Getting married can be one of the happiest moments of your life but BEING married—particularly in that first year—can be one of the hardest. Even when you’ve been happily married for years, there may be moments where you realize you haven’t yet completed the transition.
Those of us who have been married for a while know this is completely normal, but it can throw an otherwise balanced newlywed off-kilter and cause unnecessary questions and doubts.
Why is This Stage of Married Life So Challenging?
>> Being single comes with freedom and the ability to make decisions solely in one’s own best interest. Decisions like taking a trip, accepting a job offer, or even just what to have for dinner are less complicated when you don’t have to take a partner and their opinions into account.
>> To create a healthy marriage, both partners need to come to it as independent entities, but understanding the difference between independence and inter-dependence is crucial. If newlyweds don’t understand that it takes time, effort, and patience to work out differences in priorities, values, boundaries, energy levels, outside friendships, money, sex, and the like, it can get hairy.
>> Couples need to distinguish between the stress placed on them from outside the marriage versus the stress arising from within their relationship. The sooner they realize that most stress comes from outside their relationship and learn to stand united against it, the better. Until then, each spouse can fall temptation to seeing the other as the enemy instead of an ally.
The unfortunate result of all this is that it’s easy for a newly-married couple to assume they made a big mistake or are “doing it wrong” when normal conflicts arise.
Below are a few suggestions to make the transition from single life to wedded bliss less of a bumpy ride.
Do you argue with your new spouse about money? You’re not alone.
Check out our article on The Premarital Money Interview: The Top 10 Questions to Ask Your Fiance’
How to Make It Easier
> Adjust your expectations. The dating and engagement periods are often full of romance, excitement, and passion—things that, over time, begin to change in the best of marriages. Realize that this is an opportunity for you to build on these feelings as a couple and deepen your bond through “real-life” experiences like establishing your daily routine, merging your finances, divvy-ing up weekly household chores, and continuing to learn lots of new things about each other.
>> Ditch the need to be right. When you and your spouse see things differently, there is a tendency to view this as a divide. If the focus then shifts from “our way” to “my way”, these extreme positions can veer into judgment and resentment. To avoid this, try identifying a third alternative that meets both your needs. Learning to compromise well makes it possible for you to resolve things quickly and is often more unifying than getting your way.
>> Look out for #1. And by that, I mean your marriage. You and your spouse are now a new (and complete) family, and not just an appendage of your nuclear family. While friends and coworkers may still play a significant role in your lives, let them know that your spouse is now your main priority and then make decisions—big or small—based on that fact.
>> Handle your conflict internally. Though it may be tempting to turn to friends and family when problems arise with your partner, this can backfire. The risk of them taking sides, misunderstanding the entire situation, or never being able to “forgive and forget” when you resolve things and move on with your spouse is high. By maintaining this boundary, you’re demonstrating to your spouse that you can address things alone without “ratting them out” to others.
>> Balance time together with time alone. No one likes to do exactly the same thing as their spouse all the time. If you prefer to spend your down time reading a book and eating Chinese while your partner would rather hike or go out with friends, it’s okay. Spending time apart can actually help you appreciate your marriage even more and help you bring more energy and interest back to it.
>> Make time for intimacy. Newlyweds are known for having lots of sex, but intimacy is not just sex! Throughout the day there are many small opportunities for intimacy, even if it means a quick text to connect and let your better half know that you’re thinking about them. Identify your partner’s preferred way of receiving love and make sure to use it often. Physical affection, quality time, or small tokens of love (such as flowers or a favorite home-cooked meal) can go a long way and are all great ways of strengthening your intimacy.
> Reach out. Get premarital coaching or counseling after the fact if needed. While you may feel that you shouldn’t experience difficulties in a new marriage, many happy couples who have been married for years would tell you that their first year was also the hardest. You—and your new partner—deserve your best effort and there’s no shame in working with a professional who knows what it takes to create a lasting and satisfying partnership.
Curious about what other newlywed couples are arguing about? Read this article on
7 Mistakes Couples Make in the First Year of Marriage.
The transition from living a single life to a married one does not happen overnight and there are no short-cuts. Building a long-lasting partnership requires time, effort, and understanding but it’s worth building a solid foundation for all the years to come.
Helping engaged and married couples build such a strong foundation is exactly what we do at Marriage Mojo, so don’t hesitate to contact us if we can help you create the marriage you want . . . starting NOW!