The first year of marriage is when things start to settle in from the romance and lust of a new relationship. Reality will now slowly creep in and you'll find out differences that seemed unimportant when you were dating, but will now become pushed to the forefront as a married couple. As such, the first year of marriage is the groundwork for "forever". That said here are some valuable tips to help you survive the first year of marriage.
1. Define Roles
Before marriage, couples assume that their partner will take on certain roles; like breadwinner, bill payer, house husband or housewife, etc. in the relationship. But then once the couple get married, they over idealize things and neglect to talk about these expectations.
To avoid misunderstanding, sit down and discuss household roles. Think about how you can help, and not about how your partner is letting you down. Think and talk about your strengths with each other. Hopefully, you know this by now. You did get married to that person across the table from you. However, this is not the time for secrets. Be open and honest and work out a plan for who will do what in the marriage. Some of the responsibilities for every job in the relationship will lie with both partners, but some people will just be better at some things that others.
When you think about it, this is supposed to be an obvious solution. However, after two people get married, communication starts to wane and that is when things start to go south. What you need to do is to let your partner know what you want. Don't assume your spouse to be a mind reader.
Communication is the key to any problem that comes up. It does not matter what the problem is you should be able to talk about it to the person you love and married. When couples come into me for marriage therapy, the first thing I look for is how the communication between the two is presented.
3. Don't Play the Compare Game
Every marriage is completely different. So you should never compare your wife to your mother. You should never compare your spouse to any of your exes and you should never compare your relationship to other couples. What you need to realize is that you have to accept whatever you have as a couple for what it is. Besides, if you really feel that there is something bothering you about your partner, there is always room for improvement and you can try to fix things that are needed to be fixed. In the end though, it is your partner that you are going to bed with; not your mother, or your exes, or your neighbor for that matter.
4. Money Matters
Money is a very sensitive matter when it comes to relationships. If you don't trust each other and do not define values, money ends up being spent carelessly and negligently. That is when couples start blaming each other for financial catastrophes simply because they are not on the same page when it comes to the management of finances. To avoid money problems, what you need to do is to define what matters most for the two of you (whether it is entertainment, luxuries, vacations, etc). The sooner you talk about these issues, the better for you to budget your money with your partner.
The budget should be a process that all people in the family are involved in. In a newlywed marriage, there are usually only two people. However, if there are children, they should have some involvement in the process. Of course, they are not contributing monetarily, but they will need to know where the money is going, so they understand there is not money for every little thing they want. Also, this is a great teaching moment where they will learn how to budget for when they get older.
5. Be Open and Honest
This is the most important factor in making any relationship work. It is even more important when it comes to marriage. How can you make a marriage last if you are keeping things from your spouse? How can you live with your partner if you don't trust him/her? Honesty and openness is a vital building block to make a relationship work not just for the short term but for the long term as well.
6. Fight with Only the Objective to Solve Problems
When an argument or a disagreement between couples arise, past mistakes may be brought to the surface, regrettable words could be said, and blame would become a huge factor. If this happens, you need to step back and focus on how you can resolve the problem. You need to ask yourself if the blame game can resolve anything. Focus on the problem with the intent on solving it. Something as simple as asking your spouse about how he/she feels, admitting that things are becoming hard and just communicating in a warm and friendly tone. These things can make a huge difference between sleeping in the sofa and lying next to your wife before bed.
And just for clarification, you will argue. You should be fair about it and not get too heated. If your children can witness a problem being solved when you disagree, this will be okay, as long as it does not get out of hand. If you fear it will be heated and/or it is not going the right direction, exit to your room and discuss it there. Children can learn that a couple argue and fight, but that you can work it out is important to you and to them.
7. Commit to Your Marriage
It is important to realize that a commitment to your marriage is something you need to work on for the rest of your life. You need to think of some of the actions you do. Will they end up hurting my partner? If I do this, will he/she leave? At the start of a marriage, be open enough to say that divorce is out of the question. If you go in to a marriage with the intention of being with him/her for the rest of your life, then that could be a huge factor to making it last.
These are only a few tips on how to make a marriage last. While the first year of marriage is the toughest for newlyweds, know always that the difference between divorce and forever is the commitment to make it work no matter what it takes.
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