As exhilarating it is to be getting married to the person you love, 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 the 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 any marriage is a torrid affair. Experiencing the highs and lows of each other and the marriage, with its ups and downs, the first year of marriage “wet cement year” of marriage tests your patience and how good you are with living with each other. It sets the foundation of your marriage.
The first year of being married is not a piece of cake. Sometimes it’s a cakewalk, while other times you want to accidentally burn your house down so that your spouse dying seems a tragic affair. Believe me, anyone who has ever been married, getting accustomed to the marriage takes time and patience (a lot of patience).
(As told to Sanjukta Das)
Getting through the first year of marriage can be tough for few, especially since love is not the only thing that binds a couple together.
When you live with a person, like really live with a person after being married, you notice the little things you have not before. Morning breath does not seem so sexy. Her cooking is most often unsavoury. 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.
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 pick at her for this in the same way 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.
So, my first marriage advice: Learn to let go of the little faults. Faults, that are less of marriage-threatening, and more of a character flaw.
First year of marriage statistics show that the marriage is the the highest risk of divorce in the first year 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 ready for the long haul.
25 Marriage Lessons We Learned In Our First Year Of Marriage
Marriage problems in the first year mostly were 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 often, but after three couples’ therapy session, I learnt it was just me being weird for my past trauma of being cheated on by my girlfriend.
Thank you, Anjali for that. Also, developing crushes are normal. Also, my wife is too lazy to go do anything about them.
So, here are a few marriage lessons I learnt in my first year of marriage that lets us navigate through this river of love:
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 resort to love to make a blissful marriage. Mess this up and get ready to be repaid for it.
Psychologist Prachi Vaish says, “For instance you can ask your wife about her ex but how you ask it is important. You cannot do it from the point of distrust but maybe you can be a bit curious. But how much should you ask is the important question? Definitely don’t ask her about intimate details or share what she said with friends. Don’t humour her about her past relationship and bring it up too often.”
2. Let the little things go
Especially if they are habits that annoy you. Don’t go changing them for your convenience. Unless their nasty habit is picking their nose in public. In that case, please tell your spouse to stop doing that. They might lack table manners teach them the right ways subtly.
There will be annoying habits both partners will have but unless it really effects your relationship don’t keep festering about it. If your husband likes walking around the house in their towel after a bath, don’t nag, enjoy it.
3. Spice up that bedroom
Lather them up in tandoori mayo and lick them good, if that helps. Chocolate tastes good as well and doesn’t sting as much.
Marriage does have a tendency to take out the spark from your sex life and make things routine and mundane. Keep working on it. 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 too many pegs and can barely stand up. Let your wife carry 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.
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. One of the most important marriage lessons.
5. Do not go out of touch
Quite literally again, touch more and touch often. Nothing sexual. A little pat goes a long way. Non sexual touch is very important in a relationship.
The more you discover this in the first year of marriage, the lessons learned 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. And then it takes a lot more guts to let his woman know he may want sex, but more important is his need for security, love, and nurture. They feel vulnerable. A hug, holding hands or a peck on the cheeks make them feel secure.”
Related reading: 13 non-sexual touches to feel intimate and close
6. Equality is not 50-50, it’s 100-100
Mathematically, it doesn’t make any sense but housework and everything in your life have to be divided equally. But on days your spouse is sick, you will have to pick up your bag off the couch, cook meals and clean the toilet. You have to give your hundred per cent.
That extends to finances also if both partners are working. If not, then also the partner who is not working, deserves equality in everything.
7. Procrastinating talks
Because you are uncomfortable you keep procrastinating talks but it won’t cut it. Need to talk about having kids? Do it now. Don’t just let it hang in the air.
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.”
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.
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. Listen and understand
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 I have got it wrong most of the time. But I learnt. 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.
Related reading: Here’s how you can improve your relationship by listening better
10. You are never right
Chant 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. Tables can be turned later when you get to say “I told you so”, but the spouse is always right.
Arguments don’t help all the time. Sometimes it’s better to accept 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.
11. Cute won’t stay cute forever
What you found cute in the beginning might start to annoy you. The snorting she does when she laughs, I got annoyed with that. But that’s marriage – sometimes you got to suck it up.
The paunch she tickled in 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.
12. Fight, but with a plan
We have started this late. Three months into our marriage, my wife and I continued fighting as we used to when we were not married. There are Hindi slurs we threw at one another; those slurs were not good to hear. Brings bad energy to the house.
While fighting now, we do not abuse each other because now we have learnt since our families are joined, some slangs shouldn’t be thrown around so carelessly. Converse about the things you can call each other when angry and those that you cannot use.
Fight with a plan.
13. You cannot, MUST NOT throw your spouse under a bus
Not though. You should be united, especially when you are with 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 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 criticise your spouse in some way.
Related reading: 8 ways to fight respectfully with your spouse
14. Learn from one another
My wife is a Bengali; I am a stark Rajasthani. Our cuisines are different. Initially, whenever food was prepared, we did it the way food was cooked back home in Rajasthan. Six months later, she didn’t quite like it anymore.
So, I learnt how to cook egg curry in the Bengali way. She taught me other dishes as well. And I taught her how to make round rotis.
15. Expect darker sides of your partner to come up after marriage
What you know about your spouse before getting married is just the tip of an iceberg (in a very non-threatening way).
If you learn darker things about your spouse, don’t overreact. There’s no point in that; you are already married. Also remember every human being has secrets, you have too, so don’t keep scraping the surface to get to the secrets. You might not like what’s exposed.
16. Do things to make them like you more
They might love you, but after a point, they might not like you. Do things as you used to when you were going out. Let them know you are not going to stop making efforts just because you are married.
Buy them chocolates on the way back from office. Grab their favourite croissant from the bakery. Small gestures go a long way in making your marriage beautiful.
17. Don’t skimp on date nights
CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH. Skimping on date nights mean you are letting yourself get lazy. And that’s 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’ counselling
If you feel you cannot deal with the bit of tension in your marriage, it’s alright to seek professional help. What you cannot say to your spouse at home, you might be able to do so with a counsellor.
Consultant Psychiatrist Dr. Rima Mukherjee , “Couples counselling can really help in ironing out the creases that can trouble a relationship. When couples go together and talk to a counsellor they get a perspective about their own relationship.
“A good counsellor would make couples talk and discuss the issues while he or she would add in her bit to make them 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. Planning to buy a house? Be extra sure you want to take a loan out to buy a house right away. 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 the major decision.
20. When in doubt, travel together
Even if that means a short ride to Lonavala. This is not just a marriage lesson. This is marriage mantra. Travelling 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
Work-home balance disturbs the bliss of marriage. Leave your work at work when you return. Things will get monotonous if you make a habit of it.
Also, keep the weekends mostly free to spend whole days together, even if that means laying around on the couch. Spring surprises on each other. That can be a lot of fun.
22. Don’t expect a blissful first year
Since we were so good on paper I thought we would never fight. But we fought for little things and that equally freaked us out. Now we know marriage is hard work. Yelling, crying, throwing stuff is normal.
We are still working on the throwing-stuff-when-angry part, but we will get there.
23. Passive-aggression does not have a place in marriage
Just don’t. You are married for love’s sake! Don’t say you are okay if you are not. Don’t get into stonewalling 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: 22 Tips to Survive the First Year of Marriage
24. Stay less on social media
I am a social media person. My wife does not like me posting embarrassing photos of ours to be put up on social media. 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 counselling. 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 relatives
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 hurt your spouse. So, a tone that down as well.
First-year of marriage is more about surviving just the first year. It will set how you grow as a newlywed to a happily married couple. As much as it is to enjoy yourself in the beginning, it is equally important to know what works for you together and what doesn’t. To each couple their own.
The first year of marriage culminates into the Paper Anniversary. The 10th year anniversary is called 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% 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.