The first year of marriage is a critical time. Of course it is wonderful, but there is a lot to learn about your spouse. During your honeymoon you may have your first fight as a married couple, or it may not happen until the honeymoon is over. Fighting in a relationship is normal, marriage fights in the first year of marriage are normal, but in order to have a successful marriage you need to learn from it, and handle it correctly. You need to find a permanent solution to the problem. My wife and I have always been in love, that has never been the issue. There was, however, a time when we didn’t understand each other quite as well as we do now.
As tradition dictates, my wife and I went on our honeymoon immediately after our marriage, and we had a wonderful time. We spent a couple of weeks in a beautiful cabin in the mountains near Yellowstone National Park. Our daily routine was simple, and we could enjoy our entire day without any interruptions from the “real world”. We knew life would only stay that way for as long as we stayed at the cabin, and so we dragged our feet and added a couple of extra days to our vacation plans. Sadly, the honeymoon had to end and so, once we finally got up the courage to pack up the car and rejoin civilization, we headed back home.
After the Honeymoon is Over
I had a blast being married and loved spending time with my new bride. Everything was great! At first. When we were dating, it was clear we had a lot in common. After the honeymoon, however, it became more apparent that we had been raised differently, by different parents, with different families, and different friends, not to mention different backgrounds, habits, traditions, mannerisms, likes, and dislikes. Now we had the enormous task of trying to unify our separate lives into one.
But we were in love! No task is too great when you are in love! Right? So, we plowed ahead even with our differences. Now, I was smart enough of a man to know what a horrible mistake it would be to point out to my new bride when she did things differently than my mother used to do them. What a rookie mistake that would have been! So of course, I didn’t do that. My wife is, after all, a different person. She doesn’t have to be like anyone else. Not my mother, not my ex-girlfriends, not anyone. I married her because I love who she is. See how wise I thought I was? I thought I had it all figured out.
But then, after a lovely dinner, it was time to load The Dishwasher. As you know, dishwashers are a thing of luxury and convenience. Most people with dishwashers feel they lead a higher quality of life than those without. They are supposed to make your life easier. At least, that’s what I thought until I made the mistake of saying, “You know, it’s better if you alternate the direction of the spoons instead of facing them all the same way. That way they won’t overlap.”
Our First Fight
In that instant, the room got cold, the lights seemed to dim, the paint began to peel, my wife grew a few inches, and when she turned to me I saw fire in her eyes! She took a step toward me and when her foot hit the ground it shook the whole house! My throat got dry, dishes floated off the shelves and started spinning around the room. I think it even started hailing outside, with thunder and lightning that threatened to split the house in two! I might be a little fuzzy on the details, but that’s the way I remember it.
In spite of the apocalypse going on around us, we did our best to have a civilized conversation about the proper way to load a dishwasher. It didn’t take long before we were forced to raise our voices at each other in order to be heard over the hail and thunder so we could continue discussing the finer points of dishwasher operation. A few seconds later, we had no choice but to toss all attempts at civility out the window. It is impossible to follow parliamentary procedure under such circumstances, and so we did away with etiquette altogether.
Needless to say, our communication was not as clear as it should have been. Looking back, I now understand why it took us so long to realize that in addition to all of the other unexplained phenomena going on in our kitchen, there was one more we failed to notice, the one that started it all. Somehow, as those fateful words left my mouth, they were transformed mid-air so that by the time they reached my new wife’s beautiful ears it sounded like I said, “Wow, I can’t believe that you are 27 years old and still don’t know how to load a dishwasher. How can you be a suitable mother to my children if you can’t even do the dishes the right way? What a huge disappointment this is.”
Miraculously, right around the time we figured that out, the storm stopped, the dishes returned themselves to the cupboards, the lights were brighter, and my wife returned to her normal size. Everything was back to normal, and there was no evidence that any of it had ever happened. Weird! Now that we could communicate clearly again, we sat down and worked the rest of it out.
First Year of Marriage Lessons
It didn’t take long before I learned that my wife was having a hard time with all of the little suggestions I was making. She was so concerned about being the perfect wife for me, because she loved me so much and just wanted to make me happy, that she was worried she was failing and all of my little suggestions were my way of expressing my disappointment. Soon after that, my wife was able to understand that I view the world very differently from her. I love to analyze and problem solve everything. I enjoy it! My suggestion of a “better” way to load the dishwasher was just a suggestion I thought might help our household be a little more efficient. It wasn’t an expression of my love for her, or lack thereof, and my affection does not hinge on the way we care for our flatware.
The lesson I learned that day has stuck with me ever since and has been key to creating our successful marriage. I learned that I make more critical comments, or “suggestions” as I like to call them, than I realize. As beneficial as I think they are, they don’t always come across that way, and it’s important that I make sure I give way more compliments on the absolutely incredible way she runs our household than suggestions on how she can improve it. That little lesson is huge! It is far too easy to focus on the negative, or talk about problems, than it is to remember to be positive, give compliments, talk about the pleasant things in life, and enjoy the countless blessings we share together.
After the honeymoon is over, whether it is your first fight or not, remember that both you and your spouse have good intentions. You want a successful marriage, and you want each other to be happy. Especially during the first year of marriage, when your spouse does or says something that offends you, it often boils down to a simple miscommunication. Even when my wife heard exactly what I say, the words often mean something different to her than they do to me. Once I get the message across clearly, the situation often diffuses itself and the skies are clear again.
Are there lessons you learned after the honeymoon that you wish you knew before? What did you learn from your first fight? Did you say something you later regretted in the first year of marriage? Share your story! Leave a comment or send me an email!
Related articles you might enjoy:
Learn the Lost Art of Listening – A short article about the importance of listening. Relationship problems often arise from poor communication, while listening well lets your spouse know you care.
Never Too Proud to Apologize – First fight? Marriage fights are common in the first year of marriage, but they are still destructive. Fighting in a relationship should always be followed up with an apology.
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