Once the so-called honeymoon stage ends, the reality of married life starts to set in. This is of course a wonderful and deeply fulfilling chapter in its own right!
But it also, like all phases of life and relationships, comes with its particular challenges and in turn, rewards.
It’s common for couples to start noticing seemingly small and inconsequential differences that escaped notice until this point.
Arguments can ensue and personal boundaries often clash. Living with someone else and facing a lifetime of familiarity and routine can begin to take its toll.
Romance and physical attraction can inevitably ebb. This type of stress is common during the first year of marriage and can sometimes be intense enough to cause a separation, or at least thoughts of such things.
One key to successfully crossing this bridge is knowing what you are facing and preventing the problems from escalating, nipping them in the bud.
Here are some things to keep in mind that can address some of the most common newlywed problems and issues:
Engaged couples often put tremendous focus on wedding preparations and guest lists in an attempt to make a perfect experience on what is often billed as the best day of our lives.
What they often fail to discuss, however, are specific roles that each of them will need to take in the course of the relationship.
Arguments begin when there is confusion as to who should pay for the bills, clean the house, cook the meals, do the laundry or take out the garbage. Neglecting to discuss these basic roles often results in conflict and resentment.
It is essential to set expectations before entering into any serious endeavor. Knowing what you are getting into and having a clear understanding of what you need to do will make tasks more bearable.
In marriage, it’s certainly the case that how you do something is just as important as the fact that you do it!
A couple that wants to venture into married life should take the time to negotiate and review the roles that they will be playing. They could make a list of all tasks and divide them in the most equitable way. They could also agree to taking turns and to setting up a household chore schedule.
This advice is easy to dismiss, as it sounds rudimentary and even condescending. But in the course of discussions about issues on this very basic level, it’s often the case that someone’s deeper, core values and beliefs surface.
It’s then that partners can get to know each other better and practice dealing with each other in a spirit of give and take and active listening, when there isn’t anything big at stake and there are no negative emotions.
Dealing with the in-laws
Marriage involves a change in boundaries but it also expands the family to include the relatives of your new spouse. Parents usually have a hard time letting go of their children and sometimes have the tendency to overstep.
They naturally want to stay connected with their son or daughter, but this impulse can sometimes complicate a marriage, especially in those crucial first months and years when patterns of behavior are established and reinforced.
Parental input is healthy and may in fact be a factor in getting your union off to a flying start!
Too much imposition, on the other hand, will make you too dependent, or resentful. You and your spouse need to discuss how much parental input you both see as appropriate.
You need to set specific limits as to what your parents can do and what they can contribute to your marriage. You also need to communicate these boundaries to your parents in various ways as the timing presents itself.
They need to understand that your marriage stands the best chance of flourishing if you and your spouse work together on the major decisions and present a united front.
Money matters and finances are highly sensitive topics. A lack of financial responsibility may lead to overspending and debt. Couples can end up blaming each other for bad financial situations caused by a lack of alignment in terms of budgeting.
It’s not uncommon for financial issues to come up during the wedding planning, of course. It might be tempting for one partner to readily agree to certain spending decisions in the lead up to your big day in the interest of keeping the peace and the flow. And it’s easy to tell yourself that such a special day warrants a splurge and the relaxing of usual limits when it comes to cost.
That being said, it’s also true that a big opportunity exists for open and honest negotiations regarding such things. It’s a chance to practice positive, productive conversation around a touchy topic that can pay big dividends in married life as a precedent for how things are dealt with going forward.
You need to establish boundaries and rules in order to avoid financial problems and the significant stress that this can put on any relationship, no matter how sound it is.
Couples should agree on a specific budget that covers basic necessities, bills, and discretionary expenses. They need to stick to that budget in order to avoid issues and arguments.
If you approach your wedding planning with a set budget in mind, you will find yourself ahead of the game after you get married, because you’ve already had the chance to successfully plan such a momentous, joyous occasion together with these principles in mind.
Your wedding planning has therefore in a sense primed you for coming to a meeting of the minds in regards to the seemingly more mundane but crucial financial choices of all types that are a big part of married life.
Have fun but be responsible
Single life does have its perks! You get to spend all the time you want on the things that you want to do. Once you get married, things will undoubtedly change. Not spending enough time with each other can be a source of disagreements and conflict.
Marriage is all about compromise. You and your spouse need to respect the fact that you each have your own individual needs. You are both unique, and it is this individuality that brought you together in the first place.
Learn to respect personal time but make sure to make time for activities that involve the both of you. It can be wonderfully fulfilling if both of you start enjoying what the other person likes to do.
This doesn’t have to mean actually participating, though it could involve this. It can also mean simply taking the time to truly listen to your partner when they talk about what pulls them, what animates and inspires them.
This of course isn’t that simple, as people get busy and it’s a challenge sometimes to really listen and ask questions that draw someone out and prompt them to convey the passion they have for something.
But in practicing this, the passion in the marriage itself is nurtured. There’s nothing written in stone that says the first year of marriage will be stressful.
It’s after all, a wonderful time that offers countless chances for a couple to build on the memories they’ve already built together and to build a solid foundation for the wonderful road ahead.
Take time to reflect and discuss
Just take some time now on your own and together to reflect on things you’ve experienced together so far, and take the time to consciously learn from that and expand on those lessons.
Setting aside time to talk at regular intervals before and after you’re married about crucial, basic aspects of life together offers a valuable chance to do just that.
It’s far easier to come up with productive, satisfying and mutually rewarding comprises and solutions when you approach things from a desire to address things before they turn into bones of contention and fuel for fights and discord.
There’s much less need for defensiveness when you do this, in contrast to when something has already triggered an argument and you find yourself reacting without thinking.
Let the care, communication and attention to detail that you bring to bear in planning your wedding be a template for how you approach your marriage, and the honeymoon will never end, regardless of what life may bring.
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