My husband and I got married when we were 21. We spent two years as married college students. Many people were unsure about us marrying while we were still in college. They didn’t think it was a good idea for many reasons (money, balancing marriage and school, insurance, and babies), but we were committed to making it work. These are some things that helped our marriage thrive in the first few years:
Everything is a Team Effort
My husband and I made sure to do lots of things together. It helped us grow and form our expectations for married life. We budgeted together. We planned the meals together and shopped together. We never spent money (except pocket change) without discussing it with one another. Although we each had our own friends, we made it a priority to spend time together first, which strengthened our relationship.
Trust is Essential—in Big things and Small
It starts with revealing your small, embarrassing habits—things almost no one knows about you—to your spouse. When you live in a 600 square foot apartment, nothing stays secret for long anyways. Trust your spouse not to judge you, and don’t judge them in return! Trusting my husband in small things helped me trust him in big things, and he says the same thing about me. We felt sure that the other person would always do the right thing in any situation because we really knew each other.
Talk About and Plan for the Future
Even if things seemed bad at the time—we were eating ramen noodles for dinner again, or the heater was broken in January and we couldn’t get in touch with our land lady—we always planned for the future. My husband had a job to look forward to after graduation. We knew kids would be in the picture (now we have 3). We loved to talk about our future, and the dreams we had of our growing family helped us to get through the difficult moments. So talk about your dreams and plan for ways to achieve them.
Since I haven’t said it outright, communication is the key ingredient in all of these things. If you don’t talk to your spouse, you can’t connect with them or support them. Talking about how we feel, what we want, and what we’ve done still shapes the main part of our marriage today (even with all of the distractions of everyday life), and that connection with your spouse is what marriage is all about!
I’ve heard that the first years of marriage are the hardest. What are some things you married folks have done to survive and thrive when the going gets tough?