When the Honeymoon Is So Over
You're soul mates. You share the same interests and values, and you've lived together long enough to know each other's lovable quirks. But suddenly, you're fighting all the time about nitpicky stuff like how to load the dishwasher or whether it's possible for one person to sleep while the other's watching Monster Garage. You start to agonize over these disagreements. You wonder: Where has the love gone?
Relax! The love's right here, where it's always been. You're just experiencing the perils of the "really getting to know you" phase. Every marriage has an adjustment period that usually continues through the first few years -- and that can create little rifts from time to time. "It's amazing to me how few couples anticipate that they'll fight occasionally," says Michele Weiner-Davis, author of Divorce Busting: A Step-by-Step Approach to Making Your Marriage Loving Again. "As soon as disagreements arise, they assume something is horribly wrong with the relationship." Nine times out of ten, there's nothing wrong at all. Like a pair of gorgeous but blister-inducing new shoes, your marriage just needs some breaking in.
Master the art of talking and listening respectfully to each other early on, and you'll definitely thank yourselves later. "The way you manage your differences during the first few years of your marriage sets a pattern for the years ahead," says Susan Heitler, Ph.D., coauthor of The Power of Two Workbook: Communication Skills for a Strong & Loving Marriage.
So grow up. This is your spouse you're dealing with, not your little brother. When tempers start to flare, step back and figure out what the two of you are really arguing about. If you understand the deeper concerns, you'll be better able to resolve them. Avoid criticism, sarcasm, and accusatory weeping. If you can't speak without screaming, wait until your anger subsides. Then, ask your husband to sit down with you and calmly tell him what's bothering you. Try to understand how he feels too. To end the tug-of-war over who's right or wrong, ask yourself: Do I really, truly, positively need to make a big issue about (insert bone of contention here)? If not, get creative. Search for a solution that keeps you both feeling happy and respected.