While we brides focus hours and energy on wedding planning (and rightly so), we also need to spend time planning for our marriages. During my bridal shower, my maid-of-honor initiated a time for the wives in the room to share their secrets. Now, four months after my Las Vegas wedding, I’ve realized just how vital these words of wisdom were for a new wife. Today, I would like to share this marriage advice with you, brides-to-be, as you prepare for life after your wedding.

My groom and I at the arch
The wedding is only the beginning.

Advice from 20-year-old wives

  • ENJOY DATE NIGHTS: Have “date night” once a week. Since money is often tight when you’re young, make anything a date. Whether you’re sharing a meal at a restaurant or walking hand-in-hand at The Home Depot, take time to spend one-on-one to take a break from your busy schedules to focus wholeheartedly on each other.

  • FORGIVE AFTER FIGHTS: As you learn to be a team, you’re going to fight. That’s okay. But pick your battles, and fight for your marriage. Communicate often, learn to listen, work toward a resolution, and don’t go to bed angry. Remember your wedding vows, and never threaten each other with divorce. Finally, don’t be too proud to say, “I’m sorry,” or to readily forgive. We all make mistakes. Understand that you and your spouse aren’t perfect, but dedicate yourselves to love each other despite your flaws.

Advice from 30-year-old wives

  • TREAT EVERY MOMENT LIKE IT’S YOUR LAST: “It’s amazing what you find really matters when you don’t know if you’re spending your last moments together that night,” a young wife of a Marine said to me. “It’s not whether or not he got that new light bulb in the lamp.” Rather than argue over little things, focus on what you have together and enjoy every moment of your marriage.

  • DON’T LET OTHERS BREAK YOU APART: You two are a team now. Don’t let discouraging words or disapproval from others have any weight in your relationship. Whether it’s his mother or your maid-of-honor, your marriage comes first.

Advice from 40-year-old wives

  • NEVER KEEP SECRETS: One of the cornerstones of marriage is trust. Whether something seems insignificant or monumental, your spouse deserves to know. This creates trust between each other, which will lead to a more fulfilling relationship and no concerns when you’re apart.

  • DON’T TAKE EACH OTHER FOR GRANTED: We often find ourselves being nice to strangers, but we will take out our frustrations on our loved ones. Don’t forget to be kind to your spouse. You can never take words back once you speak them, and one angry venting session isn’t worth the permanent harm it can cause your spouse.

Advice from 50-year-old wives

  • HUSBAND FIRST, KIDS SECOND: Regardless of your age when you have children, your spouse remains your top priority. Don’t forget to love and serve each other, even with the new dynamics that children bring to your home. Be united with your spouse, and make decisions together about your kids. Also, remember your actions set an example for your children of how they should behave, so treat each other with respect.

  • NEVER STOP SAYING “I LOVE YOU”: We easily become caught up in our daily routines and can forget the most important aspects along the way. Don’t expect your spouse to know he’s loved. Every day, say those words we so often whispered before the wedding—“I love you.” Everyone needs to be reminded that they’re worth the world to somebody.

"I love you."
"I love you."

Advice from 60-year-old wives

  • COMMIT TO GROW OLD TOGETHER: Bodies change, passions lessen, and experiences constantly shift the norm. But when you dedicate yourselves to love under the best and worst conditions, you’ll enjoy life side-by-side with your spouse as your lover and best friend.

  • DON’T COMPARE YOUR MARRIAGE TO PAST RELATIONSHIPS: If you compare your spouse to a past lover, you’ll set up your marriage for failure. Forget what you’ve learned from the past, and from the bedroom to the bank account, don’t expect your spouse to function like a previous lover did. Go slowly, don’t jump to conclusions, and work together to establish trust. Allow your spouse to be himself, and love and accept for who he is.

Advice from wives of all ages

  • BUY PRETTY NIGHTIES: Don’t shy away from the lingerie department. Always wear pretty nighties to bed. Capture your husband’s heart, whether you’re in the prime of your youth or getting along in years, and he’ll never look elsewhere. Also, you’ll feel like the most beautiful woman God has ever created—and to your husband, you are. Learn to love each other, and enjoy the intimate moments of marriage.

* Special thanks to all the women who participated in my bridal shower and spoke these encouraging words for newlyweds.

Author: Allyson Siwajian © 2010

Photographs: first image provided by Jamison Frady of Quiet Art Photography © 2010, second image provided by Debra Hansen © 2010