Adjusting to marriage can be difficult!
There’s a lot of great stuff that comes with being a newlywed–but it can also be a learning curve.
It’s Rebecca on the blog today, and since we just celebrated our 3 year anniversary last month I’ve been thinking about what some of the more difficult parts of our first year were like and how we got through them. Not everyone finds that first big of marriage a walk in the park–we didn’t! So here are 10 things that we found difficult to adjust to after we got married, even though we didn’t expect them to be a problem before! Joanna’s also put in some responses we got from readers to one of the polls we did on the newsletter a few months ago (if you want to sign up, head here!)
1. The Lack of Personal Space
As soon as Connor and I got married we moved into a tiny one-bedroom apartment in a not-so-nice part of town (the reason we eventually moved out was because a guy got stabbed in the hallway outside our door). Our entire apartment fit in what is the living room in probably an average-sized house. Our bed filled the room with only 1.5 feet clearance on each side, our main area wasn’t much wider. It was the quintessential newlywed apartment.
As a result, we went from each living in larger houses with multiple roommates but with our own separate areas to having almost no personal space whatsoever. If I was in the kitchen, he was 8 feet away on the couch. If I was in the bedroom, I could hear him coughing just on the other side of the wall. On top of it all, we were in some of the same classes and we shared most of our friends so any time we were out of the house, we were likely together then, too.
Luckily we are both extroverted, so it wasn’t as difficult of a transition as it may have been for some. But it took some getting used to, and we got on each others’ nerves a lot until we learned that it’s OK to say, “If you want to go hang out with the guys that’s fine, but I’d prefer to stay home and have some time by myself this time.”
A TLHV reader with an introverted husband pointed out
The biggest adjustment for marriage for me was the process of understanding his “need” to have time to himself. He was also adjusting to this, realizing that “his time” was no longer “his time” because we were now living life together. It was definitely harder for him than me, but other than this fairly small molehill, we adjusted to marriage very well.
2. Keeping the Home Clean
Connor and I are both pretty messy people. But we’re messy in different ways, which leads to double the mess than what happened when we were living alone.
The biggest fights we had in those first few months of marriage were house-related. The tiny apartment didn’t exactly help, but I felt overwhelmed all the time with the housework. The biggest hurdle I had to get over was my idea that if it wasn’t done my way, it wasn’t good enough. Connor told me about two months into our marriage, “Rebecca, I want to help. But what I don’t want is to help and have you telling me each step along the way what I’m doing wrong. As long as the dishes are clean, you don’t need to tell me exactly how to do each step of it. OK?”
I realized he was right, started giving him a bit more grace, and three years later I think we’ve finally gotten housekeeping down.
Another reader talked about the adjustment of having a household to run for the first time in addition to a new marriage to adjust to
Hmm, the biggest adjustment in getting married, for me, was the responsibility that came with it. Going from living with my parents and helping out around the house to being soley responsible for every meal, the house cleaning, the laundry, and taking care of this new man was a bit much. And working full time. Phew!
3. Frequency of Sex
When you’re newly married, sex can be a huge area of self-consciousness. There’s a lot of pressure and expectation–and any time anything happens it’s easy to analyze it to say, “Is there something wrong with me? Is there something wrong with him?”
He wants sex more than you do–am I frigid? Am I not attracted to him like I thought I was? You want sex more than he does–am I broken sexually? Most women don’t want sex this much–maybe he has a porn addiction and doesn’t find me attractive?
Relax. Don’t over-analyze things, and throw the misguided assumptions you’ve been told about each gender out the window. If something really is a problem, you can deal with it then. But if your new husband doesn’t want sex one night, it might just be because he ate an entire pizza and not because of a bigger issue.
A reader highlighted how hard it can be to experience vaginismus as a newlywed:
Biggest adjustment to marriage… the terrible disappointment of vaginismus (we had waited until marriage, wasn’t sex supposed to be amazing and perfect?! Oh, wait, reality…)
4. Combining Your Finances
Just sorting out how to open a joint bank account can be a hassle! But figuring out a budget and sticking to it without that wiggle room you often have when it’s just you can be difficult. Luckily, we found it to be a fun challenge that made both of us more responsible. Plus we really liked watching our bank account get bigger every month as a reward for lean spending!
5. Not Falling into a Netflix Time-Suck
It’s easy to get married and then collapse after the craziness of planning a wedding and just start binge watching shows together. Although it’s great to cuddle up with some Netflix now and then, making that the center of your relationship leads to a lot of boredom and can leave you disillusioned with your marriage.
About a year into marriage I started getting really bored. So Connor and I decided to stop watching as much TV together and to start doing other things. But I’ll tell you–figuring out that balance is difficult at the beginning, especially if you’re balancing jobs that are draining or you’re students, like we were!
6. Sorting Out Cooking
I like to eat the same thing every day all week. When I was single, I’d have the same thing for breakfast 7 days in a row. I’d cook a giant crock pot of chili and have that for lunch every day, and then I’d make a huge casserole and have that as my dinners.
That doesn’t work so well now that I’m married. First off, Connor has a crazy high metabolism and eats a ton of food so I’d have to make about 6 times what I used to make. But also, he really doesn’t like eating the same thing every single day. So I need to cook every night or every other night at the most!
I had decided that I wanted to do all the cooking in our home (because I’m actually quite good at it and I can cook on a crazy budget), but we both needed to figure out what we should give on and what things were important to us. I didn’t want to spend all that extra time cooking, and Connor really didn’t want to just eat the same thing every day. So now there are usually a few different options in the freezer of past meals that I’ve made and then on days I don’t feel like cooking, I have leftovers and Connor pops something into the microwave that I cooked a few weeks ago. It works great!
7. Sleeping in the Same Bed
I know all you “cuddly” people out there won’t agree with me, but can I just say:
Sleeping in the same bed is not all that it’s cracked up to be.
We got married in the middle of July and moved into an apartment without air conditioning. I had to freeze washcloths and drape them over our necks as we slept because it was so hot. On top of that, I’ve always slept stretched out on my stomach across the entire bed. And now I had to share with my husband who was just producing even more body-heat in the already hot bedroom.
You get used to if eventually, and I do enjoy sharing a bed now. But it’s still a huge treat when I’m traveling on my own and get a whole bed to myself! (Love you, Connor.)
Congratulations to this newly married reader (and also: we get it):
I’ve been married for two weeks. So far the two biggest adjustments for me have been sharing the bed and getting used to sex. We have had some struggles but are determined to get through it!
8. Keeping Relationships with Your Single Friends
When I got married, my entire life changed. I didn’t want to do the same things I had before because I had a husband at home I wanted to spend time with. So weekends away, girls trips, and a ton of nights out until midnight just didn’t seem appealing. I wanted to be in bed by 10!
I had many single friends who embraced how my life changed. Instead of sleep-overs, we’d meet for coffee at interesting little shops neither of us had tried before. We would go to the gallery in our afternoons off instead of talking late into the night on the phone. Those friendships have stayed strong to this day.
But not all people are willing to change when your life changes. And while it was also on me to put effort into maintain the relationship, it often felt like my marriage wasn’t taken into consideration. My not being able to go away for a week without question meant that I wasn’t a good friend anymore. They didn’t want to do things that worked with my new lifestyle, and I couldn’t do what they wanted to do because I needed to prioritize time with my husband, especially in that first year. What I wish I had done in those first few months was set up new traditions and habits with those friends instead of just trying to make the old things keep working when it was just stressing me and Connor out.
A reader pointed out the importance of investing in relationships outside your marriage too, even as newlyweds
But now that we live in the same house day in and day out – while we love spending time together, doing our own things are important too, and having other friendships- him having other guys to talk with, and me having gal friends. We need fellowship with our church family, and I just can’t follow my husband around like a lost puppy. I need to reach out to others on my own, and not depend on my husband to do it for me.
9. Figuring out How to Fight Effectively
Although it may surprise people who know me personally, I’m actually a very passive person in my marriage. I don’t like to speak up when something is bothering me, I don’t like to bring up an issue unless it is absolutely vital to talk about right that moment.
What that led to a lot in the first few months was a raging bitterness that was bubbling just under the surface that I just kept pushing down until I exploded.
Connor and I have had to learn how to fight in a way that talks more about our emotional needs than the actual issue at hand. The issue was rarely actually what caused the fight–it was an underlying need that wasn’t being met. Once we figured that out, things went much more smoothly.
One reader went straight for Ephesians 4:26 (aka “the jugular”) when she wrote
Communication was a big thing from the time we began dating, and my husband never lets me go to bed if we’ve had a disagreement (I would be the one to avoid talking about things). This has been a big part of our marriage and has allowed us to never start a new day with unmentioned baggage from [yesterday]
10. Learning How to Make My Husband’s Needs Also My Needs
I never liked the idea of thinking of your husband “first,” because I don’t really want him to think of me “first”–I want him to think of me and himself simultaneously. Learning how to not be selfish and only focus on getting your own needs met but also not putting his needs above your own so that yours don’t get met can be difficult. The joy of marriage is that you become one–so I need Connor to feel loved, cherished and accepted as much as I need to feel loved, cherished and accepted myself. If he’s not feeling loved, that needs to be my problem as well as his and vice versa.
Learning how to consider someone else with everything you do is a difficult task–but it’s so worth it, and it’s been one of the most life-changing parts of our marriage.
What were some of the hardest adjustments you faced going into marriage? How did you get through them? Let’s chat about it in the comments below!