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Marriage is a huge life adjustment, whether you've been shacking up for years or are patiently waiting to say "I do" to combine both your bank accounts and households. The first year, especially, will test your relationship in more ways than you would even realize. Weather the storms together though, and you'll come out on the other side like a whole new couple, stronger than you ever were before. Here are four life lessons you'll be lucky to learn the first year of marriage.
1. How to embrace and accept each others' differences
Nobody is perfect, however, that doesn't mean you're not perfect for each other, points out psychotherapist and relationship coach Toni Coleman, LCSW, CMC. Your spouse is inevitably going to do things that drive you crazy during marriage and vice versa; that's just life. "Learning to embrace these quirks and annoyances and let go of any immature views you previously held that led you to believe that love means never disappointing or hurting one another will only strengthen your bond as newlyweds," she says. Acceptance is of utmost importance, so focus on the positives and try not to dwell so much on the little stuff.
2. How to work as a team (and be vulnerable)
As Coleman puts it, no one wins in a marriage unless you both win. "Wanting the other person's happiness as much as you want your own will keep your relationship strong and satisfying," she notes. To do so, you have to be willing to get very vulnerable. This is how we grow as human beings and as a team, always pushing each other to be the absolute best versions of ourselves we can be.
3. How to set boundaries
According to marriage consultant and coach Lesli Doares, author of Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage, negotiating space for each partner and the marriage is a learned skill that's critical to master that first year. This involves boundary setting (with your partner and your respective families), as well as getting really clear on what's important to you, she explains. "It also means becoming comfortable with change."
4. How to fight fair(er)
Yes, fights and arguments are bound to happen the first year, but once you've said your sorrys you really have to let bygones be bygones, urges relationship expert Sarah Patt of It's Just Lunch Houston. You can't bring up past arguments in future fights, taking a small issue and turning it into World War III," she warns. Once a resolution is agreed upon, you have to actually move forward and move on. "Arguments have the ability to strengthen your relationship, open up the lines of communication, and let's face it, making up can be great foreplay too!"