Secrets to surviving your first year of marriage

Posted at 4:09 PM, Sep 29, 2014
and last updated 2014-10-12 17:24:04-04

So, you've survived the wedding planning process, made it through the big day, dodged every curve ball life has thrown at you and now you can finally relax and enjoy the married life, right?

Well, according to a variety of sources and experts, you may have a few more surprises in store. In a recent Huffington Post article, marriage and family therapist Winifred M. Reilly described some of her own marital experiences and things she wishes she'd known as a newlywed.

"Most of us step into marriage hoping for a lifetime of love and happiness, knowing far too little about what might give us our best shot at getting there. Many of us assume that because we're in love, because we have common values and compatible dreams, we've got everything we need to have a marriage that lasts."

Newlyweds may feel like they've got this marriage thing all figured out, but these five things may come as a surprise to newly married couples.

Fairness is a very fluid concept

Reilly reminds us that life isn't fair and neither is marriage. She notes that the idea of a perfect 50/50 compromise every day is a novel idea but is rather unattainable in a real marriage.

"Who wants a life of constant ledgering, keeping track of who did that when and who owes whom? Why does it matter that it was you who last called the babysitter and that it was he who left the dirty pot in the sink?" says Reilly.

Instead, she offers a different method: "Strive to be generous." By offering support and letting some things slide, she finds that couples end up focusing more on what they put into the marriage and less on what they get out of it.

You're going to get a lot of baby pressure

At first it may seem harmless as your close friends and family members hint at the possibility of a new addition to your family. Then co-workers may chime in, your neighbor starts to pry, and soon it may feel like every person you come in contact with is asking you the same question, "When are you going to have a baby already!"

It can be very exhausting, as mom blogger Charlie Penn wrote in a 2012 post.

"I do believe that if you and your spouse decide to become parents because you feel like it’s what all the other adults around you are doing or because your friends and family want you to, you’re making the mistake of putting others’ needs and goals before your own, and that’s just no good."

Maybe you will take it all in stride and it won't bother you one bit, or maybe not. Either way, if you're newly wedded and waiting some amount of time to have children, you may end up hearing about it from just about everyone.

Romance will take some work

This one may not really be a surprise to most. In the beginnings of a marriage, the romance can feel easy and require little to no maintenance to keep alive. But as the frequently mentioned "honeymoon phase" wears off, life's pressures and strains combined with careers and families can put romance on the back burner for a lot of couples.

Many blogs and websites offer advice on how to keep the romance sparked in a marriage, like babycenter's parent advice article on how to keep the romance even after having children.

"Some of our most romantic evenings are spent cooking together once the baby is down. We choose an item from Gourmet magazine and then prepare it in the kitchen together. We usually listen to Al Green for the full experience. Once dinner is ready we sit down in the dining room, which is filled with candles, and catch up. It's a lovely way to spend the evening," said one parent contributor.

You're going to have some differences

No two people are going to feel or think the same about everything, especially in a marriage. If you're an immaculate organizer and your new spouse has their own more haphazard method of keeping track of their life, you'll either go crazy trying to change them or you can learn to stay calm and navigate the situation.

In a study conducted by The Gottman Institute, the results showed that couples who started their conflict discussions with more negative emotion and fewer positive expressions were more likely to divorce during a six year time span.

"In stable marriages, both husbands and wives expressed less negative effect and more positive effect at the first three minutes of such discussions," said Dr. J.M. Gottman, head of the study.

Some time apart is a good thing

Being attached at the hip may feel like the most normal thing in a marriage, especially at the beginning. You and your spouse have just made vows to be together forever, so it's natural to want to be around each other every moment. By making time for your own actitivies away from your spouse, you both will have some valuable alone time to explore individual interests or visit friends you may not have seen since becoming part of a married couple. You'll both feel recharged and excited to see each other after some time apart.