By: Natasha Archary
So you bit the bullet and gave into the forever fantasy of marriage have you? Now what? Is it all floating hearts and white picket fences, through your rose tinted glasses? Or have you just realised that things are getting a bit too real too fast?
It’s a wonder people view marriage with the romanticised idea that perfection is obtainable. You’ve chosen to spend the rest of your life with the same person, of course it’s getting real and you’re confined in the same space as said person forever too. Welcome to the first year of marriage.
Married couples have a cutesy term for the first year – the honeymoon phase – the get-to-know-your-better-half and enjoy unlimited sexy time phase. While not entirely untrue, it’s also not always lovey-dovey and “come here so I can rip your clothes off” either.
According to relationship therapist, Aimee Hartstein, the first year of marriage is really the hardest – even if you’ve lived together before tying the knot. She notes that there are a number of reasons that contribute to why it’s the toughest year.
Couples may have an anti-climax post wedding. Once the fairytale wedding is over and reality sets in, you may find it’s difficult to pick up the normalcy and get on with regular life. It’s no longer a flurry of excitement, where you are the centre of attention. Cue reality:
Before you were married you had to schedule dates onto your calendars or have the PAs check your next available weekend. For some strange reason, you thought this would be a thing of the past once you were married because surely this means you’ll now have more time together. Highly unlikely. Chances are you’re both still career driven and ambitious and that global brand or JSE-listed company is not going to run itself into the stratosphere.
“Happily ever in debt”
So your picture perfect wedding expenses did not magically disappear after the big day huh? Imagine that. The debt incurred from a wedding can have a negative impact on a newly wed couple’s dreams. The exorbitant repayment plan for your fairytale wedding means that you have to out off moving into your dream castle – ahem – dream home does it? Why did you have to fork out your entire life’s savings on just one day?
“It’s your turn!”
Daily responsiblities and chores are usually the number one reason newly weds argue. Dirty socks thrown on the bathroom floor, not clearing away last night’s dishes and finding common ground on whose turn it is to take care of supper are all trivial annoyances that, when piled up, leave little room for you to see eye to eye.
“Two become one”
You’re no longer your own person. You can’t do things solo, regardless of how independent you are ladies. You will need to entwine your lives as one. Attending family functions and holidays together, often splitting time evenly. How else do you please everyone? This can be stressful and takes a toll on newly wed heaven. You’ll find yourselves arguing about which side of the family you prioritise and, honestly, when family is involved, things can get nasty.
In a fantasy world, you wouldn’t need to worry about finances or contracts not being renewed. In reality, we live in a volatile economy and the uncertainity of your financial security could add further stress onto your already pressured first year as husband and wife.
“Eager to start a family”
It’s a beautiful moment to decide to start a family with the person you are destined to be with. Just don’t do it in the first year of marriage. You’re both still trying to fit into each other’s lives. Finding equilibrium within your love to accommodate all the little things that irk you about your partner is all the pressure you need in the first year. Don’t throw a baby into the mix of already hot waters.
“Not so intimate”
It’s not easy juggling all of the above and still maintaining a healthy sex life. Some couples even fight about sex. The frequency or lack of. The routine it’s become, not being spontaneous enough. No longer experimenting, wanting more. It’s a really slippery slope of confusion with regards to intimacy and sex during the first year.
In order to survive the first year of marriage and come out stronger, communication needs to be on point. If you have problems with your partner prior to marriage, don’t bring them up after marriage. Flesh them out before you take a dive into the deep end of the romance pool. Open communication, between the two of you, no third parties, is really important.
If you’re struggling to make it through the first 365 days, give yourself a break, you’re not alone. It’s not a sign that your marriage is doomed. It’s perfectly normal but don’t use your marriage as a scapegoat to test the waters of what is okay and what isn’t either. As long as you’re both working on the issues together, you should be fine.