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After the Honeymoon, Then What?

I'm just going to go ahead and say it. My first year of marriage sucked. I was so worried about being the perfect wife that I forgot to be my husband's friend. Plus, I got pregnant right away and my husband got a perm, which the smell of made me nauseated, so I'd get sick whenever he got too close, which is not good for newlyweds. Add to that the basement apartment we lived in which we dubbed "the dungeon." It was dark and smelled bad. And when the people upstairs drained their kitchen sink, the dirty water came down into our sink. We had to stand on a wooden crate in the shower because the floor of it was too gross to stand on. Get the picture?

I'm not saying all this to scare anybody off, I'd just like to iterate that the Cinderella "and they lived happily ever after" syndrome does not occur in real life. You don't "fall" in and out of love. Love is a decision and it has to be worked at. There's no 50/50. Each partner needs to commit 100%.

That being said, what do you do when he constantly leaves the toilet seat up and she leaves her underwear hanging on the shower rail? Communication is a popular buzz word in marriage therapy, but proper communication is important. As Steven Covey said, "Seek first to understand, then to be understood." If you're only listening to your partner to wait for a pause so you can jump in to give your opinion, then true communication is not taking place. It's normal to have disagreements, but it's not necessary to be disagreeable. Ask permission before criticizing, and never do it in front of someone else.

Loyalty is also critical. Don't bad mouth your spouse to friends or other family members. This will only add fuel to the fire, and leave your acquaintances with bad feelings toward your spouse. It helps to unload, but do it on paper then burn it. Some situations may require professional intervention, which is obviously different than petty grievances.

You may not have the rocky start we did. Not everyone does. And it wasn't all bad, by any stretch. But don't be ready to bail if your spouse doesn't turn out to be perfect. I'm happy to report that we've been married almost 40 years and raised three wonderful children and have eight amazing grandchildren, so even rocky starts can have happy endings.

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