3 Tips for Newlyweds, According to a Relationship Expert

Photo of newlyweds on wedding day

As a Relationship Expert, and someone who is soon to be married, I’m knee-deep in wedding planning and am overwhelmed by all the tips for newlyweds. With articles ranging from: How should the groom knot his tie? To… How much should you spend on a bridesmaid gift? The information is endless. But, most advice stops at the wedding day. Except for advice on wording those all-so-important thank-you notes!

It is a shame many of us don’t prepare as much for our future marriage as we do for “the big day’. As a relationship scientist, here are 3 tips I wish newlyweds knew for their first few years: 

Your relationship might change

Marriage may not seem like a big deal now that many of us live with our partners beforehand. But, your newlywed days are still a time of adjustment [1]. Acknowledging and navigating these changes is a vital part of the journey for any couple stepping into the realm of marriage. As newlyweds, it’s essential to recognize that while the foundation of your relationship remains the same, the dynamics may shift in subtle or significant ways. This period of adjustment is a golden opportunity to strengthen your bond by actively working on building a shared vision of your future together. Engage in open discussions about your aspirations, fears, and the values you both hold dear. This proactive approach not only helps mitigate any discomfort caused by the changes but also enriches your relationship, setting a solid foundation for the chapters to come. Remember, embracing change as a constant and seeing it as a chance for growth can turn these growing pains into stepping stones for a deeper and more meaningful connection.

You have just made a big public commitment to one another, and it is normal if you are feeling some growing pains. 

Prolong your passion

The passion from your exotic honeymoon may fade when your tan does[2] unless you put some effort into maintaining it. Doing new activities together is a key way to extend your newlywed bliss. The first year of marriage is incredibly important for your future happiness. In that first year, look at it as a time to establish good patterns and ways of being together that can continue for the rest of your marriage. Check out our past posts on the science behind date nights and the importance of novelty. What can be introduced into your marriage early on to set strong foundations for relationship happiness and marriage success?

Additionally, fostering an environment of appreciation and gratitude plays a significant role in prolonging your passion. Taking the time to recognize and vocalize the things you love about each other can significantly boost the emotional intimacy between you. It’s the fuel that keeps the passion burning bright. Integrating regular expressions of gratitude into your daily lives, from a simple ‘thank you’ for everyday efforts to more elaborate gestures of appreciation on special occasions, reinforces the positive cycle of love and respect in your marriage. This culture of appreciation nurtures the emotional connection that is essential for sustaining passion and happiness. It’s about seeing and celebrating each other, not just during the easy times but also through the challenges, ensuring that your bond remains strong and passionate as you navigate the journey of marriage together.

And the third and final tip for newlyweds…

Check-in with your gut

You’ve just publicly declared your love for your partner in front of your closest friends and family. You’re naturally going to focus on how happy you are in your marriage… and that’s okay! But, you should also do a “gut-check” every few months to figure out how you are genuinely feeling deep down. What are the cracks and strengths of your relationship? Check in with yourself. You may subconsciously know how you’ll feel in your marriage a few years from now[3].

In addition to these reflective “gut-checks,” establishing an open line of communication with your partner about your discoveries is equally important. While it’s natural to revel in the happiness of your newlywed phase, using these insights as a springboard for discussions can significantly benefit your relationship. It allows both of you to address any concerns before they escalate and to reinforce the aspects of your relationship that are strong. Regular, honest conversations can deepen your understanding of each other and foster a supportive environment where both partners feel heard and valued. By making these check-ins a habit, you not only navigate potential challenges more effectively but also create a dynamic of continuous improvement and mutual support that can last throughout your marriage. These discussions, rooted in honesty and care, can act as a powerful tool in nurturing a resilient, loving partnership that is equipped to handle whatever the future may hold.

So, for my soon-to-be newlyweds: While you focus on making your wedding day a huge success, don’t forget about making your marriage a success too!

[1] Bradbury, T. N. (1998). The developmental course of marital dysfunction. New York: Cambridge University Press. 
[2] McNulty, J. K., Maxwell, J. A., Meltzer, A. L., & Baumeister, R. F. (2019). Sex-differentiated changes in sexual desire predict marital dissatisfaction. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(8), 2473-2489. 
[3] McNulty, J. K., Olson, M. A., Meltzer, A. L., & Shaffer, M. J. (2013). Though they may be unaware, newlyweds implicitly know whether their marriage will be satisfying. Science, 342(6162), 1119-1120.

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