On the road to their “happily ever after,” Kelly and Daniela Pierre readily admit to a few bumps along the way after their Zoom wedding last year.
Like most newlyweds, the East Stroudsburg, Pennsylvania, couple found the first year of marriage challenging as they settled into life together while discovering each other’s preferences and quirks.
“She wants to go out, and I want to stay home; or she wants to watch a movie, and I’d rather just chill,” Kelly chuckled.
For them and many other couples, their faith has eased the way through marital year one.
It’s in line with what experts like licensed marriage and family therapist Kattya Manning recommend: A shared activity or interest can keep spouses connected and the lines of communication open.
“Some people may love to do sports. It could even be a shared faith that they are really involved in, something that allows a couple to spend quality time together where they can communicate,” said Manning, of Santa Barbara, California.
For the Pierres, who celebrated their first anniversary in September 2021, conversations centered on their shared values as Jehovah’s Witnesses helped tackle differences. The couple feels that living by Jesus’ famous words, “there’s more happiness in giving than there is in receiving,” is a key to success.
“Applying Bible principles within our first year of marriage really helped us,” said Daniela. “We’re happy when we give our time to each other or when we do what the other person wants.”
Cultural differences pose unique challenges when adjusting to married life. Just ask Ekhomwanye “Ike” and Nie’shia Ikponmwosa, of Austin, Texas, who discovered after their March 2021 wedding that his Nigerian background and her U.S. upbringing clashed at times.
“I heard him talking to his mom, and I thought he was mad,” said Nie’shia. “It was definitely an adjustment, but that’s just how they communicate.”
“I am very blunt and direct; that was how I was raised,” explained Ike.
To address the problem, the Ikponmwosas designate weekly “couple time” for heartfelt conversations and Bible study together. One item they discussed together from their go-to resource for questions on family life—jw.org, the official website of Jehovah’s Witnesses—prompted Ike to be more tactful.
“The article, ‘Surviving the First Year of Marriage,’ helped me to see that I have to take into consideration Nie’shia’s feelings,” said Ike.
Another common stressor for newlyweds is dealing with a change in circumstances.
Four months into their marriage, Natalie and Tyler Fritz faced a test of their patience and resilience when they moved from a small town in Ohio to Miami. The drastic change was stressful, especially for Natalie, who burst into tears during the drive south with their belongings.
“I remember feeling frustrated,” said Tyler. Then he paused to think about how the upheaval was significantly affecting Natalie. "We parked on the side of the road and had ourselves a cry.”
The Fritzes regained their stability as a couple, leaning on their regular conversations as they study the Bible together. “That just draws us closer to Almighty God, which draws us closer to each other,” said Tyler.
David Van Niekerk is the public information director for Jehovah's Wittnesses.