No one usually thinks of "The Newlywed Game" as imparting essential wisdom about life, but it does make one important point: newlyweds fight!
It's true. Contrary to notions of an annum spent giggling and cooing at each other in perfect bliss, that first year can be a killer.
Now for the good news: Breaking down common misconceptions about the first year of marriage can help you make it through the initial year and ensure the building of a foundation that supports a life-long, meaningful marriage.
1) YOU WILL FIGHT
It is essential to recognize that you are two people coming from very different places, and now your lives and choices are joined together completely. It's inevitable that you are going to have some misunderstandings and disagreements.
Some of them will be major, but most will be over issues like what brand of peanut butter to buy.
Most disagreements will be over issues like what brand of peanut butter to buy.
This is normal. The act of getting married doesn't solve any problems -- whether they're minor differences of opinion between the couple, or character flaws which either individual brings into the marriage. In fact, marriage may even temporarily exacerbate some of these problems.
Having conflicts isn't a failing. Instead, look at it as a challenge. Learning how to work through and resolve them is one of the greatest growth experiences that marriage brings.
2) YOU ARE DIFFERENT
Here's one you probably aren't expecting: Some conflict actually is good. The very best marriages bring together opposites who build on and complement each other's strengths -- to together become better people.
The marriages of our matriarchs and patriarchs were like this -- and that's why they were successful.
The very best marriages bring together opposites.
Abraham was known for his pure kindness; his wife Sarah's strength and clear-mindedness was essential to his mission in life. Their son Isaac's defining characteristic was his moral strength and sense of divine justice; his wife Rebecca's generous benevolence provided the balance he needed.
Their son, Jacob, embodied truth in speech; his wife Rachel mastered the important skill of keeping quiet. Speech is nothing without silence. Without silence, it's mere noise. It's the blend that makes things beautiful.
Harmonious blending doesn't just happen, though. You have to work at it.
Recognizing that you are different is the first step. Working to understand where your spouse is coming from is the second. Not only does this help resolve or avoid discord, it's a non-verbal way of saying "I love you."
Loving relationships exist on two complementary wavelengths: the effort you put into your spouse builds his or her trust in you.
3) EXCITEMENT IS TIRING
Once you've been happily married for years and years, you may fondly recall the early days when everything was new and exciting. Fortunately, hindsight's rose-colored-glasses will probably edit out the exhaustion you endured from all the changes.
That exhaustion can trip you up. Someone discovered that people who emigrate to Israel tire more easily. The reason is that since nothing is familiar, everything requires much more effort. Even buying a newspaper takes exertion -- you have to remember that newspaper is "eetone" and count the unfamiliar coins. It all takes conscious effort.
Emotionally, you're in another country when you get married.
Emotionally, you're in another country when you get married.
Be aware of this. Because we're all more likely to behave badly when we're tired or stressed out.
4) MAKE QUIET-TIME
One of the great enemies we have is surprise. It throws us off balance -- and then we make mistakes.
Quiet time allows us time to internalize new situations. This is why many people take time off in between switching jobs, or after intense life events. You need "time off" to make "being married" part of your emotional state.
This doesn't just mean taking a two-week vacation. It means quiet time every day.
Build space into your schedule to catch up and adjust. Be aware of how hyper-sensitive the changes in your life might make you.
Many families have nameplates on their doors. I tell young couples to stop in front of their doors for a moment before entering. Look at the name on the nameplate and remind yourself: "That's ME." I am responsible to a great degree for the atmosphere, happy or otherwise, of this home.
5) HAPPINESS COMES FROM YOU
A husband or wife must do his or her very best to ensure that their spouse is happy, however you are not obligated to make your husband or wife happy. You cannot be obligated to bring about something not within your control. At the end of the day, only your spouse can decide whether or not he or she will be happy. Nor is he or she responsible for your happiness.
You can still be "good" even if your spouse is irritated with you. Maybe you need to do some thinking about why they're upset and how you contributed to it. But it shouldn't affect your core feelings about yourself.
Your attitude is one of the few things in this world over which you have real control. How you respond to stress is up to you.
Even as you work at blending your life with your spouse, you have to maintain some sense of independence. Certain understandings will help your marriage, including: "I am good and pure because God loves me, not because someone else likes me."
I am good and pure because God loves me, not because someone else likes me.
6) LEARN A NEW LANGUAGE
Many problems stem from miscommunications. Sometimes this means that one person didn't understand what the other said. This also means misunderstanding non-verbal clues and needs.
I know of a child who felt that his mother didn't really love him, even though she always put little love notes into his lunches. This child, it turns out, needed hugs.
Your spouse may be telling you all the time that he or she loves you, but you don't recognize it. Or, you may not realize that he or she doesn't understand your way of showing love.
You need to translate it. If your spouse shows love through food, relish it. If your spouse is reticent and doesn't give out compliments easily, capture the moment when he or she does.
7) CAPTURE THE MOMENT
Carry around those moments with you. Freeze that moment in your mind. Build details: what you're wearing, where the sun is, what's on the wall. Then, when you need, you'll have that moment to recall. Stop and savor it.
During the stormier moments, reach into your mind and hold onto the blissful twinklings -- and let them calm and carry you out of the storm.
Finally, remember that you are building a lifetime together, and there is no reason to expect it should be easy. But of course, the rewards far far outweigh the amount of effort involved!