Dear Newlyweds,

Congratulations on your recent nuptials and the start to this new chapter in your relationship! I’m excited for you!

I thought I’d share with you some of the things that we’ve figured out in our 8.5 years of marriage, as well as from observing the 600+ couples I’ve married over the past six years (yes, I’m an officiant, and have a ball celebrating all sorts of fantastic couples).

Talk, communicate, share. Truly, be you. Your marriage needs to be your one safe place in this crazy world where you can be you and express how you truly feel about anything and everything. And you do have to actually express how you feel—your spouse isn’t likely to be a mind reader, and I know mine isn’t (and I’m sure not). As well as he can read my moods and probably tell what I’m thinking quite often, it makes us both feel better when we can fully express what we are thinking and needing and wanting. And it definitely leads to better results for us both.

Enjoy each other. Have fun together. Laugh a lot! I truly believe that your marriage needs to be the foundation of the family you are building together—and whether you have children now or in the future or won’t be at all (and we are those childless-by-choice folks), this is your family now, and the more solid you two are, the more you can get through whatever life throws you. This relationship needs to be your priority above all else, I think. So continue to go on dates. Nope, the courtship shouldn’t be over just because you’re married! Continue to find new things to do together, building new memories to last a lifetime. And continue to find those special places and create those traditions that are yours, enjoying them over and over. Life is likely to throw you lots of curveballs big and small (it sure already has for us!), and being able to laugh both with each other and at each other sure has helped us get through it all, more solid than before.

SEE ALSO Notes to the Newlyweds: You Cannot Keep Score in Marriage

Respect each other as partners and supporters. We’ve worked hard to be sure that we not only enjoy taking care of the other (which comes easily), but also to allow the other to take care of us. Oh, and appreciate what they do for us! Whether it’s the littlest things like taking out the garbage or picking up my favorite sweet treat or closing the shades to allow me a little extra undisturbed sleep, that should be just as important as the big stuff like figuring out our five year plan as a team or compromising on the house you rent, and all should lead to thanks and appreciation and gratitude.

Speaking of gratitude, that’s my last thing for today. Truly, I have noticed that it’s not only huge for us but huge for so many of my couples—being grateful to have found each other and feeling so lucky to be sharing life with one another. It sure allows us to get past so many of those crazy things life does throw at us, as well as to look past the little things that are truly unimportant. I am so crazy lucky to share my life with this guy at my side, and in the end, that’s all that matters to me.

I wish you many more years of love, happiness and boatloads of laughter together!

Bethel (and Jason)
Married on October 29, 2006 (and together since December 2004)

Photo: la vida creations

Been married for more than one year? Have some advice to share? Submit your note to newlyweds along with your hi-res wedding photo to with NOTES TO THE NEWLYWEDS in the subject line.