7 Secrets Newlyweds Need To Know For A Long-Lasting Marriage

"Taking responsibility for one’s own happiness has the potential to drastically improve the quality of your relationship."

As wedding season approaches, couples across the country are scrambling to put the finishing touches on their impending ceremony — but a wedding and a marriage are two entirely separate entities. With that in mind, married couples are always willing to share advice for newlyweds and impart their years of wisdom. Learning from others' experiences offers newlyweds the opportunity to avoid the same mistakes many couples make during the first few years of marriage. While said marriage advice for newlyweds isn't foolproof, these tips can provide the clarity and confidence necessary to endure anything life throws their way. Here are seven essential tips for newlyweds who want their marriage to last a lifetime:

1. Express gratitude by focusing on your partner's positive traits.

World traveler, writer, editor, and co-author of The Knockoff, Jo Piazza notes that complaining about marriage has practically become an Olympic sport in America. Spouses choose to fixate on their partner's negative characteristics, which inevitably puts strain on their fledgling marriage. Newlyweds, however, have the capacity to rewrite this stereotypical narrative by focusing on gratitude, not attitude.

"Women all over the world, in literally every country I visited, called out American visitors as some of the worst offenders when it came to complaining about their marriages," Piazza writes for TIME. "Indian women living in small villages along the banks of the Brahmaputra River advised me that having unreasonable expectations for my spouse or comparing my relationship to others' were surefire ways to feel unsatisfied. Instead, they encouraged me to practice gratitude, being truly thankful for the good things my husband brings to our relationship through regular verbal expressions of thanks. Pay attention to the great things your partner does instead of pointing out the negative. Even a small text message saying thank you can go an incredibly long way."

2. Maintain your individuality by taking responsibility for your own happiness.

Preparation cannot negate the fact that, once couples tie the knot, they run the risk of losing themselves. They transform into this new unit and, in some cases, feel compelled to do everything together. However, as you enter into your first year of marriage, you must remember that your new spouse fell in love with who you were before you exchanged rings — and vice versa — and you owe it to yourselves (and your marriage) to maintain that individuality if you wish to sustain your happiness.

"Taking responsibility for one's own happiness has the potential to drastically improve the quality of your relationship," Emma Seppälä, Ph.D., science director at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University School of Medicine, told Reader's Digest. "Personal happiness is associated with intensity of love, especially for women." 

Happiness, after all, must come from within. Plus, in this situation, absence truly has the potential to make the heart grow fonder. If you and your partner spend some time apart, even if only for an evening, your reunion will all the more romantic.

3. Keep the spark alive by allowing Netflix to guide your conversations.

Did you know that discussing five movies about relationships over a month could cut the three-year divorce rate for newlyweds in half? 

According to one study, simply watching and talking about romantic movies can prove to be an inexpensive, fun, and relatively simple marriage intervention technique that's just as effective as other more intensive therapist-led methods, ultimately reducing the divorce or separation rate from 24 to 11 percent after three years.

"We thought the movie treatment would help, but not nearly as much as the other programs in which we were teaching all of these state-of-the-art skills," Ronald Rogge, associate professor of psychology at the University of Rochester and lead author of the study said in a news release about the research. "The results suggest that husbands and wives have a pretty good sense of what they might be doing right and wrong in their relationships. Thus, you might not need to teach them a whole lot of skills to cut the divorce rate. You might just need to get them to think about how they are currently behaving." 

4. Establish shared financial goals in order to prevent future disagreements.

Now that you're married, your finances are intertwined, too. As partners, you will both share the burden and the benefits of the money matters that arise during your lifetime together. With that in mind, you must engage in conversations about you financial goals early on in order to avoid disagreements that could lead to divorce down the road.

"... It's vital that you're on the same page with regards to what goals you have and how your income is working toward those goals," Trent Hamm writes for The Simple Dollar. If you're not working on the same goals, then you're going to be literally working against each other in terms of your use of money and time, which will hold you both back from what you want to achieve."

"The best approach is to sit down together and figure out goals that you share, then figure out a plan to work toward those goals," Hamm adds. "It might not be an easy process. You might not even know for sure what goals are most important to you. That's also going to be part of the conversation."

5. Address any pet peeves that arise in an effort to avoid arguments.

Reader's Digest interviewed newlywed couples to learn what tidbits of advice they'd share with those who are about to embark upon the same journey. Sam and Kelly, a couple from New York City, told the magazine that, because they hadn't lived together prior to marriage, they needed to address the matter of "pet peeves" soon after saying "I do." 

"Seeing gobs of his toothpaste in the sink made my blood boil," Kelly admits. "Why does she eat most of her Greek yogurt but put the cup and spoon back in the fridge?" says Sam. 

"Finally I confronted him about the toothpaste by rubbing that gob on his nose one morning. We both broke out in hysterics," Kelly tells Reader's Digest. "I kissed it off and told him I could no longer deal with a sloppy bathroom." 

As Reader's Digest writes: She says that's when they ended up having a boozy brunch in Brooklyn and making a list of all the silly stuff that bugged them: "the pantyhose and thongs jungle" drying in the bathroom, clipping his toenails in bed and making a (cringe) little pile ... and the list went on. "Talking about things we always did in private made us realize we are a unit now," says Kelly.

Instead of allowing these issues to mount, the couple spoke to one another openly and honestly so they could come to a mutually agreeable solution, which inevitably brought them closer together.

6. Determine whether you want to have children and how you'll raise them.

While many couples discuss the prospect of children prior to tying the knot, such major life decisions often get pushed to the back burner as the couple prepares for their impending nuptials. Thus, if you haven't talked about whether you want children or not, how many you'd like to have, and when you'd like to have them, it's best to tackle this topic during the early stages of your marriage to ensure your expectations are aligned.

"Do you want children? Does he? When? Settling this now, even if you're unsure about whether or not you want to be a parent, will prevent trouble later on," writes Everyday Health. "It's tough enough to focus on your marriage when a couple can agree on the planning and execution of this very important part of life. But if there are issues regarding children that go unresolved, you run the risk of putting your marriage in jeopardy before your future together even begins.  If you are certain, tell him. If you're not, tell him. Consider each other very carefully. Also keep in mind that sometimes even the greatest plans fall apart. Planning doesn't necessarily mean that you'll have children when you want them–or at all."

If you both wish to have children, you'll also want to determine how you'll raise them. From religious affiliations to educational opportunities, there are many factors at play that you will both need to agree upon to reduce friction when the time comes.

7. Follow your grandparents' example and never go to bed angry.

Older couples always advise newlyweds to put their qualms to rest before getting some sleep themselves. And they're right. At the end of the day, no matter how frivolous or serious your disagreement might've been, young couples must uphold the notion that nothing good can come from going to bed angry.

"This might sound cliche, but its not," Rent.com writes via Forbes. "Couples living together often allow their emotions to get the best of them because they feel comfortable in their mutual home. However, it's best to maintain some sense of level-headedness around your partner. If you two have an argument, make sure you make up (or at least agree to disagree) before bed. If the dispute hasn't been settled, agree to tackle it in the morning--you'll likely have forgotten why you were even angry in the first place."

In the same vein, always kiss your S.O. goodbye before you leave for work in the morning. Even if you two aren't speaking quite yet. Don't let your pride get the best of you, for you'll ultimately regret your actions (or lack thereof) if circumstances were to intervene and rob you of your favorite verbal sparring partner for good.

Cover image via William Stitt on Unsplash

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