Marriage - the only thing that works better after 40 years
It sounds like a trick. The latest research from Australian Unity’s Wellbeing Index claims the first year of marriage is the absolute worst, but stick it out for the next 40 and you’ll be the happiest person in the world.
Got to say the story made me laugh a bit - December marks my 18th month of marriage. And while I have to say the ups and downs have been equal for us, they’ve definitely felt different than before we got married.
Talking about these experiences has been different too. Normally a bit of an open book when it comes to matters of the heart, I’ve definitely felt a reluctance to share - even with the closest friends - for fear of letting the new team down. (National opinion websites aside, of course.)
But that’s exactly the point, Melbourne psychologist Meredith Fuller told The Punch. She said making the transition to thinking about your life, as a partnership, is one of the toughest things you experience in the first year of marriage.
“It’s the two of you now. So that means you have to negotiate things as a couple, not a single. A big part of that is starting to be critical of yourself, as much as you are of the other person and that can be challenging,” Fuller said.
Most of the time these challenges are a result of our human urge to marry the opposite of ourselves. Introverts attract extroverts and vice versa. So while the spontaneity and energy of the extrovert might have been attractive to a person who does not have those qualities, that energy can be different when it’s translated to the business of everyday life.
“We want to marry the person who is different to us, but when we are married we want them to be the same as us.
“For example, the extrovert might get home on a Friday night bursting with enthusiasm for a huge weekend out and about, while the introvert comes home looking forward to winding down. Negotiating that can be difficult,” said Fuller.
Not surprisingly, open and honest communication is the most effective remedy for these first year marital woes.
Fuller said while you may have been too busy and caught up with wedding prep and excitement to talk about the tricky stuff like, habits, kids or no kids, travel plans, money etc – all of that has to come out in the first year.
But here’s the good news, once you’ve teased them out and got everything on the table, Fuller said you’re on the road to the really happy place.
“In the first year you’re basically creating the glue that will keep you together. You got to learn to how fight well, make up well, negotiate and accommodate someone else in your space.”
The rest as they say, is a piece of cake.
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