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 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. 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). That’s why it’s advisable that you don’t rush into marriage if you are not prepared for the next chapter of your life. It isn’t all dinner dates and mid-day sex. Being with someone and living with them every single day are quite different.
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 ready for the long haul. 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 marriage 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 you have not 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 further adds that “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. Co-existing and letting go of minor flaws and faults are important 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 sessions, I learned 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 learned 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 humor her about her past relationship and bring it up too often.”
2. Let the little things go
It is an important marriage lesson we learned in the first year of marriage. Learn to let 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 affects 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.
Consider this as the 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. 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. It is 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. Nonsexual touch is very important in a relationship.
The more you discover this in the first year of marriage, the marriage lessons learn 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 percent. This is the marriage lesson we learned after fighting over who will clean the dishes for a week.
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. Mutual 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 learned. 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 come from and be 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
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. 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 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. You cannot know these quirks before marriage. So although you didn’t rush into marriage, there are marriage lessons you learn only after the first year of marriage.
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 learned since our families are joined, some slang shouldn’t be thrown around so carelessly. Converse about the things you can call each other when angry and those that you cannot use. One of the marriage lessons we learned in our first year of marriage is that fighting without a plan can turn into a war. Instead, make ground rules for when you both are angry and don’t cross the boundaries.
13. You cannot, MUST NOT throw your spouse under a bus
You should be united and act as a team, 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 criticize your spouse in some way.
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 learned 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.
Related reading: 8 Ways To Fight Respectfully With Your Spouse
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 the 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 to, so don’t keep scraping the surface to get to the secrets. You might not like what’s exposed. That said, if you feel that your partner is too fishy from the beginning, don’t rush into marriage with them and first clear your doubts.
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 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 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 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 would make couples talk and discuss the issues while he or she would add in her bid 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 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
Work-home balance disturbs the bliss of marriage. Leave your work at work when you return home. Things will get monotonous if you make a habit of it. One of the marriage lessons we learned was that you might not get time for each other, but you will have to make the time.
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 and can help you lay the foundation for a happy marriage.
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. So it was a marriage lesson we learned after a few arguments. 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 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, the tone that down as well.
First-year of marriage is more about surviving just the first year. It will set how you grow from 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 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.