How to Survive Your First Year of Marriage

I’ve been married for a year and nine months. My husband and I will celebrate our two year anniversary on November 2006. I can honestly say that I love my husband with all my heart and that if I could jump on a time machine and go back to my wedding day knowing everything I know about marriage and our relationship, I would do it all over again.

However, that doesn’t mean that the road hasn’t been rocky. Both my husband and I were virgins when we got married and we didn’t know what to expect on many areas. We had never lived with another person of the opposite sex and I hadn’t done any real housekeeping ever. Looking back, I can see some things that we could have done differently and some things we did right.

Go out on dates. When a couple is dating, they get to know each other by going out on dates. The definition of date doesn’t have to be a dinner and a movie. It can be as simple as sitting down just to talk. After a couple gets married, they should still continue this tradition. They need to take some time away from their busy lives to be exclusively with each other. Turn off that TV, put away that book and concentrate solely on your spouse.

Remember you’re still getting to know each other. There is a saying that goes, “If love is blind, then marriage is an eye opener.” While this might be true in many ways, you must remember that under all those new things you are learning about your spouse, he/she is still the same person you fell in love with. Perhaps you have uncovered a chest of defects and bad habits and you just wonder, “Who is this person?” He/she is still the same; the only difference is that you are now seeing the whole package, the bad with the good. Accept and move on.

Don’t let him/her get away with everything. When your spouse does something that bothers you, you have to speak out! Maybe the exact moment when it happens is not the most appropriate time but sooner or later you should approach him/her and say, “Honey, remember when -fill in the blank-? That really bothered me.” Men, specially, need to work on this skill.

On the flip side, you shouldn’t attack your spouse for every single little thing. Personally, I am very sensitive and I often find myself offended for things I know I shouldn’t be offended about. Still, I tell my husband that it bothered me, even if there is no real reason why it should have, so that he can also get to know my likes and dislikes.

Go to counseling. If you see yourself struggling more than you feel you should, perhaps counseling could be a good thing. My husband and I have gone to a couple of sessions and we both felt better and more connected after each one. The counselor will serve as a buffer and a neutral third party that can see into your conflicts without all the emotion you and your spouse are investing in it.

More couples split after the first two years than any other period of time. I believe that the first couple years of marriage is a period of learning and stumbling. When you start learning a new language, for example, do you expect to be having whole conversations in Spanish after the first month of classes? Of course not. Think about this period as preliminary classes, Marriage 101.

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