From time to time, I always like to offer tips on how newly married couples can grow and thrive during their first year of marriage. Notice how I don’t term it as “advice” but rather simply “tips.” As Sid and I near our second wedding anniversary, I am in no position to offer advice. However, I feel I can bring a couple pointers to the table when it comes to young couples who are embarking on that exciting first year.
My tip tonight is straight forward and simple. It is important to develop routine.
Introduce some structure to your marriage. Officially starting your life off with someone can seem overwhelming. With so many expectations hanging over your heads in that first year, you might ask yourself where do I start? I suggest taking a step back by concentrating on the basics. Instead of stressing over making a big purchase or devising a timeline of when you want to complete milestones, start small. Set a time for the two of you to eat dinner each night; find a show on TV that you both like and can look forward to during the day; loosely plan your lives a month at a time.
Each Sunday, Sidney and I brainstorm what we will eat each night for dinner that week. We will then go to the supermarket and buy groceries based on those meals. We eat between 6:30 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. each night and always sit down with each other and talk about our days. Doing this increases our planning skills and helps us to be disciplined at the grocery store. More importantly, it secures an hour for us each night to unwind and spend quality time together.
With so many television choices these days, both on cable and via streaming devices, it is virtually guaranteed that you can find something that both you and your spouse will like. If Sidney and I, who have dramatically different tastes when it comes to TV, are able to find common ground with a couple programs then you and your sweetheart can too! We watch Jeopardy every weeknight at 7:30 p.m. and there is always one or two weekly shows we make sure not to miss as well. By having a show or two that you can call your own, you set yourself up for not only special time with your loved one but discussion time as well. Although Sid and I might not talk much during “This Is Us,” we surely have an open dialogue about it from the moment it ends at 10 p.m. all the way until 8:59 p.m. the following Tuesday when the next episode is about to start.
It is foolish to plan that entire first year out. However, it makes more sense and is much more manageable to take it a month at a time. In our kitchen, we have a big monthly calendar. At the beginning of each new month, we fill it out with the major events of the next four weeks. Because the calendar is in such a prominent spot, we see it every day and don’t lose track of appointments, birthdays, church functions, or social engagements coming up. Most of the time, I jot down the events that come to my head first. Sid then swoops in and adds hers. Doing this reinforces our family identity and ensures that we don’t forget anything.
Don’t get me wrong, that first year of marriage shouldn’t be all about rigid structure. You need to have some spontaneity as well – take it from us, we had a baby before we celebrated our first wedding anniversary! But that topic is for my marriage-related post. Until then, take time to sit down with your partner and do some basic planning, it will help build the foundation of your young marriage. Don’t Blink.