The first year of marriage: a survival guide

Written by    Last updated: June 8, 2007

It is said that most marriages that survive the first year have a better chance of lasting in the long‐term. Get important tips on how to survive the crucial twelve months…

Important tips on how to survive the crucial twelve months…

It is said that most marriages that survive the first year have a better chance of lasting in the long‐term. Just as you wouldn’t show up on your wedding day without having made all the necessary plans, don’t start your marriage without some sort of planning for how the two of you will grow and live together.

Here are some of the most common causes of arguments with newlywed couples:

  • Money: This is the most common cause of arguments. Decide on a system to manage your money; whether it is separate or joint accounts. Agree on how you will budget and pay bills.  Make sure you have sufficient funds to cover you in case of an emergency.  Ideally, you will need three times your monthly salary in an easy access account. Discuss making a will, life insurance and pension funds to plan for both your retirements.
  • In‐Laws & Families: You should speak to your partner about how much say your families will have in your marriage.  Discuss how often you will see them and whether any holiday breaks are involved. Even if you are not particularly close to your own family, allow for the possibility that your partner may feel differently about his or her family and remember: this can be a highly sensitive subject!
  • Housework & personal habits: Two thirds of women say that men don’t do enough housework, with untidiness being one the biggest causes of arguments. Talk about how you can divide up the chores. While the housework should be equally split, make allowances for times when one of you has to work longer hours or is going through a particularly stressful time. Be generous and help out, even if it’s not your turn. With your partner’s annoying personal habits, learn to ignore the ones you can live with and persist with gentle reminders with the ones that you can’t.
  • High Expectations: One of the most common causes of discontentment amongst many newlywed couples is their unrealistically high expectation of married life. Many expect there to be more romance in their lives, whereas setting up home together takes practicality, time and energy. Talk about your expectations both of each other and of the marriage you have just entered together. Be clear with each other about the elements of the marriage that matter to you the most.
  • Comparisons: Some of the expectations you have from one another may depend on your past experiences in other relationships, or in some cases previous marriage(s). While it is natural to compare, it is advisable to judge your new partnership on its own history and merits, as no one couple is the same as another. Also, don’t set your expectations too high and don’t be disillusioned if you don’t fit your partner’s mould of the perfect husband or wife. These things come with time and compromise.
  • Children: This is a subject that should be honestly discussed, ideally before the wedding. You need to come to an agreement on this fairly early on. Certain questions should be asked. When will you have children? Who will look after them? How will you discipline them?
  • Power Struggles: One of the most common tests in the first years of marriage is trying to convert the partner to do, think or feel the same as you do about everything, which naturally leads to disagreements. Avoid this power struggle by starting your marriage with the understanding that at times you’ll both agree to disagree. In situations where an agreement is a must for marital success, such as family or financial matters, agree to step away from your personal positions and come together to create a compromise that you both agree on.
  • Forgive and Forget: Those who cannot or won’t forgive end up with a marriage that is filled with hurt and distrust, and spend most of their time consumed by resentment. Allow and forgive mistakes you are both likely to make, with the expectation of learning from the situation.
  • Time Out: It is inevitable you will feel stuck in domestic routine at some point in your first year of marriage. When you see that happening, take time away from one another to do your own thing.  Alternatively, take time out from your everyday routine to do an activity that you both enjoy. If you both loved going to the theatre or cinema as a couple before your marriage, plan a weekly treat that you both can look forward to.

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