Marriage can be a wonderful thing, but that first year with your loved one can also be challenging.
Whether you're living together for the first time, sharing more responsibilities or just getting used to marriage as a whole, that first year as newlyweds may be a little difficult for some.
"Understanding human behaviour, and lack thereof, is a relationship's biggest obstacle," says dating coach Chantal Heide.
Heide says the first year also comes with a lot of new stresses: housing changes, financial changes and even paying back wedding debt.
"The hardest part of a first year is reconciling expectations with reality. Be open minded, flexible, and calm, and things will move forward much more smoothly," she says.
"Own your fears and don’t let them infect the relationship — instead deal with them through meditation and keeping in touch with reality."
Below, Heide shares 11 tips for couples who may be drowning in that first year.
Expectations are a relationship killer: Putting expectations on your partner will only lead to fights down the road.
"Eliminate expectations, be able to go with the flow, and be in the moment and you’ll reduce the amount of fights you’ll have," Heide says.
"Don’t make up what should happen in your head, then get upset when that story didn’t play out."
Keep passion alive by infusing unpredictability into your sex life: For some newlyweds, this is their first time living together under one roof and if sex becomes a routine, try to be more unpredictable.
If you’ve fallen into the habit of going to the bedroom every time you have sex, Heide says to spice things up by having unexpected sex in a different location.
Learn how to say "sorry": "Nothing keeps love alive and flowing smoothly like being able to say 'I’m sorry,'" Heide says.
Learn how to craft an apology that doesn’t have the word “but” in it, and explain your behaviour so your partner understands your point of view.
"Let them follow your lead and learn from your example. If they love you they’ll appreciate how much this keeps your relationship in good waters and follow suit."
Appreciate and reciprocate: "Say 'thank you' for what your partner does and look for ways to keep them happy. Remember, the small things do count," she says.
Be your partner’s personal bodyguard: Whether it is dealing with rude family members or friends, it's important to have your partner's back.
"If there’s a problem it’s your job to deal with it on your side of friends and family."
And if you're having an argument with your partner, Heide says don't air it out with your family members.
"Instead use your friends to vent. Friends should be more impartial, whereas family members will begin to dislike your partner if you disclose your fights too often."
Don’t expect your partner to stay the same person: Give space for changes in passions and shifts in personality as they grow, mature, and evolve. The only constant in life is change.
Don’t have a single-minded focus on your partner and relationship: "Balance your life with interests outside of your marriage. Never make your partner your sole source of happiness and fulfillment; this is too much pressure," she says.
"We need friends because supporting us emotionally is a weight that should be distributed among multiple people. And don’t resent the time your partner takes to create their own fulfillment. Expecting them to only be focused on you is unrealistic and unhealthy."
Resolve fights quickly: If you let fights linger, they only get worse over time.
"You find yourself with a bunch of disagreements piling up and end up feeling like your relationship is overwhelmed with unresolved conflicts," Heide says.
At the end of the day, be predictable: "Nothing makes a partner happier to come home after work than knowing what sort of partner they’re coming home to. Always have a warm greeting ready when you see each other after a work day, it helps smooth out home life."
Kiss, have a glass of wine or just cuddle up on the sofa to talk about your day. If one person is angry or upset about their workday, let them vent.
Communicate your feelings instead of fighting about them: "If you’re feeling off or grumpy, say so instead of bottling it up and exploding at the first trigger."
Stating your frame of mind helps stop you from being reactive and prevents anything that might spill out, giving your partner an opportunity to forgive you even before anything happens.
Always say “I love you”: Not only this, but hug each when you’re going to bed.
"It’s a nice way to infuse extra warm thoughts and feelings into your subconscious."