4. Double the family also means double the time commitment and the fun.
When you get married, your list of loved ones and your support network doubles almost instantly. And with that comes a doubling of birthdays to remember and family events to attend and people to visit. Remember through it all what a blessing it is to have such a vast network of love surrounding you and your spouse.
While it can be easy to nitpick over where you spend your holidays or how different your family traditions might be, just relax, embrace the new, and enjoy. You and your spouse still have many years ahead of you to build your own traditions, so for now, be flexible in trying new things and be willing to compromise. Get to know your new family. At the same time, look forward to creating your own traditions. Talk regularly with your spouse to 1) make sure neither of you are feeling overwhelmed and 2) to figure out each other's preferences. While it's amazing to have family surrounding you, be sure to maintain your friendships and save time to build your new family too.
5. You come from completely different family cultures, so you won't always speak the same language.
After spending over a week in a small house with all of her brand-new in-laws, my friend told me about the moment she finally understood what it was she had been experiencing—culture shock.
For any of you who've served a mission or traveled abroad, you know how exhilarating and intimidating it can be to suddenly throw yourself into an entirely new language and culture. And believe me, every family has its own language, inside jokes, games, and ways of communicating, connecting, and living.
So what does this mean for you? Actively find ways to break out of your own bubble and make a place for yourself in your new family. Rejoice in your individuality, find creative ways you can contribute to your new family, but mostly, be willing to learn a new language and way of loving. Just as the struggles of a mission provide unlimited ways to grow, marriage provides progression on a daily basis.
But with all of that growth, be sure to be patient with yourself. If you find being around your new family draining, don't worry. It doesn't mean that you love them less—it just means you are working hard to learn their culture. Be mindful too that your spouse may feel the same way around your family. Be considerate and help each other understand the other's family while making sure you both get enough time to adjust.
Here are a few tips to help with this process:
Figure out how your spouse communicates—Since you and your spouse come from completely different families, you both speak entirely different languages. Yes, the base words might be the same, but the inflection, mannerisms, meaning, and so much more can vary. So when something your spouse says confuses or offends you, stop to ask what they really meant before you react. While you're bound to have differing opinions and beliefs, it's amazing to see how many differences are minimized when you step back to understand each other.
Don't be afraid to do things differently—When those different opinions do arise or when you find out about one of the billions of little things you and your spouse do differently, don't correct and don't be condescending. Ask your spouse first if they can show you how to do things their way, then offer to show them how to do things your way. It's the same with politics, beliefs, and opinions. Honestly find out why your spouse votes, worships, or thinks the way they do and explain your own thoughts without trying to "convert" your spouse. From how you do the dishes to how you live the gospel, you and your spouse need to understand one another, but you don't need to be the same person. Rejoice in your diversity—it keeps things fun!
Learn how you show love and how your spouse shows love—Before you decide to be hurt because your spouse forgot to do this or that, stop and think of all the dozens of things you might be oblivious to. If you love it when your spouse texts you during the day, tell them. If you love getting flowers, tell them. If you need more time alone together, tell them. Never expect your spouse to read your mind. And be sure to ask your spouse if there are things they need or appreciate that you can work on. Learn to see the dozens of ways your spouse already shows you they love you each day and learn new ways your spouse appreciates receiving love. As you start understanding each others' love language better, you'll both be able to show love more fluently.