Marriage Monday: Surviving the First Year of Marriage

As I have posted before, when it comes to relationship and marriage advice, I enjoy and respect the opinions and advice of Dr. Phil.  Not necessarily the Dr. Phil on his TV show (because I don't regularly watch it), but the Dr. Phil who offers so many helpful and healthy resources for a happy life.  Through reading the various articles and books he has written, I've also come to appreciate his wife, Robin, as well.  I recently came across Robin's Words of Wisdom for Newlyweds and it is way too fantastic not to share!  Of course this is ideal to read before you enter into marriage, but I feel that it is never too late to pick up healthy habits... so whether you've been together 10 years or 10 days, this is worth a second look!

Ask only what you're willing to give. If I ask that he give me and treat me with dignity and respect, then I have to treat him with dignity and respect.

Embrace who your spouse is. Support what is important to him/her. When we first married, I said, "If we're going to do this, and we're going to have fun, you need to lighten up. You are so serious." And I was a big pouter, and the first few times I tried that he said, "If you won't pout, I promise I will discuss anything you want to discuss and we will come to a decision immediately."

Talk about your needs. It would really hurt my feelings if he would walk in the door and not come find me and say, "Hello, I'm home." And so we started what we call the four-minute rule, and the minute he walks in the door, he comes to wherever I am, and says hello, and we visit for at least the first four minutes. That sets the tone for the rest of the evening.

Contribute to your marriage daily. When we were students in college, I would sit at the end of the apartments on the stairs and I always had a glass of iced tea waiting for him. And to this day, as soon as he walks in the door, the first thing I do is hand him a glass of iced tea.

Commit to your marriage. What's important to a marriage is that the commitment you make to each other is something you work on every day for the rest of your life. When a couple gets married sometimes they think, "Is this the one thing that's going to make him leave?" Phillip and I both agreed our first year of marriage that nothing will ever make us leave. This is forever. Divorce is never going to be an option. And that made a huge difference in our marriage.
Found here.

It is after reading things like this that I feel re-energized within my marriage and reflecting upon this prompted me to look for the things that have helped Tony and I survive the first year of our marriage.  (For Tony and I, our first year includes a pregnancy and becoming parents for the first time.)
  • Don't do marriage alone.  For some people, that means meeting together regularly with a therapist or your priest for marriage maintenance.  For others that may mean belonging to a marriage bible study or finding a married couple you look up to and having them for support and back-up.  Whatever it means to you, find some support and plan on using them for support in your marriage.
  • Don't play the "compare" game.   Every marriage is SO completely different.  I've said this in a blog before, but it is so crucial to highlight it again... 
    This means no comparing your wife to your mother.  Maybe your spaghetti will never taste as good as your mother-in-law's spaghetti.  (Find things you CAN make - and make them well!) 
    This means no comparing your spouse to any of your exes.  Maybe you don't make as much as her ex-boyfriend.  Maybe your will never have the curves his ex-girlfriend has.  (Find a trade off - how many things do you do better than that ex?  And think about it, there are so many reasons your spouse isn't with their ex anymore - your spouse is WITH YOU after all, not their ex!)
    This means no comparing your relationship to other couples.  Maybe you don't go out and do as many fun things as your couple friends do.  Maybe you don't have as much money saved up as your married friends do.  (You are seeing that couple from the outside, only.  Try not to be your worst enemy - stop focusing only on your own weaknesses and only on the strength of others.  Instead, focus on all the things you and your spouse LOVE about your relationship.) 

    You have to be okay with that and accept yourself for who you are; your spouse for who they are; and your relationship for what it is.  Because at the end of the day, your not going to bed with your mother's spaghetti, either of your exes, or your married friends bank account -- at the end of EVERY day you are ONLY going to bed next to your partner.  

    Consolation:  There is always room for improvement and it's never to late to fix the things that need to be fixed.  
    Bottom Line:  But if it ain't broke, don't fix it
    Taken from here
  • Do continue to take care of yourself.  When Tony and I were dating, I had so much fun getting ready for our dates.  I've never been a huge makeup-wearer, but I'd always put a little bit of makeup on, wear something flattering, and make sure I looked my best when we went out.  This is something that I have let go by the wayside and looking to change.  Nowadays, it just feels like a success if I can find a pair of pants that fit me to go out in!  I don't even remember the last time I put on a splash of makeup regularly.  My uncle has always said something along the lines of, "When you look your best, you feel your best & do your best!"  And I always internally rolled my eyes (sorry Uncle Jeff ;) but honestly, I have never appreciated that concept more than now.  When you feel like your best self it does nothing but great things within your marriage!

That's all I've got to add to Robin McGraw's fabulous list of newlywed advice - is there anything else to add that has helped your marriage?  I'd love to hear them... what has helped your marriage could help another marriage, so don't be shy.  Also, if you would like to make a contribution of any type to Marriage Mondays, I would love to hear from you!  All ideas and/or submissions are welcomed - just contact me at

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  1. I am really liking your posts about marriage. Not many people will write about marriage because it's something that people assume that you already just know how to handle marriage, and why talk about it? I really want to establish first 4 minutes rule with my husband--that does sound like a really awesome idea because I'm tired of him greeting the dog first instead of me! LOL

    On a side note, if you are following my blog, then I want to give you a head up that I have changed my URL:

    (I just removed S from "piece/s"). I also have a button on my blog if you want to link it to your blog!

    1. Awesome! Thanks for letting me know Ashley :o)

  2. Wise words, Ali! I absolutely agree with all of this, especially not comparing! Did you update the look of your blog? I love the swirls on the side!!

    1. Thanks Caitlin! And I am constantly switching things around on my page... I just can't seem to get settled into a certain look just yet. :o)

  3. Ah thanks for these tips! My husband and I are in our first year of marriage; our FIRST marriage and we both got married when while I'm 39 and he's 41. Divorce isn't an option in our life either, but it's been a struggle of adjustments and getting used to each other's quirks and figuring out how to communicate to each other.

    1. I'm glad it meant something to you! I agree that the first year of marriage can and will be a struggle for many couples. Here's to many more happy years for you guys!

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