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How to survive early marriage

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There are huge shifts in a relationship when you get married, and the first year is by far the most difficult.

Prepare for change

When you get back from your honeymoon, expect to start feeling bad. You're going cold turkey on all of the excitement and the stress of the wedding. Accept that it's normal to have a come-down and don't take it too seriously; it will level out, and the feeling won't last long.

Keep talking!

Before your wedding, you may have ideas of how you and your partner are going to act once you're married, but until you actually get married, you don't know for sure. He could think that you need to spend all of your free time together, and you may think the opposite. Once you're married, talk about what each of you now expects. That's where most couples slip up in the first few months.

Don't be too clingy

You'll get invited to places as a couple, and your girlfriends will say, 'You probably want to be with him tonight', but don't think you need to spend all of your time together. Get some time alone, and allow your partner the same - it's healthy.

The danger areas

There are three things you are most likely to argue about when you get married - chores, money and personal hygiene. Make sure you're both happy with how you're dividing the jobs around the house, and discuss any issues you may have about money, as, when you're married, it belongs to you jointly. Don't feel you should quit the gym or stop any personal upkeep once you get married, either.

Take a step back

Remind yourself of your history. It's a lovely idea to get out holiday snaps regularly, or wedding photos, or pictures from when you first met. You can look through and remember the good times, the romance and the promises you made to each other. And spend some quality time together. Even one night away every few months will do you both the power of good.

It's OK to argue

Don't panic if you have problems. There is this expectation when you get married that you're never going to have differences of opinion, and that you'll never have to work at the relationship. It's actually the other way around. Marriage involves many challenges, and you'll learn most of those in the first year. It's completely normal to have problems; just work at them.

Look ahead for excitement

You have probably spent the past two years focusing on your wedding, so talk about the future - whether it's children or a new house or your next holiday. Build clear, bright pictures about where you're going, what you're aiming for and what the future's going to be like. It will give you constant things to look forward to.

Sunday Independent