Being a newlywed is awesome.
Seriously, it is!
There are moments when the world feels like it’s revolving around you and your partner’s relationship.
Sometimes, time stands still (I swear, it does!). It is truly a season of life like no other.
Beyond the beauty of it all, the truth about being a newlywed is that you will both bring a myriad of your own assumptions and unspoken expectations into your new life together.
Premarital preparation can help reveal some of those expectations, but it is almost impossible to catch them all.
Let’s just clear this one up right away! Hopefully, the beginning years are flourishing with an abundance of intimacy and sex. This is not always the case. It is normal for couples to experience a decrease in sex after a few years together.
While the young adult generation of millennials are actually having less premarital sex, it is not uncommon for couples at any age to have premarital sex and, thus, experience a slow-down after the wedding.
Additionally, we live in a very fast-paced society, and slowing down to prioritise time for real intimacy can quickly become a challenge. Many couples find that, just because they live together, it still takes intentional work to prioritise time for sex and intimacy.
I’m not insinuating a horrible fate for your marriage here, but a common assumption that newlywed couples have is the immunity mindset: “that won’t happen to us.” The scary part is, people usually believe that with every fibre of their being when they say it.
The truth is, life will test your relationship.
Your partner may not cheat on you (or you on them) in the way you most fear. It might not look like a sexual or emotional relationship with another person outside of your relationship boundaries. But, many people deal with other forms of relationship infidelity or straying outside of the couple bond to deal with stress, frustration, or personal insecurity. For many people, this is seen in the form of workaholic, addiction, hiding in personal hobbies, prioritising new friends or social circles, and, of course, affairs.
The best thing you can do to be mindful of this is to remember that your marriage must be nurtured and prioritised. It takes intentional effort after years of being together to keep your partner’s world and needs at the forefront of your mind. We get busy, lost, and complacent. Be aware of this and allow yourself to function from a more realistic mindset.
This idealistic assumption, though enticing, can lead to unmet expectations and, later, resentment. The truth is, the honeymoon phase is really just the first part of many developmental stages that a relationship goes through.
True, you see many couples that seem to “have it all” and be completely enthralled with each other throughout their lives, but don’t be mistaken. A lasting, healthy, and intentional marriage is comprised of phases of bonding, differentiating (establishing separateness), and in the end, finding a healthy balance of both.
Wrong. Love is work, but it is work well worth it. It will be work that you will revisit time and time again throughout the seasons of your lives. You may find a partner who fit every single bit of your ideal-mate criteria on their Match profile, but you will still eventually experience conflict. Lasting love cannot survive solely on passion and the infatuation between you.
We often bring into our marriages unmet needs and unresolved attachment wounds from earlier in life. You won’t be able to identify them all before you get married. The challenge will be in resisting the thought that you “chose the wrong partner”, and instead doing the work of building a mutually respectful life and relationship together.
Marriage will fulfil you in some ways, but it will never be the sole source of your fulfilment in life. It is important for both of you to have separate hobbies and interests, as well as to be in tune with your own separate thoughts, opinions, and emotional experiences.
Healthy couples go through life with a clear understanding that their partner will never truly be their “other half” or complete them. Knowing this truth, and always maintaining a curiosity about your partner’s otherness will allow you to continually be able to awaken the desire, passion, and romance throughout the difference stages of your relationship.
Conflict does not mean you aren’t meant to be together. Conflict is also not something newlyweds are immune to.
Couples who have a mindset that conflict is “bad” often come from families of origin that did not openly deal with conflict or support the autonomy and independent thoughts and feelings of its members. It is important for you to recognise that conflict WILL happen. When faced, it will open up new opportunities to know your partner on a much deeper level.
False on many accounts. True, you have committed yourselves to one another which calls for investing in a life of shared meaning, joint activities, and healthy amounts of togetherness, but you are still you. Having your own hobbies, goals, and even separate friends is healthy in order for a marriage to thrive. Marriage is the partnership in which you have the safety and freedom to explore who you are separate from one another, while also growing in your relationship.