When I got married, I was told by everyone that the first year of marriage is the hardest. Everyone. Although no one could really give me specifics on why this is the case, it seemed to be the consensus, by both recently married friends and family members, like my parents, who have been married 30-something years. While my marriage was short-lived, I can confirm that the first year was a rocky one in my case.
“Some couples are still in the blissful honeymoon stage and barely fight at all during their first year of marriage,” Dating Coach Francesca Hogi tells Bustle. “But for most couples, it's a period of major adjustment and that causes lots of opportunities to fight.”
Even if you’ve lived together before you got married, you might think you’ll be able to escape that adjustment period, but that’s not always true. You’re married now, so things are different. You’re legally bound and there’s something about that that may change the relationship. As Hogi points out, fighting, for many, just becomes a standard way of dealing during the first year. But of all the things that couples fight about, what’s the most common? These four, according to Hogi.
1. What You Hoped Would Change
In some of the most groundbreaking news you’re going to read all week, people don’t change. “If you assumed that your communication would magically improve, or your sex life, or your partner's OCD, you're in for a surprise,” says Hogi. “Happily ever after happens, but it takes compromise and understanding. Your pet peeves aren't likely to fade away from your relationship overnight.”
2. How You Spend Your Free Time
“Did you spend half of your nights out with your friends before you were married? Does Sunday mean Netflix binge day for one of you and cleaning, laundry and grocery shopping for your spouse? You and your spouse might have different ideas of how much time you should spend together, alone, or out socializing,” says Hogi. “If your spouse assumes he or she is automatically invited to all of your friend gatherings, and you still want that time to yourself, that could cause a lot of conflict.”
Time and time again, studies and experts have revealed that money is the the number one thing couples fight over. And, considering your finances are now one, legally speaking, it makes sense that this would be on the list for the fights that couples have during their first year of marriage.
“Money is one of the consistent pitfalls in relationships at any stage, and talking about your finances and money habits is critical,” says Hogi. “Ideally you've started talking about money and financial expectations before you get married. Expect it to be an ongoing conversation throughout your marriage. Do not assume you spend or save in the same way as your spouse — that assumption can cause much conflict.”
4. Making Assumptions
A reoccurring theme throughout these fights that people tend to have during their first year of marriage is assuming. Assuming someone will change, assuming that your partner will just know how you plan to spend your free time, and assuming that you both save and spend money the same. To assume, as they say, “makes an ass out of you and me,” and can definitely lead to unnecessary conflict. Hogi suggests “keeping the lines of communication open between you and your partner.” If you put it all out there, there’s little room for assumption and neither one of you is left in the dark.
Of course, every couple will handle this adjustment period differently. As Hogi points out, not every first year of marriage is going to be hard or riddled with fights, but it's good to have a heads up going into it.
Images: Andrerw Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy (4)