You're quite literally in the honeymoon phase of the relationship! But there are still a few things you can do to ensure your first year of marriage is as cheerful as its nickname implies. We caught up with marriage therapist Michelle Barenchi, of Vital Mind Solutions, who outlined five important to-dos for newlyweds.
Speak Their Language
"When a couple is first married, they can fall into the trap of assuming their partner knows how much they are loved and appreciated," explains Barenchi. "However, we all receive these types messages differently. Taking the time to learn and understand what makes your partner feel noticed, respected, appreciated, and loved can really keep a marriage on track." Many professionals cited Gary Chapman's 5 Love Languages quiz as a great starting point to help understand the types of actions, large and small, that can bring a smile to your partner's face. Whether it's flowers, a designated movie night, or even just unloading the dishwasher, there are countless ways to ensure your number one feels loved well after you say your vows.
Have Phone-Free Weekends
If a whole weekend away from your phone sounds panic-inducing, then just start with dinner. But the bottom line is to set aside distraction-free time for you and your spouse to connect. "By looking at our partners while we're talking with them, we can begin to truly understand their non-verbal communication styles, promoting deeper understanding of them," explains Barenchi. "Additionally, by putting the device away we acknowledge to our partner that the relationship with them is a priority and worth spending time cultivating."
Talk About Sex
A healthy sex life starts before you hit the sheets. While couples understand sex is part of their union, there's often hesitation to talk about it. But Barenchi wants all couples to tackle this awkward feeling head on. "Take time to understand what messages your partner got about sex while growing up. Was it openly talked about in their families, or was it taboo? This is just another way to fully understand who your partner is, and letting them know their experiences matter."
File Your Taxes
Though it might seem the least exciting recommendation of the bunch, filing taxes jointly for the first time often results in a more significant return come April—what's more exciting than a little extra cash? From there, you can spark a larger conversation with your spouse about financial goals, spending habits, and other fiduciary topics. Finances are often a cause of conflict in the first year, so starting a dialogue early will make you better prepared for the road ahead.
Try Something New
Your go-to sushi spot definitely deserves a place in your relationship, but don't let routine rule. "As we phase out of what is commonly called the 'honeymoon phase,' we can begin to focus on creating history, or common experiences, which can deepen bonds and increase connection" suggests Barenchi. Plan a trip somewhere neither of you has been, sign up for a fun run, or find a new band and hit up their shows. No matter what you choose to do, the important thing is that you're doing it together!