Advice for Newlyweds

Last week, Kara asked us, "What advice do you have for a couple's first year of marriage?"

The first year can be a struggle for newlyweds. Both sides bring baggage into the relationship that might not have been exposed previously, and you and your spouse may have preset expectations of how the other will change once the knot is tied. This can take a pretty big toll on the relationship early on and cause a lot of unforeseen arguments.

For example, I had the expectation that Kelsey would cook me dinner every night and have it ready at 6 p.m. This is how I grew up, but it was completely unfair for me to have that expectation of my new bride.

Here are three things that might help you in your first year:

1. Clear the air. Spend plenty of hours talking about the needs and wants of each spouse in all areas of your marriage: physical, emotional and spiritual. This includes housekeeping duties, cooking, parenting, how you will spend time, when and how often you will take vacations, how and with whom you will spend the holidays. It's best to get all of these items out in the open rather that tackling them once the dispute has escalated into a full-blown argument. Decisions are best made under calm conditions and not in the heat of the moment. I can't remember a time when yelling got us anywhere during a disagreement. 2. Learn about marriage. My thought is that there are people that have been married way longer than I have and they have probably been through the same trials that we struggle with. Don't let your pride keep you from seeking wisdom from those who have gone before you. Take a marriage class or read a book together. We have stumbled upon some great resources through our marriage. I would recommend the book "The Five Love Languages" to all married couples. We have also taken a marriage class at our church, and our life group went through a study called iMarriage.

3. Try not to compare yourselves to other married couples. Every relationship is different. When you start comparing your marriage to those around you, it starts a downward spiral in which you create a false sense of reality. "Jim-Bob and Sally-Sue have a perfect marriage. Did you see how much they are in love? They must never argue." There are challenges in every relationship--we're humans and that's what happens.  It's pretty easy to come off as a perfect couple in public, and mask the deep issues that are lurking under the surface. Some newlyweds might still be on their "honeymoon" for the first year, but eventually that will end and they will have to work on their marriage as well. We have to accept each other for who they are continue to work on our own flaws.

I don't claim to be an expert in this stuff, and can only speak from my personal experience. Kels and I have been through some rough patches, and what we typically find as the root cause is a lack of communication somewhere along the line. Above all else, you must be willing to work out your differences for the sake of the marriage.

Any other pointers for newlyweds? Let us hear them in the comments below.