5 things to do in your first 5 years of marriage

5 things to do in your first 5 years of marriage August 16, 2013


When Ashley and I walked down the aisle on May 19, 2001, we were madly in love (and we still are), but we had no idea what we were getting into! I had just graduated from college the week before and she was still in school. Most of our friends thought we were crazy, but we didn’t care! We knew we wanted to be together and that was all that mattered.

Dave and Ashley

Now, twelve years, three kids and a few pounds (on my part) later, I don’t have a single regret, but there are some things I wish I would have known back then that would have made the first few years much easier! I’ve learned that marriages that start strong are much more likely to finish strong, so I’ve put together a list of five things that I believe every couple should strive do accomplish in their first five years of marriage. If you will make these a priority right from the beginning, you’ll be in for a much better road ahead!

In no particular order…

1. Find some good “Couple Friends”

If you only have “his” and “her” friends and you spend you social time apart from each other and always hanging with the girls or the guys, you’re missing a great opportunity to grow in your relationship with your spouse while also growing in friendships with other couples.

2. Make your health a priority

When I got married, I got kind of fat. I temporarily lost all motivation to eat right or to exercise and I dug a hole for myself that I had to work hard to correct. I’ve seen a lot of folks abandon their health early in their marriage and it can create a lot of negative effects on all aspects of your life and your marriage down the road. Find a physical activity that you enjoy doing together and then you’ll get exercise and quality time all at once.

3. Develop a financial plan

We started off flat broke so we figured we didn’t really have a need to budget, but our neglect of financial planning early on led to a lot of debt and the debt created stress and that stress put an unnecessary strain on our marriage. We’ve worked hard to get out of debt and it’s been one of the best things we’ve ever done for our relationship, but it would have been even better to not make those financial mistakes in the first place! If you want to get started with a plan, check out the resources at www.DaveRamsey.com.

4. Find a good church

Faith is the foundation that sustains a lifelong marriage. Ashley and I made a commitment to get connected into a church right away and it’s probably the single best decision we made. We volunteered together in a youth ministry, made some wonderful friends and grew in our understanding of how beautiful marriage and life can be when you do it God’s way. Click here to find a church in your area.

5. Keep dating each other

Never stop dating just because you’re married! Continue to create new memories and adventures together. Keep discovering new things about each other. Having a consistent “Date Night” is one of the biggest reasons our marriage is so strong today.

No matter how long you’ve been together, if you start now and put these principles into practice, I can guarantee that your marriage will improve! For more marriage-building tips and tools, please check our new book: “Marriage Minute: Quick and Simple Ways to Build a Divorce-Proof Relationship” also available for download straight to your iPhone or iPad

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  • User

    Date night? What’s that? When I was growing up my parents maybe went out 2 or three times a year. Us kids were always the focus and my parent have been married 20+ years now. Who has time? Todays families have even busier schedules and more outside commitments that snatch up our time. We are guilt tripped by church and other ministries if we don’t do “our share”. Guess that is why the modern church has more “fix your broken marriage and home” ministries rather than promoting ways to build an healthy marriage. Thanks for your insights. Easier said than done!

  • betsy

    My husband is checking out after 16 years if marriage. He had a heart attack last year and his personality has changed. I am so distraught and empty. I don’t want this! I tried to make things better to please him. I am trying to trust God, but it’s really hard.

  • Kelly

    Becky I will lift you to our Father in Heaven by name. He cares for you.

  • Comfort Fox

    Keep praying. Keep communicating. I know i’m young and still have alot to learn. Something that tragic can change a person but you must believe that he will come around

  • chubi

    Betsy, the Lord is your strength. I will be praying for you tonight about it. Please don’t give up hope, let the Lord know about He can be trusted to help you through this season in your life.

    Prov 3:5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart lean not on your own understanding (i.e. analysis), in all your ways acknowledge him and he will direct your path.
    Philippians 4:6,7
    6 Do not worry about anything, but pray and ask God for everything you need, always giving thanks.
    7 And God’s peace, which is so great we cannot understand it, will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

    Please hang in there, His help is on the way!

  • Friend

    Try these five things with The Lord. See how you grow in your relationship with Jesus. 😉

  • Jacqui

    I LOVE date nights with my husband. We need more of them though. This is a great article. We do most of whats on this list. We go to church together as a family, We have our friends separate and together. one thing we have always done is we always say “US, WE, OUR, FAMILY, HIS KIDS, MY KIDS” we never talk about ourselves individual. We are a family unit. His kids are my kids, my kids are his. We always include eachother. its always our kids, our marriage, our life, our car, our house..etc. It does make a difference. We also go to bed together regardless. its amazing tradition since the beginning and we love it.

  • Lena

    I have been married a year and I can already tell you that being active is important. We got sluggish the first 6 months and it affected our relationship. We started to be active and things improved. Laziness really affects a marriage.

  • Jill

    Aw my husband and I share an anniversary day with you and your wife! Such a wonderful day to be married!

  • Nicole Deller

    The point is to make time for one another.Yes,you are parents but you are also still a couple whose relationship still needs nurturing and attention.I think the article was great and very helpful.Sorry it doesnt work for you.

  • Krissy

    Keeping a date night ensures that you don’t find yourself getting a divorce in 20 or 25 years because you lost track of eachother and are on different paths. It’s basically just a way to make sure that you take time out of hectic lives to focus on one another for a bit.

  • Ed Sachs

    Choose what is important before other things choose it for you.

  • ang

    If you are too busy for your spouse then you are just too busy ! you don’t make excuses about finding time. if you really love some one you will make time for them. Work is not supposed to be your whole life , work is supposed to aid you in doing and being with who you love . This is the problem these days people don’t have their priorities straight . Down size your home if you have to but find time for your spouse and your children . Coming home with take out or ordering a pizza after sitting in front of a tv with your kids for an hour & going to bed right after is also not revolving your life around your kids it’s mediocre. Don’t make excuses especially if the excuse involves work … down grade your car down size your home FAMILY FIRST

  • josh

    Sound like good advice, I would say the same thing to newlyweds

  • Bonita White Garrett

    been married for 2 yrs, separated most of it. i have been trying to work it out but i believe he just uses me to get what he wants. i did everthing from not just budgeting the finances but paying it myself, buying groceries, house chores and running him where he needed to go. i failed a whole year and dropped out of college because i was depressed and stressed. i prayed and prayed for it to work. he argues and blame me for everthing that he chooses to do and it did not work the way he wanted. i still wanted to be by his side even when i feel this is an unhealthy marriage and i still pray. so confused!