The most common first-year-of-marriage fights (and how to solve them)
Even in newlywed bliss, you and your new spouse are bound to bicker. So here, our experts reveal the four top fights you're most likely to have — and of course, how to fix them.
Fight: How to spend your money.
Pooling your finances has its benefits. But once you do, you may find you and your new spouse squabble over everything from who pays the bills to how many discretionary dollars you should each get to spend.
Solution: Money talks.
According to Toni Coleman, psychotherapist and relationship coach, "Money is the number one issue couples that causes arguments." In part, it can be due to different upbringings and values as well as how much money you each bring to the table. But, you can stop bickering over bucks by getting on the same financial page and discussing in-depth your thoughts on spending, saving, and investing. "Fully disclose and review all of your joint income, expenses, debt, savings, and more," says Coleman, then create a budget to which you can both abide and tweak as necessary. "This way, there are no surprises, each person knows the financial picture, and each has a stake in how finances are handled."
Fight: Intrusive in-laws.
Your mother-in-law doesn't have to come over unannounced or catch you making love to make it feel as if she's always around. If one of you feels suffocated by the other's family, fights can erupt.
Solution: Set boundaries from the start.
Says Malibu-based marriage therapist Alisa Ruby Bash, "In-laws can always be an ongoing problem in a relationship." So nip any nit-picking in the bud by setting boundaries about when and where your in-laws are welcome, and then express and enforce those boundaries moving forward. "It is essential to set clear boundaries regarding our in-laws," Bash says. "The whole first year of marriage is about releasing that our first priority and commitment is to our spouse, and no longer our family of origin."
Fight: Who will do the chores.
Doing the dishes never bothered you. That is, until you realized your new spouse doesn't even know where the sponge is. When one person doesn't do their share of the laundry and cleaning, the other is bound to feel resentful.
Solution: Divide and conquer equitably.
Your division of labor may never be equal, warns Coleman, but it should be equitable. "Each person should be making a contribution, depending on their work schedule and other responsibilities," she explains. Hit pause on your chores wars to come up with the list of all the things that need done around the house, then assign tasks based on your schedules and even likes or dislikes. "He might love to cook and have the schedule to do it, while you might hate cooking but be fine with doing the dishes afterwards," Coleman illustrates. Stick to your new agreement, she says, "or it will grow into a larger issue that can lead to a lot of resentment."
Fight: How to spend your free time.
You may crave nothing more than a bubble bath and a good book at the end of a long day. But, you can't catch up on your R&R when your new spouse feels all your free time should be spent together. A lack of understanding about how you want and need to spend you time can lead to some serious spats.
Solution: Understand one another's different needs.
Each of you should have time that is just yours to do with what you want. "You can come up with a certain amount of hours, evenings, or slots on the weekend when each of you can pursue individual interests and time with friends or family," she says. Schedule a flexible date night you can share together, where you go out or stay in to pursue interests you both enjoy. And make time to go out together with your family and friends. "Taking turns going out with his friends, her friends, as well as his or her family is also a good approach," Coleman says.
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