Diamonds, doves, a flowing white dress, dancing and a little bubbly… ain’t love grand? After a lavish wedding, a romantic honeymoon, the fireworks start to die down, and young married couples return to a not-so charming place: reality.
We all recognize this important vow: “Until death do us part.” These words mean forever. And with the divorce rate pushing 50 percent, why rush it?
With the odds against them, some young couples are very successful with an immense amount of work, love and, most importantly, communication. But, it isn’t easy.
“Many young couples have an idealistic view of marriage,” Nancy Denny, a marriage counselor, said. “They fail to plan or look far enough into the future of their relationship.”
[wedme] In our early twenties, most of us are still growing as individuals. This can make it very difficult to develop simultaneously as a couple. After two people take their vows, they must begin thinking and functioning as a domestic unit.
Mere Rataj, newlywed and recent MSU graduate, explained marriage as a two-edged sword. “I am married to my best friend and he is always there for me,” she said. “But, on the other hand, he is always there. There is a realization that things are final. We can’t just break up when we have an argument; we are married now and we have to deal with our problems on a daily basis, together.”
Before taking the plunge, Denny said it is very important for couples to witness their partner’s behavior in several situations. “When young couples decide to get married right out of college, sometimes they may have only spent time together in a social setting,” Denny said. It is important to spend time together in several different challenging situations, where you can’t just escape the conflict and head back to your own apartment.
The first year of marriage is often the most difficult period for many newlyweds. Nancy Brown, a social worker, said, “How you feel six months into marriage is not a good indicator of how you might feel five to 10 years into a healthy relationship.” Brown also expressed that many young couples bail early in the relationship before they get comfortable. It is important to always keep the lines of communication open.
One of the biggest stressors for young married couples is money. Many recent college graduates are still paying off student loans. On top of that comes the price of the wedding itself, which can put a major dent in a couple’s wallet. According to Barbara Howard of Bride’s Other Mother Planning Service out of Clinton Township, Mich., the average cost of a wedding is $20,000. Is one day of festivities really worth going into the first year of marriage in debt?
Rataj wished she wouldn’t have spent so much money and attention on her big day. “I was so worried about matching my cocktail napkins with my wedding cake that I failed to see the consequences.” A wedding is a very important celebration, but if a couplecan’t afford fancy nuptials then they shouldn’t blow their savings on something they’ll be paying for five years down the road. Young couples might want to plan something special yet simple with close friends and family.
Dominic Held, sophomore physics major, said, “I have learned that I cannot be self-centered in my marriage.” Held also believes brides and grooms-to-be must accept their future spouse, because they are not going to change the other after marriage. A common myth in many relationships is that once you are married, a relationship will suddenly change or improve.
Although Denny warns of the challenges ahead, she has also seen many young relationships succeed. She suggests that a couple should undergo at least six weeks of some kind of marriage counseling, whether it be with a therapist, priest or other professional before the wedding. These sessions can help acquaint a couple on an otherwise undiscovered level.
Marriage is a life-altering change. With any such transformation potential honeymooners should have a strong support system. It is vital to have a network of both mutual friends and personal friends. Another essential factor is having a solid family support structure. For young married couples, it is not unusual to receive some parental financial support in the first few years of marriage. Once again, it is important to receive guidance outside this circle. Marriage counseling can be very beneficial if both partners are willing to work at it.
Marriage is truly a beautiful and blessed journey. Being in a new marriage can be a wonderful time filled with many special experiences, from buying a new house together to getting a new puppy to bringing a child into the world. There will be good days and bad days. But, if you’re thinking of tying the knot anytime soon, love isn’t the only ingredient necessary to sustain a union. It is important to have lived independently before sharing your life with one person forever. Once married, keep a date night with your spouse, seek outside support, communicate and stick with it. And remember, there is no such thing as a “perfect marriage.”

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