Scene 1: The Big Day
The day has finally arrived. You walk down the aisle taking in all of the people who have come to witness this momentous occasion. You and your fiancé enthusiastically say “I do!” There is a great celebration and finally you leave. Now, the two of you begin your journey of happily ever after.
Scene 2: Beyond the Honeymoon
Reality sets in. Sometimes it happens on Day One of the honeymoon. Others experience it when they arrive home and are trying to settle into a routine. You both realize it is just the two of you and you have to figure out how to do life together as a team. While this is something you have been looking forward to, it can create some difficult moments.
Scene 3: What Nobody Tells You
Regardless of how long you have been together as a couple, being married is different. The first couple of years can actually be very challenging, but nobody really talks about that for fear that people will judge them.
Learning how to live with your spouse is an adventure. In most marriages, each person has unspoken expectations based on what they experienced in their own home. Things like:
Who cleans the toilets, pays the bills, mows the lawn, does the laundry, shops for groceries?
How will you deal with the in-laws?
Will you eat dinner together every night?
Who does the cooking?
What about sleep? Do you go to bed at the same time?
When you experience conflict (and you will) how will you handle it?
All of these things tend to trip couples up because each person comes to the marriage with assumptions about how things will be.
Scene 4: What Might be Helpful to Know
As you navigate the first years of marriage, here are some things to consider that can help make the transition smoother.
Get prepared. You probably spent a lot of time and energy preparing for the wedding, but don't forget to prepare for the health of your marriage. Getting married without preparation is like planning to compete in the Iron Man and hoping you have what it takes to finish the race. Couples who take the time to learn the skills needed for successful marriage are 30 percent less likely to divorce. Make the time to attend a premarital education class where you can practice handling the hard stuff.
You are a team. Before marriage you only had to be concerned about yourself. Adding someone else into the mix, even when you love them, can be tough. It isn’t all about you anymore. It is about two individuals coming together with the goal of helping each other grow. This requires give and take, thinking through priorities and being totally invested in making the relationship work.
Love isn’t all you need. Many couples believe that because they love each other they will agree on most things. This is when things can get really dicey. Studies show that all couples fight about money, sex, kids, others and time. An advantage of marriage is you have someone who cares so much about you they are willing to disagree and weigh in with their thoughts and opinions. Couples who understand these disagreements are normal and learn to manage those areas of their life do better.
Happily-married couples rarely describe their marriage as challenge-free, even after decades of marriage. In fact, many of them describe the hard times as those that refined them and made their marriage stronger.
Whether you are preparing for marriage or you are a newlywed, remember you are building something new together. You may come to marriage with a blueprint of how you always thought it should be, but as you hammer it out you both realize you need something different. No matter who you marry, there will be challenges. It’s how you handle them that makes the difference.