Making marriage work
Nobody gets hitched with a view to splitting up. Here's how to turn those high hopes into a happy reality.
A relationship of any kind won't thrive without some effort. Think how much work you had to put into flirting, dating, proposing and then arranging your marriage. Once you're hitched, you can't just sit back and expect everything to work out naturally.
Marriage is as much a working partnership as it is a love story. Recognising this is vital. It means you're tuned into the possibility that things can (and do) go wrong. As a result, you're better placed to address things, rather than going into denial if problems develop.
Conflict within marriage tends to develop over time. What might start out as a minor niggle can fester and grow unless you discuss it. Otherwise, you risk going from tutting quietly on finding another sink full of washing up, to lobbing plates across the room at your lazy, good-for-nothing other half.
Kate, 25, recalls feeling more like a mother than a wife in the first few months of her marriage. "Dom just assumed I would do all the cleaning. As I've always believed in speaking my mind, I just had to point it out and he began to pull his weight. Had I said nothing, he would've grown so set in his ways that we would've ended up shouting at each other." In every case, it's better to be open about anything bothering you. So long as you're constructive with every word you say, an effective solution can always be reached.
Every couple has their differences. It would be weird and creepy if you agreed on absolutely everything, and also a little bit dull. This doesn't mean that every dispute has to be marked by raised voices and broken crockery. In many ways, speaking out on the issue under the spotlight is less important than offering a listening ear. You may not agree with your other half, but understanding where they're coming from can only help you to compromise.
What's more, listening works wonders when your partners had a bad day. "Jim likes to offload his work stresses on me at the end of the day," says Pat, 26. "I don't mind because he's so much more chilled out afterwards."
People change over time. Their experience of life can change their outlook and values, for better or for worse. Within a marriage, this can lead to a couple developing different goals and needs, but it doesn't mean they have to go their separate ways. You can still support your partner's new interest in keeping snakes, for example without actually having to hold one. So long as they do the same for you, it can even make your marriage a more diverse and richer experience.
It's natural to want to please your other half. It's good to see them happy, or appreciative of your efforts. It might be an aspect of your personality that they love to see come to the forefront, or maybe a certain look that rocks their world. But if you find you're doing it just to please them, unhappiness and resentment can swiftly kick in. If you're feeling under pressure to be someone you're not, it's important that you level with your other half about it. The key is to do it in a way that doesn't leave them feeling guilty or embarrassed. You might even find it easier to raise the issue within a broader chat about how things are going between you.
If you're feeling under pressure to be someone you're not, it's important that you level with your other half about it. The key is to do it in a way that doesn't leave them feeling guilty or embarrassed. You might even find it easier to raise the issue within a broader chat about how things are going between you.
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