Ten years ago, when I just got engaged there was a lot of excitement in the air. It was a love-marriage and we looked forward to being able to live together under the same roof, every single day. Finally, the date that we had been waiting impatiently for rolled around. The wedding was fun. The honeymoon was even more fun. And then we happily settled down into the actual state of marriage – to live happily ever after.
When I look back now, I realize that there are just so many things no one told me about what it’s really like when the honeymoon is over. This article therefore has been written with the view that for all you starry-eyed matrimony-minded hopefuls out there – you have the right to know what to expect after marriage. So here are – in no particular order – the top 5 things that I wish someone had told me before marriage…
1. It’s a Pretty Quick Shift – and it Ain’t Always Pretty
You go from a time when you’re much at your best, together on romantic dates, wooing each other – to the sudden reality of actually living together. It’s not an easy transition. The mundane chores, the sharing of a bathroom, the regular ‘normal’ stuff that you go through each day, now in close quarters with another person – brings out sides of your new spouse that you didn’t know existed. Heck, it brings out sides of YOU that you didn’t know existed. It can be a pretty disturbing whirlwind of change, but being able to see it coming may perhaps help you deal with it better. By the way – in case you believe you’re immune to this because of your kind and compromising nature, congrats! (And also, ha ha).
2. It’s a Balancing Act – and a Setting Stage For Later Years
You may be the dominant, confident type. Your tendency is therefore to try and change the other person when there’s conflict. After all, you’re kind of – let’s say – perfect, right? Mama always told you so. To ensure a speedy resolution to the issues at hand, you therefore try and show your spouse the various errors of their ways and upbringing. For a while, it looks like it’s working! But be warned – these things come and bite you in unexpected places and at unexpected times. Being the bully doesn’t work for long. (Trust me, I know). Similarly, if you’re the more ‘peace-loving’ one, it’s easy to overdo the whole sacrifice gig – but what you’re really building is a foundation of resentment that is bound to boil over at some stage. The early days of your marriage are a critical time to try and find the right balance. The closer you can get to equal footing, the better – and this comes primarily from understanding yourself and staying away from the extremes of either being dominating or dominated. But in all likelihood – it is going to happen, to some extent.
3. You May Find Yourself Going Underground For a Bit
This is not only something that I’ve gone through personally but that I’ve observed in almost all my friends who pretty much disappear from their erstwhile social circles for a year or two after they get married. Probably due to the fact that you’re adjusting to your newly married state, you may end up losing touch with some of your friends for a while. The good news here – your more solid relationships endure (with some effort of course); and again, you can probably guard against a general tendency if you’re more conscious about it. And these days, thank heavens for Facebook too, at least you’ll be reminded to wish your best friends a ‘Happy Birthday’. An important thing to remember – it’s always worth making an extra effort to maintain those close friends. It’s not only that they were there first – it’s also good for you two to have that occasional break from each other. It’s the more healthy and sane thing to do, really.
4. Suddenly, it’s Not Just The Two of You Anymore
Sounds obvious, right? But this has nothing to do with whether you’re living in a joint set-up or far, far away from the parents. You’re now entering each other’s families, at the very least on an emotional level. The degree of this of course depends upon how closely-knit the involved families are, but the fact is that there are now likely to be multiple points of view on the same things. It’s unlikely to become the Saas-Bahu-Serial-kind-of-scenario, but the fact is the two different families that you’ve grown up in – no matter how ‘similar’ the backgrounds – are different living, breathing units with different belief systems, ways of operating and communicating and functioning -and in some cases, having arrived at their own unique dysfunctional equilibrium. The two of you have to manage your newly-emerging differences as individuals, but there may also be complexities caused by the newly-combined Family with a capital F. That’s okay. The key here is to remember that they all really do love you and that’s where the ‘Hume Kab Good News De Rahe Ho?’ comes from. Another key is to try and move to Australia, if you can. (A joke, but also not a bad idea). The real good news here is that after a while, you’ll grow into the newly-acquired Family and have more souls to love. Keeping that in mind may help a great deal.
5. Finally – This, too, Shall Pass
You’re on a journey of not just discovering another person in totality, but it’s also a journey of self-discovery. This means that the initial tumult includes the uncomfortable growing pains that accompany any learning experience. But time has a way of sorting things out, and the important thing is to remember that, grit your teeth and try and go with the flow as much as possible. Even if things aren’t always pleasant – chances are they will settle down into a far more comfortable relationship later.
– Contributed by Yashodhara Lal
(Yashodhara Lal is a graduate from IIM-Bangalore, with over a decade of marketing experience. She is also the author of the new book ‘Just Married, Please Excuse’. You can read sample chapters from the book on www.justmarriedpleaseexcuse.com. To visit her blog click here and you can find her on twitter too – @yashodharalal)