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Ah, Newlyweds… Then Reality Sets In
|by Gary Direnfeld|
The wedding day is met with much anticipation. Bright eyed, eager, some butterflies, plans in place. So much thought and preparation for a single event. Then the honeymoon and then back to real life.
There is often magical thinking that goes into a wedding. Apart from the fairy book ceremony, some couples consider the event to vanquish any and all issues between themselves; the home will magically clean itself, finances will sort themselves out and spouses will get along with in-laws.
Some four to eight months down the road the shine wears off the romance and the married couple starts to view each other in more realistic terms. For some, buyer’s remorse sets in. At issue is accommodating to a new shared world, defining mutual expectations and setting boundaries.
Regardless if the domicile was one or other partner’s or a new setting, it now is the shared space of both persons. Unlike college roomies, married persons will share their space forevermore. Hence determining mutual rules for care, cleaning, maintenance and the like are essential to lifelong cohabitation. It may be that either or both had entered the marriage assuming the other would meet unspecified expectations. However, now several months down the road, it is clear that neither can read the other’s mind and discussion will be necessary to clear up misconceptions and set new ground rules. Determining who cleans the toilet and whether the seat is up or down are real life issues.
As for finances, it is often the case that new spouses have different priorities for expenditures. Again, one or other may assume their thinking is aligned and may go about spending on the basis of a wrong assumption. Bringing the new purchase home is just the right catalyst to ignite a conflict and set off a flurry of bad feelings. It is important for new spouses to realize that such purchases are not likely entered into lightly, just misguidedly. It is vital for new spouses to discuss spending priorities to minimize the probability of either assuming the other will naturally be thrilled with a surprise purchase.
All domiciles have an entrance with a door and lock. The purpose of having a door and lock is to provide a boundary between the spouses and the rest of the world. The issue for new spouses is determining whom they let in and when. This extends to family and friends. New spouses must come to realize that the boundary provides for one’s own privacy, that of the other spouse and that of the couple. The boundary also helps spouses be viewed as an independent couple, rather than just an extension of one or other’s extended family. Whatever the rules were for letting in family and friends prior to marriage, once married the rules do change. Thus boundary formation means defining a circle around the spouses with the couple as the priority. Permitting others into the circle is a matter of discussion between the spouses. Boundary formation also extends to determining how couples will spend traditional holidays, whether they visit parents, in-laws, or in what order. Often setting boundaries can bring conflict with extended family and even friends as they vie for the couple’s time and attention. Better the terms of these relationships be set according to the couple’s wishes than the wishes of others. In the end, spouses live with each other so their relationship must be secure and clear.
There are no preset rules as to who should clean the house or when and there are no set rules as to which purchases should take priority over others. Also, there are no set rules as to how firm or open a couple should set their boundaries. The only rule that is set is that the couple should discuss, negotiate and determine their own terms for all these issues. This is how couples accommodate to each other. This is how to make a new reality a good reality.
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