10 Marriage Lessons & What to Expect from The First Year of Marriage

dating & relationships Sep 17, 2021
the first year of marriage

In honor of my one-year anniversary this weekend, I wanted to share 10 marriage lessons from our first year of marriage.

I remember being single, and even engaged, wondering what the first year of marriage would be like and what to expect in marriage.

Is the first year of marriage hardest? Would we have sex all the time? What should I learn before getting married? And what are the 3 most important things in a marriage?

If you are preparing to get married or wondering what to expect in the first year of marriage, here are 10 marriage lessons from the first year of marriage, including:

  • What sex is like in the first year of marriage, and why waiting to have sex until marriage was worth it
  • Why sex is just one type of intimacy in marriage
  • What is most important for any marriage
  • Why the first year of marriage is the hardest
  • Why the honeymoon phase is a state of mind
  • How natural birth control is working for us

1) Marriage is a ministry

After your relationship with God, your relationship with your spouse becomes the next most important relationship in your life.

And marriage is a ministry. As a wife, you have new responsibilities to your husband and to God. And you will have new responsibilities around the house.

Getting married is a huge life transition, and my best advice is to say no to other people or things right after you get married so you can focus on your spouse.

It takes time to build a life and marriage together, and it’s okay to say no to other things as a newlywed so you can say yes to your spouse.

And as you get back to your normal routine after the wedding, it’s important to remember that your marriage will be a ministry and a priority for the rest of your life.

2) You don’t have sex ALL the time

Before we got married, I was curious how often newlywed couples had sex.

Our Christian premarital counselors recommended that we discuss our expectations for how often we wanted to have sex, but I figured newlywed couples had sex all the time.

And while most couples do have sex a lot right after they get married, I realized that you still do other things and that it’s impossible to have sex ALL the time.

But it’s important to communicate your ‘sexpectations’ to your spouse, so you are on the same page and know what to expect in marriage in the bedroom.

You get tired. You need time to recover. Maybe you need to get back to work in the middle of the day. Or maybe you need to let your dinner digest after a romantic date night out.

And sometimes you have to plan ahead or even schedule when you will have sex if you have a busy week.

I also realized it’s not how it always looks in the movies.

For some reason, I had envisioned having sex every night before bed and then every morning. But I realized that we want to have sex during other times of the day, and that sometimes you’re not always in the mood in the evening or in the morning.

While it’s fun to try new things together in the bedroom, you’ll do many other things together besides having sex all of the time.

And if you are married or preparing to get married soon, lube is your friend. Buy lube and use it.

For some reason, some people have a stigma with using lube, like it’s bad if you need to use lube. I’m no doctor – but lube not only prevents soreness, but it also can increase sexual satisfaction.

3) Waiting to have sex until marriage WAS worth it

While we are on the topic of sex, you may be wondering, ‘was it worth waiting until marriage to have sex?’

As I’ve talked about on the blog, my husband and I decided to wait until marriage to have sex with each other for the first time to honor God’s design for sex.

We both had sex in the past, but wanted to God in this area after God showed us that having sex before marriage was not honoring him.

We set some good physical boundaries when we were dating and thanks to God, we were able to wait until our wedding night to make out and have sex for the first time.

But was it worth it?

Yes. 100%. It made our honeymoon and marriage much more special, knowing that we had honored God by waiting and that we had his blessing.

We didn’t have to worry about starting our marriage with any lust or sexual immorality.

And we had plenty of time to experiment in the bedroom to figure out what we liked or didn’t like.

And I don’t need to tell you that sex is amazing, but I will tell you that knowing how to communicate our likes and dislikes when it came to sex is important.

We talked about our expectations for our wedding night and honeymoon before we got married, and we continue to talk about our sex life as part of our marriage check-in talks. (See #5 for more on marriage talks).

And if you are preparing to get married or are a newlywed, I highly recommend reading and talking about this book together, Sheet Music.

It’s a Christian-based book that talks about how to talk about sex in your marriage.

If you are still deciding if you should wait until marriage to have sex, check out what the Bible says about sex before marriage and why I chose to surrender sex before marriage to God.

It is possible to wait until marriage, and it is worth it my friend.

4) Intimacy is more than just sex

When most people think of intimacy, they think of sexual intimacy. But intimacy in marriage is so much more than just getting physical in the bedroom.

Intimacy is a connection between a husband and wife that makes them feel seen, close, and emotionally connected and supported.

And while sex is just one way to develop intimacy, thanks to godly wisdom at One Extraordinary Marriage, I realized that there are several other kinds of intimacies that are as equally important.

One Extraordinary Marriage defines the 6 pillars of intimacy as:

  • Sexual
  • Emotional
  • Spiritual
  • Physical
  • Recreational
  • Financial

And in marriage, it’s so important to focus on all of these intimacies – sex is just one part of it.

A lot of people ask, ‘is the first year of marriage hardest?’

Or, ‘why is the first year of marriage the hardest’?

If you look at all these types of intimacies that are important in marriage, you can see that it will take time to be on the same page with your spouse.

Getting married is one of the biggest life transitions you will ever go through, and it takes time to adjust to living and being married to another person.

It takes time to figure out what you like and what you don’t like.

It takes time to learn how to talk about tough topics, like how to manage your finances together or how to communicate your needs in the bedroom.

Marriage is two people becoming one in all areas of life, and it takes time to adjust and get used to involving another person in your life.

Discussing these different intimacies with your spouse even before you get married will help both of you know what to expect in marriage, so you can avoid some arguments down the road.

And if you are married or preparing to get married, start listening to One Extraordinary Marriage’s podcast.

They talk about every topic when it comes to marriage, including all those tough questions you have about sex and intimacy.

5) Communication is one of the most important parts of marriage

Knowing how to communicate with each other is part of emotional intimacy.

Some people may ask, ‘What are the 3 most important things in a marriage?’

God is definitely the most important thing in your marriage, and building a marriage and life with God at the center and being equally yoked in marriage.

Next, your spouse would be the next important thing in marriage, and recognizing that marriage is about putting your spouse’s needs first above your own.

Love isn’t about how the other person makes you feel – it’s about choosing to love them and put them first no matter what.

And lastly, communication is one of the most important things in a marriage.

Knowing how to communicate effectively with my spouse is one of the hardest marriage lessons we learned in the first year of marriage.

Thanks to God, we are surrounded by a lot of godly couples with years of marriage wisdom, and they recommended we implement a weekly marriage meeting, or a marriage check-in.

Every week, my husband and I do a marriage walk-and-talk, where we discuss specific areas of our marriage, what’s working, and how we can improve.

For example, we compliment each other, we share what the other person did that made us feel loved, and we share feedback of what we need or how we can do things differently in our marriage.

And yes, talking about our sex life is a part of this marriage walk-and-talk.

Knowing how to communicate and when to communicate with your spouse will save you a lot of trouble in marriage.

If you are single reading this, my #1 advice for you to prepare for marriage is to practice communicating your feelings, expectations, and desires in the relationships around you.

We need to know how to communicate in any relationship, and to have a successful marriage, we have to learn how to resolve conflict and communicate in a way so both parties are on the same page.

6) You each need your own relationship with God

Having God at the center of your marriage will help build a strong foundation for your marriage.

But how do you put God at the center? How do you work on spiritual intimacy in your marriage?

My wise mentor told me, ‘You are not your husband’s Holy Spirit.’

Even in marriage, it’s important for both of you to have your own personal relationship with God.

I thank God for bringing me a true man of God as a husband, and that we are equally yoked. My husband is able to lead me spiritually, and we are able to support each other in prayer by speaking God’s Word over each other.

Some mornings we pray and worship together, but we each have our own time with God in the morning to read the Bible and spend time in prayer.

While some days we enjoy praying and worshipping to God together, we recognize that we both need our quality one-on-one time with God.

And sharing how God is speaking to us or what we are reading in the Bible is one of our favorite topics to discuss over lunch.

If you are married or preparing to get married, consider how you and your husband can seek God together:

  • How will you pray together and for each other?
  • How will you prioritize spending time with God?
  • How will you share how God is speaking to you?
  • How will you encourage your spouse with God’s Word?
  • How often and where will you go to church together?
  • How involved will you be serving or volunteering at church?
  • How will you spend time with God throughout the week and not just on Sundays?

It’s so important that you both are seeking God and getting what you need spiritually. And if your time with God each day looks different than your husbands, that’s okay.

It goes back to communicating what you need and supporting each other to make sure you are both growing spiritually.

7) The Honeymoon Phase is a state of mind

Most newlywed couples will talk about how amazing the honeymoon was, and how awesome it is to be living in the honeymoon phase.

After the first year of marriage, I realized that the honeymoon is more than just a trip you take to celebrate after your wedding.

The honeymoon is a state of mind. And it’s STILL amazing.

The honeymoon doesn’t have to be just one trip or a single destination. It’s a state of mind to treat every day and every week like the honeymoon.

It doesn’t have to end in Cabo. The honeymoon can continue in your own home.

The honeymoon state of mind is choosing to focus on quality time with my husband and being spontaneous throughout the week.

It’s choosing to have sex in the middle of the afternoon and take a nap together just because we can.

It’s choosing to treat every weekend like a mini vacation, taking day trips or going on new adventures together like scuba diving.

To preserve the honeymoon phase, I’ve learned to go with the flow and try new things even if it’s not what I had envisioned.

I’ve learned that date nights or sex don’t always happen the way we plan - sometimes the best times we’ve had are those unplanned moments with each other.

While I’ve enjoyed dressing up and looking nice for my man, I’ve also learned that I don’t always have to have the perfect outfit or have my hair done to have sex.

And I’ve learned that some of our most romantic date nights can happen in the comfort of our own home.

We can recreate the honeymoon atmosphere by spending intentional time together and getting creative. Romantic dinner on the balcony with market lights at sunset? Yes please!

8) It takes time to build a home together

When I was engaged, I had this vision of coming home from a beautiful honeymoon to a clean and organized home, with all my belongings already unpacked and put away.

We would look at our wedding photos together on our couch, while admiring our new home together as husband and wife.

I moved into the condo that my husband already owned, and I tried to move as much of my stuff as possible before the wedding.

But no matter how much I tried to plan in advance, it felt like I was unpacking and organizing our new home for months after the wedding.

Merging our belongings and creating a home that worked for both of us took time. Some days I would get so frustrated because I felt like I was cleaning and organizing all day.

And I realized that it’s okay not to have everything tidy and in order right away. It takes time to reorganize and get furniture that you both like.

So as you build a life and a home together, enjoy the process and those special moments together on the couch as husband and wife.

And if you are tempted to move in and live together before marriage, learn why it’s best to wait until you are married.

9) You are on the same team

Marriage means that you and your husband are on the same team.

It’s not a matter of who’s right or who’s wrong, or whose fault it is.

If it affects one of you, if affects both of you because you are on the same team.

And it’s about supporting and encouraging each other as you resolve conflict.

For example, if my husband had a rough week at work, I can offer to support him by taking care of the cooking and all the housework at home.

And being on the same team means we are there for each other. Just like it says in the Bible, love doesn’t keep a record of wrongs.

Love doesn’t keep score.

As husband and wife, it’s about choosing to serve and be there for one another out of love.

And love isn’t just a feeling. It’s showing the other person that we love them by putting their needs first.

I don’t always feel like doing the dishes, (okay I never feel like doing the dishes), but I’ll do them because it means my husband doesn’t have to do them.

And when I fold my husband’s laundry, I know he will feel loved when he sees a drawer full of clean clothes.

You are on the same team in marriage, and it means supporting your spouse no matter what.

10) The biggest blessings are found in the small moments

While we experienced a lot of big moments together as husband and wife in our first year of marriage, my favorite part about being married is appreciating the small moments together.

Getting to wake up next to my best friend every day. Spending a few extra minutes to cuddle and just hold each other.

Sitting down to have lunch together on our balcony during a work day.

Being able to go for a walk together in the middle of the day.

Staying in and watching a movie together, eating popcorn and bundled up together on the couch.

Creating our own date nights at home with dinner and game night.

Making a new pancake recipe together on a Saturday morning.

It’s in all these small moments together that we smile and look at each other, saying, ‘wow, we are married.’

Marriage is a gift from God, and it’s in all these small blessings that we remember just how grateful we are to be married.

Bonus #11) Natural birth control does work

Before we got married, I was worried about how the whole natural birth control method would work. I didn’t want to use birth control methods that put hormones into my body, but we didn’t want to use condoms all the time either.

We want kids in the future, but we want a few years to ourselves as newlyweds to enjoy our time together.

So I started learning about natural birth control methods, like natural family planning, and the fertility awareness method.

And after one year of marriage, the fertility awareness method has been working for us.

I read and studied the book, Taking Charge of Your Fertility, before we got married to understand how ovulation and fertility worked and what I would need to do to track my cycle.

If you are preparing to get married and considering your birth control options, Taking Charge of Your Fertility is a must.

And I am no doctor, so read this book and consult with other doctors or medical professionals who can let you know of all your birth control options before you default to going on the pill.

Bonus #12) Surround yourself with a community of godly couples

As a newlywed couple, I am thankful for all the couples in our life that we could turn to for advice and wisdom.

There were challenges in the first year of marriage, but thank God there are couples all around us who have years of marriage experience.

If you are a newlywed couple or preparing to get married, find a community where you can surround yourself with other godly couples.

Surround yourself with couples who put God at the center of their marriage, and who know how to speak and declare God’s Word over their life.

Which couples around you have good fruit in their marriage? Which couples have good fruit in their families and in their life?

Find those couples that you look up to and stay close to them.

Our marriage lessons from the first year of marriage may look different…

These were our top marriage lessons from the first year of marriage, but every marriage is different.

And since my husband and I both worked on ourselves when we were single, and learned how to establish a relationship with God, our first year of marriage was one of the best years of my life.

I don’t have much to compare it to, but our first year of marriage will not be the hardest.

This is just a glimpse of what to expect in marriage, but every couple will be different.

Are you still trusting God with your future husband?

Whether you have a boyfriend or are still waiting on God to reveal who your future husband is, praying over them is powerful. 

Download my free prayer guide, 5 Prayers for Your Future Husband, and learn more about how to pray for your future husband.

If you want more in-depth prayers and devotions to pray over yourself & your future husband, join my free, 14-day Attracting Your Future Husband Challenge.

In the challenge, you'll get a different devotion, Bible verses, and prayer to pray each day over different topics.

 With Love,

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