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Newlyweds… then reality sets in.
wedding day is met with much anticipation. Bright eyed, eager, some butterflies,
plans in place. So much thought and preparation for a single event. Then the
honeymoon and then back to real life.
is often magical thinking that goes into a wedding. Apart from the fairy book
ceremony, some couples consider the event to vanquish any and all issues between
themselves; the home will magically clean itself, finances will sort themselves
out and spouses will get along with in-laws.
four to eight months down the road the shine wears off the romance and the
married couple starts to view each other in more realistic terms. For some, buyer’s
remorse sets in. At issue is accommodating to a new shared world, defining
mutual expectations and setting boundaries.
if the domicile was one or other partner’s or a new setting, it now is the
shared space of both persons. Unlike college roomies, married persons will share
their space forevermore. Hence determining mutual rules for care, cleaning,
maintenance and the like are essential to lifelong cohabitation. It may be that
either or both had entered the marriage assuming the other would meet
unspecified expectations. However, now several months down the road, it is clear
that neither can read the other’s mind and discussion will be necessary to
clear up misconceptions and set new ground rules. Determining who cleans the
toilet and whether the seat is up or down are real life issues.
for finances, it is often the case that new spouses have different priorities
for expenditures. Again, one or other may assume their thinking is aligned and
may go about spending on the basis of a wrong assumption. Bringing the new
purchase home is just the right catalyst to ignite a conflict and set off a
flurry of bad feelings. It is important for new spouses to realize that such
purchases are not likely entered into lightly, just misguidedly. It is vital for
new spouses to discuss spending priorities to minimize the probability of either
assuming the other will naturally be thrilled with a surprise purchase.
domiciles have an entrance with a door and lock. The purpose of having a door
and lock is to provide a boundary between the spouses and the rest of the world.
The issue for new spouses is determining whom they let in and when. This extends
to family and friends. New spouses must come to realize that the boundary
provides for one’s own privacy, that of the other spouse and that of the
couple. The boundary also helps spouses be viewed as an independent couple,
rather than just an extension of one or other’s extended family. Whatever the
rules were for letting in family and friends prior to marriage, once married the
rules do change. Thus boundary formation means defining a circle around the
spouses with the couple as the priority. Permitting others into the circle is a
matter of discussion between the spouses. Boundary formation also extends to
determining how couples will spend traditional holidays, whether they visit
parents, in-laws, or in what order. Often setting boundaries can bring conflict
with extended family and even friends as they vie for the couple’s time and
attention. Better the terms of these relationships be set according to the
couple’s wishes than the wishes of others. In the end, spouses live with each
other so their relationship must be secure and clear.
There are no preset rules as to who should clean the house or when and there are no set rules as to which purchases should take priority over others. Also, there are no set rules as to how firm or open a couple should set their boundaries. The only rule that is set is that the couple should discuss, negotiate and determine their own terms for all these issues. This is how couples accommodate to each other. This is how to make a new reality a good reality.
Direnfeld, MSW, RSW
Call Gary for your next conference and for expert opinion on family matters. Services include counselling, mediation, assessment, assessment critiques and workshops.
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