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Quickly, even in your first year of marriage, you may soon take your spouse for granted, "infrequently or rarely acknowledging and showing gratitude for what is good and working," says Toni Coleman, psychotherapist and relationship coach. And that's just one reason why it's so important to hit pause and celebrate even the littlest things that first year. "When you pause to reflect, celebrate, and offer a pat on the back to your partner and your union, it creates positive energy, encourages you to practice gratitude, and enhances and supports your view that you have a strong and healthy partnership," Coleman explains. To get you started, here are five things you should definitely raise a glass — or pat one another on the back for.
1. Opening a joint bank account.
You've merged your lives, and now, you're merging your finances. "Doing that can enhance the trust between the two of you," points out Sharon Rivkin, Santa Rosa-based marriage counselor and author of Breaking the Argument Cycle: How to Stop Fighting Without Therapy. "It reinforces that you're now two people coming together as partners, instead of two individuals operating separately."
2. Small wins at work or on a personal goal.
Think: pay raises, promotions, or hitting a weight goal — they're all reasons to celebrate, says Coleman. "Partners should be best friends, confidantes, and cheerleaders for their significant others," she explains, "having each other's backs and letting them know they matter and that they are appreciated for all they are and do."
3. Resolving a recurring issue in your relationship.
Putting an end to chore wars is cause for celebration. "If more couples acknowledged this as a milestone, then more couples would be encouraged to not sweep their other marital issues under the rug," says Rivkin. Learning you can resolve issues in a positive way "builds a foundation with the couple, reminding them that they can get through hard times together."
4. How well you worked together on a challenge.
"When challenges or problems arise, spouses can get caught up in their individual efforts towards finding a solution," says Coleman. But rather than focusing on your own contribution, it's important to celebrate what your spouse brings to the table. "Celebrate the efforts they made that were essential to achieving a successful resolution," she says.
5. Compromising about the holidays.
While "this may seem like a small milestone," says Rivkin, "it's actually quite huge."
Deciding where to spend the holidays means navigating touchy family matters, and compromising "represents a level of maturity and respect in the relationship," says Rivkin. And maturity and respect is the perfect formula that strengthens and holds the marriage together for the long-term."