This is a very special and exciting time for your relationship. And the fact that you’re reading this article shows that you’re a planner and eager to protect and care for the future of your marriage. Too often, couples only seek marriage/relationship help when serious problems have arisen—sometimes waiting until one person is totally checked out of the relationship.
Preparing for the inevitable ups and downs of marriage is a great starting point for the future of your marriage (you can also check out my premarital questions article on ways to strengthen your relationship).
Marriage Help: 3 Common Mistakes Newlyweds Make
1. Basking in Specialness (while ignoring certain realities)
The power of new love is truly remarkable—it makes you feel like your relationship is like no other relationship on the face of the earth. And while you and your spouse’s uniqueness undoubtedly creates a very special relationship, it’s important that this sense of specialness doesn’t blind you to the challenges that are inherent to navigating a long-term, committed relationship.
When you elevate your relationship above the rest of us mere mortals, you inadvertently place the marriage at risk to the very real stresses and relationship issues that topple many marriages (marriages that were at one time healthy and thriving). Recognize your (and your spouse’s) humanness, even when the two of you together create something that feels heavenly.
Newlywed Challenge: While dancing in the bliss of your relationship, keep one foot firmly placed in the realities that challenge all couples who embark on the wondrous journey of marriage.
2. Good Fences Make Good Neighbors (creating healthy boundaries)
Becoming a new couple means establishing healthy boundaries around your relationship—while it’s also important to maintain your individuality, married couples think differently than their single counterparts because they consider each other (and the relationship) rather than simply making decisions on a whim. This “what’s-best-for-us” thinking creates a psychological boundary around the relationship.
This boundary protects the relationship in different ways: It reinforces the “special” status you hold for each other; it allows you to nurture and care for the marriage; and it also helps to contain the relationship-energy, that vitality that can easily be siphoned away by the stresses of outside world. Creating too rigid a boundary can isolate you from the surrounding world; creating too permeable a boundary (or having no boundary at all) can lead to relationship neglect.
Newlywed challenge: To find a balance between protecting and feeding the marriage while also sharing your relationship with friends and family.
3. A Little Planning Goes a Long Way
Have you and your partner created a relationship vision?
You and your spouse want to spend the rest of your lives together because you love each other deeply—a fair assumption on my part? And as any couples counselor will tell you, love isn’t enough to sustain a healthy, fulfilling marriage. A common mistake too many newlyweds make is that they fail to plan for the future.
Think of a relationship plan as a vision that will offer guidance in the important areas of your life (you can create sub-plans: a one-, five- and ten-year plan). This plan should involve practical issues, such as financial goals (saving, spending, joint decisions about spending), education and careers, children, where you’d like to live, the role of religion/spirituality, how to deal with extended family, to name a few. Having discussions about these and other important issues with your spouse will also help clarify areas of agreement between you and areas where your expectations and visions diverge (better to find this out sooner rather than later).
Newlywed Challenge: Worrying about the future and planning for it are very different. The goal is to create a flexible plan for your future while living in and enjoying the present gifts that you and your partner give each other.
Remember, strengthening a marriage takes time and effort, but the payoff is well worth it!
I often encourage new couples to read marriage/relationship books to help educate themselves about the communication skills and information needed to build and maintain a strong and lasting union. You can also try premarital counseling or sign up for premarital classes/workshops—options that can strengthen the foundation of your relationship.
Doesn’t it make sense to plan for and invest in your most cherished asset?
Marriage/Relationship Help Resources
Set the foundation of your marriage with good communication skills. Check out my popular Communication Breakthrough ebook.
And don’t forget to sign up for my free Strengthen Your Relationship newsletter. You’ll receive two bonus reports when you subscribe.
Wishing you a healthy and lasting relationship,
Dr. Rich Nicastro
(Featured article by Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net)