Fairytales and fantasies have fuelled a lot of young and even adult imaginations from childhood. While we have managed to shrug off all other childhood stories like the tooth fairy and Santa Clause, the idea of a happily ever after remains in our minds like a dirty sock that can never be washed clean, but who is to blame for this?
We live in a society that praises the idea of marriage; it is glamorized in weddings, books, movies, and even on social media. Everyone publishes family photos and so-called couple goals.
Don’t get me wrong, marriage is beautiful and indeed enjoyable, in fact, when you marry right it is about the best decision anyone could ever make in their life.
However, try as we might, it is not always all smiles and cheers, especially within the first years of marriage after the wedding gifts have been opened and the honeymoon spent. Some therapists describe this stage as a rite of passage that every couple will most likely experience.
So, if you have just been hitched or about to walk down the aisle, here are a few tips you should know about the first year of marriage, so you don’t get blindsided when faced with challenges.
It is not uncommon for people to feel some form of identity crisis within the first year of marriage. First, as a woman, you have to change your name’s prefix from Miss to Mrs and change your surname as well.
Some women hesitate in this process not because they are not excited about the new identity but because it may seem like a lot to take in.
One minute you were someone else, and the next minute, you are the same person, right? Well, your legal documents beg to differ. It is understandable if you feel this way, and I can assure you that it takes a while to get used to it when you are excited about your new identity, so don’t beat yourself up if you realize you miss identifying with your old name.
While couples should have financial discussions before marriage, it remains one of the most challenging things to do. If you are fortunate, the discussion itself may not be difficult, but its practicality comes with challenges.
You and your partner will have to move from individual beings who were solely responsible for their financial decisions to people who now have to integrate finances and budgets. If you or your partner have a pending student loan or credit card debts, you will both have to discuss how they will be catered to - as a unit or individually.
Regardless of how difficult having in-depth financial discussions about debt and budgeting may be, you will be thankful for it sooner or later.
It’s probably not the first time you’ve heard marriage the first year comes with its fair share of arguments. These things happen, not because you and your partner are terrible people, and neither is it a bad omen. However, you should get worried when the fights are too frequent and unhealthy.
It is important to practice how to have healthy arguments. Remember that you do not have to win, and your partner is not the enemy. Treat every conflict with your partner as the two of you against the problem and not against each other because you are now a couple thinking as one unit.
During the first year of marriage, you will have to work hard to create and nurture a healthy balance between togetherness and independence. In this case, compromise is not just essential, but the only option to build a long-lasting marriage.
It is crucial to have shared hobbies and activities and, at the same time, learn to support each other’s interests.
Just because you are married does not mean you should forgo all the things you did for fun during your single years. Make sure you do not abandon your friends as making time for them could also be a struggle. Remember that investing in a strong tribe can help coax a healthy marriage.
Some say marriage is like a pandora box - you can never be 100% sure of what you will get, but the least you can do is keep an open mind knowing that you did your best in choosing the right partner. This statement goes to show that you are bound to discover new habits and traits about your partner, and they may not always be pleasant.
You and your partner are evolving beings who are ever-changing, so don’t be surprised if he suddenly decides to start keeping a beard or realizes he prefers to be more outdoors than indoors. Take the changes as they come and see them as part of growth.
Before marriage, you two probably had the notion that married people are boring, and that’s understandable. Even though many people go into marriage, hoping they can change this narrative, it is easy to fall into this category because suddenly, you start to value time spent together rather than apart.
There is no need to worry if those activities you enjoyed doing when dating no longer excites you, such as going to the movies or concerts. You can get creative with your time by incorporating activities like workouts, going out for dinner, taking walks together, and board games which give a great user experience, they turn out to be really fun.
Just because you lived together while dating does not mean you should assume marriage would be easier to navigate. First of all, you must know that those annoying characters your partner exhibited while cohabitating may not be going anywhere in marriage, they will remain, and you will have to deal with it.
What is even more overwhelming for many new brides in marriage first year is the realization that they are stuck with their partner for life, unlike the case of cohabitating where you still had the option to quit.
It is not easy juggling two sets of family obligations, so as a couple, you’ll have to sit and negotiate what holidays will be spent with which family and how your time will be divided.
You may also need to set boundaries, negotiate differing values and beliefs, and bridge the gap of understanding.
This will be a lot easier if your partner backs you up, but remember that whatever tone you set for your in-laws during the first marriage years can set the foundation and expectations for your relationship with them and vice versa with your parents.
This may seem abstract, but it is a feeling many new brides face during the first year of marriage. Many people think that because they are married, they need to lose their individuality. In any relationship, both partners need to create time for individual goals, passions, and hobbies.
Sometimes, it’s just the need to fall asleep peacefully without any banter, discussions, or even sex. If you’re going to enjoy married life, learn to let go sometimes and indulge in the activities you love.
So you have been living together for a while, and you are probably overwhelmed by the responsibilities of marriage? When in this state, it is easy to take certain things for granted, like saying thank you.
Make sure you do not lose your sense of appreciation, as this can build resentment among couples. Try to pay attention to the great things your partner does for you rather than continually pointing out everything they do wrong.
Responsibilities and household chores will take up a new meaning because now you are thinking as a couple, not as one person. For instance, you cannot just quit your job without discussing it with your partner first, they will be faced with the unplanned burden of handling the bills alone.
With time, you’ll be grateful you have a partner who is by your side when making major life decisions.
Conflicts during the first year of marriage are expected. It is not easy for two individuals to live together under one roof, especially if you have different understandings of how things should be. However, you must learn to engage in healthy arguments that do not inflict irreversible emotional hurt on your relationship.
Every marriage is different, and while some say the early years were the toughest, others will describe them as the happiest years. However, according to research and the opinions of many couples, they say the first three years are usually most challenging, and this is understandable as they are the years where you get to adjust to each other’s lifestyle and expectations.
Compromise, Communicate, and Courtesy are the critical 3 Cs needed to breeze through the first year of marriage unscathed. Within this year, you will realize that love is not enough to keep a relationship but the continuous effort and devotion to each other.
The first year is the foundational year of any marriage for couples, and how you go about it can set a tone for the rest of your life. Make sure you are intentional about your efforts in the relationship.
You may wake up one morning and realize that you made a mistake, but if you have tried to work it out and there are no positive results, then it is okay to throw in the towel and call it quits.
Even if you have your wedding and life well planned out, married life can still be a bit tricky, but knowing what to expect helps you develop a healthier relationship. If you enjoyed reading this, I would love to hear your opinions, and please be sure to share it with other couples and families.