Navigating the tumultuous first year of marriage

All Woman

THE first year of marriage is considered by many to be the defining year — even though you love each other it's often plagued by fights, considerations of annulment, feelings of regret, and various other emotions that many couples struggle to cope with. And while some throw in the towel and abandon their marriage in the midst of this tension, others weather the storm and move on to enjoy happy, though by no means perfect marriages.

But can your ability to survive the first year and perhaps the most difficult year of your marriage be an indication that you are ready to deal with whatever may come your way in the future? Relationship counsellor Wayne Powell says that there is definitely a correlation.

“There are many difficult situations to encounter in the first year of marriage; for one, many people are sharing the physical space in that way for the first time. Some couples don't fully explore likes, dislikes, desires and goals which can sometimes conflict, and then there is the reality that during the courtship both partners keep their 'masks' on and are on their best behaviour,” Powell explained.

He underscored that when the masks fall off and the personal preferences, plans and goals clash, this can result in quite the firestorm, and if not contained can lead to burnout of the marriage in an instant. However, he said with the right intervention or management of the conflicts identified in the relationship, the couple may be able to not only learn more about each other, but they may be able to position their marriage for growth.

He also put forward that if the marriage will at all “weather the storm”, then it will require the commitment of both partners, each willing to acknowledge and work on faults and to work on building a healthy relationship that they both want to nourish.

“What will make the difference in the health of the marriage is whether or not the couple is willing to make the necessary adjustments and manage the process effectively, or if they will yield to the pressure of the tumultuous experiences that cause them much distress and conflict. If the couple chooses, they can together effectively navigate the waters or get help to do so and they will be fine,” Powell advised.

He suggested that if you are struggling to cope with challenges in your marriage but you would like to preserve it, then you can seek the support of a professional, such as a marriage or relationship counsellor who should be able to help you with your challenges. He said that sometimes many relationship conflicts seen in new marriages can also be identified and addressed even before marriage if the couple goes through premarital counselling.

Couples should also always remember that marriage is a binding contract. Marriage means that you no longer get to consider yourself alone; it means that you have to consider another person's feelings, that someone may be looking to you for support, and that you may have to help someone else to carry his or her burdens, Powell cautioned.




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