Tips for Your First Year of Married Life
The first year after your wedding can be an incredibly fun adventure. Best of all, you get to share all these new experiences with your best friend: your brand new spouse! Elder Russell M. Nelson has said that “marriage brings greater possibilities for happiness than does any other human relationship.”1 But this first year is also a time full of challenges as the two of you work together to figure out how to be a married couple. Sometimes those transitions can be tricky to maneuver, so here are some tips, gleaned from happily married couples and counsel from Church leaders, that may help you as you “vow never to be satisfied with a mediocre marriage.”2
Manage your expectations
The story has been told of a bride on her wedding day who declared, “Mom, I’m at the end of all my troubles!” “Yes,” her mother replied, “but at which end?”3 No one is perfect – not even your spouse! If you haven’t already, you’ll soon discover quirks or habits that you find annoying. It might be the way she brushes her teeth or how he loads the dishwasher, but there will be something that bursts the rose-colored bubble. Remember that every marriage requires work and sacrifice. Even a temple wedding is no guarantee of smooth sailing! When irritations come – and they will come – take a deep breath, remember what you love about your spouse, and let go of the little things.
“Be fiercely loyal to each other”4
President Hinckley’s counsel is simple, but absolutely vital. Once you are married, your spouse is the most important priority in your life “except God Himself.”5 That means, among other things, that you and your spouse need to create appropriate boundaries with parents and other family members on both sides of the family and with friends. You and your new spouse need to focus on strengthening your relationship and make decisions together, independent of others. You’re supposed to be becoming one with each other, after all! Being loyal to each other also means committing to never speak badly about your spouse to anyone. If there’s a problem or disagreement in your relationship, talk to your spouse, not to your friends or your parents.
Your communication skills can always improve. Studies have shown that most marital discord centers around three issues: money, sex, and in-laws. Make sure you’re being open with each other in those areas especially, and actively working through any disagreements. Don’t allow concerns to fester; they’ll only get harder to resolve. You may want to schedule a regular time to talk with your spouse that is free from distractions. Say “I love you” and “thank you” frequently, and don’t hesitate to say “I’m sorry” when you should. Seek out the good in your spouse and pay him or her sincere compliments. Strive to be positive when speaking with each other as “there is no relationship in the world where hope and optimism are more important.”6
Serve each other, and serve others together
“In any relationship, the fruits of service are sweeter than the fruits of criticism.”7 Look for ways to make your spouse’s life a little easier or to brighten her day. Set aside a regular date night so that he knows that spending quality time with him is important to you. Attend the temple together. Help each other with the work that needs to be done, whether it’s dishes or raking leaves, cleaning the bathroom or getting the oil in the car changed. Work together and share the load. The Family: A Proclamation to the World reminds us that spouses are “obligated to help one another as equal partners.” Don’t wait for your spouse to take the first step; just jump right in and start serving!
Make the Lord an integral part of your relationship
Have a daily devotional time when you and your spouse pray and read the scriptures together. President Thomas S. Monson shared this counsel that he and his wife received from their sealer on their wedding day: “Every night kneel by the side of your bed. One night, Brother Monson, you offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. The next night you, Sister Monson, offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. I can then assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray. You simply can’t pray together and retain any but the best of feelings toward one another.”8 Listen carefully to the counsel of our modern prophets, especially at General Conference, and set specific, measurable goals based on that counsel. For example, create a budget and stick to it. Set a habit of paying a full tithe and generous fast offering. Start building your food storage a little at a time. Invite the Lord to be a full partner in your marriage!
Nurture other relationships, too
Your relationship with your spouse is the most important relationship you’ll have on earth, but other relationships are important, too! Remember the saying “make new friends, but keep the old”? Don’t forget the friends you each had before you were married. They’re still your friends! Reach out to other newlywed or empty-nest couples; maybe they’d like to have a combined Family Home Evening or have a game night once a week. And don’t forget yourself. Keep up with your own hobbies and interests; it’s okay to have some space for yourself in your marriage, a time when you do things you enjoy separate from your new spouse. Just make sure that they are “pursued carefully, so that they don’t cause contention or frustration”9 in your relationship.
Enjoy your first year of marriage! You’ll encounter challenges you’ve never experienced before, but it’s an exciting time when you and your spouse can focus on getting to know each other and strengthening your relationship, becoming better people in the process.
1. Russell M. Nelson, “Nurturing Marriage”, Ensign, May 2006, 36–38
2. Marlin K. Jensen, “A Union of Love and Understanding”, Ensign, Oct. 1994, 47
3. Bruce C. Hafen, “Covenant Marriage”, Ensign, Nov. 1996, 26
4. Gordon B. Hinckley, “Life’s Obligations”, Ensign, Feb. 1999, 2
5. Richard B. Miller, “For Newlyweds and Their Parents”, Ensign, Jan. 2006, 27–31
6. Barbara Workman, “Love, Laughter, and Spirituality in Marriage”, Ensign, July 1992, 7
7. Brad Wilcox, “Work Enough for Two”, Ensign, Jan. 1995, 63
8. Thomas S. Monson, “Hallmarks of a Happy Home”, Ensign, November 1988
9. Wendi Lyn Jensen, “Six Ways to Keep Your Marriage Strong”, Ensign, June 2006, 53–55
♥ Emily H. Geddes
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