You spent many months dating and getting to know one another and knew quickly that he was “the one”. After what felt like an eternity he finally popped the question and romantically asked you to marry him. He presented you with a beautiful engagement ring and you immediately accepted his proposal. Many months were spent planning a beautiful wedding and honeymoon, both of which you had. You and your Prince Charming feel like you have found your soulmate. It is time to settle down and live together as a married couple. As you have never been married you are wondering what sorts of things may come up in your first year of marriage. You will have many experiences and they will very likely be varied. There will be good times and bad times.
Here are some things that you will likely experience and need to consider.
- Your love and fondness for each other will deepen.
- You will continue to have passionate sex and feel like you cannot get enough of each other.
- You will feel safe, secure, connected and supported.
- You will have lots of laughter, good times and great conversations.
- You will work together as a team.
- Things you found charming and amusing may become irritating and annoying
- You may feel smothered and crave alone time or time with friends
- Doubts may surface as you consider spending the rest of your life together
- You may argue, sometimes without resolution
- There (likely) will be a letdown after so many months of being on a high
- You may feel overwhelmed as you juggle your various responsibilities
- You will want to talk about things or be reluctant to bring them up
Practical and necessary considerations
- Will you have separate checking and savings accounts, joint accounts or both?
- How will household tasks like cooking, washing dishes, dusting, vacuuming, doing laundry, taking out the garbage, cleaning the bathrooms, sorting the recycling, paying bills and shopping be attended to?
- Will there be a focus on saving and investing money, paying down loans or more?
- Will mealtimes be an opportunity to eat and talk together, to sit quietly and eat or maybe read or watch TV?
- Will you keep a very neat, clean and organized house or not?
- How much time will be spent on social media or on the computer?
- Will you want to start a family, and, if so, when?
- How much time will you spend together?
- How often, and how deeply, will you communicate?
All this is to say that it is highly likely that you will have mixed experiences and mixed emotions. Sometimes you will feel happy or sad, connected or disconnected, supported or unsupported, peaceful or angry or heard or unheard. You will have many decisions to make about daily living, short and long term goals, finances, sex and lifestyle. It is very important to know that emotional fluctuations and things to attend to are normal. We all have gone through it and continue to experience it through the years. Things coming up is not a problem. Problems and conflict ensue when thoughts, feelings and concerns are ignored, repressed or dealt with in blaming, indirect or aggressive ways. As such, it is essential to talk about what you are thinking and feeling and about your concerns. If you don’t anger, hostility and resentment will build with the result being feeling distant, disconnected and alone.
Action steps to be heard, connected and supported
1. Talk together consistently and schedule time to speak together. Be forthcoming, direct and honest. Don’t focus on your husband, instead keep your attention on yourself; understand the effects of your actions and demeanor.
2. Identify your wants and needs emotionally, physically and sexually and express these. Don’t expect your husband to read your mind.
3. Express thanks to your husband for who he is and what he does; do this toward yourself as well.
4. Pay close attention to what your husband says and specifically state what you heard his say without interpretation. Often powerful reactions can be stimulated when we are talking about sensitive feelings and challenges. These reactions can interfere with our ability to be present and can also prompt us to want to defend ourselves or challenge whatever is being discussed. Continue to pay attention to what is being said rather than preparing a defense or rebuttal.
5. Before you respond wait until your husband is finished speaking. You might even ask, “Are you finished”?
6. Accept input even if it feels critical. Try to objectively reflect on input you are given, consider whether it is true and, if so, change your approach to things.
7. Clarify what will be helpful when you talk with each other. Sometimes you might want feedback and/or suggestions, other times you might simply want to be listened to. The same is true with your husband.
8. Understand and accept that you cannot always get what you want. At times you and your husband will have different preferences, needs and wants. Create a balance so that you each feel satisfied overall.
Under the best of circumstances know that relationships are challenging, that you will have different sorts of experiences and that many things will come up. The key is to talk regularly and to be loving and kind, to your husband and to yourself.