If you’re a newlywed, you probably know that people expect you to be blissful and happy. Of course, this can definitely be true! However, it’s also very common for marriages to hit some rough spots early on. (Did you know that most divorces occur during the first five years after the wedding?)
In fact, when researchers ask newlyweds to talk about issues in their marriages, they tend to list the same concerns over and over again. Do you recognize any of these problem areas from your own new marriage?
- Debt and money.
This is a really big one, with some studies finding it to be the #1 newlywed problem. Couples fight about debt they brought into the marriage and how to handle it, as well as how to spend their money and budget.
- Balancing work and family.
With or without kids in the picture, new couples seem to have a hard time figuring out how to find enough time for each other while also handling the demands of their jobs.
- Sex and sex frequency.
Although we often like to think of the “honeymoon” days as a time of sexual bliss, reality may be a different story. Many new couples discover that they don’t quite have the same preferences.
- Time and how to spend it.
Do you ever argue with your partner about what to do on the weekends? Or is anyone resentful about someone’s time at the gym, out with friends, or pursuing a hobby? You’re not alone. This issue comes up for a lot of couples.
- Dividing household tasks.
“Why do I always have to do the dishes?” Sound familiar? Unexpressed expectations, stereotypes, or different personal preferences all can combine to make this one a minefield.
- In-laws and families of origin.
This one probably doesn’t come as a surprise. Even if you’ve been with your spouse a long time, tying the knot can make in-law issues feel more acute and intense. (Are they asking you about babies yet?)
- Communication problems and difficulty resolving fights.
We all like to think we know how to communicate with our partners, but in real life, this is often a challenging task. Maybe one person lets too many things go unsaid, or someone’s style feels too confrontational. Couples may not know how to use conflict constructively.
Making It Work
This may seem like a long list of problems, some of which can be pretty thorny. But don’t get discouraged. In fact, researchers find that even when couples report some pretty serious concerns, their satisfaction and happiness can remain high as long as they have other things going for them. Spending time together, showing respect, love, and affection, and feeling stable in the partnership can go a long way.
The early years of your marriage are crucial. Research suggests that the patterns we develop early on generally tend to continue, so it’s important to get into good habits from the start.
To build a strong marriage, you don’t need to avoid conflict, but rather to learn how to communicate and talk constructively about problems and disagreements that come up. Expressing positive feelings and affection towards your spouse and taking time to nurture the couple relationship are important, too.
Finally, if financial issues like debt are a problem, don’t hesitate to make a plan or begin working with a credit counselor or financial counselor. Enjoy your new marriage and each other!
If you’re considering marriage but want to make sure you are as prepared as you can be, especially when it comes to tricky topics like finances, one great idea is premarital preparation classes. Not only are these classes fun, useful, and empowering, in the state of Florida, they may entitle you to a discount on your marriage license! The SMART Couples project is offering Before You Tie the Knot, a FREE, research-backed premarital preparation class taught by trained instructors, in Florida counties across the state. Sign up today!
By Carol Church, lead writer, SMART Couples, Department of Family, Youth and Community Sciences, University of Florida
Lawler, M. G. (2001). Time, sex and money. Retrieved from http://americamagazine.org/issue/330/article/time-sex-and-money
Schramm, D.G., Marshall, J.P., Harris, V. W., & Lee, T. R. (2005). After “I do”: The newlywed transition. Marriage and Family Review, 38(1), 45-67.