Your first year as a married couple is all about learning to shift from “me” to “we.” You both need to figure out who you are as a new unit and establish some new traditions – the “culture” of your partnership. In this way, you commit to one another and you create a container in which you can both grow and thrive, together and individually, for many years to come.
Once upon a time, when couples moved in together on their honeymoon, the first year of marriage was super stressful. They had no experience with living together. Many were coming straight from their parent’s home. The transition and adjustment to living in the same home, day after day, night after night, was tough.
Today, many men and women have been living on their own for years before they get married, and most spend lots of time together before their wedding. But make no mistake – it’s still a big adjustment. Living together as man and wife is surprisingly different than just living together as roommates. Adjusting to your new roles and the reality of a future together–forever–is something to get used to.
Creating a Shared Marital Culture
Creating a shared marital culture does require you to take a few risks, in order to get to know each other – you need to show your partner who you really are.
Let yourself share stuff. Cook your favorite meals from childhood. Show your spouse what you really like to eat, even if it’s peanut butter on something weird, like eggplant. Let them know that your cravings can be silly. And create some new food habits that you both can share.
Find Things You Agree On
In your first year of marriage, find other things you can agree on. Pick out the color of the walls you paint in your first apartment. Choose the kind of mattress you buy. Try to agree on the time you eat dinner. Maybe you decide together how late you sleep on a Sunday.
Don’t worry about “compromise,” it doesn’t really work and (spoiler alert) there will be plenty of time for giving up what you really want later. For now, find the things you both think are the “right” way to do things.
Create Shared Habits
Between the wedding and your first anniversary, create some shared rituals. Have a dinner party once a month with your friends and take turns cooking. Invite two couples over to your place and next time go to their house. Or every Friday night go out to a different restaurant for beer and wings. Go for a hike every Saturday morning. These habits could last a lifetime and cement your friendship as a married couple.
Develop New Traditions
Before every holiday during your early years, sit down and share the traditions you most enjoy from your family of origin, maybe you light a menorah or give out candy on Halloween. Decide which traditions to keep from each family. Then figure out how you can integrate them into your own holidays.
Consider coming up with some things unique to you as a couple that you could enjoy repeating every year – go to a tree lighting or a Christmas caroling experience. Craft your own rituals by sharing fun times and repeating the ones you love.
Start Talking in Terms of “We”
A recent study shows that couples who use “we” to refer to themselves as a couple experience more happiness: “…The use of “we talk” was positively linked with happier relationships and better relationship function.” (Bustle, October 2018).
As you and your partner settle into your new roles as marriage partners, consider how to create your shared marital culture through finding things you agree on, creating shared habits and traditions, and by referring to yourselves using “we talk.”
Need more premarital help? Check out some marriage therapy. Email me for more info.