Establishing Your Identity As A Couple In The First Year of Marriage


The task of the first year of marriage is to establish yourselves as a married couple - to become comfortable with your identity as a married pair and to adapt to dealing with others as married partners. That challenge is often complicated, however, by relatives who, well meaning though they may be, want to make certain that they still play a central role in your lives. 

Presenting a united front as husband and wife to relatives who can be intrusive is crucial, though difficult. Here are some of the problems - some dealt with successfully, some not so successfully - that newlyweds we interviewed faced from intervening family members. 

The Parent Pull: If your parents or your spouse's parents have always been the type to intervene in your lives, consider it unlikely that they will suddenly stop when you get married. And even if they aren't the kind to butt in, seeing their child marry may prompt fears that they are losing their parental hold and spark them to intercede in ways that you may feel threaten your marital relationship. 

The Stepchild Situation: If you and/or your spouse have children from a previous marriage, then you may have harbored all sorts of fantasies about the terrific rapport that will develop between all of you as you become a new family. But the reality is often very different. The lingering anger children may feel about their parents' divorce or a parent's death, the sense of loss and jealousy they may experience now that their parent is remarrying, all may intrude upon any romantic newlywed phase you had hoped for. If the marriage presents you or your spouse with a first-time experience of having children in the house, then one of you may suffer a particularly rude awakening on discovering just how demanding children can be. Not only may they impinge on your privacy, not only may they be disobedient and test your disciplinary skills, but they may pit you and your spouse against each other, turning you into opposing players rather than a team. Children have a great way of making themselves the focus so that you and your spouse are left competing with them for attention, nurturance, and support. It's not that new marriages in which children are involved are less happy - but rather that they often are forced to confront certain challenges. One study found that: There is no relationship between happiness in marriage and whether or not newlyweds have children from a previous marriage. Meaning couples with children from previous marriages can be and often are just as happy as other newly weds without children. 

The Ex-Spouse Scenario:If you are marrying someone who has been wed before then you may find that your predecessor - your spouse's "ex" - pops into the picture. This may especially be the case if your mate's spouse is still in love with your spouse, or if the two of them have a child together. Whether the reason's your spouse's "ex" keeps in touch with your mate are legitimate or not, the situation can be very hard to accept and handle. After all, when you're trying to establish a marriage of your own it is painful to be reminded that your spouse went through that process before.