Friday, June 5, 2009

Why the First Year of Marriage is the Hardest

Disclaimer: I've only been married 5 years, so if you think it's really the 10th or the 25th, I can't contradict you:) But it was definitely the hardest year so far for us, in part because of external factors, but in part because of this stuff that I believe is universal to every marriage.

(1) The person you wake up next to every morning is the only person you will be having sex with for the rest of your life.* Intellectually, you are prepared for this. Unless your religious beliefs prohibit it (and sometimes if they do), you have probably already taken this person for a test drive and are pretty sure that you can live with what you got as your only nookie for a lifetime. Emotionally, though, you may not be. Most of us get some emotional validation out of new sexual partners or potential sexual partners, and you have now signed up to forgo this validation forever. Chances are you thought you were past this ... until temptation strikes and you realize you aren't. Or perhaps it happens to your partner. Either way, minefields all over.

*This is not true for open/polyamourous/multiple marriages. But I don't have one of those and the chances that you do are vanishing slim. If you have one, and its lasted past the first year, I'd love to hear your version of this issue.

(2) All your problems are now your spouse's, and vice versa. That cute little habit he has of going out with the boys every Thursday night? It's now coming out of your budget. Same for her need for a new designer purse every month. Bigger problems, like mental disorders or addictions, can no longer be glossed over. Your spouse may have promised you, with the best intentions in the world, that s/he will quit. This year is where you find out if s/he can do it or not, and whether or not you can live with the answer.

(3) Your baggage from your parents' marriage is different from your spouse's baggage from their parents' marriage. And yes, you both have baggage, all of which will be landing on the other at the same time, as you try to understand why they are not behaving like "normal married people" (i.e. your parents). Some people's parents' marriage(s) is/were so dysfunctional that they have baggage about their baggage. But I am not really talking to them - they generally already know there is a problem in this area. I am taking about really little things - like being annoyed that your spouse does not fix the leaking toilet (even though they have previously displayed no aptitude in this area), which you are subconsciously expecting them to fix, because that was the job of your parent of that gender. Sounds silly - but it happens. I thought that it didn't matter to me whether my husband was employed ... until he was suddenly unemployed, and I discovered a whole pile of buried stuff about who was supposed to be the breadwinner in the family, even though I had a well-paying job with excellent benefits at the time.

These are all I can think of for now, but I am sure there are more - What were your big challenges in your first year of marriage?

No comments:

Post a Comment