It’s weird that I’m writing this, right? I’ve never-admittedly-been a newlywed. I have, however, known enough newlyweds to know what not to do in the first year or so of marriage. And I’m sharing that “wisdom” with you now:
1) Don’t be so touchy about in-laws. The thing is this is new to all of you. There are going to be some bumps along the way as you all figure out how to negotiate these new relationships. Take everything with a grain of salt and a large serving of grace. If you’re gracious about things, odds are that all the weird newness will calm down soon. Then, you’ll find you have a great relationship with in-laws. (Those in-laws who are capable of great relationships, of course. I realize some aren’t.)
2) Initiate a weekly date night and stick with it. Date night means you have to stop and actually talk to each other one on one away from household chores, (future) children, and jobs. Make it a priority.
3) Remember to cultivate friendships. Your husband/wife cannot and will not be everything to you. It is important to keep your close circle of friends for someone to talk to and for the things your spouse cannot provide. (Hubby might not want to watch chick flicks and wifey might prefer to go to the spa instead of a day at the golf course.) This is about balance, however. Your marriage should come first and your friendships should not interfere.
4) Interact with older married couples. *Who are happily married for a long time.* The reason for this is twofold: A) You can learn a lot from these people about how to handle the tough stuff in life. They’ve been there. Done that. B) It’s a great way to divorce-proof your marriage. Older couples prove that a long marriage is possible. A friendship with them also balances out the divorced friends because divorces are contagious. You need a group of happily-married folks to keep your eye on the prize. (Your long, happy life together.)
5) Delete the Facebook/Twitter/Instagram apps from your phone. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t stay on social media. My point is to avoid talking about the details of your marriage with former boyfriends/girlfriends/your buddies from high school. Social media isn’t the place to discuss how happy or not-so-happy you are. (Your exes will be very interested in the not-so-happy so don’t give them an “in.”) And you shouldn’t be using social media when you’re out on your date night. Not even to show everyone your awesome steak at Outback. Give your spouse your undivided attention. And tell your spouse that you love/appreciate him/her in person (or on the bathroom mirror) instead of posting it on a Facebook wall where everyone can read it. It’s just more special that way.
6) Talk about stuff. I’m not saying that you should bring up every way that your new spouse bugs the heck out of you. I am saying that you two should be best friends and capable of discussing every topic from the weather to how to pay for this year’s vacation and beyond. Get into the habit early on and then you’ll still be able to talk about things when you reach the more difficult issues in life.
7) Last and most importantly: Put each other first. This can be a difficult transition for those of us who were (or still are) accustomed to being the center of our own universe. But when you put your spouse’s needs above your own, wonderful things can happen. In my experience, I’ve seen happier couples and happier (future) kids. It’s what marriage is really about.