10 Tips for a Successful First Year of Marriage

By  The Groom Club Editors 
Updated on 09/23/22
Groom Hacks

Part of the Groom Hacks

10 Tips for a Successful First Year of Marriage

By  The Groom Club Editors 
Updated on 09/23/22

The first year of marriage is a unique time in anyone’s life. Things are romantic and new, but also challenging. You’ll find yourself journeying into the start of a life together, which requires adjustment and flexibility.

 Don’t become discouraged if your first year of marriage is less than blissful. Instead, look at each challenge as a chance to grow. A successful marriage isn’t marked by nonstop happiness. Instead, it’s marked by adjusting and communicating effectively.

We’ve put together our ten best tips for a successful first year of marriage, so even the tough times can create opportunities for growth and joy.

 

Document the Firsts

When someone gets a new pet or has a child, it’s natural to document and celebrate each milestone, but couples often miss that in their first year of marriage. After all, the dust is settling from a high-energy engagement, and the adjustments to married life don’t typically feel picture-perfect. 

But for any new adventure, the joyous milestones make the struggles and challenges worth it. So try to document the firsts you experience as newlyweds: The first date night after your honeymoon, the first dinner party you throw, the first time you pick up your spouse from work because their car is in the shop.

You can keep a journal, create a video montage, design a scrapbook, or create a jar full of notes. The little moments are the big moments, and having the memories documented allows you to have something to focus on when things get bumpy.

 

Have a Weekly Meeting

It can be hard to bring up tough conversations, but avoiding them can cause you to hold on to anger or channel it incorrectly. A great way to prevent misguided arguments is to check-in weekly to discuss your marriage openly. Relationship expert, Kevin Coleman, observes that many couples find it helpful to set aside time to talk over a date night, a walk around the block, or anywhere else you can have each other’s undivided attention. 

This is a great time to talk about the distribution of chores, explore new goals, or have fruitful conversations.  A half-hour or so each week should give you time to reflect on the highs and lows of your marriage and keep your relationship on track.

The best way to make this time as helpful as possible is to listen fully and be slow to speak. Also, be sure to include positive feedback. Have a few sessions with a professional counselor or pick up a relationship book if you need help beginning these conversations.

Allow Growth & Change

You’ll spend the first year of marriage building a foundation for the rest of your life, but that doesn’t mean every argument, tradition, and goal needs to become precedent.

The idea that the first year of marriage lays the groundwork for the rest of your life can put a lot of pressure on the relationship. But if both partners are willing to learn and grow together, the first year can be a pool of discovery, not a construction site.

Couples can work together to discover their love languages, relationship goals, and unique needs. You may think you learned all that while dating, but it can look different once you’re in the security of a marriage.

So while it’s good to create healthy habits early on, it’s also essential to stay flexible and open to change.

Allow for Growth and Change

Take Care of Business

Most advice for newlyweds is based on the emotional aspects of marriage, but there is also the clerical work you’ll need to do. If you want to feel accomplished on your first anniversary, try checking off a to-do list that you can complete over time.

Marriage Certificate & Name Changes

Get copies of your marriage certificate to keep in a safe place. If you change your name, you’ll also need to take care of that documentation. Nothing needs to get done right after the honeymoon, but it’s a good idea to get everything taken care of within that first year.

Health Insurance

If you’re getting on your spouse’s health insurance, you may need to complete that within 30 days of your marriage or wait until the next enrollment period. Even if you already have insurance, getting double coverage or changing your spouse’s plan may work out financially.

 Life Insurance & Wills

You must ensure that everything is covered if something tragic happens to one of you. This means getting an appropriate life insurance policy and ensuring your will is up-to-date. Even if you don’t have children and are financially independent, you still want to have a legal and financial plan for the unthinkable.

Taxes

Your marriage could be a financial win once it’s tax time. Talk with an accountant to make sure you’re making the most of your new relationship status. You may need to change your withholding and decide if you’ll file jointly or separately.

 

 

A couple hugging

Be Vulnerable

When the first year of marriage gets tough, you may be tempted to put up walls or become defensive. But this can make the conflict worse and create an ongoing disconnect.

But how do you allow for vulnerability in a marriage? Sometimes it comes from action, like saying “I Love You” first or putting a lot of effort into a surprise or plan. But it also can come from inaction: allowing your partner to express themselves without trying to fix them.

Vulnerability is rooted in trust –  trusting that you are worthy of love and trusting your partner to love you.

Never share your partner’s secrets, even with friends who don’t know them, and communicate to your partner when you’re being vulnerable, so they understand to keep the conversation between you two.

Prioritize Fun

Anyone will tell you that marriage is a lot of work, but it can also be a lot of fun. You may return from your honeymoon with your work gloves on, ready to build a strong relationship. But don’t forget to simply have fun.

This may come naturally at times, in the form of laughter and surprise adventures. But sometimes, it requires effort. Set aside time in your weekly schedule to do something enjoyable. Take the vacation time even if it stresses you out. Embrace any chance to lighten the mood.

Here are ways to have fun in your first year of marriage:

  • Cook a meal together
  • Binge-watch a TV show
  • Go out to a bar or a restaurant
  • Have sex
  • Get out of the house on the weekends
  • Kiss and cuddle
  • Get competitive with fitness, games, or chores

An infographic of Tips for a Successful First Year of Marriage

Pick Your Battles

We’re going to go on and say it: Your partner will do a lot of things that really bother you. And while you should always set boundaries and expect respect and love from your partner, you must choose your battles.

Before you bring something up to your spouse, ask if this is something you can work around or live with. Is this going to make or break your marriage? Is it a huge inconvenience on your day?

It may be best to let it go if it’s a pet peeve or a different way of doing things. Constant nitpicking can quickly wear down a relationship and fill it with too much negativity.

On the other hand, peacemakers may let too many things go. Some things in a relationship are worth fighting for, and unresolved arguments can snowball. So don’t let “picking your battles” turn into “sweeping everything under the rug.”

 You must balance any negativity with even more positivity, so choose what’s worth arguing over and what to let go of. And encourage your partner to do the same for you.

Filter any Advice

Anyone will be quick to offer newlywed advice, including how to handle conflict, splitting chores, and how and whether to grow your family.

It’s important to be open to advice and seek help when needed. But you should know that each marriage is different, so not every piece of advice will work for you.

When conflict arises, you may turn to others for help and forget to ask the most important people: you and your spouse. As you begin turning toward each other for advice and resolution, you may be surprised to find how many of your problems are solved and how your relationship grows.

A couple chilling together

Make Space

The first year can be overwhelming for someone who is used to being independent. You’re suddenly sharing a life with someone and have to include them in most of your decisions. It can be especially jarring if you’re adjusting to a new home, a new name, or a new bank account.

So give each other space. Even if it seems easy to spend time together, a little time apart can strengthen a bond.

This could be physical space – separate areas of your home where you can store things, work, or read. Or it could be time apart by being with friends or family.

So be intentional about making space in your life for each other and for yourself. It’s a careful balance that may take some time to get right, but it’s worth the effort in the long run.

Strive to be a Great Spouse

The best marriages are when two people bring the best of themselves into the relationship. They look for ways to be supportive and loving partners, and they put in the effort it takes to make the relationship work.

Early on, it can be easy to focus on what you want your marriage to look like and your spouse to be like, and you may miss focusing on yourself. How can you be a good spouse?

This doesn’t mean you need to be perfect, and don’t be hard on yourself if you fall short. It’s the effort and the heart that counts.

You may be surprised that when you focus on being the best person you can be, your spouse also rises to your level and meets you in that better place.

 

Staying in the Honeymoon Phase

If you hear about the honeymoon phase, you may assume that the first year of marriage will be the happiest you will ever be. This can cause couples to become discouraged if there’s a lot of conflict in those early months.

But take heart, there are plenty of good days ahead. Don’t give up and work through the tough times – that’s what makes the first year of marriage successful.