Most couples don’t think being married will change anything. In fact, by the time many men and women get married, they’ve already been in a long-term relationship or have lived with their partner for several years. So while your physical situation may remain the same, even those men and women who were sure everything would feel the same have been surprised after the wedding.
As it turns out, a lot changes once you make things official. Whether you’re together a few weeks before getting hitched or many, many years, plenty of revelations await in those initial 12 months. Here, a few recent brides fill us in.
1. Sometimes you will go to bed angry.
One of the biggest pieces of advice most engaged women hear is to never go to bed angry. While it’s a great goal, it isn’t always realistic. “The first year of marriage is tough; you’re figuring out the new you as a wife and how you and your husband will be as life partners,” Amanda, a recent bride from Farmington Hills, Michigan, says. “There’s going to be conflict! Sometimes going to bed angry is okay — disagreements just need a breather. When you wake up, things usually don’t feel as bad. My husband and I often laugh that we were even arguing in the first place!”
2. You might disagree over the future.
Having those important conversations about finances, goals, and whether or not you want children should be handled before the wedding. If not, they’re bound to cause fights during the first year of marriage. “The first year of marriage can be the biggest test or the easiest transition depending on circumstances before people get married. My husband and I have always been upfront and honest about what we wanted for our future and it is always interesting to hear stories of couples that never talk about kids or where they want to live,” Susan of Brooklyn, New York, says. “That can make the first year difficult.”
3. Set your own expectations.
“One of the most valuable things I learned in our first year of marriage was to ignore everyone else’s expectations of what our union would look like,” says Sarah of Milford, Michigan. “Things like when we would start having kids and what roles we would each take on. We set our goals and expectations as a couple and moved forward our way. Eleven years later, I’d say we’re doing pretty good.”
4. Celebrate your first year of marriage.
Not every couple can jet off on a honeymoon immediately after their honeymoon, which was the case for Rachel and her new husband of Land O’Lakes, Wisconsin. But that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate the occassion in a different way. “We went back to work the Monday after our wedding,” she says. “So we decided to take many ‘honeymoonettes’ — small weekend adventures — to really savor our first year of marriage. We loved planning these small adventures and spreading out our honeymoon.”
5. Make time for yourself.
Date nights are so important for your relationship, but giving yourself a little “me time” is crucial for both parties. “It’s crucial to carve out time for yourself and your friends at least once a month,” says recent bride Lisa, who lives in Berkley, Michigan. “Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you should ignore your friends or doing things for yourself. It’s all about balance and you’re not a bad wife for not spending every waking moment with your new husband!”
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6. Learn how to handle family issues.
Rachel, a recent bride from North Hollywood, California, says one of the most important thing she learned was to let her husband deal with his family and she’d handle hers. “My family over-communicates; his doesn’t communicate at all and it can drive me loony, but I’ve learned when I voice my opinion, it causes arguments. It’s just not my place to insert myself into that,” she says.
7. Don’t try to “win” arguments.
One of the most important things Milissa of Freedom, Wisconsin, learned during the first year of marriage is that your arguments don’t need winners. “That doesn’t mean we didn’t disagree, we just talked through everything in a calm way,” she says. “I learned the secret is to not view it as a competition. You shouldn’t be trying to win an argument or prove the other person wrong — you should be trying to solve the issue at hand and move forward. Sometimes that means having to admit you’re wrong or compromise. But if you keep trying to make your point or ‘win’ the argument for your own pride, it will only make the issue worse.”
This article originally appeared on Martha Stewart Weddings.