This article was written by Sam George and published in an Indian Newspaper in the US.
We are currently going through a series on newlyweds. Last week, we saw how crucial the first few years of marriage are. Today, let us look at some marital stressors in early marriage. By marital stressors I mean, any incident or interaction between a couple or with others that can cause a strain in the marital relationship.
Marital stressors are more intense during early marriage. Frequently, the stress-causing incident seems to last longer and hurt more. In fact, it is likely that the same stress might not cause the same effect after a decade of marriage. Early stressors take longer to recover from and wounds tend to be deeper as well.
Many challenges within the first five years stem from distorted expectations. Our family backgrounds, relationships with parents and siblings, past relationships with people of the opposite sex, our understanding of how relationships work, etc., affect how we relate to our newly wedded spouse.
When a spouse emerges from a dysfunctional home, whether it be an alcoholic father, an emotionally unstable mother, or an abusive relative, it affects how the couple relates to each other. How we handle stressful moments in early marriage also reveals a great deal about ourselves to our mate.
Disappointment is a common early stressor in marriage. Most of us come into marriage with unrealistic expectations in hopes that our mate will meet them perfectly. When they do not, we are disappointed and react negatively to the other person. In fact, our spoouse also has his or her own sets of expectations. Reactions and counter reactions send the new marriage spiraling downward.
After the initial excitement of being with the love of your life fades away, we treat our mates differently. Couples tend to live with a sense of entitlement to have things their way or begin to take each other for granted.
Other common stressors in early marriage are, getting used to each other in life, adjustment to a new environment, communication challenges, disagreements and conflicts, money problems, lack of time, and in-laws. Many stressors come compounded together creating an adverse cocktail effect on the marriage.
Sharing the bed with another selfish person is never easy. Sex is a major stressor for many newly married couples. Oftentimes, the first sexual experience differs from what was expected or past sexual encounters influence the experience. For some, sexual frustration and boredom sets in during early marriage as well.
Another frequent stressor for many recently married couples is pregnancy and the joys and struggles of parenting. An unplanned pregnancy in the first year of marriage can cause lots of stress in the marriage. Being prematurely thrust into acquiring a new set of skills and adjusting to the new baby can often cause irritability and threaten intimacy.
The early years of marriage are a special adventure. It is filled with surprises and excitement. Let not these stressors steal the joy from it. By anticipating the adversity that can strain your relationship and improving your skills in these areas, you can avoid or minimize damage to your relationship. Relational skills, understanding and wisdom are all skills that can help us enrich our marriages.