Congratulations! You are now married to the greatest love of your life and together as newlyweds, you are about to enter into the fun adventure that is marriage. The first year of marriage is both wonderful and challenging; wonderful because you now fully enjoy the companionship with your loved one, and challenging because whether you like it or not, there will be some differences that will arise as you start married life. That is why the first year of marriage is called an “adjustment period.” Here are six tips that can help you better navigate the first year.
1.) Set Clear Expectations
Because of the way each of you were raised, it is inevitable that you will have a couple of expectations when it comes to married life. At times, your spouse will reach far beyond your expectations, but there will be times that they may fall short of them. Sometimes, unfulfilled expectations can cause problems. One of the best tips for newlyweds during the first year is to sit down with your spouse and share your individual expectations; making compromises if necessary, and striving to agree on important things regarding your union.
2.) Welcome Open Communication
Ciara, one of the new brides I know, opened up to me that one of the challenges of their first year as newlyweds. Whenever she felt bad about something, she hesitated to open up to her husband about it, since it could cause an argument. A great way to survive the problems of the first few years of marriage is to always welcome open communication with each other. Elder Robert D. Hales gave this great advice that is perfect for newlyweds struggling with communication:
“Converse with each other, thereby never letting little things become big things.”
Learn to find time to talk with one another, have a companionship inventory, open up your heart to your companion. By truly knowing each other’s feelings, you provide one another the opportunity to grow in your relationship.
3.) Find Common Ground
One LDS author, John Claybaugh, once mentioned, “Courtship is a time to discover who you and your partner are—and how to nourish your relationship.” During your courtship, you slowly learned about each other. Discovering that a person shares the same passion in life as you do can be a great factor in falling in love. But courtship does not end in marriage, rather, it continues. Learn to still have some fun by finding out new things to do that both of you will surely enjoy. Your spouse is your best friend and what better way to enrich a friendship than to share an interest together?
4.) Practice Listening and Acceptance
Contrary to what is expected by many, the first year of marriage is not all about rainbows and butterflies; often, this is the time when you face your challenges together. One great thing I have learned from my marriage is always to know how to listen and accept. Money could be scarce, your other half could have confidence issues, employment could sometimes be beyond reach. The best thing to remember is that in marriage, husbands and wives are each others’ therapist. You are your spouse’s number one supporter. The world may be against him or you, but as long as you support and uplift each other, the burden will be lighter.
5.) Have a Forgiving Heart
Frank Fincham, the director of Florida State University’s Family Institute, said: “A happy marriage is a union of two good forgivers.” Yes, even a fairy tale marriage has disagreements here and there. The most important thing of all is that, at the end of the day, it is forgiveness that reigns in both of your hearts. “I’m sorry” can be difficult words to say, but they are a healing balm to a hurt soul. Be sorry, mean it, and strive to do better next time. In our marriage, a quote from President Monson has kept us from making a problem big:
“Never let a problem to be solved more important than a person to be loved.” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2008/10/finding-joy-in-the-journey?lang=eng)
6.) Work it out Together
Marriage is work, and it is the work of two. Both of you must take certain steps and actions and develop attributes that can weather the storm of the “adjustment year” of your marriage. Elder Robert D. Hales’ message is true; indeed, “We do not marry perfection, we marry potential.” You are each others’ helpmeet and companion, and you can achieve your potential as husband and wife by always assuming the good and doubting the bad. Don’t forget to express love and shower compliments on each other. Be kind, be forgiving, and commit to truly making it work.
I love how Sheri Dew puts it into perspective, “Our Father knew exactly what He was doing when He created us. He made us enough alike to love each other but enough different that we would need to unite our strengths and stewardships to create a whole. Neither man nor woman is perfect or complete without the other. Thus, no marriage … is likely to reach its full potential until husbands and wives … work together in unity of purpose, respecting and relying upon each other’s strengths.” (https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2001/10/it-is-not-good-for-man-or-woman-to-be-alone?lang=eng)
Yes, a married couple can still find love, happiness, and satisfaction despite the challenges of the first years of marriage by letting open communication, shared interests, forgiveness, and endless loving effort reign in their marriage. Marriage is wonderful, and there is nothing more sublime than achieving your potential with your beloved companion at your side.