Are you prepared for your first year of marriage? Living in the thick of it right now? The first year of marriage is often described as a difficult time in a couple’s life, and for many, that’s true. The good news is, there are some things you and your partner can do to pave the way toward a happy first year of marriage (and beyond).
Here are three things you need to know about your first year of marriage.
1. Cultivating friendship and sacrificial love should be at the top of your priority list.
Building a lasting and fulfilling marriage means you must go beyond physical and romantic attraction. It’s crucial to cultivate friendship and sacrificial love if you want to have a marriage that stands the test of time. Spend time truly getting to know each other, both before and after you marry, and work together to create an environment where you’re always learning about and communicating with each other on a deeply personal level.
Friendship depends on spending time together and investing effort in one another beyond the tasks you have to complete every day. And, sacrificial love means you’ll need to put yourself in uncomfortable positions that nurture loving service to one another. Taking care of each other while you’re sick is one way to develop this kind of love early–even before you marry.
2. Feeling disillusioned after the honeymoon is normal.
It’s normal for couples to feel a bit disillusioned after the honeymoon. Although you may know one another well by the time you say “I do”, you don’t truly know one another until you live together. Sharing a home and building a life together is a sure way to quickly learn your spouse’s flaws and shortcomings…something many of us don’t see during the dating phase of our relationship.
During your engagement and in the early years of your marriage, be aware that it’s possible you may feel disillusioned. Remind yourself that it’s common, and find ways to address the difficult feelings that arise as a result. For example, one of the reasons so many couples become disillusioned during early marriage is because they’re carrying a weight of unmet expectations.
3. Adjusting your expectations is required.
When you face the unmet expectations in your relationship, you’re giving yourself a chance to adjust your perspective around those expectations. No one person can make life perfectly happy for another, and we humans are going to inevitably disappoint one another because of that. We can do our best each day, but along the way, we’ll still sometimes fail to meet the expectations of others, particularly our spouse.
Reevaluate your expectations for marriage and spend some time considering why you feel disappointed, and what you might be able to do to alleviate those negative feelings. It may be time to consider readjusting your expectations, provided your spouse’s actions are neither harmful nor hurtful–they just might not align with yours. Adjusting to accept the realities of your new marriage will make it all the more satisfying as you continue to grow and learn together.
This post was inspired by H. Norman Wright’s chapter in our book, Getting Ready for the Wedding. If you need a guide to help you navigate engagement and early marriage, this book is for you. You can get your copy here.
What was your first year of marriage like? Have any advice to share with other engaged couples? We’d love to hear from you in the comments!