There comes a point after one’s amazing wedding day and the subsequent blissful honeymoon that every couple will face the reality of settling into life as a married couple. It can be a lot of fun. You now get to say “yes my husband and I…” and you start the exciting process of building your life together. You talk about where you want to live, where you want to travel and what your children’s names will be. There’s no anxiety about freaking the other person out because, well, they put on a ring on it so everything’s kinda locked in.
So what comes after happily ever after?
After talking to a lot of people, I have come to realise that the first year of marriage can actually be a lot harder than most people are willing to let on. Especially when you are an expat couple as a lot of us are. Living in a foreign country, even somewhere with such luxurious comforts as Dubai, can put a lot of strain on a young marriage and you may find yourselves having to make life-changing decisions together very quickly – whether it is to change jobs, move country or settle and have children away from family. A lot of us moved to other countries as young, wild and single individuals with big and ambitious dreams for ourselves and adapting that dream to create a life with someone else can be an exciting yet challenging process.
When you are in the early stages of your relationship, we find ourselves whittling away hours talking about our future together. At this stage, it really doesn’t even matter what the specifics of that future is so long as you are planning it together and that my friends, is the fun part. It is so romantic and I love every little bit of this process. All you see is that other person and they are your absolute everything.
With this in mind, sometimes we have to accept that love in the context of marriage has to be somewhat practical. You have to want the same things out of life. You have to have at least a similar outlook and mentality. While I am the very definition of an idealist and a dreamer, even I can make peace with the fact that the romance of courtship will dwindle and you will settle into a more realistic version of love as you know it. It is here that you see that the relationship has to have a solid foundation of support and partnership where you both want the best for each other and are willing to challenge and inspire each other to manifest the life you want both together and individuals. Marriage is the ultimate partnership and I have come to learn that it is fundamentally important that you have the right person on your team and that your #relationshipgoals are on the same page. I really believe it is worth taking the time to talk about who you are and who you want to be together both before and when you are married. We are always changing and growing as people and keeping in tune with who the other person is right now and who they are becoming is critical is growing and cementing that partnership.
The first year of marriage can be scary. All of a sudden every little niggling problem in your relationship is forever. Before, it was something that you may have previously skimmed over because you are both so madly in love but now you have to really look at whether you can accept these issues for the rest of your life. Rest of your life. Yikes. It all sounds so dramatic and it can put so much pressure on everything. On both of you. It is in this way that the first year of marriage can really bring the inner workings and nuances of your relationship into the light of day. This is not necessarily a bad thing and coming face to face with these issues head on can make you stronger as a couple. Or they can drive you further apart. The decision is up to you.
I think you come to realise that you have to be very honest with yourself about what you want out of life in order to be who you want to be with the other person. If you are anything like me, an innate people pleaser, you want to say anything you can to make other people happy. I have gone through my whole life like this and it has worked because as long as you make people happy, they love you and then you have nothing to worry about. Yet somehow this same theory doesn’t work when it comes to marriage. If you don’t say what you want or how you feel then you only create bigger issues between you as a couple that you realise are going to be much, much harder to solve later down the road. You have to have the difficult conversations. You have to bicker. You have to have regular, more manageable eruptions to avoid creating a marital Mount Vesuvius where the problems of your marriage are forever solidified. This can be hard, really hard. After all, who wants to tell the person they love most in the world all the things they think are wrong?
I am not saying it is all doom and gloom and I apologise if there is any tone of hopelessness that comes across in this blog. It is more a case of taking a real talk approach to marriage and wanting other newly married couples to know that if you are facing struggles in your relationship then you are not alone. It is very easy to beat ourselves up and think “it shouldn’t be this hard this early on.”
Being married as an expat couple can somewhat accelerate life and you will have to deal with a lot of things together very quickly. My advice? You just have to take it one step at a time and try not to compare yourselves to anyone else. Remember that everyone else only projects a snapshot of their marriage to the world. There is a lot that goes behind closed doors and remember that everyone is fighting a battle you don’t know about. Remove the word ‘should’ from your vocabulary. There is no right or wrong way to deal with things and you can only do the best you can as a couple. Be honest with how you feel and know that if you are true to yourself and each other that one way or another you will find a way through.