If you're engaged or recently got married, you're probably getting your fair share of advice (unsolicited or otherwise) from family members, friends, coworkers, and even perfect strangers. People love to share their thoughts and experiences, especially about such an exciting time in a person's life. While the constant barrage of advice may feel frustrating, it's important to remember that it can be extremely helpful to hear what married couples have to say about their own newlywed journeys.
Of course, every marriage is different, but what works for Emily N. and her husband, Kyle, is acknowledging that their relationship has evolved in the time they've been together. "Moves, kids, job changes, and interests are all major life moments that we've endured together, so we embrace those changes through open communication and, most importantly, making time to always do the core things we love doing together—eating out, traveling, running, and so forth," she says. "We are not the carefree 20-year-olds we were at the beginning of our marriage, but we have built on that foundation and are stronger now having shared so many life experiences together."
While some married couples like to do just about everything together, Danielle T. has found it useful to keep some things separate, namely bathrooms and bank accounts. "In marriage you share everything... but a little privacy goes a long way," she says. "My husband still loves when I walk out of my bathroom ready for date night. He didn't see me put on makeup or blow dry my hair, so he gets to be surprised by the complete look; it harkens back to 11 years ago when he used to pick me up for dates."
When it comes to separate bank accounts, Danielle feels that having them allows spouses to make autonomous purchases, which certainly comes in handy when buying gifts for birthdays, the holidays, and anniversaries. "I have a friend whose husband watches their bank account like a hawk," she says. "We went shopping for his birthday gift and she received a text five minutes after we walked out of the shop asking why she spent $150 at Orvis. That's not magical, that's micromanagement."
Ashley L. says she keeps her seven-year marriage strong by treating every date like it's the very first, and she tells all newlywed couples to do the same. "Due to all of the other demands on our time, we aren't able to get away for date night as often as we used to, but when we do we take care to treat it like it's our first date all over again," she describes. "We take care in our appearance, ask each other questions, and keep day-to-day topics like work, family, finances, and upcoming obligations off limits." Even though date night isn't every night, ensuring that it's special whenever it happens reminds Ashley and her husband of why they fell in love in the first place.
Carlee L., has found that the key to a happy marriage is to embrace her partner's hobbies—at least some of them, that is. "My husband is an avid snowboarder who loves the mountains and snow and I'm a beach and sunshine kind of person; however, when we got married I promised him that I would go snowboarding with him at least three times a year because I saw how important it was to him and I wanted him to know that I supported his hobbies even if they weren't my cup of tea," she explains. "Since then, every winter season I've been on the mountains with him—we have challenged each other, laughed at each other's falls, and helped each other improve." Even though she prefers a day on the beach, Carlee still enjoys spending that time with her husband and says that it's given her a new respect for what he does.
"Create strong traditions" is the advice Ta'Veca C. gives to all newlyweds she's celebrating. "The traditions can be small or large, as long as they honor and celebrate your marriage," she explains. "My husband and I have a keepsake box, which we call our 'Marriage Box,' and we fill it with all the cards, notes, and gifts that stem from 'Happy I Love You Day.'" In honor of creating their own traditions, every anniversary, she and her husband pick a theme and give gifts to each other that is representative of it. "My favorite was our first anniversary—we had to gift each other a gift that surrounded anything 1st! My husband made me a photo book and I scrapbooked him a book, and both books were filled with pictures from our first year of marriage that we celebrated! We were both surprised that we each gifted pretty much the same thing!"
While emotional intimacy is extremely important when it comes to a happy marriage, Erica H. reminds newlyweds to stay physically intimate, too. "Do not stop having sex!" she says. "That's right—my husband and I have a great relationship and I hear a lot of my friends complain and when I talk more with them I realize they all aren't having sex!" In other words, keep the spark alive—both in and out of the bedroom!