Tips for transitioning from singledom to married life.
With a chorus of mazel tovs and a flurry of activity, the newly engaged couple goes from engagement parties, to registering, to the wedding and through sheva brachot. When the dust settles, the bride and groom have a chance to set up a life together as a couple, but with the new life come new challenges as each person learns to navigate life as a part of a unit. Temima Danzig, LCSW, a therapist in Teaneck, explained that many tense moments in the first year or so of marriage can be prevented with key discussions.
“It’s important to realize that marriage constantly takes work. It evolves, and what works the first year may change over time, but setting the tone for conversations will help open up the possibilities as the relationship continues,” she said.
“This is a huge source of potential for couples,” said Danzig. “Effective communication skills can go a long way toward resolving problems. But at the same time a lack of communication can be destructive.” Danzig recommended being aware of language used, and taking an “I versus you” approach to conversations. What this means is that when something needs to be addressed, instead of saying, “You make me angry because…,” try instead to open the conversation with “I feel angry when….” She also suggested that any conversation revolving around a problem should open with a compliment. One can also try not only presenting a problem, but offering some type of solution or compromise.
Expectations Versus Reality
An age-old problem has been the expectation that one spouse can read the mind of the other, with needs being anticipated without having to voice them. Of course, this is quickly found to be an erroneous expectation, but it still exists in almost all relationships. “Your spouse can’t know if you don’t tell them,” Danzig reminded readers. “Manage your expectations by voicing your needs in order to promote a healthier relationship.”
Present a Unified Front
As the new husband and wife navigate their previously uncharted relationship dynamics, questions will come up and the couple may not always see eye to eye. It is impossible for couples to anticipate every form of disagreement beforehand, which leaves differences open to conversation at the time they occur. “Remember to put disagreements to the side and have the conversation later whenever possible,” Danzig said. In addition, she often sees clients come in with family dynamics as a stressor. “Don’t tell your family that your spouse didn’t want to do something,” she said. “It is not beneficial for the long-term relationship.”
Roles and Responsibilities
This category is also related to expectations, and to communication as well. In reality all the categories are somewhat connected. “Life responsibilities don’t catch up with you the first week or two of marriage,” Danzig explained, referring to the way newlyweds often try to do everything together. Supermarkets, household chores and errands all get taken care of together those first few weeks. “Once reality sets in and roles shift, couples need to take the time to work out how responsibilities will be taken care of,” she said, “and these will be roles financially, or related to activities around the home.”
As Danzig said earlier, marriage constantly takes work. It is important for both parties to realize that many factors go into determining what makes a relationship work. Changing jobs, schools, a pregnancy or new baby and many other life events shift expectations and realities. Starting marriage off with the precedent for open and healthy communication will help form a strong relationship for many years to come.
By Jenny Gans