Contrary to what you see on Facebook, marriage isn't always rainbows and butterflies. Getting to spend the rest of your life with the partner of your dreams is such an amazing thing, but it also takes work. In between moments of marital bliss comes some of the harder conversations, and the first year as a married couple is often the hardest. You're working long hours, handling household chores and finances, and are still trying to spend quality time together. After the "I do's" are over, keep these tips in mind to have a happy and stress-free first year of marriage.
Don't forget to communicate.
Remembering to talk to each other sounds simple enough, but it's important to always keep having open and honest discussions. "Asking for what you need and sharing how you feel—especially when it's uncomfortable or scary—is one of the keys to creating a secure and stress-free relationship," says love coach Lindsay Chrisler. "However, make sure you and your partner are feeling up for having a conversation. Talking late at night or after too many cocktails, for example, only leads to miscommunication."
Don't get caught up in technology.
It can be all too easy to end up spending your nights together cuddled up on the couch on your phones. But enjoy your face time and steer clear of the screens. "Everyone has a different level of intensity with their phone habit and their tolerance level for someone else's phone habit. If the phone use is bothering one or both of you in the relationship, have a conversation about what you each would feel good about. Then, come up with a plan," Chrisler says. Start with trying out a new policy for a couple weeks where no phones or computers are allowed during meals or while you're watching movies, then discuss the matter again.
Don't ditch your friends.
When you're in a relationship, it's easier to stay in with your significant other than it is to plan girl time with your friends. But you need to make time for your besties—especially during the first year of marriage. "The vitality of a relationship depends on the vitality of the community of friends that supports their relationship. The more quality time you spend with people you love, the higher quality of a support network you have," Chrisler says. "If your relationship ever feels stressed or your partner isn't available for what you need, you'll still be supported and the relationship doesn't have to suffer."
Get on the same page about finances.
It's time to be more aware of your finances than ever. That means discussing each of your spending habits and making sure a big chunk of your paycheck isn't always going to Sephora. (Bummer!) "The key is to communicate about the important topics, even if we're conditioned to feel uncomfortable doing so," Chrisler says. "Lay everything out on the table: the numbers, the goals, the feelings, the fears. Do this the same time every month and get into a habit. The more consistent you are, the easier it gets. Also, reward yourself as a couple afterward and do something fun. This way, your brain will remember having a good time with finances."
Treat your partner kindly.
Saying not to fight isn't really a possibility—it's going to happen. Plus, some fighting can actually be productive. But when you do get into an argument with each other, keep one thing in mind: Always be kind. "Just because this person is your partner and they've committed to you doesn't mean you get to treat them more carelessly—especially during arguments," Chrisler says. "Since you're with this person for life, it's better to be extra respectful. Treat your person with kindness, compassion, and care, just like you would treat a really good friend."
Don't ever go to bed upset with each other.
Speaking of fights, try to make sure you resolve the issue before you go to bed—or, at least make sure you're not falling asleep mad at each other. "Someone—whoever can do it sooner and it doesn't matter who—has to let go of whatever is bothering you both and find a way to add love into the situation," Chrisler says. "Learn the other person's love language and offer something that will make them happy: touch, humor, a little note, sweet words. The words 'I'm sorry' go a long way. Just make sure you mean it when you say it."
Things can get a little messy after moving in together—literally. When you're living under the same roof, make sure one of you isn't always getting stuck doing the dishes. All of your responsibilities should be taken on as a team. "Sit down together and put all the things on the table that need handling. And don't forget about emotional and spiritual health, too! Making sure the relationship is healthy and fun is just as important as taking out the trash," Chrisler says. Have each person do what they actually like doing to make the tasks more fun. If you like doing the dishes and your hubby is a fan of laundry, start there then divvy out the not-so-fun stuff.
Step out of your routine.
Just because you're married doesn't mean you shouldn't still make time for date nights. While getting into your pajamas and binge-watching Netflix night after night sounds amazing, it's always good to keep the romance going in other ways. "Date nights give you new things to do, and therefore new things to talk about," Chrisler says. "Try things that bring out good sides in each of you."
Don't forget about intimacy.
It might seem like newly-married couples can't take their hands off each other, but the reality? Every couples get tired, lazy, and set into a routine—and sometimes that means not getting intimate for weeks on end. But don't let that fire you had when you said your vows fizzle out. "Sex is incredibly important; it deepens your love and bond. Make time for being physically intimate, but also make sure to take the pressure off of having sex," Chrisler says. "You might be up for cuddling, kissing for five minutes, or something else; make sure there are other options on the table of how to be intimate."
Compliment each other.
And not just on looks. Everyone loves being told they look nice by their significant other, but they also love getting attention about other qualities, too. "No matter how long you've been together, feeling seen and heard and appreciated never gets old," Chrisler says. "A really easy way to make someone feel good is to pay attention to them and share a few words about what positive things you see. There's always something to notice, from a quality in them to an accomplishment."