Your vows are spoken, the cake is cut, you survived the first dance, and the honeymoon is over. You are officially married and deeply in love, so what now?
Do you even need marriage advice for newlyweds?
I mean, come on, the whole idea of a couple who have been together long enough to make a commitment as meaningful as marriage shouldn’t need advice on anything other than how to stay entertained, should they?
But here’s the thing:
Many couples do go through a kind of post-wedding depression as reality kicks in, and they wonder, “is this it?”
It’s easy to see why you spend so much time and energy preparing for your big day, that once it is all over and done, life together as a married couple can quickly start to feel like an anti-climax.
This is especially true if you have lived together before the wedding.
The good news:
It's completely natural.
To help you through these first few years of marriage, here are my best tips for steering your marriage through the stormy waters that invariably follow the calm seas of the honeymoon.
Dr. Phil calls it planning for the marriage, not just the wedding, and in the song Ms. Jackson, Outkast makes the point that “Forever never seems that long until you’re grown.”
But that is exactly the thinking you have to do before making those vows and keep thinking long after all three layers of your wedding cake are eaten.
In three years, the bouquet's color or the type of cutlery used at the wedding will matter far less than who is lumped with all the chores and who gets to socialize with their friends more.
Yes, today may be exciting as all heck, and the very sight of each other makes your knees tremble with jelly, but would you trade all of the excitement and despair mixed with chocolate-coated romance for the comfort and stability of a loving relationship?
Most happily married forever couples will give newlyweds the same advice:
The comfortable might sound boring when you compare it with the thrill of the courting, but in the end, comfort, trust, and lasting love are all anyone needs.
But how can you accomplish this? Here are some things to keep in mind.
1. Develop a plan
When it comes to marriage, planning is vital.
This daunting task is not just for significant purchases such as paying your debts, buying your first home, or preparing for children, but all aspects of your marriage.
Your planning process should start with a relationship check-in on how you and your partner feel about the future ahead. After you get married, ask yourself these questions:
- What are the things you are nervous about?
- What areas of your life as a couple do you need to work on?
- What aspects of your life do you need to change in the future?
- What are your goals, and how will you work towards them?
- How do you envision your daily home life, including parenting roles and household chores?
It’s completely normal to change your first plan. As years go by, your goals will evolve.
2. Set a reasonable expectation
Unlike what’s shown in movies, married life isn’t always rainbows and butterflies.
Couples hold on to their expectations that were met at the beginning of their relationship or marriage.
However, sticking with your unrealistic expectations can be detrimental to your marriage.
Expectations can cover the following things:
- Your partner fulfilling all your needs
- Your partner always treating you as the center of attention
- The passion and excitement should be the same as earlier in your relationship
- Your partner always gives you verbal affection
3. Set boundaries
All your relationships must have boundaries, even your marriage.
While the word itself may sound negative, it will serve a crucial purpose in your relationship.
These boundaries are the acceptable limits you set in place to ensure your autonomy and wellbeing.
You need to set boundaries when it comes to the following things:
- Friendships outside marriage and outside influences
- Sexual demands
It’s entirely normal for your boundaries to collide. What’s important is making your spouse understand how much you value your boundaries.
4. Dealing with in-laws
Your partner considers their parents as important people in their lives. Considering this, they are a significant part of your life as well.
Making an effort to create harmony in your family will surely be worth it.
Both of you should be willing to build bridges with your in-laws, including rebuilding bridges that have been destroyed.
It’s not uncommon for in-laws to say something you disagree with.
Avoid knee-jerk reactions and know that this will only escalate if this happens.
5. Commit to it
The only way you will have a happy marriage is to honor the commitment you promised to each other.
However, it would be best to define commitment with your partner to gain more clarity.
For instance, you may believe in monogamy, but your partner doesn’t. If the other person does not have the same meaning of commitment as you, it may end your marriage.
6. View on children
One of the most crucial things to plan in your marriage as newlyweds is your view on children.
Having a baby will change most aspects of your life - your sleep schedule, free time, and finances.
Your goal is to be on the same page with your partner. To do this, be clear as day about your perspective early on in your marriage.
You survived the wedding. Good for you! Now how will you survive the next three, five, ten years?
I can guarantee that over the next decade, your whole world will have been flipped upside down and spun inside out by life.
That means kids, jobs, family, illness, and every argument conceivable as you strive to build the foundations of a strong family while struggling to maintain independence and a sense of self.
One of the biggest questions newlyweds have to answer honestly is:
Will your marriage survive the rollercoaster of life?
You don’t have to know the answer.
You just have to be prepared to jump on the rollercoaster together and help each other handle the twists and turns without bailing out.
Make sure to consider the following aspects of your marriage.
Upon marrying the love of your life, your finances also change.
Many married couples find it awkward to talk about finances but doing this will ensure you experience financial bliss.
During the start of your marriage, make sure to do a financial checkup right away.
When you lack knowledge about your financial standing, your future can get compromised.
Know your partner's financial situation, such as how they spend most of their money, their current investments, or how many credit cards they have.
Then, don’t forget to put all your bills on the table and calculate how much money you owe per month for your bills, as well as your spending limits.
If you want to take the extra mile, tackle who will take care of long-term investments, retirement plans, and day-to-day bills.
For you and your partner to work together as a team, you need to compromise.
Before you were married, you may have been used to making decisions for yourself without considering another person's needs.
While this can still be maintained to a certain point while you are married, you need to transform your me-centric perspective.
The key to compromising with your partner is to weigh all your options carefully and remember that there are more than one or two options in every decision.
For instance, if you choose where to reside, you may have three options.
- you can live in the suburbs.
- you can live in a big city.
- you can reside in a small town close to a major city so you can have the best of both worlds.
Before making a decision, remember that you are not alone and part of a team.
Do not make a decision based solely on your convenience.
There is a pattern when it comes to intimacy. Immediately after marriage, couples experience closeness and are intimate more often.
But after starting a family or getting busy with career or familial duties, intimacy tends to take a backseat.
If you feel like your intimacy is dwindling, don’t panic. Instead, have a heart-to-heart talk with your partner.
Discussing this even if it is awkward or difficult is needed.
You can start with questions such as:
- What are the sexual activities you enjoyed?
- Is there something you want to try?
- Do you still feel connected emotionally with me?
Remember that intimacy is not just about sex. It is also about making an effort to stay close to your partner.
Even kissing, holding hands, or hugging will do wonders to increase your intimacy.
Be Good to Each Other
I often see this:
A couple gets married because they are deeply in love - end of story. At least until the divorce.
Related: How to Avoid Divorce - 20 Ways to Revive a Struggling Marriage
So many couples get caught up in their own lives and careers that they forget to work just as hard at their marriage.
Eventually, each spouse takes the other for granted, resentment builds up, and before you know it, the time has passed, the children have grown, and the couple has nothing left in common.
Uncomfortable silence replaces tenderness, and loneliness replaces love.
Marriage is just the beginning, and like all relationships, you need to work on it constantly.
This advice starts right when you decide you want to spend the rest of your life with a person.
One of the biggest tips I give when giving out marriage advice for newlyweds is to agree to disagree and make each other feel special whenever you can.
This person is your best friend, the one who will help you through your darkest times and the one who you will have to help through their darkest moments.
When you are full of gooey snot and have your eyeballs hanging out, unable to do anything but cough, wheeze, and watch TV, they will be the ones to bring you tissues, make sure you take your medicine, change the DVD for you and tell you that you are wonderful.
They will also be the ones who need reassurance that the shirt they bought does make them look like Keith Urban, and their graying hair makes them look far more George Clooney than Ted Danson.
If you want your marriage to last, make sure one of your top priorities is making your spouse feel like they are the most important person in your world.
Because at the end of the day, they are.
If you want to be the best partner you can be to your partner, make sure to remember these things.
You and your significant other are different individuals with your own traits, interests, talents, and quirks.
Your respect towards your partner is a manifestation that you value your differences and what they bring into your relationship.
It is the ultimate way to show your partner you love and appreciate them.
Respect is not just something you feel.
It’s something you do and demonstrate.
But how can you do this?
Build your partner up to your friends, kids, and family, or don’t forget to praise your partner when they do something right.
As always, you also need to speak to your spouse thoughtfully even when you’re upset.
Many newlyweds think that communication means saying what they want to say.
However, this type of communication is not enough. Positive communication is crucial. This includes the following:
- Expressing appreciation
- Giving compliments
There are key strategies to improve communication in your marriage. First, always be intentional about it.
Set aside time each day to talk with each other. During this time, don’t focus on your phone and catch up with each other.
Related: 45 Facts How Social Media Affects Your Marriage: Does It Ruin or Help Relationships?
It is also essential to increase your “I” statements more than “you” statements.
This way, your partner won’t feel the need to become defensive.
When you encounter conflict, do your best to be as specific as possible.
When you keep generalizing, your partner would only feel belittled.
Finally, learn how to express your negative emotions in a positive light.
Bitterness, disapproval, and disappointment are typical.
The key is to express these thoughts and feelings well.
For instance, instead of saying, “you don’t care about me because you’re working late again,” say, “I am disappointed that you are spending an extra 4 hours at work again. I hope next time you can come home earlier.”
You love your partner. That’s precisely why you got married.
However, married life is not easy, and you need to stay loyal to each other if you want to make your marriage work.
Not communicating well with each other is the root cause of infidelity.
If you keep bottling up your feelings, you will only end up resenting your partner, or worse, you may find someone to vent to, which can be a gateway for cheating.
Another major part of avoiding infidelity is defining what you and your spouse consider cheating.
For example, you may be okay with dancing with people of the opposite sex while you are out in a bar, but it makes your partner uncomfortable.
Trust is one of the most common words people throw around, but what does it mean?
Trust refers to the belief and confidence you have in your spouse. Without trust, it’s impossible to maintain a healthy marriage.
But how exactly can you build trust in your marriage? First, trust that you and your partner are a team.
When you have this perspective, you are sure that your spouse will not purposefully hurt or control you.
Even when you experience conflict, you will still be intentional about loving and respecting each other.
When you and your partner have solid trust in each other, it means you understand that you will not turn on each other whatever happens.
Instead, you will turn to each other. Through ups, downs, happiness, or sadness, you will have each other to lean on.
Related: Get over 100 tips on How To Have A Happy Marriage by 58 of the world’s most famous marriage and life coaches.