1 In 10 Married Couples Don’t Survive Their First Year—Here’s How To Make Sure You’re Not Part Of The Statistic

Sometimes platitudes and promises of “forever” aren’t enough to keep your relationship feeling frisky when the reality of marriage sets in. Complete these 12 monthly challenges in your first year of marriage to not only survive your time as husband and wife but actually thrive.

By Taylor Bennett4 min read
Pexels/Feyza Simsek

Just tied the knot? Congratulations! But most well-wishers won’t mention when they ooh and ahh over your wedding pics (you really are the cutest couple, you know) that “until death do us part” isn’t really in vogue. An estimated one in ten couples dissolve their marriage before their first anniversary – and that chance increases as your age decreases

Major issues plaguing newlyweds (infidelity, addiction, and mental health) are fatal to a fledgling marriage. However, many marriages dissolve due to more manageable struggles, like lack of communication and unmet expectations. But you can use your love to keep these harbingers of first-year divorce from destroying your foundation of forever.

Three Types of Love: Meet Eros, Philia, and Agape

The Ancient Greeks believed in many love forms, but three stand out. Eros is erotic love – the passion that gives you butterflies, named for the Greek equivalent of Cupid. Philia is friendly love, and it’s everything that Eros is not – a deep affection for another’s heart, mind, and soul and a sense of shared history and lifelong connection. Finally, Agape is the “greatest” love – one that transcends time, wrongdoing, and heartache. Agape is what gives us the ability to forgive, and it’s the glue that can be the difference between an eternal love story and a brutal breakup. 

Here are 12 ways that you can use these forms of love to strengthen your marriage for success during your first year as man and wife.

The issues you face in your marriage are unique to you, but the best way to fight for wedded bliss is with the same force that brought you together: love.

Embracing Eros: Rediscovering Intimacy in Every Form

Have the Sex Talk(s)

Purity culture makes sex seem a little scary and a lot scandalous, and it’s often an uncomfortable conversation topic. But an honest talk about expectations can make or break your sex life. Be explicit – not in an X-rated way, but so you can be clear on what you’re comfortable doing as a couple. You aren’t human vending machines, made to fulfill each other’s needs on demand, so be open about how you can use intimacy as an avenue for bonding and not a one-way street to satisfaction.

It’s Not All in the Bedroom 

Are you so focused on getting undressed that you forget to complement your appearances the way you did when you were dating? Embracing Eros doesn’t mean having more sex but being more intentional about intimacy in all forms. Life isn’t a race to the bedroom – it’s an opportunity to carve out special moments for all types of intimacy, including bear hugs, passionate kisses, and long walks hand-in-hand (even if it’s just down the aisle of the grocery store).

Don’t Forget Romance

Sex can feel like a tender expression of your love or a heartless lust-fest. Passion has its place in every intimate encounter, but entertainment has a tendency to portray sex as an act devoid of care and filled with selfishness. So light the candles, pull out the lacy lingerie, and put on some tunes. Slow dance a little, rediscover romance, and make the evening about emotional, spiritual, and physical intimacy.

Keep sex as an expression of intimacy in marriage – not something to be used as a punishment or reward.

Sex Isn’t the “Good Husband” Prize

We’ve heard jokes about husbands being relegated to the couch after a fight, as well as advice not to go to bed angry. But neither cliché is the best way to deal with strife outside your sex life. Whether or not your husband drove you crazy half the day shouldn’t have any bearing on your physical intimacy. Instead of determining whether or not your husband “deserves” sex, focus on making the bedroom a place where you focus on your attraction to and love for each other. Keep sex as an expression of intimacy in marriage – not something to be used as a punishment or reward.

Finding Philia: Deepen Your Friendship

Don’t Discard Dates

For newlyweds, every night might seem like date night. But when the honeymoon ends and you’re coming home from work tired and hangry, romance is the last thing on your mind. Avoid the trap of embracing laziness and abandoning opportunities for connection, and decide on one night a week where you leave daily stresses (perhaps electronics, too) at the door and have dinner out or order in – not as an excuse not to cook but as an opportunity to spend intentional, quality time with your spouse.

Develop Your Own Traditions

As you build a life together, spend time determining what you want it to look like. Take a cooking class and find your own heirloom recipes, or start a weekly ritual like a movie or game night. In your first year of marriage, it’s imperative to set a precedent for the future. Avoid letting your time together dissolve into mindless, unintentional vegetation or internet scrolling, and instead focus on building a lifelong foundation of traditions. Search for ways to engage in activities that keep your friendship fresh even during the busy times. Give yourselves new memories to make and fresh reasons to laugh, both at yourselves and at each other.

Challenge Your Intelligence

Don’t let your relationship get complacent! Deepen your friendship by heightening your intellectual intimacy. Try reading aloud to each other every night, choosing a book that will educate or inspire you both. If you’re auditory processors, listen to podcasts or watch YouTube videos together – not passively, but actively – then have your own discussion about the issues presented. No matter what you do, make sure to keep learning and growing together to heighten your intellectual intimacy.

Get Spiritual

Taking time to explore your faith as a couple is instrumental in strengthening your marriage. Attend a special Sunday service or take time to engage in scriptural meditation at home. Consider working through a devotional in the morning or spending time each evening praying together. It’s easy to neglect the spiritual aspects of your relationship, but studies actually show that heightened spiritual intimacy results in deeper feelings of love between couples.

Applying Agape: Understanding Love’s Greatest Form

Focus on Forgiveness

Issues abound when we attempt to combine our separate, independent lifestyle with that of our spouse, and this is never more obvious than it is in the first year of marriage. A single day spent together can result in a list of grievances a mile long – grievances which, while often petty, feel downright dire in the heat of the moment. But with Agape love on our side, we have a choice. We can stew in dissatisfaction, or we can practice the fine art of forgiveness and use empathy to understand our spouse’s choices rather than wage an attack against them.

Romantic love might be the most glamorous expression of affection, but the love of choice is twice as powerful.

Fake It ‘Til You Make It

Some days we have to go the extra mile to show love, even when we aren’t feeling it. Romantic love might be the most glamorous expression of affection, but the love of choice is twice as powerful. On the days when you feel like you’re at an end, remind yourself that love is an action, not an emotion – then, act on it! Give your spouse a kiss (even if you’d rather hit him over the head) and remind yourself that the feeling of love can come and go but the choice you made is beautiful in its own way.

Employ Empathy

Sometimes, the male half of the population seems like a completely different species…especially when you’re first learning to live with one of these incomprehensible creatures! Some of the things our husbands do might leave us scratching our heads, but, believe it or not, these strange man-isms have a cause and a reason. Even if it’s hard to imagine a viable why behind some of these behaviors, attempting to understand his perspective (hint: talk to him about them) will go a long way toward helping you embrace your husband’s more confounding mannerisms with a sense of empathy that will help you avoid moments of deeper conflict.

Seek Out Acts of Service

Nothing showcases selfishness quite like marriage. When our husbands need us most, we often find we want time for ourselves more than anything. While we shouldn’t always sacrifice self-care to take care of our spouse, we shouldn’t use tiredness or frustration as an excuse for selfishness. Challenge yourselves to do one thing each day to bless the other – whether it’s sneaking a note of affection into a lunch, waking early to cuddle under the covers before the day begins, or picking up a favorite treat for dessert. Small acts of kindness can mean the world, both to your spouse and your marriage as a whole.

Closing Thoughts

Marriage isn’t easy, and the first year is especially hard. But when you return to the root of your relationship (i.e. love), you’ll find that wedded bliss isn’t so far off after all. Just remember, your relationship is yours

Use these suggestions as a springboard to success, but make sure to communicate with your husband as you work to create your own fairytale.

Support our cause and help women reclaim their femininity by subscribing today.