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Seven Tips for Getting through the First Year of Marriage

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As a newlywed, you are new to the job. It’s normal if you’re having a difficult time adjusting and finding your groove. With patience and diligence, you’ll improve. “Marriage is an art and job, and you can learn the skills that will help,” says Molly Barrow, a counselor and author of the book, Matchlines: A Revolutionary New Way of Looking at Relationships (ArcheBooks Publishing, April 2006). Here are some of Barrow’s top tips in key areas of newlywed life:

1. Accept Conflict

Young couple sitting on wooden bench
Chris Ryan/OJO Images/Getty Images
Everyone argues. Barrow warns that couples who think they can avoid disagreements are acting childishly. The difference between a couple with a solid relationship and one that is on a rocky road is how they deal with conflict. There’s always one spouse who wants to resolve every issue immediately. But Barrow suggests not doing that because it’s unfair to the other partner. Instead, you should give your spouse time to process your position, share his or her position, and then “let it cook,” says Barrow. She advises letting it cook for as long as possible while maintaining a positive attitude on your relationship. Eventually, she says, a compromise will emerge.

2. Go Slow and Steady

Give yourselves time to get used to being married. Barrow says it may take a year before you are settled into your new life. “It’s rocky that first year,” she says. “Any fights that you’re having are probably the same ones you’ll have when you’re 75 years old, and you’re not going to solve them that first year.” That’s okay. Sometimes, you have to simply agree to disagree. Do not get frustrated if you're still finding your way on your first anniversary.

3. Embrace Your Differences

Often people are attracted to one another for the things they have in common. Their differences cause conflict. But Barrow says they do more than that. The differences you have bring excitement, interest, and can serve as an introduction to new adventures and experiences for your partner, she adds. In other words, you would have a pretty boring relationship without them. Quit wearing the same kinds of clothes and trying to act like your partner. Instead, embrace and pursue your unique self and share that person with your spouse, and have him or her do the same.

4. Build Trust

More important than intimacy, trust is a necessity to developing an everlasting bond, says Barrow. Building trust is simpler than you might think. “Mean what you say and do what you promise,” says Barrow. “Don’t let yourself be dominated into making a promise you don’t intend to keep.” In other words, if you know you never want to live in a certain state, don’t tell your spouse you’ll eventually move there. If you say you’re going to be at home by 10 p.m., be home by 10 p.m. It’s that simple.

5. Brace Yourself for a Lack of Romance

The bad news: Passion dies. The good news: It makes a comeback. The truth is that relationships are not all roses and champagne all the time. No one can maintain that kind of rush. When you pile on stress, responsibilities, poor eating habits, and the tediousness of everyday life, you will not be as wild in bed as you once were, says Barrow. “Lots of times in our society, it’s all about the climax,” she says. “Pay more attention to the journey and less to the ultimate result or finish line.” Weather the storm, make time for one another, and let nature take its course. Eventually, you’ll land in each other’s arms again.

6. Show Kindness to Your In-Laws

Your spouse can not trade in his or her parents, and criticizing them will only cause hurt feelings. Barrow suggests letting your in-laws spend as much time as they want with your spouse, even if you don’t always join them. You don’t have to love your in-laws, but you have to tolerate them. Barrow says that it helps to try to see the situation through their eyes. “Some parents have a broken heart when their children grow up and go away,” she says. “It’s not all about you. The motivation is probably love.” Have a little compassion and give your in-laws a break.

7. Be Realistic

Recognizing the natural ebb and flow of a relationship will serve you well. “Some days you wake up passionately in love, and some days you wake up mad at the world,” says Barrow. Realize your relationship is not doomed just because you have a negative attitude one day. It just means that you are human. Move on and wait for the next day, when you wake up in love -- and make the most of it.
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