Marriage, they say, transforms your perspective on life. You grow as a person and maybe discover aspects of yourself that you didn't know existed! The first few years of marriage often lays the foundation for a lifelong partnership, clichéd as it may sound. It is a time of tremendous adjustment and of tempering expectations. Even if you have known your partner for many years it is still a different ball game when you are living with the person. You may experience mixed emotions like excitement, apprehension, surprise, joy, disillusionment, confusion and sometimes frustration.
Each person's experience is different as we are complex beings. While there is no manual to navigate the sometimes choppy waters of marriage, knowing what to expect certainly helps. Here are a few pointers to keep in mind during the first few years of marriage.
Accept the Differences
After the buzz of romance and roses wears off, newlyweds often find that reality sets in rather quickly! They realize that there is a big chasm between getting married and being married. Differences that seemed trivial before marriage now take on different proportions. It could be sleeping habits, dietary preferences, the movies that you watch or the music that appeals to you. While courting you may be more accommodating but things may change when you live together. Talk amicably about your differences and make the effort to accommodate each other's interests.
Relationship With the In-laws
The first year of marriage is a defining moment for building a solid relationship with your in-laws. In the Indian context it is a crucial bond to maintain. Parents are concerned and anxious about their children's well-being and this may translate into constant interaction which can sometimes border on interference. Differences often crop up because of disruptive patterns of communication with the in-laws. Things can be smooth if both partners discuss about how much parental engagement is acceptable and accordingly set their boundaries with their respective parents. It is difficult to deal with a third person in the marriage even if it is from well-meaning parents. At the same time showing love, respect and appreciation for the parents is very important.
Discuss Expectations With Your Partner
It is very important to be clear about each of your roles in running the household. If both partners have clearly defined roles with regard to sharing chores, paying bills and financial planning, then there are fewer chances of clashes. Don't allow the first flush of idealism blind you to practical matters of daily living. A fair distribution of responsibilities will make both partners feel validated and not become resentful of taking on more than their share.
Discuss Mutual Goals & Values
Share your perspective on career goals and money matters with your partner. Money is one of the major causes of differences between couples. This is where values come into play. If each partner has a different philosophy toward money management then it is a recipe for disaster. So try and sort out differences right at the beginning so that it doesn't create a rift. It is also a good idea to discuss core values about religious beliefs as this also is a sensitive matter. While one partner may decide that spending on religious functions is necessary, the other may think it is a waste of money. Lay out all your cards on the table and have a healthy debate rather than viewing it as an insurmountable issue.
Being Right vs Being Happy
Striking a balance between what you think is right and what your partner thinks, is going to be crucial to keep the peace. Things are rarely black and white, so swimming in the grey is an essential part of a happy marriage! Don't allow egos to get in the way of reaching an amicable agreement. Sometimes choosing to be happy over being right may be a better option. You don't have to agree with everything that your partner feels but you can certainly respect their opinion without being disagreeable.
Give Some Space
In the first few months of marriage, you will probably be invited everywhere together. While it is great to spend time together, it is also equally important to give each other space. Take time to be with your own set of friends so that you are not in each other's pockets all the time. Some amount of time apart is necessary to keep the spark alive.
Keep the Romance Alive
The most important factor is keeping alive the romance element. Sometimes daily life tends to occupy our attention completely and romance might take a back seat. So plan that candle lit dinner or a movie followed by a long drive to take away the drudgery of daily life. Showing each other how much you care is a key ingredient of a happy partnership.
Marriage is a work in progress and yes it needs a lot of work! There will be times when you wonder whether you made the right decision and this happens to all of us. As long as you keep fine tuning your expectations and accept each other without being intent on changing the other, you are on the road to a long, beautiful and nurturing marriage....truly made in heaven!