There’s a reason a couple’s first year of marriage is memorable. It’s not the honeymoon phase, the new house, or the prospect of having a baby that truly marks one’s marriage after the wedding. It’s the shattered expectations, unexpected conflicts, and the doubts that stick. This is especially true if you hadn’t stayed under the same roof for longer than three days before you said your marital vows. The first six months is when you get to know your partner best and realize that you’re in this for the long haul. The traits you like come paired with traits you think you might not be able to stand, and that’s okay. It’s normal when two very different lives converge under the same roof in pursuit of love and happiness.
These unique challenges aren’t meant to break your marriage but to fortify it. Sadly, some couples dive into this unprepared for the task of getting to know the person they married inside and out.
If you feel daunted and overwhelmed by the weight of this commitment, don’t worry. You’re not alone. The most important thing is to get your expectations straight so that you’ll survive the first six months, six years, and, hopefully, six decades and beyond of a happy married life.
Strategize Your Way Out of Conflicts
Prevention is better than intervention, even in conflicts between spouses. That’s not to say you can totally prevent conflicts. You want to avoid the harsh words and actions that could make matters worse and emotionally scar your partner.
By this time, you should have a good idea of how you and your spouse differ in terms of food, design preferences, music, people, and so on. What you want is to sit down and talk about how both of you react to certain things. Do they raise their voice at once? Do you like walking out on arguments? Are you both quick to play the blame game? Acknowledge where either of you falls short and think of ways you can manage tough conversations and confrontations. It can be as simple as promising not to shout, curse, or be offensive. You can vow never to argue in front of other people.
Perhaps your main conflict is in your differing preferences in the things you share. Agree to disagree and find ways to meet each other’s wants. It doesn’t matter if it’s your living room furniture or your bed heating. If you prefer varying temperatures in your bedroom, pursue solutions like a dual-zone climate comfort system. Nothing is too trivial to practice love and respect for one another.
Give Each Other Time to Adjust
You can’t expect to adjust to a new house and a new “roommate” overnight. The first six to twelve months of marriage is when you get to know each other to the tee. From nighttime habits and disgusting food pet peeves to anger issues and nervous ticks, this is when you’re introduced to the totality of the person you married.
It’s not unusual to have doubts but remember that marriage is about loving both the beautiful and the ugly sides of your partner. The two of you are on the same boat in this regard. He or she is also discovering your little quirks that they may find strange or undesirable, but what matters at the end of the day is your choice to stay together anyway. Who knows? These little quirks you notice from each other might be the reason you fall deeper in love with them in the future.
Improve Yourselves Together
Make a conscious effort to improve together. This could mean reading self-help books, attending seminars, or regularly evaluating how you’re doing as a married couple. Look at it as a good kind of challenge instead of a burden. You’re not changing yourselves so that you can accept one another. Acceptance should’ve happened before you were married. You’re improving your temper, tidiness, culinary skills, and profession because you want to give each other the best life. When these efforts are borne out of love, they’re anything but cumbersome.
It Might Feel Like Surviving
There’s a difference between surviving and winning, and your first few months together will most likely feel like the former. Marriage presents challenges that will transform you either for the good or the bad. It’s by entering this commitment together with the right mindset and expectations that you eventually feel like you’re winning. The transition is often long and difficult, but you vowed to stick together through thick and thin, so you might as well give it your best shot.