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  • Writer's pictureRachel Ogilby

45 Things I Would Have Told Myself as a Newlywed

Labor Day is special to many people as it represents the social and economic achievements of American workers. However, the weekend is extra special to my husband and I; we were married on the Sunday of Labor Day weekend in 2015! Our engagement was short in today’s terms, as Chris proposed in December and we were married the following September (most couples now plan their wedding for over a year – and rightfully so! The planning process can be stressful!).

This year marks five years of marriage. Per google (very scientific, I know), we are no longer considered “Newlyweds”. I would have to agree that our anniversary feels a little different. This year, it feels as though we have marked a point in our relationship that shows our dedication and perseverance. As I reflect on the past few years, I can’t help but marvel at how much we have grown and learned.

There’s been times throughout life when I thought I had it all figured out – then looked back five or ten years later and realized how little I knew. Anyone else think they had it all together in their early 20s? Ha! (It wasn’t just me, right?). I am not so naive now that I think I know everything about marriage – far from it. In fact, if anything, I have realized how little I know and how much I have yet to learn! Even so, the last five years of marriage have taught me so much. Though I will continue to add to this list as I gain more life experience, the following 45 statements are things I would have loved to tell myself a few years ago.

1. Take up a hobby your spouse enjoys, even if you’re bad at it (you’ll be surprised at how much he loves that you’ve attempted golf).

2. The 5 Love Languages book is a useful tool, but it’s not the be-all-end-all. Mix it up by showing love in all 5 ways.

3. Ask for what you need. Explain why you need it.

4. The more you give the more you will receive.

5. Learn the phrase “You’re right. I’m sorry.” But also ask your partner to apologize when needed.

6. Practice active listening.

7. Even though I was told by many people that marriage (though wonderful) can be very difficult, I now have a new appreciation for their wisdom. Keep your chin up, your prayers current, and your outlook positive.

8. Marriage counseling is not only healthy, it’s encouraged. Go before you think you need it – and if your spouse doesn't want to go with you, go by yourself.

9. Do your due diligence when comparing employee healthcare plans. Switching later is a real headache!

10. Reach out to your spouse’s parents/siblings/cousins more often than you think you need to. It will make your spouse enormously happy and improve your relationship with your in-laws.

11. Those chores you will fight over the first year of marriage? You will eventually create a new low standard of what “clean” means. It’s okay.

12. Speaking of, do yourself a favor and don’t criticize the way your spouse vacuums/mops/dusts/mows (unless you want to take that chore over indefinitely).

13. You will go through more pain and sadness in your first few years than you thought could happen in your entire marriage. You will survive. You will come out okay. You will be alright and so will your spouse.

14. You will also reach peaks of happiness that you never expected and a close, trusting friendship with your new best friend for life. Cherish that friendship.

15. You might be tempted to give up. You’ll lose your patience, give your partner your worst, and be short-tempered. Ask for forgiveness, move on, and do better tomorrow.

16. Your partner doesn’t need to dissolve into the family you already have. You and your partner are creating a new family. Respect that.

17. Check in often with your spouse. Once a week, ask “What can I do better? What is going well?” and mean it genuinely. Keep a journal of things that you are working on so you can keep yourself accountable.

18. Plan adventures. You will find that long hikes and trips exploring new cities and countries are when you and your spouse are at your best.

19. Talk about the important things and get on the same page about big items, like money, kids, and where you’ll live. Know that these things can change too.

20. By the way, make a dang budget and stick to it. But, you know, have fun too.

21. Practice putting your partner first (even though it is not your strong suit) every once in a while. It will be appreciated.

22. Plan trips to see far away family often. COVID taught us about routine ZOOM and FaceTime meetings – keep a schedule.

23. Have fun. Joke around. Be silly. Play games. Life is good!

24. Give each other alone time and time with your own friends. The time together will be that much sweeter.

25. Your way is not the only way. Be open to new ideas and be willing to try them.

26. On some nights, don’t go to bed angry. On other nights, go to bed whenever you want – but wake up and make up.

27. Never stop working on yourself.

28. Health conditions and life in general can make starting a family take longer than you thought. Be patient and enjoy the now.

29. Get to know your spouse’s friends and make them your friends too.

30. Stop complaining about football all Sunday/Monday night/Thursday night. Once you figure out that this time has just become “me” time, it will be blissful.

31. Join your spouse in his traditions even if you think they’re silly (like hanging out in the bathroom while he showers).

32. Don’t worry too much about the past/present/future. It will be alright.

33. Work on self-compassion by being kind and forgiving to yourself. This will help you be kind and forgiving to others.

34. Don’t take things personally (do as Elsa does and Let It Go).

35. If you are not sure if something is wrong, ask. Communication is key.

36. Plan dates just for the two of you. You might think you do not need this until after you have kids, but carving out dedicated time to each other each week will help you grow closer.

37. Create your own family traditions. It’s awesome that your spouse’s family gives each other PJs Christmas Eve and your family goes for a hike on holidays, but remember that you are starting your own family and your own traditions.

38. Be a unified front. Never pit your family against your spouse. Talk things through and make sure you’re on the same page before you attempt to represent the two of you.

39. You will learn nuances of what your spouse values, and sometimes it might not be what you expect. Pay attention and you’ll avoid lots of conflict!

40. Keep doing the hobbies that you enjoy, even by without your spouse. It’s healthy to continue doing things you love.

41. On the other hand, try new things together. You might discover you both enjoy something more than you thought you would.

42. Be flexible. Work on your spontaneity.

43. Say I love you often. You never know what tomorrow may bring!

44. There’s lots more things I wanted to list here, but I’ve entirely forgotten them…

45. Know that it will all work out. Stay positive, grounded, and let love lead the way!

What would you tell your younger self if you could? Let me know below!

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