Many people enter marriage with the idea that life will be like a fairytale from here on in; that everything will run smoothly and you will both live happily ever after.
Unfortunately, married life is rarely that perfect. Although there will be many moments when both of you are blissfully happy, there will also inevitably be conflict and complications, so it is imperative that you learn how to deal with them effectively. Here are our top ten tips for newlyweds.
Learn how to deal with conflict
The most important tip for dealing with marital disputes is to learn – and cherish – the value of communication. Rather than bottling up your grievances and allowing them to grow, talk through how you are feeling and settle small issues as they arise. However, although it is good to air your problems, it is also wise not to be petty. Although you may love a place for everything and everything in its place, try to remember that you love your partner more. Accept that married life is about compromise and don’t let the small things eat away at you. Most importantly, learn how to accept (and make) an apology.
Discuss finances ASAP
One thing likely to cause arguments within a new marriage is the subject of money. You are perhaps both used to spending your earnings as and when you like and it may be difficult to have another person impose on your financial decisions – particularly if one of you earns more than the other. Although it may be daunting, it is important to sit down together as soon as you can (preferably before your marriage, or as soon as possible after) and discuss your finances. Assign roles, set rules and – more importantly – try to stick to them.
Divide household tasks
Another idea for minimising the risk of conflict is to divide up the housework early on in your marriage. Perhaps you both have preferences for areas of responsibility (i.e. your partner does the cooking and you do the washing up) or, if not, you may want to draw up a rota to take turns doing the jobs that neither of you fancy. However you do it, make sure that you settle the matter fairly so that neither of you feel taken advantage of ; after all, you want to feel as though you have entered a loving marriage, not signed on as a housekeeper.
Accept your partner’s faults
In the early days of marriage it may be helpful to learn this truth: nobody is perfect, and that includes your spouse! Although you may have dreamed of marrying that perfect person who never lets you down, the truth is that person does not exist. Accept that your partner is not perfect and they will make mistakes, just as you will. Rather than focusing on all the things that might be bugging you about your other half, concentrate on their good points and try to respect them for who they are. That said, if you feel that your spouse is doing something that is truly unacceptable, it is important that you talk through any issues in a calm way so that you can start to work through them together.
Make time for romance
Once the honeymoon is over and life has resumed its hectic pace, you may feel as though there is simply no time for romance. Well, now it’s up to you to make time. Be creative, plan little surprises (even if it is as simple as leaving a love note for your partner to find, or cooking their favourite dinner) and make time to sit and talk together. No matter how busy you are, to survive the stresses of marriage it is important that you also take adequate time to enjoy the high points and to make each other feel special.
Explore each other’s interests
No matter how much you are convinced you can’t stand chick flicks or watching football, if something is important to your partner it may just be worthwhile giving it a go. Although you don’t have to do everything together, by trying out each other’s interests you may find that you discover something new about your partner, deepen your bond or find a new activity that you enjoy doing together. Also, by sharing your hobbies and interests, you will find that you are more easily able to factor time together into your hectic schedules. So go on, give that ball game/foreign film/sushi making class a go!
Set family/friend guidelines
It may be worthwhile having a conversation early on in your marriage about when and how often you’ll see the other important people in your lives. After all, just because you’re married it doesn’t mean you can go on living inside your special loved-up bubble made for two; people will still want to see you. Arrange when, and how often, you’ll visit each other’s families, and make sure you make equal time for both. Also, whether or not you get on with each other’s friends, accept that you may have to socialise with them from now on, so it may be worth having a conversation about this if there has been any conflict in this area in the past.
Have ‘you’ time
You may be married now, but it is important to remember that you are still an individual, not just one half of a couple. After all, it was you as an individual – with all your various hobbies, interests and friends – that your partner fell in love with in the first place. No matter how much you love your spouse, a full life can’t exist around just one person, so make sure you don’t abandon all your other friends and interests in the first flush of marriage. Make some regular ‘you’ time to do what you enjoy doing – alone or with a friend. Factoring in some regular time apart will also make your relationship stronger by giving you more to talk about when you’re together and helping you relish your time together even more.
Learn from mistakes
Sadly, no matter how many relationship rules you read, there will always be times in your marriage when you think you could have done better as a couple. Perhaps you didn’t handle an argument as well as you would have liked, or maybe you’ve let the romance slip by the wayside. Whatever the case, it is important not to dwell on the past and view your mistakes as having ‘failed’ some kind of marriage test. When you make mistakes, or encounter regrets in your marriage, try to look objectively at the situation, think how you could have both handled it better, and then move forwards. Try not to think of mistakes as failures, but rather as good learning opportunities.
Although these tips will you to get your married life off to a good start, one of the most important pieces of advice when starting marriage is to view all pieces of advice as just that: advice – not rules. People will have all sorts of theories about how a good wife/husband should behave and when you should be starting a family, but you need to remember that every relationship is different and there is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ marriage; what works for one couple won’t necessarily work for another. Listen to the advice people give you (some of it may even be useful) but don’t take anything as gospel. After all, it is your marriage, so it is you – as a couple – who should be setting the rules.
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