminates into the Paper Anniversary. The 10th year anniversary is called the Tin anniversary, the 20th is China and 25th is Silver Anniversary.
It is the hardest because you are completely exposed to your partner for the first time, warts and all.
According to divorce statistics in the US, 42-45% of marriages end in the first year.
The hardest part of the first year of marriage is accepting the differences and annoying habits that partners might have, and adjusting accordingly.