The first year of marriage is a wonderful and exciting time. It’s also a challenging time. During my engagement period, I heard all kinds of takes on what the first year of marriage would be like. Some said I’d still be in the honeymoon stage, and it would be a piece of cake. Others told stories like the ones Hayley DiMarco tells in her book The Fruitful Wife—stories about smashing dishes against the walls of her cellar due to her extreme frustration with her husband. I had no idea what to expect.
No matter what your first year of marriage might look like, there are foundational ideas to keep in mind. As a young wife coming up on my first anniversary, I’ve put together a list of tips for your first year of marriage.
1. Make God the center of your lives.
A healthy marriage truly begins here. Study God’s Word together. Memorize Scripture together. When times get rough, remember that God is working on your hearts. And most importantly, pray together as often as you can. Pam Farrel, author of A Couple’s Journey with God, once told me that she and her husband kiss each other after every prayer—and have done so throughout their entire marriage. Simple gestures like this are so effective in keeping your relationship with Christ at the center of your marriage.
2. Be willing to say sorry, and be willing to forgive.
Chances are, you’ll have moments when you just don’t understand your husband’s opinion on an issue. In What Did You Expect? Redeeming the Realities of Marriage, Paul Tripp says, “Since we’re always sinners married to sinners, reconciliation isn’t just the right response in moments of failure. It must be the lifestyle of any healthy marriage.” Marriage is the union of two sinners, and your spouse will fail you. When this happens, it’s important to keep in mind that you fail your spouse, too. It takes a lot of pride-swallowing to say sorry, so when your spouse genuinely apologizes, accept it. And when you know you’ve hurt your spouse, say so. Say sorry—you’ll be surprised at how healing it can be.
3. Don’t sweat the small stuff.
The majority of the arguments my husband and I got into during our first year of marriage were over such miniscule issues. Before you start arguing, rate the importance of the issue from 1 to 10 in your head. If it’s lower than a 5, drop it. If it’s a 5 or higher, approach it in a way that isn’t degrading or condescending toward your spouse. My husband and I have found it helpful to take a break from the argument and cool down. We’ve waited as long as a day to come back to an issue. Once you’ve cooled down, prayed about the issue, and possibly even slept on it, you’re able to approach it in a much more peaceful manner. If this isn’t your strong point, check out Fight Fair by Tim and Joy Downs.
If you’re interested in entering your first year of marriage as prepared as possible, or know someone who is, check out What Every Groom Needs to Know: The Most Important Year in a Man’s Life and What Every Bride Needs to Know: The Most Important Year in a Woman’s Life. These two books offer wonderful insight for both wives-to-be and husbands-to-be who long for the best, most God-centered first year of marriage they can have.
What’s the best piece of marriage advice you’ve ever received?