To be a newlywed is often referred to as “the honeymoon phase” of a relationship. It is often considered to last somewhere between six months and two years. It is a period where it feels like you are living in a romantic movie. It might feel like pure bliss, being head over heels in love, and seeing the other person as a dream too good to be true.
“To fully know and still fully love, is the primary aim of marriage.” – Fierce Marriage
The honeymoon period might mean constant togetherness, a high of physical intimacy, and make you wonder if your spouse could ever do wrong in your eyes. There might be a literal hormonal spike as you get married and experience the wedded bliss of waking up to the love of your life, spending every night together, and getting to be with them in the mundane moments.
You realize that your love does not always need the big production that dating involved. However, we cannot always put on our best self. Marriage brings out the raw and exposed parts that we try to hide when dating.
While the honeymoon period is a time where one should genuinely soak in the love and affection of your new spouse and engage in romantic gestures, reality soon sets in:
- Couples might begin disagreeing over finances.
- Jobs might become extremely stressful and eat away your free time.
- You might start thinking about when to start a family and begin to have disagreements over your ideal timings.
- There might be an overbearing mother-in-law that overwhelms the couple or brings about disagreements.
- You might be trying to figure out a proper balance for working out, staying late after work to catch up on some projects, spending quality time together, and still trying to invest in the friendships outside of your relationship.
How to Move Forward After the Honeymoon Phase
There are several things to consider as you wonder why the honeymoon phase is ending and how to move forward in your relationship rather than wallow in defeat:
Realize you took an oath to put in the work.
You vowed to love one another through sickness and in health. For richer or for poorer. For better and for worse. You vowed to love one another when you wake up with morning breath, when one of you does not replenish the toilet paper in the bathroom, when you disagree over which side of the family you should visit at Christmas, and how to handle the order of priority in your finances. Marriage is working through disagreements, not running at the first sight of them.
“Great marriages don’t happen by luck or by accident. They are the result of a consistent investment of time, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, affection, prayer, mutual respect, and a rock-solid commitment between a husband and a wife.” – Dave Willis
I urge you to renew that vow mentally every single day. Vow to be there if your spouse has the flu and is begging for some warm soup. Vow to be there when your spouse feels defeated by a lack of work promotions. Vow to be there when your spouse loses their cool and begs for your forgiveness because their voice escalated, and frustration got the best of their tongue.
Vow to hold hands and wipe away each other’s tears when one or both of you experiences grief and loss.
Love is more than a grand romantic gesture or butterflies soaring in your stomach. It is choosing one another every single day, regardless of where life and circumstances take you.
Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins. – 1 Peter 4:8
Be willing to say and talk about the difficult things.
Once the honeymoon period comes to a halt, raw and vulnerable conversations need to be at the forefront of your marriage. To continue thriving in your relationship, you cannot stay dormant. You must keep looking forward, even when you are unsure of what forward looks like.
“Like a soft, deep layer of mulch, transparency in your marriage will keep most weed seeds dormant and unable to sprout.” – Barbara Rainey
Transparency is one of the biggest ways to overcome threats to your marriage.
Start by asking simple questions:
- What is something I can do to make you feel loved?
- What is one thing you love about our relationship?
- What is something we can do better as a couple to continue growing?
- What is something I do that irritates you?
- Do you feel like my family is supportive of our marriage/why?
- Do you feel like we spend quality time together?
- What is something we can do to improve our communication?
Take captive any negative thoughts about your spouse.
- “Maybe this isn’t your soul mate.”
- “Did I marry the right person?”
- “If they really loved me, they would_______”
- “Why don’t they ever listen to me?”
- “If he/she loved me, they would want to hang out with me and not their work friends.”
- “They do not appreciate me and all of the things I do.”
- “No one else would put up with this.”
Take those thoughts that creep into your mind captive. Our thinking patterns decide our actions and reactions. Therefore, the things we think about our spouse can tragically affect the way we interact with them and prioritize them. We must fix our minds on Christ and try to focus on the things we love about our spouse rather than nitpick everything we think they should be doing.
“Taking thoughts captive means controlling them instead of letting them control you.” – Priscilla Shirer
Do not let the negativity of the world influence your marriage. If a friend or family member is trying to get you to bash your spouse, it might be time to address those negative patterns. If you are constantly arguing with your spouse in your head or nitpicking at all their quirks, it is time to refocus your thoughts and reevaluate your mindset.
Prioritize your relationship with Christ.
“God’s Word is the perfect guidebook for marriage, and those who live by His Word will reap the blessings that obedience brings.” – Darlene Schacht
If you want your marriage to thrive, the secret ingredient is not how lavish your lifestyle is or whether he brings you fresh flowers every week. Marriage should be centered on a relationship with Christ, focusing on the qualities of Christ.
We need to rid ourselves of the things the world focuses on, like money, physique, and grand gestures. Instead, we must bathe ourselves in grace, mercy, compassion, forgiveness, empathy, and remain true to our vows. Marriage is not threatening divorce after one disagreement, it is vowing to put the work in every single day.
Keep finding those flickers of excitement.
The honeymoon phase does not have to be over forever. You can find creative ways to bring those flickers of excitement to your relationship in any phase of marriage. Whether you have been married one year or twenty years, you want to continue igniting that flame, having fun, going on dates, and making intimacy a priority.
- End every day with “I love you”.
- Greet your spouse at the door with a hug and kiss.
- Never go to bed angry.
- Continue dating one another.
- Pray together.
- Save money.
- Establish healthy habits as a couple and as individuals.
- Attend church together.
- Do a Bible study together.
- Have deep and sometimes uncomfortable conversations.
- Dream together.
- Plan for the future.
- Attend counseling together as an investment in your marriage now and in the future.
Marriage counseling does not have to be a last resort for your marriage when it is struggling to move forward after the honeymoon phase. Counseling can be an investment at the start of your marriage to establish healthy patterns, learn effective communication patterns, learn more about each other and your love languages, and show your spouse that you are in it for the long run.
“Honeymoon Hideaway”, Courtesy of Roberto Nickson, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Wedding Rings”, Courtesy of Marcos Paulo Prado, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Bride and Groom in a Canoe”, Courtesy of Drew Dau, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “With All Your Heart”, Courtesy of Brittney Burnett, Unsplash.com, CC0 License