How to survive and thrive during first year of marriage
Ike and Linda Nnene share their thoughts on not only surviving the first year of marriage, but making the most of that wonderful time together.
Ike and I have had the privilege of speaking to younger couples, those who are engaged or those recently married, and we have been asked what advice we can give about marriage, especially during the first year. My first sentence is “whatever we intend doing we run it past each other”. We were also curious to know if things have changed for them after their wedding, bearing in mind that many of these couples would only be having the experience of living with their spouse for the first time. This was the case for us. Marriage enables you to experience the full breadth of emotions and discover you still love each other.
I would like to reminisce on the day of our wedding then write on the first year of marriage.
We got married in Trinity Church, Enfield, pictured above. It is a beautiful church located on a prominent angle bordering onto Church Street and Gentlemen’s Row and overlooking the New River gardens. It has also been described as ‘gothic ragstone with spire and pinnacles’. It was built in 1889 as a Methodist church and remains ‘the church on the road’.
It was a sunny day and it was delightful. A church with 250 seats was completely full. Our wedding reception was only a walk from the church, in the Grand Hall, warmly referred to as ‘Hogwarts II’. It had character and charm, with imposing oak panelling, large windows, high beamed ceiling and a mezzanine gallery. It sat 400 guests with private parking for 200.
We were getting married and we knew it was right. We danced all night and it took quite a few cars and trips to bring our wedding gifts back to our newly purchased home. It was all exciting. The most important thing I wanted to remember was that marriage should get better as we learn more about each other. There are bound to be ups and downs, apex and dales.
The realisation that your life has changed is one that needs careful reflection. I have no longer got the wherewithal to do anything that I want, whenever and how I want to. My dad had taken my own house keys of my parental home, so I had no keys to run back to my parents’ house if there was a problem. Everything from this time onwards will need to be done taking my spouse into consideration.
Here are some pointers:
Communication – “Shoes should be placed nicely in the corner”
Shoes left in an untidy fashion are frustrating to me. I learnt to communicate this to my husband in the first year of our marriage. I have to be honest and say it irritated me. Learn that your spouse cannot read your mind. Being able to communicate is crucial. It is important to be clear in our expectations, anticipations and uncertainties. To expect our spouse to pick up on subtle remarks may be impossible or when we say one thing and perhaps mean the other because we want them to engage. We need to be as clear as crystal and talk straight. It saves a lot of problems later. A lack in communication is a source of conflict. Being able to communicate is a good habit to inculcate.
Conflict – “Do not avoid conflict in a marriage,” use the 3 Cs.
When you avoid conflict, you may be breeding bitterness, contempt, and resentment that will only hurt your marriage. My husband has always stated he dislikes quarrels. I have always had a desire to relate my feelings as I want to share the truth. Being able to deal with the prickly issues makes your marriage healthier. We learnt to use the 3Cs formula which is Cooperation, Compassion and Candour. 2 Timothy 2:22.
Finance – “You’re in it together.”
In one of our many dinners we discussed finance. The young engaged couple asked us how we went about that. Our advice was “you’re in it together, therefore finance should be no different”. Discuss money together, manage your finances together and have joint accounts. Be open and honest. Financial decisions are a shared responsibility. Colossians 3:18-19 speaks to all aspects of the husband-wife relationship.
Be your spouse’s greatest cheerleader.
We learnt to live by Romans 12:15. It says it all. Embolden them, sharpen them and rejoice with them. Your spouse’s approval is probably the most significant that you can receive.
Different forms of intimacy – “All forms are necessary.”
When we mention intimacy most people naturally think ‘sexual’. It goes beyond this. There are four forms of intimacy and we must connect mentally, emotionally, sexually and spiritually. They are all necessary, although we may value one more than the rest. I value emotional type of intimacy more than the rest. My husband learnt what was most important to me and this is mutual.
You are not a fixer – “I am not your coach.”
This is a difficult one for many of us. Living with each other as a married couple is a revelation. You get to learn and experience things that you had no idea existed while you were dating. In the first year, you will see many things that will make you feel you need to try and fix your spouse. Don’t do it. Love your spouse, pray for them and allow God to speak to their hearts. I learnt to be a team-mate, not a fixer.
Go the extra mile – “never stop serving.”
Many people use different phrases to define what they do with their spouses on a regular basis – date nights, special dinner, leaving a love note regularly etc … the list goes on. In our first year we did not label anything we did as special. We both just did not stop serving each other. We did everything together and we are still doing things together. If you are going to take on a role, for example candlelit dinner, don’t stop. You may find life throws ‘busyness’ on you, do not stop. The honeymoon may start to fade but don’t serve less. Let your spouse feel special and loved.
Be open with information – “What’s your password?”
Hiding things can lead to frustration and mistrust. Let your spouse know your passwords to your phone, social media pages, finance etc.
Leaving and cleaving – “I’ve got to have you as number 1”
Newly-wed couples do need to make an extra effort to ensure that ties with their family do not constitute snares for their relationship. It is vital to make all family aware that the order of priority has changed and that that your spouse has to come before family, even before parents. We were blessed to have that understanding from the word go, and our parents knew and understood the proper way to deal with us. It became Ike & Linda and Linda & Ike for everything. The potential for in-laws to create friction is immense and every parent needs to give new couples the room to develop.
Begin your day and end it with God – “He is exalted”
There will be days you may be frustrated and will not necessarily like your spouse. There are days you may be too tired to serve. Its times like this you need help from God to truly be there for your spouse. Make a commitment to share continually and pray together. Resolving any difficulty before the end of each day is the best way to ensure that each new day starts well.
Marriage is a wonderful institution! Make yours the adorable land you both deserve.
The picture above is courtesy of : www.trinitychurchenfield.org.uk
Ike and Linda Nnene live in Norwich and worship at Soul Church. Ike is a GP and Linda is a teacher at CNS School, and they are both passionate gospel musicians. They have a passion for marriage, family, wellness and personal development training.
They have a blog called Power and Beauty - www.ikeandlinda.org
To find out more e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
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