This is Part I of my ongoing series on Life Stages and Transitions. In Part I I’ll discuss the challenges facing newlyweds. One area a lot of people don’t address is the adjustment of living with someone for the first time, so that is the area I am going to talk about here.
There are some common misconceptions that when you’re newly married and you move into your first home together, that you automatically get along perfectly, that you are ideally in love and never disagree. The truth is newlyweds face some unique challenges if they’ve never lived together before. If you’ve lived with someone else in a previous domestic partnership, you may have a clue what it’s all about. Newly married couples have a learning curve unlike any other.
The time that follows the wedding and the party, opening the gifts, the honeymoon; all that gives you a high, a euphoria that will carry you through the first part of your marriage, but then you get to the reality of the everyday grind of work, school, household chores, division of labor in the home, all the nuts and bolts of running a home and living a life together; It isn’t always pretty and it may not be what you expected or envisioned it to be.
You may find that your newlywed spouse snores, farts, leaves the toilet seat up and hates to do dishes. Your partner may have an aversion to the vacuum cleaner, and may leave her dirty clothes right where she takes them off! When you were dating, you each showed the best of yourselves to each other, and now that you’re newlyweds, things become a bit more, ah, relaxed, should we say? None of these issues are deal breakers as long as both of you understand that it’s all perfectly normal for newlyweds to find out some unpleasant things about one another, and you can find ways to compromise and work around just about anything.
The main point is not to hold things inside, for that is where resentment and anger build. Then you’ve got a conflict. Check in with each other regularly about what things are going right and what could be improved on, remember, this is a learning curve and you’re going to need to make adjustments as you go along. Keep communication flowing in both directions, and ask open-ended questions. Be prepared to hear things you may not like, and receive them in a patient and loving way. This newlywed period is a time of transition and you need to both be flexible and kind about where you need to adjust. It’s the little daily kindnesses that will sustain your relationship through this transition and help you set the tone for all your future interactions.
The point is to love your partner through it, ”warts and all” and to find ways to compromise and adjust to accommodate what you both like and dislike. Your newlywed home doesn’t have to be a place of conflict or contention if you are kind and loving to each other and talk about everything that concerns you. Keep blaming language out of the mix, and be vulnerable and authentic with one another. If you can talk about what bugs you, what you like and dislike and your partner can do the same, you can find ways to work around just about any issue before it blows up.
Be sure to read Part II in my Life Stages and Transitions Series when I discuss the next phase, raising your family and the impact on you as a couple.