Take a deep breath. The wedding is behind you, and you’re embarking on the first weeks and months of married life. The first year of marriage can feel a bit surreal. Sometimes, it can take a lot of time to come down from the excitement (and the stress) of the wedding itself. And for some couples, it can feel like the first year flies by in a flash. But the first year of marriage is a really special time and a chance to bond with your partner as you establish your life as a married couple, so make sure that you’re taking the time to step back and take it all in.
Even though every couple is different, there are a few things that all couples can do to really help make the first year together memorable. So if you feel like the wedding whirlwind is finally dying down, and you have the time to stop and smell the roses—and really think about the future—here’s how you can make the most out of your first year of wedded bliss.
Make Some Couple Time
When the fanfare has died down, make sure that you’re making some time for just the two of you. If you go straight on a honeymoon that’s a great opportunity—but more and more couples are putting off their honeymoons until long after the wedding. But more than a vacation, it’s important to make some time for the two of you in the domestic sense. Even if you lived together before you got married, settling into life as a married couple is crucial bonding time. Have nights in, plan a few DIY projects, and enjoy some time that has nothing to do with your wedding and all to do with your future. Want to make it even more special? Ditch your phones for the afternoon—or even the weekend.
Go Over Your Finances
This isn’t the most fun activity, but it’s really important in the first year of marriage. Weddings are a huge expense and many of them go over budget. It’s easy to get into debt and bury your head in the sand, but you don’t want to start your married life off that way. Instead, sit down and have a frank assessment of your finances—including the wedding spending—and make sure you set some responsible financial plans for the future.
While you’re dealing with admin side of things, don’t forget to look into filing taxes jointly and, if you chose to change your name, you'll have to update your license, your passport, and even your work email address. Leave more time for this than you think you need—you’d be surprised how much of a chore it can be.
Host a Dinner Party
Once you’ve settled into married life, and you’re ready to rejoin the world, hosting a dinner party is a great way to reconnect with your friends and family. Having people come over for the first time after your wedding can be a real treat—so enjoy it. You’ll get to reminisce about the wedding, swap gossip and photos, and feel like you’ve really begun the next stage of your journey.
For some couples, the first year of marriage also means hosting a major holiday dinner, like Thanksgiving. If this is the case for you, take some time to figure out how you want it to go. The first year tends to set a precedent that will be followed again and again—people love traditions around the holidays—so make sure you create an event that works for you as a couple, rather than trying to meet everyone else’s needs.
Be Gentle With Each Other
Finally, during the first year, try to be a little softer with each other than you normally would. Even though you feel like you should be on a high, there’s a reason people say that the first year of marriage is the hardest. Whether the wedding left you rattled or your expectations for marriage were too high—or life just happened—there are a lot of different reasons the first year of marriage can be particularly tricky. So check in more than you think you need to, listen harder, be there more, and communicate with as much honesty and compassion as you can muster.
It’s easy to just let the first year of marriage fly by, but it’s your only chance to set up your life as newlyweds, so it’s worth taking the time to really pay attention. From making sure that you’re getting enough time to nest and communicate to taking care of those annoying little admin details, there’s a lot to be done in those first 12 months. Even though it can feel like a huge transition, it’s such an exciting one if you approach it as a team.