You Mean My Marriage is in “The Terrible Two’s” (Even Though We’ve Been Together for Years)?!? Congratulations! You are now on your 2nd year of marriage, and you’re still together!
Although the first couple of years of a marriage are said to be the most difficult, they are often remembered as the most joyous. They can be a tremendous time of intimacy and discovery. There is so much to learn about each other and so much to express to one another. Once the relationship “has legs,” much like a 2-year old, it can “walk,” it can push boundaries, and it can get upset when its needs aren’t met, because it’s ready for more! Likewise, many relationships fall apart in the 2-3 year time frame, as this is often when the initial romantic novelty inevitably gives way to a sense of plateaued normalcy. This is when things get real for many couples. Resentments start coming out sideways, conflict and friction increase, while intimacy and excitement wane, and very often, the people involved make meaning out of this mix that, “Oh, this is the wrong person for me, I’m out!”
Sex & The City and “The Terrible Twos”
Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), the heroine of the whole enterprise, was the worst offender. She bought shoes when she needed to pay rent. She cheated on her boyfriends. She broadcast her business to the world when she would have been better off keeping her mouth sh — oh, uh, yes, job hazard as a sex and relationship columnist. Mr. Big (Chris Noth) was also skilled in the art of self sabotage, continually pushing his perfect girl (Carrie, duh!) away when she needed to be pulled close. He perfected this dynamic in the first movie’s act one climax by leaving her at the altar. Ouch.
Many couples tide over the mundane chaos the second year of marriage unleashes, but many don’t, because this is the time when the honeymoon bliss wears off and the true personality of both the individuals’ surfaces. But what no one is talking about are the terrible-twos of a marriage.
You know that nobody’s perfect and everyone has their share of problems. And even though most people don’t air their dirty laundry about their relationship to everyone around them, when you don’t hear about it, it’s natural to assume that their relationship is perfect.
“Oh not them! They have the best marriage! I never hear her complain about her husband. What’s there to complain about?
Along with the expressions of love, what has also come down is the desire to look alluring. “You are comfortable together, so the faded pajamas rule over the sexy lingerie. You realise, tonight needn’t be the night, there’s always tomorrow. Since life is so smooth and effortless and you are used to your togetherness by now, you stop making the effort. It does gnaw away at the romance.
Money does matter, and there will be times where you’ll have disagreements about it too. Marriage is hard and building a family is harder, sometimes, it can take a toll on yourself and your marriage. If you have a spouse who doesn’t know how to budget finances, this can cause some issues financially.
Each relationship is different, but they all require a lot of attention and care. Eventually the parts about your significant other that seem to be working your very last nerve won’t bother you as much. You will know it’s worth sticking it out when you can’t imagine notsticking it out. You will be able to see a glimmer beyond the year that has consumed all of your patience. And although you may want to throw hands, you won’t actually do it. Next time you think of losing your wits, refer back to the time you read this article and think “Okay, my relationship is like a little kid, it will get more mature (probably)!”
More recent research shows that newlyweds may be more prone to dissatisfaction due to unrealistic expectations or the level of what they experience versus what they expected in terms of marriage. Common unexpected adjustments include:
- The “little things”
- Competing loyalties
- Serious responsibilities
- Relationship roles
One study found that newlywed couples who tend to estimate that their happiness levels will rise (or at least stay the same) within the first four years of marriage are actually more likely to experience a decline in happiness over time.
The best thing to do is have an open and honest conversation with your spouse, without blaming, about your concerns. You might start by saying something like, “I think we are both struggling to adjust to being married.”
From there, you can figure out what marriage support options might be a good fit for you both. It could be setting aside time to read and discuss self-help books, seeking guidance from a house of worship or other trusted source, enrolling in a marriage education class, or pursuing couples therapy It’s also important to:
- Avoid blaming your partner. The blame game will only exacerbate any struggles you and your partner are having. Instead, discuss what you feel is happening and how you can work together as a couple to bridge the gap.
- Have realistic expectations. False expectation can get the better of your relationship, if for example, you expect your partner to live up to what you see in romance movies.
- Give yourself and your partner time to adapt. Marriage is new for both of you, so it’s important to have patience as you adjust to your new roles and responsibilities.
Sound familiar? If so, then congratulations, you’re just like the rest of us! Honestly, this is the type of thinking for which most of us have been conditioned! We’re taught to be disconnected from our raw experience (emotions, thoughts, sensations), and “window shop” for our “ideal mate,” who is supposed to fill our void. Just like a 2-year old asserting his autonomy from a once-dependent relationship, we must grow out of this belief system if we are ever to find sustainable relationship. I don’t claim to have all (or any) “answers” for you, so I’ll give you some ideas to try on and work with.
Marriage is a union of two people. So, once you’re married, everyone views the two of you as one. What does this have to do with early marriage problems? Everything.
Think of your every decision as “we” and “ours”. It’s no longer for yourself but the both of you. Aside from this adjustment, you begin to see the real person you married. Believe it or not, even years of living together won’t make the adjustment easier.
Knowing what’s typical in a marriage (or any committed relationship) can help you to stop worrying and know what to do to help your relationship survive and get stronger as a result. Here’s what you need to know:
- Growing pains While the unknown is always a bit scary, the fact that you’re experiencing them means you’ve made it to the next phase. Congratulations! Do you know how many couples never make it this far?
- “A changeBreaking that down, it means if mama ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy. If dad’s stressed out at work, then everyone in the family is going to feel it in some way (even down to the baby who’s crying more than normal and not sleeping through the night). If your son’s baseball practice schedule is intense, everyone is going to feel the pains of late dinners.
- All change is a transition and comes with some hesitation and tense moments, even good change.Think back to your wedding day. A momentous occasion, but stressful. You probably had more spats with your mom over seating charts and invitation lists than you’ve ever had before or after. Keeping this in mind and adjusting your expectations during the terrible two’s can go a long way.
- The hard times don’t last forever. Even though you may not have one of those trusty little charts from the doctor’s office to guide you through this, you can make your own chart. In your phone or on a calendar, use smiley faces and frowny faces to mark the mood in the air. Once the smiley faces start to get a little consistent, you’ll know relief is coming soon!
Be in love with love ❤️ • If you’re married keep working on that “Sparkle”…✨