You’ve walked down the aisle, finally united in Christ and ready to begin your life together. After your wedding day, however, there is no more premarital counseling or assigned mentors to help you navigate your first year of marriage.
If your experience is anything like mine, the newlywed season can feel isolating and confusing. Here, from my husband and I, 10 tips for the first months of your marriage, and beyond.
Set up household responsibilities.
It might seem obvious, but someone needs to do the dishes. If you don’t decide who will complete which chores, it’s likely they either won’t get done or will foster resentment. To bypass frustration, start fresh by setting up what works best for your daily routines--whether that’s you doing the laundry and dishes and your husband waxing the car and making dinner, or the other way around.
Create a family routine.
Consider when you’ll work out, have dinner, go to bed, and have some quiet time with the Lord, either alone or together. Your days now include another person, so establishing routines will not only make your house feel more like home, but give you a sense of community and unity.
Determine your family values.
When you wake up each morning, what three things do you prioritize no matter what your day will look like? My husband and I decided to write down our family values shortly after we were married to help keep us accountable to our priorities. Our three values are faith, family, and fun. Every year, we talk through how the year looked through the lens of each of our values.
Talk about your expectations.
To me, the most important virtue in a relationship is communication. From the most difficult circumstances to the easiest of days, communication is what will make or break a marriage. When you first start out on your journey together, you might find communication is hard and be tempted to not talk through frustrations you are feeling toward your spouse. But it’s during these exact times that it’s imperative to communicate, creating a foundation of honesty and unity.
During our newlywed days, my husband and I found that I expected he would be exactly like my dad, with dinner to be on the table every night at 5 PM. While I tried my hardest, it was almost impossible for me to do as a working wife. It was only after months of internalized pressure and silent anger that I learned my husband’s expectations were totally different than what my father had of my mother; it was only then that I could finally relax into what our relationship would truly be like.
Join a parish and, if possible, a couples’ ministry.
Marriage allows you to truly set foot into community together. That looks like finding a parish you can consistently attend and feel connected to. Consider also joining a married couple’s small group--or start one--and begin forming foundational relationships with other newlyweds and married couples. God willing, these friends can help and mentor you through the journey of married life.
Set boundaries with family.
The changes of marriage can be especially hard if you’re very close to your family members and highly regard their opinions. Scripture says a man will leave his family and become one with his spouse, and this is no less true for women. Instead of turning to your mother or sister during difficult times, as might’ve been your habit in the past, marriage marks a turning to your husband, and your family should be aware of that. To ensure no feelings are hurt, I recommend open conversation about boundaries with your family, such as where you’ll be spending the holidays and how often you’ll be calling your mom.
Explore intimacy together consistently.
During the beginning of marriage, physical intimacy may not come naturally or easily. You might even desire to not be intimate with your spouse after the wedding night if it was not initially a pleasant experience. While all relationships are different, the Lord has designed man and woman to be together in marriage, and intimacy is a critical part of your relationship with your spouse. With this in mind, my husband and I challenge you to continue learning, growing, and exploring intimacy together consistently in order to arrive at a place of comfort for both of you.
Open a joint bank account.
Marriage unites you not only spiritually, but practically--that includes finances. I recommend opening a joint bank account and start paying your bills. Money is one a hot-button topic when couples experience conflict, so I highly encourage you to start your marriage with setting a budget and identifying financial goals you can work toward together.
Invite your neighbors over for dinner.
The Lord has made marriage in the image of his love for the Church, which means your love is made to impact those around you. Boldly reach out to whomever your neighbor is in your new home, and invite him or her to dinner. Get to know those who live around you and become part of your community, so that you can be the hands and feet of Jesus, right where you live!
Make the effort to serve your church or community together. This is another way that as a married couple you’re able to be Jesus’ hands and feet and share the testimony of his love with others--so get out and volunteer together!
Your first year of marriage is a foundational time for you and your spouse. This means every day, every week, and every month that passes will include both moments of hardships and good growth in your relationship. We hope these tips offer you guidance as you navigate this sacred ground, and we wish you the best as you begin your journey to Christ together.
About the Author: Sinikka Rohrer is a Christian wedding photographer and Spoken Bride vendor on mission to encourage brides with practical and spiritual encouragement on the way to the aisle. She is a lover of all things healthy, early morning spiritual reads, and anything outdoors.