Surviving The First Year of Marriage: How I Did ItThe Newlywed Notebook

The Newlywed Notebook



February 2014

8 Tips for Surviving the First Year of Marriage

Written by Lindsay Ropella

The other day I realized that Eric and I are quickly approaching our 2nd anniversary – man does time fly. Although we had been together for almost 10 years before getting married (yes, we were just lowly, immature middle schoolers when we first started “dating”), I am realizing that marriage is not as easy as I was expecting it to be. When you’ve know someone for that long you think nothing about them will surprise you, right? Wrong. So wrong. At least in my case.

People always tell you the first year of marriage is the toughest. You listen and nod your head, and not that you don’t believe them, but you assume that won’t be the case for you. I mean, you both know each other so well, you have had so many experiences together, you have talked through all the big things – money, how many kids you want to have, where you want to live, etc. You’re supposed to be in the honeymoon phase, right?

But that first year of marriage will, in most cases, be a very eye opening experience into the wonderful, exciting, stressful, annoying world of marriage. You will learn more in that first year about anger, stubbornness, jealousy, and regret that you have in your entire life. And hey, those are just the qualities you brought to the table! Your spouse hasn’t been perfect either. :) You will discover it’s the little day to day things that you never in a thousand million years could have ever prepared for. Mix that together will all the new emotions you have about being a “wife,” a homeowner, the stresses of shared finances, and the strangeness of having your “family” be something very different than it has been your whole entire life; and you my friends, have a recipe for disaster.

For example, let me briefly share with you just a few “disagreements” Eric and I have already had this week.

Whether hot water or cold water is most appropriate for cleaning out the garbage disposal.

How much time I spend on the laptop at night when I really should be watching the riveting basketball game with my husband.

How long our 10 month old puppy should stay in “time out” for chewing up my most favorite, most comfortable, never to be found again, bra (ladies, can you relate?)

What is the correct way to boil and shred chicken (no, I’m not joking)

Who should do the dishes (we actually had a fight about wanting to do the dishes for the other person, we are insane)

As you read this list, please do keep in mind that it’s only WEDNESDAY. Now, Eric and I may be a little out of the norm, but my guess is that our story really isn’t that far off from a lot of other couples out there. Today I’d like to share with you my top 8 tips I have discovered for surviving the first year of marriage.

Surviving the First Year of Marriage can be tough. Silly fights, strange habits, new emotions and responsibilities, and parents can be a recipe for disaster

1. Sometimes being right is not as important as putting a stop to the bickering…and sometimes it isn’t. Have you ever been told that the bigger person is always the one who gives in? I’m not so sure that is necessarily true. Now, if you are in the middle of what you suddenly realize to be the dumbest fight ever, or if you aren’t even totally sure of what you are fighting about any longer, just give up. Give in and say, “OK, I really don’t want to keep talking about this. You may be right, but can we just give it up?” Eric and I try to take turns doing this in our relationship so that one person doesn’t always feel like they are the one to concede. I think that’s a great technique. However, if you feel like you are not being heard by your spouse, or they are not respecting what you have to say, or if your message is very crucial to your relationship; I don’t believe that is the time to give in. I’ve found when I do in cases like that, I end up getting more upset and more worked up as the day goes on because it really was something important to me and not just a little fight. That “stewing in anger” can be more detrimental than if I would have just stopped and said, “I feel like you are not hearing what I have to say and it’s something that’s very important to me, can we try starting this over?”


2. You are still the wife. Our culture today is very different than it was 60 years ago. It’s now rare to see the traditional “the husband goes to work and the wife is the homemaker” domestic lifestyle. Now, I’m not at all saying that this is a bad thing. In fact, I think we have made a lot of great strides since then. That being said, I think there is something so special for a spouse to be able to, once in a while, come home to dinner on the table and a happy family waiting for him. I know that you have a million things going on – work, bills, cleaning, possibly caring for kids or even parents, and trying to fit in two seconds of peace and quiet for yourself. All I’m suggesting is that doing little things for your spouse, every once in a while, can really show them you care and that you recognize their needs.


3. Men have emotions too. Eric is so strong and not easily rattled that I think I sometimes forget that men have feelings and emotions too. And I confess that sometimes the only reason I realize they are there is because I have wounded them. Being cautious of what you say to your spouse can really make a big difference in the way you communicate with each other. I think we think that because we are so close with our spouse they don’t really take the negative things we say to heart. Unfortunately, that is very far from the truth. Men don’t often share their emotions and their hurts out loud, but that certainly doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Try checking in with your husband once in a while to see how they are feeling. You might not get much out of them right away, but hopefully after asking a few times they will start to feel comfortable enough to open up to you – and that, my friends, is a really cool thing.


4. Shared hobbies are crucial. It’s great for you both to have your own interests and your own ways to unwind. But when you get married (or even before would be better), try to find one or two things you both truly enjoy together. I’m not talking about one person taking an interest in something the other person really likes – find something you both are equally passionate about. This may mean having to explore other hobbies. For Eric and I, we really like to work on home DIY projects and we both love comedies, so those are activities we try to do together at least once or twice a week. Finding common ground and a way to spend quality time together is so important as your lives get busier and other things vie for your attention.


5. They will still shock you – and not in a good way. There have been so many times in our first year of marriage that Eric would do something and I would think, what were you thinking?! How was that a good idea?! I’m sure he’s thought the same thing about me just once or twice as well. ;) When we got married, I thought I knew everything about every little personality trait and mannerism my husband had. Nope, so not true. He still, to this day, will do things that I have to just shake my head at. The goal here is to try and not let it rock the boat. When your spouse does or says something to annoy you, take a moment and think about the last thing you did that was probably a little annoying to them as well. We are both human (surprise!) and make mistakes, so at some point we have to stop keeping score. Toilet seat left up again? I’m sure he doesn’t like you putting it down all the time. One person squeezes the toothpaste tube in the middle instead of from the end and it drives the other person insane? Each have your own personal toothpaste if it’s that big of a deal. If you bicker about every little thing that happens throughout your marriage you won’t have time to enjoy much of it.


6. Discover each others areas of expertise and respect them. My husband is mister fix-it when it comes to stuff around the house. I’ve learned this through many arguments throughout our first few months of home ownership. Whenever we have a disagreement about how to do something or fix something, it never fails that he is always right and I am always wrong. I have learned to stop questioning him and realize that he is the expert in that area. On the other hand, I am very good at visuals and knowing what looks good and what doesn’t when it comes to the home or fashion. I think that over the years Eric has realized this because he has stopped questioning me and just believes what I say in that area. Learn what your partner’s strengths are and then respect them being the expert in that area. Plus, this gives you less to worry about yourself! God gave us all our own unique talents and knowing what we are skilled at and what we are not, and then learning to trust others in the areas in which we need help is a skill in itself!


7. 1+1 does not equal 6. I love my parents to death. I love Eric’s parents too. And I’m pretty sure he feels the same way. But one of the biggest struggles we have had in our marriage is learning to keep our parents out of certain things. I will admit that I am guilty of sharing pretty much everything with my mom; she’s my best friend. But a very wise woman once told me that parents remember their children’s hurt much longer than we do. If I complain to my mom about something Eric did or said, she will continue to worry about it a week later when I am over it in 5 minutes. In the same respect, when Eric and I are in a very big fight and I feel like I need some advice on how to handle it, my mom is not the person to go to. This may be a little bit more controversial but think about it – if whenever you need relationship advice you go to a parent, they are going to start to hear only the negatives about their son or daughter-in-law. We hardly ever share all the hundreds of awesome little things they do each day, am I right?

Additionally, couples need to work on solving their problems on their own. Sure, we might make a lot of mistakes in the beginning, and a few hundred here and there throughout the rest of our lives; but that’s how we learn about our spouse. The way our mother or father might suggest solving the problem may not be the way our husband or wife would want us to solve the problem. We have to learn to rely on each other, and if something massive does come up, meeting together with a counselor might be a better option than talking to a parent who can only really respond from their own personal opinions and experiences.


8. Let him be your knight. In our first year of marriage I often caught myself telling Eric, “I can do it,” and “I got it,” instead of letting him help me with whatever it was I was doing. I thought I was being nice by telling him he could go do something else because I didn’t need him to help me, but what I didn’t know was I was actually hurting his feelings. One way Eric shows his love for me is by helping me and doing things for me. He knows I hate vacuuming (the noise drives me insane), so he will often offer to do it for me. I have a hard time dusting on top of the shelves in the bathroom because I’m so short, so he will do it for me when I’m dusting. This whole “knight in shining armor” is an inherent behavior in most men, and if we don’t let them do it, it can actually be emasculating. So let him reach that bowl you can’t reach, and let him carry something heavy up the stairs for you; because most of the time, he really enjoys doing it.


So tell me — what are some of the things you learned during your first year of marriage? Let me know in the comments below!


Liked This? Share it:
Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestGoogle+
  • Jodi

    I love this article. Very vulnerable and very inspirational. Truly remembering why we love this person in the first place instead of trying to change them into someone else makes a world of difference. Looking for reasons to be grateful in our relationships is also very powerful as we usually easily recognize only where it’s not how we want it to be. Thanks for sharing this with us Lindsay!

    • Lindsay Ropella

      Thank you! A great thought from you as well on not trying to change your significant other. Thanks for reading and for your comment :)

  • Courtney

    Lindsay – I loved this post! It was so interesting to hear your perspective on supposedly “one of the hardest years” – and while all relationships are full of ups and downs, you guys have a great one and Chris and I send our love to you both. <3

    • Lindsay Ropella

      Thanks, Courtney! Lol well thank you, I guess we survived it OK. :) Love you guys, let’s catch up soon! And thanks for commenting. :)

  • Lucas

    Awesome post!!!! Not only was it full of great ideas, it really puts things in perspective. Turn the focus to what is really important. On a separate note, it seems like you two just got married! Time really does fly!

    • Lindsay Ropella

      Thanks, Lucas. I know, crazy right! I guess that’s a good thing, though. :) Thanks for reading and for commenting!

  • Stacey Wysocki

    This is so insightful and true! Keep all these things in mind throughout your whole marriage and it will be a long lasting one. Even after almost 20 years of marriage, I remember these things on a daily basis.

    • Lindsay Ropella

      That is so inspiring to hear! I hope we are that happy in 20 years as well. :) Thanks so much for your comment and for reading!

  • Kristi

    Lindsey, you have lots of great ideas. Thank you so much for sharing! I like reading your posts :) I hope all is well!

    • Lindsay Ropella

      Thanks, Kristi! I really appreciate you taking the time to read. It means a lot to me – I know this was a longer post. :) So exciting to hear about your baby news! Can’t wait to follow along on Facebook. :) Sending you well wishes!

  • Ashley Brunner

    Great post, Linds! It’s so great to see all the throwback pictures from High school. I can’t believe how long ago that was already!

    • Lindsay Ropella

      Thanks, Ash! I know so funny! I was a little embarrassed to share some of them but hey, we all had our “awkward stage” right? :) Before you know it we will be at our 10 year reunion! That will be weird… Thanks so much for commenting!

  • Sarah Klein

    Lindsay ~ you got it! This is exactly it! This post is real, raw, funny, touching, full of advice and perspective. The photos add so much. Great job being brave and putting this out there. Follow your heart. :)

    • Lindsay Ropella

      Thanks for your comment! Yes, it was definitely a bit uncomfortable for me but it feels good to be sharing more raw content. Can’t wait to do more! :)

  • Don and Virgie Pirlot

    This was wonderful to read. It brings back so many memories we can relate to after 56 years of marriage. Everyone has ups and downs in their marriage, but through it all your love must never waver. We need to remember how we felt when we first fell in love. This needs to be in the forefront of your marriage. From our Marriage Encounter weekend one thing they said was “feelings are neither good nor bad, they just are”. We are all individuals and have our own feelings. We need to respect each others.

    Lindsay, you said it all. Everything you said is true. This blog will help so many marriages. We are so proud of you. You and Eric have a wonderful relationship. Love you, Grandma & Grandpa Pirlot

    • Lindsay Ropella

      Thank you! I’m so glad to hear and be able to see your marriage successes over the years. I hope that we are as happy as you both as we get older! Great thoughts – thanks for commenting and sharing. :)

  • CJ Huang

    I like how you’re writing about how the first year can be the most difficult when most folks assume it’s like a honeymoon! There’s a lot of transitions going on that first year!

    • Lindsay Ropella

      Thanks! Very true – so many transitions make it tough! I just felt like there’s a lot of talk about how wonderful the first year of marriage is, but people often don’t mention how tough it can be as well. I certainly wouldn’t want a newlywed couple thinking there is something wrong with them if the first year isn’t all puppies and rainbows! :) Thanks so much for your comment!

  • Pingback: The Newlywed Notebook | Everyday Adventures of a Newlywed()

  • Caity Fields

    I love what you put here. I just found your blog and I realized that we are very similar :) I am a recent newlywed (August) and I started dating my husband when I was 15 and he was 14. We got married after 8 1/2 years and we are still learning a lot about each other. It’s so nice to see things that I have thought about put down and discussed. It makes me realize that I made the right choice even though we aren’t always the perfect couple and arguing is normal! Thank you :)

    • Lindsay Ropella

      Hey Caity! So glad you stumbled across my blog – and how fun to hear that we have similar stories! Yes, it can be a tough road (especially that first year), but I think couples that can survive it are only that much stronger for the future! Thanks so much for sweet comment, and know that there are a lot of other girls out there like us as well! Keep in touch!