An estimated 40-50% of marriages end in divorce. Yikes!
Newly married people are more likely to divorce than long-standing couples, making the first year a hugely important one. These same relationship tips can apply to long-term relationships even if you’re not married.
Having been divorced once myself, I can attest that marriage takes work from both of you on a consistent basis.
But when you’re married to the right person, it should feel like you’re working with your teammate rather than fighting against your opponent.
Having just celebrated my 1-year wedding anniversary, now I can look back and see how much my husband and I have grown. In the first healthy relationship of my life, the honeymoon phase has evolved into something more raw, vulnerable and real.
Here are 12 things I learned in my first year of marriage:
1. Your partner is not responsible for your happiness. If you hate your job, suffer from insecurity or feel unfulfilled, your partner can support you but they can’t fix your problems for you. There’s a difference between venting and using your partner selfishly. Until you are happy with you, you will look to your partner to fill that gap and that will create a divide in your relationship.
2. It’s not 50/50. It’s 100/100. While leaning on your spouse from time to time is to be expected, one person cannot carry the relationship. Without reciprocity, one of you will end up feeling drained and resentful.
3. Check your ego. You’ll never be perfect but you can be self aware. Each of you will be difficult people to be with at times. Sometimes you’ll both be difficult at the same time. Take stock of how you’re feeling so you don’t take your frustrations out on each other.
4. Address your partner with love, even when you’re mad. This is easier said than done at time, but you don’t have the right to break your partner down with your words for any reason. Call it ‘fighting fair‘, if you will. Our partners are often our easiest target because they’re so accessible and we know they’ll love us anyway, but throwing verbal daggers will chip away at your relationship over time.
5. Internal dialogue says it all. One of the best ways to gauge the health of your relationship is by how closely your internal dialogue towards your partner matches your external dialogue. What I mean is, the more words are left unspoken the less healthy your relationship is. Bottling your feelings will turn to resentment and ultimately unravel your relationship.
6. Get comfortable with having uncomfortable conversations. On the previous note, the worst thing you can do is to think your problems will just blow over or change on their own. Put your ego aside and listen. I was once asked, “Do you want to be ‘right’ or do you want to be happy?” Because you can’t be both all the time.
7. Pride is not your friend. Say you’re sorry if you are, ask for help if you need it, tell them you miss them if you do. If you can’t say it to your spouse, who can you say it to?
8. Pick your battles. You shouldn’t win them all. Find a balance between letting things go, and addressing things that really bother you. On a related note, nagging doesn’t work. Accept your partner for who they are, or walk away. Marriage doesn’t give you the right to ask them to change who they are.
9. The honeymoon phase fades, but it evolves into something deeper. Think of new relationships as a tree full of blossoms but with shallow roots. On the surface, it’s beautiful. But during a storm, that tree might fall over.
A marriage is a tree with deep roots that have withstood storms – it loses a few blossoms each time but they always grow back. Keep watering it and it will bloom more beautifully each year.
10. Romance takes many forms. Sometimes it’s an encouraging text before a big day, telling her your wife she’s beautiful or sending your husband a sext at work so he can’t wait to get home to you. Physical affection doesn’t always have to be sex – cuddle, hug, spoon, kiss, hold hands….whatever works for you, DO IT. Say “I love you often”, even if you show it. Sometimes we need to hear it.
11. Don’t forget to do YOU. Don’t lose sight of the things you loved to do before you got married. Not only are those things a huge part of what makes you you, they are also the traits your partner fell in love with. Just because you’re part of an us doesn’t mean you just go away.
12. Never stop dating. That requires making your marriage as much of a priority as work or anything else on your schedule. Switch it up and try new things, even if you’re both creatures of habit. It helps to get out of the house as it helps you focus on each other – just make sure to leave your phone in your pocket!