Transition from Single to Married Life – Part 2 –
“Love is a choice every day. Marriage is a covenant – a promise to make that choice, to love and to forgive. When we love someone we open ourselves up to hurt. It is part of the deal” (Tina Todd).
The transition period from single to married life could be said to cover from the period of committed dating to the first two or three years of marriage. How this period is live or managed matters a lot for the sustainability of the relationship.
After the wedding or marriage ceremonies, real life for the new couple begins. Even though some subtle habits and behaviours begin popping up, hopefully, the marriage life begins on a positive note. We’ve heard of cases whereby couples get married and break up just after a few weeks or a few months. Something must have gotten out of hand or something new may have been discovered. No matter what comes up, how the issues are handled would either make or break the fresh union.
Transition period for some couple include the lady already being pregnant, while for some others, the couple hopes to get a baby when they are ready or when it eventually happens. This can make some difference in the transition process. For an expectant new wife, she has to contend with the challenges of pregnancy as well as adjust to the new commitment. With lots of love, understanding, empathy, cooperation and tender, loving care between the couple, the ride is hopefully smooth. Where there is no pregnancy yet, the lady has one less thing to preoccupy her as she adjusts to her “new life”.
The experience of becoming a wife or a husband can really be a nice, exciting and interesting one, especially when it is a person that you really like, respect and really love. This makes all the difference. When the couple enjoy good communication and are indeed friends, they usually would have a very pleasant beginning into their new relationship. How the marriage evolves also depends on one’s beliefs, perceptions, attitudes and expectations.
Besides one’s spouse, the couple need lots of moral and social support from friends and family. The social and religious aspects of the celebrations contribute to the moral and psychological support of the couples. Part of this support may come in form of advice for the newly wedded couple. However, even with all the advice one may receive, there are several things that the couple have to discover and learn to deal with on their own.
On an individual note, one goes through several changes. You no longer think of “me” but “us”. Plans have to be made together, existing plans integrated and decisions arrived at together, with lots of consultations of each other. Does every couple really see this as the changes that have to take place? Maybe not necessarily, but some semblance of this must be happening for the relationship to survive. In the case where the man or woman hold on to old habits of an unmarried person, this may likely cause some strain in the relationship.
A few months into the committed relationship, either of the spouses can begin to see something beyond what they had seen or known. This could be positive, negative or both. What the couple does with the unfolding self-revelation could strengthen or weaken their relationship.
One may also find out that one’s spouse had some reservations while they were dating, and now, after the wedding, all is let loose. This may be a positive or negative revelation/discovery, as your case may be. Even as young as the marriage is, it is either the relationship is getting more loving or it gets more challenging. It is either positive energy is growing or negativity is brooding. The couple has to make this choice as they relate with each other.
When we hear horrible stories between marriage couples few months/years into their marriage, it may most likely be that one of the spouses had been hiding a part of him/herself or have a part of their past which is still much of a baggage. Human beings are complex, but one can make their lives even more complicated by not being open, transparent and free within themselves. When this is brought into the marriage, it is the spouse/partner, and the children that come forth who suffer the most.
Instead, where the couple is friendly and loving towards each other, lots of good things begin to happen, sooner than later. This is because peace and positivity attracts more positive energy, which brings about progress, harmony and more joy.
“Love is a choice every day.
Marriage is a covenant – a promise to make that choice,
to love and to forgive. When we love someone we open ourselves up to hurt.
It is part of the deal” (Tina Todd).
One has to be prepared to adjust to the changes that may come with being in a committed/marriage relationship. This requires sacrifice, goodwill, selflessness, and even empathy for one’s spouse. You need to wear one another’s ‘shoes’ – so to say – and live the golden rule; to do unto your spouse what you would like done to you, and to love your spouse as you love yourself.
Some of the adjustments may come in simple things, which may not necessarily be simple. This may be cutting down on your old friendships which may negatively impact your relationship. One cannot continue giving more attention to friends than to one’s spouse. There has to be a good balance if the friendships must continue. If attention is not paid to this, it may result in quarrels between the couple.
Before marriage, one may have a number of friends, admirers, secret relationships and even lovers. Does one have to pull such relationships into the marriage? No! One of the expectations during dating, just before marriage, is to basically get rid of such relationships which only bring complications into the marriage relationship.
This may even be worsened when it comes to friends of the opposite sex. The friendships need to be explained to one’s spouse and all suspicions avoided. Some of these friendships with the opposite sex may need to be brought to an end. Some may develop into family friendships, such that they bring no tensions or feeling of insecurity whatsoever, into the relationship. Without doing the right thing, the marriage would be beset with unnecessary problems and tension, which may lead to more problems in the future.
Another adjustment, if necessary, would be one’s dressing. This may or may not apply to everyone, depending on what the spouse feels comfortable with. A married woman, for instance, may not dress to expose her breast cleavage as a spinster would, though today we see lots of married persons dress as though they were still in the singles’ market, searching.
However, a general rule is to dress modestly, be trendy, but dress wisely and responsibly. Persons who may be seen as being “conservative” would argue that there should be a difference in one’s dressing after one gets married, especially if it is a woman who has always dressed in a certain provocative way. Though, no one says you should dress like your grandmother or grandfather!
Families, church members and friends may try
to come in between, but let love remain.
The challenge is to lift each other up in hard times.
For some couples, beginning a marriage life together also means merging two families. One or both parties may already have a kid(s) from a previous relationship and now they need to be integrated into the new family. This may come with its challenges depending on the attitude and openness of the partners. It doesn’t have to be a struggle especially when one keeps in mind that the children involved are innocent and never asked to be born. Though, if there is still interference from the biological parent of the step-child, this may bring more tension into the family, especially towards the step-child. Here, the step-child simply becomes a recipient of transferred aggression, which is not justifiable.
However, bringing kids together like that can be a good testimony to others about the beauty of unity and love, but this will need ongoing efforts to ensure that divisions do not arise along the way. The couple have to properly manage issues arising so that problems do not begin to fester.
Also, extended family is often an inevitably a part of a marriage relationship. In this new commitment, the couple begin to make the other’s relatives part of their lives. These family members cannot be completely ignored. The dynamics around family depend a lot on the kind of family, their history and the persons therein. This needs to be handled accordingly.
Whatever the case, no relative must be allowed to come in between the couple. The dual should be able to manage their family members accordingly such that none of the spouse is seen as preventing the other from reaching out to the in-laws. Families, church members and friends may try to come in between, but let love remain. The challenge is to lift each other up in hard times.
“If your relationship seems easy and feels like a breeze, there is probably something wrong.” – James D. Hall.
(To be continued on – Part 3)
– Linda Ellah
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