National Association of Marriage Enhancement

The Newlywed Roller Coaster

2397_2397_5I am a newlywed. I have a lot of newlywed friends, and I have an announcement. The newlywed myth, the one that says every newlywed marriage is a walk in the park, is a BIG, FAT LIE. Don’t get me wrong. I love my marriage, and I still recommend marriage wholeheartedly. However, as a culture, we need to stop telling newlyweds that the first years are the best years of their lives together. The reality is that the newlywed season is often very trying and difficult on a marriage. Yes, newlyweds are often starry-eyed romantics. However, newlyweds, for the very first time, are also learning how to face obstacles and trials together. When the newlywed myth is circulated, they often feel like there is something wrong with their marriage since they don’t have the ease that all the older generations say they are supposed to be having at this point. Many newlyweds think there is no hope if what’s supposed to be the best years are tremendously difficult for them.

Many couples’ first troubles comes later in life, but there is no formula that fits every marriage. During my husband’s and my first year of marriage, I was still grieving the recent passing of my father. My depression and anxiety attacks often robbed the joy and romance from days that I was told should have been happy and romantic. He had to hold me when I cried and choose to uplift me when I frustrated him. Those difficult days and nights that we had right at the beginning didn’t define our future, and they still don’t. I am thankful that it seems like that season is over, but nothing is ever certain. Marriage comes with trying seasons. How you handle difficulties is how you grow or crumble. The reality is that many newlyweds feel unequipped to deal with their first trial, and instead, choose to run away or avoid the problem. Yet the healthy marriage model is to come together during difficulties and choose the same side rather than making each other the enemy.

The beginning of marriage is a roller coaster. You often feel unprepared for the big dips. Maybe you didn’t want to be thrown upside-down because you don’t like the feeling of being out of control.  Maybe the constant screaming has caused you to tune her out. Maybe you feel trapped and sick to your stomach. Roller coasters evoke certain initial reactions, but it is your overall reaction to the ride that matters. When you complete a roller coaster, do you focus on the fact that you conquered and overcame a big feat or do you vow never to do that dreadful thing again? There is a big difference between the two attitudes. One says, “Wow, I think we can do this together. I believe in us.” The other says, “I didn’t sign up for anything I don’t like or want.” Don’t be the quitter. Marriage is a lot of fun when you celebrate the triumphs and choose to believe in each other!

I encourage you. If you are newlyweds who are struggling, you are not alone. I know you may feel like married life isn’t supposed to be this way, but the reward comes when you overcome the trials together. Trials will produce growth if you both have the right attitude and dedication to your marriage. Trials do not mean your marriage is doomed for failure. It could mean that you are being strengthened in covenant stronger and sooner than you expected. If you are currently feeling under attack in your marriage, follow Romans 12:12—“rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Hope, patience and prayer are three keys to making it through difficult times. Choose to believe in yourselves and God’s restorative power (hope). Choose to extend grace even when your spouse frustrates you (patience). Choose to come together spiritually, consistently, and seek the Lord (pray). Remember you are not defined by your trials, but the way you handle your trials defines the success of your marriage.

Written by Emily Nilsen, the Communications Director for NAME, the National Association of Marriage Enhancement.