Newly Wed Couples: How far does love take you?

Newlywed couples are often surprised when they have their first major disagreement and the realization that they may not be "on the same page" with everything.

We select partners on the basis of compatibility and mutual attraction so hardly anyone marries without the belief and expectation that their partner not only "gets them" or that they share similar values and philosophy of life. Besides, being "in love" is often thought of as being self-evident that you are a good match for your partner. All the feel-good chemicals that are flowing through the body (oxytocin, endorphins) also conspire to help along the mutual feeling of "this is a good fit".

As a result, it is often a shock when a major conflict occurs. New couples often report thoughts like "how can this be happening to us, we are so in love, or we used to agree on everything, I thought he/she loved me how could they say/do that, or he/she didn't tell me that before about their history/habits" etc. Of course, it is good to feel "in love" with your partner, marriages don't work so well without this magical ingredient. Of course, it is wise to make sure you are with someone who shares most of your values and worldview.

However being in love and having similar values alone does not ensure that the marriage will be conflict free and high functioning. Not to suggest that conflict is bad, but bad conflict where couples fight in predictable fruitless ways are erosive on the marriage. Probably the biggest shock than to a newlywed couple is that "love as powerful as it is, does not conquer everything". Marital self-help books often refer to the "work phase" of a relationship. Although this term sounds a bit unpleasant and less romantic all it really refers to is the stage in the marriage when a couple may need to have more skills to make effective couple decisions and get through the inevitable disagreements that they may have been spared in the first few months of their relationship.

The most common reasons couples come into counselling at this stage in their marriage include:

  • Disagreements about the amount of time and energy spent with in-laws. ("Why do we always have to have dinner at your parent's place" or "your mother/father/sister has too much said in our marriage")
  • Related to the above, overly involved parents/siblings who disapprove of one partner.
  • Disagreements around labour divisions in the home often influenced by the family of origin models that may have worked for one's parents but isn't compatible with a dual income lifestyle.
  • Little if any conflict resolution skills that result in either intense conflict or prolonged disengagement (freeze outs) where one or both parties fall into avoidance hoping that the issue will go away (which it often does but goes underground and shows up later, sometimes in another format or topic.

All of the above is I believe normal and should be expected to some degree so couples should not be surprised or think that they are necessarily headed for trouble or that they are somehow different. Some couples eventually just work out solutions through persistence, talking to friends and yes, even parents. If however tension and a feeling that you are not quite as "in love and compatible" as you were in the beginning persist, short-term counselling would be recommended. At this stage of your marriage with a relatively short history together counselling would be brief, with possibly only two or three sessions needed to change potentially destructive patterns and replace them with healthier processes.

Marriage Counselling for Newly Wed Couples

In many situations, even two or three sessions with a professional marriage counsellor can dramatically improve your relationship. Understanding new strategies for improving communication between partners and using better conflict resolution techniques can make a significant difference in a short period of time.

For more information about Couples Counselling Services, please Contact Terry Penner Today.

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