Happily Ever After—Or is it?

Congratulations! You’re married! You made it through the wedding and now it’s time to start your life together as husband and wife.

It’s smooth sailing from here, right?

Well, maybe not. No matter how long you’ve been together, there will always be things you don’t know about your spouse. And these first few months are certainly not free of struggles. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.

There are two main areas where you might face significant challenges in these first few months together: conflict and expectation.

Conflict is one of those things that might sneak up on you. Married life is different. Suddenly you share everything—space, a bed, money, a house—with each other. Inevitably, you will fight. If you haven’t fought yet in your relationship, that first fight might come faster than you think it will. That’s okay. Learning how to conflict with each other is one of the most important parts of living together, and depending on how you were taught to handle conflict in your homes of origin, it may or may not be easy for you to learn how to handle conflict with your spouse.

But that’s the key. You’re starting new customs and new traditions together. Your family’s way of handling conflict may not work well or promote a healthy relationship with your spouse. Talk about how you’ve handled conflict in the past and how you’ve been taught to handle conflict so that when you have your first fight the conversation will have already been started.

Secondly, expectations for your relationship, your time, your money, the future, and even what you hope for from your spouse can cause disappointment. If your expectations don’t match up with each other it can be very easy to wonder why your marriage isn’t everything you hoped it would be. This can be eased by starting the conversations and expressing your wishes and hopes to your spouse. Talk with them about what you hope for sexually, socially, and domestically. By keeping the discussion open, it allows you to continue to get to know your spouse and make sure that you’re both on the same page.

If you try to have these conversations and find that it just isn’t working or you keep fighting instead of reaching any points of connection, it could help to reach out to a marriage counselor or an older couple that you trust who you’ve seen work for their marriage and struggle through the hard stuff together.