When my husband and I got engaged nearly 9 years ago, it seemed like everyone had advice to give us. I humored all the different voices, but deep down I thought we’d figure it all out on our own. As we started navigating that first year, I began to realize how naïve I’d been, and I started falling back on all the advice and wisdom that friends and family had given us. Now, when I have friends getting married, I find myself passing on the same advice to them.
14 of the Best Pieces of Advice for Newlyweds:
1. Never go to bed angry.
If you get in a fight with your spouse, make sure that you work things out before going to bed. It will only make things worse if you go to bed angry at one another. You can bury an issue for a day or even longer, but it’s sure to come up again. Even if the two of you have to stay up all night, resolve your issues before you go to sleep.
2. Leave the past in the past.
Once you and your spouse have resolved a conflict, don’t bring it back up again to use as ammunition for future conflicts. Just leave it in the past.
3. Be your own family.
This doesn’t mean you have to cut ties with each of your families, but it means that you’re purposely make new traditions and relying on each other, instead of always relying on your families. You may have to remind your families that you can’t make every event or that the two of you need time together as your own family. They might not get it or respect it at first, but stick to your guns, and they’ll come around eventually.
4. Don’t be critical of each other in front of other people.
When you publicly criticize one another, it makes the other people present feel uncomfortable, and it will also embarrass your spouse and make him or her angry. If you feel like your spouse is lacking in some area, then share that with him or her privately. He or she will take it a lot better that way, I assure you.
5. Don’t have a TV in the bedroom.
This was the original advice I was given when I got married. Now, it also needs to be said that couples should turn off their cell phones, iPads and computers, too. This allows for couples to unwind from their day together without any distractions, and it increases the opportunity for intimacy, conversation, and a general debriefing of the day’s events.
6. Don’t use the words “never” or “always.”
Refrain from using the words “never” and “always” when you get in a fight with your spouse. Don’t say, “I always do the dishes, and you never help.” First, it’s probably not true that your spouse has never helped with the dishes, and secondly, it puts your spouse on the defensive. Instead, figure out what’s really frustrating you. Do you just want more help, or do you feel like your spouse takes it for granted that you’ll do the majority of the housework? When you’ve figured out what’s really bothering you then you can have a frank conversation with your spouse about how you are feeling
7. Don’t hold back from saying “I’m sorry” if you’re in the wrong.
Couples who can say “I’m sorry” have much healthier relationships than those who refuse to ask for forgiveness when they wrong each other. And, trust me, no one wants to be married to someone who is “never” wrong. Put your pride aside, say, “I’m sorry,” and ask for forgiveness. It’s that easy.
8. Give random surprises.
Remember all those random surprises you gave each other when you were dating? Well, keep giving them. Bring home your spouse’s favorite ice cream or favorite flowers, or write them a love letter just because. These little surprises go a long way.
9. Make time for other friendships.
Some newlyweds live in their own little world for the first year (or longer), and they unintentionally neglect other friendships. Then they wonder why their friends seemed to have “moved on” and never ask them to do anything anymore. Make sure that you and your spouse set aside some time in your week to hang out with friends so that this doesn’t happen to you.
10. Get counseling when problems arise.
Marriage can be hard, and too often couples wait too long to get counseling. The first year of marriage is a great year to receive counseling or go to a marriage retreat. It helps to have an outside, objective perspective on any problems that the two of you are facing.
11. Marriage is a two-way street.
Remember that marriage is a two-way street, but you’re responsible for your side of the street. It’s much easier to look at your spouse and point out all of his or her faults, but it’s a lot harder to look in the mirror and see you’re own. Ask yourself, “How could I be a better, kinder, more loving wife or husband?” Then work to make any changes that need to be made.
12. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.
Don’t beat around the bush when you want your spouse to do something. If you want them to take out the trash, don’t say, “Looks, like it’s trash day again.” Just ask them to take out the trash.
13. Carry each other’s burdens.
I had a friend who gave me a picture frame with the words, “Let your marriage be such that when one weeps, the other tastes salt.” It serves as a reminder to me to that my husband and I should share each other’s joys and sorrows. We’re in this thing together, for better or worse, in sickness and in health, and till death do us part.
14. Love isn’t ALL you need.
They say all you need is love, but I’d add treating each other with respect and kindness, and staying true to your commitment is equally as important. Marriage takes work, but when two people are in it for the long haul and treat each other kindly and with respect, chances are they’ll have a good and happy marriage.
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