There’s nothing like the newlywed stage of marriage. You remember, right? The excitement, spontaneity and the sacrifices we were eager to make. In the beginning of most marriages, couples are willing to go that extra mile. There is a certain amount of euphoria that comes along with new beginnings. Unfortunately, the challenge becomes maintaining that happiness. From the very start, we should be looking to set our marriage up for lasting success. Below are the 5 actions that should happen in the first 5 years of marriage:
1. Determining how you will worship. Relationships involve two individuals. As a result, we sometimes begin our unions with diverse religious beliefs. However, in the first 5 years of marriage, we need to determine how we plan to worship and practice our beliefs as a family. I’ve seen marriages suffer as a result of not having this conversation early in the relationship.
2. Setting realistic relationship goals. Goals should have been clearly established by now. Even though most couples do this, winging it in marriage is a recipe for disaster. Clear expectations need to be set in order for couples to arrive on the same page. Goal-focused discussions must include how to handle disagreements, how the holidays will be divided with each side of the family and most importantly what the financial goals will include. Are we saving for a home, a vacation or our children’s future are each important questions.
3. Mending damaged in-law relationships. In-law stress will wreak havoc on marriage, and 5 years in, couples shouldn’t still struggle in this area. Although we love our families, we have to be firm when it comes to how they treat our spouse. We shouldn’t allow disrespect or negative energy into our homes. Our spouse needs us to defend and protect. We chose to marry our spouse for specific reasons and our families need to be understanding of this fact. In addition, as a spouse we have to be respectful to our partner’s family. Parents should always be spoken to with love in our voices. We shouldn’t be concerned with whether they do it in return. We know the right thing to do, so let’s do it. Unfortunately you may come to an understanding that a distance needs to be kept and that’s okay too as long as it isn’t damaging the marriage.
4. Knowing your spouse inside and out. In 5 years, couples should know one another below the surface. We must learn our spouse’s likes and dislikes, joys and pains. Having that in-depth knowledge of who our spouse really is contributes to the longevity of the relationship. Spending time just communicating as well as observing will provide us with this knowledge.
5. Applying what you know about your spouse to the marriage, consistently. With 5 years of marriage under our belt, pleasing our spouse must be a priority. Once we’ve learned the facts about our spouse, the next step is to minimize the words and actions that hurt them. I’m puzzled as to why this one isn’t a priority for more couples. We sometimes live in our marriage as though we aren’t quite sure whether or not certain actions will damage our partners. Yet, we know for sure, just by what we’ve learned about them, that it will. Selfishness can’t dwell in a marriage with a goal of joy and peace. They simply can’t occupy the same space. We must decide if our marriage is as important to us as we say and act like it.
As we transition from newlywed to a seasoned married couple, there must be certain achievements we reach. With 5 years in, there need not be the same disagreements or even the same challenges. Learning as we go and applying what we know is key.