4 Helpful Tips for Your First Year of Marriage

Jaime Jo Wright

Crosswalk.com Contributing Writer
Published: Aug 29, 2023
4 Helpful Tips for Your First Year of Marriage

You’ve gotten married—or you’re about to—and you’re embarking on that first year of marriage. You will experience so many adjustments, and whether you’re ready for them or not, they will come. Some say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. It’s the year you quickly discover all the hidden habits you didn’t know your significant other had. Oh, you thought you knew, but you really didn’t. Some of them can be annoying pet peeves, and others can be significant, but they’re there, nonetheless.

In addition to the unknowns coming into view, you also must become accustomed to sharing all over again. It’s like back in the day when you lived with a sibling, only this person claims equal rights to your belongings, and there’s no mom or dad in the corner to ring the bell for a time-out during the fight.

Then there are the unique nuances of not being your own entity. In other words, running to the grocery store on a whim for ice cream now comes with the factor that you should probably let your spouse know where you are going; they’ll probably ask why, and suddenly, your independent and relaxing outing to the store is added to with additional items or perhaps a sidekick who decides to come along and crash the party.

The fact is you are no longer single. You are not a solitary person moving on your own, living on your own, creating on your own, and being on your own. This can be a great thing! It can also challenge you in ways you weren’t expecting.

So, what tips for the first year of marriage can help you adjust and embrace the definition of being one-half of a whole?

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Resentment in marriage upset couple

1. Cut each other some slack.

I cannot stress enough how important this is. It’s so simplistic that it almost sounds cavalier, but it’s not intended to be. When men and women enter marriage, they bring with them their own set of expectations. Even if these expectations have been expressed prior, they will still influence the daily life of a married couple. And guess what? Your new spouse will be a disappointment. They will irritate, annoy, hurt, and bother you. Mistakes will be made. Worst of all, decisions will be made that you perceive as a mistake, and they perceive as perfectly normal.

For example, when we first married, my husband thought it was perfectly normal to leave the cardboard plate from a frozen pizza on the counter long after the pizza had been eaten. I found that to be a travesty of male singlehood and would consistently point to the garbage can as a means of solving the problem. The tension that built over a piece of cardboard was rather humorous in retrospect.

In the end, the fix was simple. I had to cut him some slack. A pizza cardboard circle wasn’t worth the stress and angst. I started just throwing it away. And you know what? The problem went away! Oddly, he noticed and eventually started throwing it away also. But cutting him some slack and just letting it go made a huge difference for a small but irritating problem.

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Husband comforting his wife; how long should married love suffer?

2. Assume intent.

In any relationship, you have the opportunity to assume intent into a response from the other person. When their words or actions hurt us, it is natural to become defensive and take a protective stance against that person. This assumes a negative intent. That our spouse’s actions or words were delivered in the way they were with the purpose of hurting us—a negative intention.

But here’s where you can help your marriage thrive. Assume a positive intent. What does that mean? It means assuming that whatever was said or done was not completed with the sole purpose of causing you pain. Assume, instead, that your spouse prefers not to hurt you, prefers not to have misunderstandings, and went about the delivery of their words or actions poorly, but not with hurtful reasoning.

This can help assuage some knee-jerk anger or reaction you might be tempted to have. Your spouse loves you. You just married each other. The intent behind their actions is not to fast-forward you to the end of your marriage. Instead, they either said or did something stupid; maybe they meant something entirely differently than how you took it, or perhaps this is something you do need to work through. But it doesn’t mean their intent was to attack.

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An angry couple before bed

3. Go to bed angry.

Wow. You’ve heard the opposite, but not this one. Even Scripture advises not to let the sun go down on your wrath. So why am I suggesting otherwise? Well, it’s not quite what it seems.

You see, sometimes you will have some heavier things to work through as a couple in this first year. And, I’ve seen new couples, in an effort not to go to bed angry at each other, sweep these deep issues under the rug in exchange for peace. But this peace is band-aid peace. It’s not healing peace. And these dust bunnies under the rug can lead to huge piles of muck later on.

So, if you cannot resolve an issue before bed, accept that you may go to bed angry. Try to find a semblance of agreement that, yes, we’re still upset, but yes, we still love each other. Agree it needs to be worked on, but time is not being friendly, and sleep must come first.

Whatever you do, do not sweep these issues under the rug. Resolve them. Make a point to resolve them, even if it means twenty-four hours later.

Related Content: Why the Bible Says to Never Go to Bed Angry

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Wife, husband, and mother in law arguing

4. Side with your spouse over family.

Ouch. This is a tough one. But this first year of marriage will set the foundation for the rest of your married life when it comes to the relationship between you and your spouse and each other’s parents.

You might be mama’s boy or daddy’s little girl, but at this point, you’ve vowed to be one with your spouse. This means they’re your go-to now. This means that in the event your parent is challenging them, you’re going to need to support them and not necessarily rise in defense of your parents—even though that may be instinctual. Boundaries with parents will need to be made, and your spouse must have that reassurance that, yes, you love your parents and will do just about anything for them. But you won’t sacrifice your relationship with your spouse to make your parents happy.

Marriage in the first year could have an entire book of tips written to help make it easier, to help build a strong foundation, and to help avoid pitfalls. But truthfully, you will need to feel your way through this first year. You’re going to trip, and you’re going to get hurt. You’re also going to have victories and joys, and you’re going find reward in each other.

Give yourselves and each other grace. Avoid looking at marriage as a one-size-fits-all. Every marriage book in the universe cannot perfectly guide you through this first year. The key is to focus on your relationship with each other and, ultimately, your relationship before the Lord.

Accept the downs and rejoice in the highs; the most important tip is to stay close to your faith.

Photo credit: ©Getty Images/Motortion

Jaime Jo Wright is an ECPA and Publisher’s Weekly bestselling author. Her novel “The House on Foster Hill” won the prestigious Christy Award and she continues to publish Gothic thrillers for the inspirational market. Jaime Jo resides in the woods of Wisconsin, lives in dreamland, exists in reality, and invites you to join her adventures at jaimewrightbooks.com and at her podcast madlitmusings.com where she discusses the deeper issues of story and faith with fellow authors.

Originally published Tuesday, 29 August 2023.