When dating, we always present our “best self.” We want to impress and entice. We pursue our potential partner with fervor and want to do everything right to make them happy. However, for some, once you’ve got them, you let down your guard a little. You start to show who you really are because you become comfortable and more relaxed. But this side of you may not be the person that was originally exhibited during the initial pursuit.
It’s important that couples have similar values and goals for their marriage. I usually recommend that these are discussed in premarital counseling and serious communication early on. It gets difficult when potential problems haven’t been discussed or have been ignored. For example- when you were dating you loved how your partner was so carefree and could just “go with the flow.” Now that you’ve been married two years and have a child- you need them to be more stable and take care of responsibilities.
Disagreements and disappointments are common and it’s important to know how to navigate through these challenges. Here are a few tips to keep you focused on enjoying each other and not arguing over things that could have been discussed early on.
- Do you pool our funds? Should you have a joint bank account or separate accounts?
- Spending habits- are you carefree with your money or frugal
- Inheriting debt- credit card debt and student loans- it’s not just their’s anymore- it’s yours as well
#2 Introduction of Children
- Baby blues- your wife may go through post-partum depression-how can you support her?
- Lack of intimacy- Husbands: You are not the #1 priority anymore- baby’s needs trump yours- hard for many men to adjust
- Parental roles- who is the disciplinarian- because you come from different backgrounds, discipline or child-rearing skills may look different- how do you adjust?
#3 Interfering In-laws
- Parents taking sides- It’s natural for a parent to want to take sides with disagreements- make sure you are communicating with each other and not encouraging outside influence in your home
- Influence of marriage decisions- I usually advise that parents are NOT involved in the decision-making process. It’s different now- You become “ONE”- a unit- not a triangle with other’s opinions (FYI- this could also include friends)
- Holidays- this may be tricky- you want to decide ahead of time whose family you plan to spend time with over the holidays- then maybe switch it up the next year
#4 Who’s Responsible for What?
- Relationship roles- For some reason, it seems that our views of our partner changes in a marriage. Wives may have a concept of how a husband is supposed to be. Or husbands may feel they have specific responsibilities to keep their household in order. You don’t always have to follow the norm- set your own rules based on your relationship. Your role in the household should be custom to your needs and desires as a couple. If your partner is better at something, don’t let gender specific roles hinder you from making your marriage successful. You shouldn’t let others tell you your role as a supportive partner- you have to figure out what works best.
- Household chores- is it 50-50 or 80-20? Decide how you want to divvy up the household tasks and don’t renege on your part of the deal
- Managing the money- again is this a joint effort or is one of you better at this than the other? Don’t resent that your partner is better at handling funds- focus on your strengths. It’s best that you decide ahead of time how things will be done.
#5 Annoying Habits
- Leaving the cap off the toothpaste OR hair in the sink- sometimes after you say â€œI doâ€ or move in together you start to notice those annoying habits. Maybe they leave dirty clothes on the floor or forget to take out the trash. Discuss these things- don’t let frustration and irritation build up over time
- Traits you loved while dating get on your nerves when you move in together
#6 Time Management
- Spending less time together – well you have kids now and they take up most of your time. Or you have to take on more hours to pay the bills. Whatever the case may be- it’s important to continue habits that brought you together. I encourage couples to keep dating- 1-2x’s a week you should be spending time together.
- Managing home and work- I know you have to work, but you should make time for home as well. No one in the relationship should have to be “lonely.” Loneliness can be the cause of MAJOR problems in your future (including affairs). Plan moments to spend time together during the day. It could even be as small as a 5-10 minute break to say “I love you” or “missed you today.” Make time for communication and physical touch- it makes a difference.
The more knowledgeable and prepared for these challenges, the better chance of working through them and strengthening the bond to hold the marriage together. When the honeymoon is over, it doesn’t mean that you become an”old married couple.” You can become a vibrant, energetic couple and maintain the early passion of your marriage for years to come!