8 Habits for a Happy First Year of Marriage

A newlywed couple wearing sweaters and sitting outside on a deck.

There is no one secret to a happy, healthy, and lasting marriage, but there are plenty of habits you can adopt that will help get you there. Developing these habits in the first year of marriage, or even before you tie the knot, sets a good precedent for your future relationship. Because the first year of marriage is considered one of the hardest for many couples, these habits can help alleviate the stress you may encounter in the beginning.

1. Figure out Your Finances

Money is a major cause of conflict in relationships. Not surprisingly, it’s also often a player in divorce. Therefore, it’s a good idea to figure out your finances early on. Start with setting a budget, and then work from there.

2. Open Your Heart

A young newlywed couple sitting on a dock by a lake.

Honesty and communication are important aspects in any relationship, but especially so in marriage. Even if you’ve already been cohabitating before you tie the knot, the first year of living together as a married couple will bring about new challenges. While you shouldn’t pick a fight over every little thing, you should maintain an open line of communication at all times. Be honest about your feelings. It’s much easier to fix things early on than hold it in until it turn into a bigger problem. As long as you communicate in a respectful fashion, your partner will want to work with you to keep you happy. Remember, this goes both ways. So if your partner approaches you with a problem, know that they mean well. Act in the way that you’d want them to act with you.

3. Divide and Conquer

Even if you aim to have an equal partnership, things can’t always be 50/50. Sometimes one person will have to take care of certain aspects, while the second person will have to take care of others. No matter how you choose to do things, it’s important for things to be fair. Neither one of you should feel burdened with things like chores or childcare. Take some time to find an arrangement that works for both of you. And if, for example, both of you hate doing laundry, compromise to alternate laundry duty every other week.

4. Don’t Be Neglectful

A woman looking at a post-it note on her mirror that says

Never take your partner for granted. It’s not cheesy to say “I love you” daily or greet your spouse with a kiss when they come home from work. Start doing this now and don’t stop even after years of being together. Little gestures such as these are constant reminders of the love you share. Although they may seem minor or insignificant, they are very important for a lasting marriage.

Likewise, don’t let your hair down too much. Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you have to stop “dating” each other. Make sure to regularly schedule time to do something fun together, and always treat your partner the same way you treated them before your wedding.

5. Learn to Fight

Fights are inevitable. The good news is that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. Having fights, in most cases, can strengthen your relationship. The trick is to make sure they’re fought fairly and with respect for one another. If you do have a fight, know when to compromise and when to apologize. Always try to see the other point of view, even if you disagree. Should you screw up seriously, don’t just say sorry—make the extra effort to let your spouse know you mean it.

And if the situation is reversed, learn to forgive and not to hold a grudge. Most importantly, don’t bring up a previous situation in a future fight. Everyone makes mistakes at some point. As a married couple, you should recognize when to let go. Holding on to past anger will only prevent you from dealing with the present problem.

6. Establish Who You Are as a Couple

A young couple sitting in the back of a vintage bus, looking at a map.

One of the ways to help build your couple identity is to find activities you enjoy together. If you don’t yet have many common interests, find some! Although you may be head-over-heels in love now, that feeling is likely to fade over time. For this reason, you should discover other things to share, connect over, and deepen your bond.

7. Stay True to Yourselves

Now that you’re married, you’ve started a brand new family—one that depends only on you and your partner. Keeping the opinions of others out of your marriage can be difficult if you’re facing pressure to act a certain way or follow a specific path. Married or not, you’ve probably been encouraged to follow a certain path from your friends, family, or maybe even social media.

After being officially married, newlyweds are often asked about or encouraged to buy a house, have kids, or pursue a certain career. Many couples make life-altering decisions far before they’re ready. As you begin to build your lives, make sure that you and your partner stay true to who you are. While you shouldn’t isolate yourselves from the world, you should stick to your principles at all times.

8. …But Don’t Lose Yourself

A woman practicing yoga in front of a patio with plants.

Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t have separate lives. It may be tempting to jump into playing house and spending every moment together, but that can actually backfire. It’s healthy to have time to yourself, especially as you’re learning to live together in harmony.

If you share every instance with your partner, you’re likely to lose your personal identity. In time, you won’t be the same person your spouse fell in love with, and that can hurt your relationship. Spending time together is important, but you should also have your own hobbies and your own group of friends. There’s a reason why they say absence makes the heart grow fonder!

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