The Confetti guide to the first year of marriage

Written by    Last updated: October 10, 2006

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

first year of marriage

Here are some of the most common causes of arguments with newly‐wed couples:

  • Money: It 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 your retirement.
  • Children: This is a subject that should be honestly discussed, ideally before the wedding. You need to come to an agreement on this early on, especially as there is likely to be pressure especially from Asian parents on this topic. Certain questions should be asked. When will you have children? Who will look after them? How will you discipline them?
  • In‐Laws & families: You should speak to your partner about how much say your families will have in your marriage. Will you live in a joint family or on your own? Remember it is the woman who has to adjust to living as part of a new family. Even if you eventually decide to move out, families will still be part of the package.
  • Housework & personal habits: Two thirds of women say that men don’t do enough housework, with untidiness being one the biggest cause of arguments about personal habits. Talk about how you can divide up the chores. While the housework should be equally divided, 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 of the younger British Asian couples, is their unrealistically high expectations of married life. Many expect there to be more romance in their lives, a bit like in the movies. But real married life is more practical and setting up home together takes time and energy. Take time to talk about your expectations, not only of each other, but 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: 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 are 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Useful contacts for couples seeking marital guidance:

Asian Family Counselling Service
Marriage Care
One plus One
Parent Line Plus
The Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships

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