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Do You Know Him “Enough”?

There are many things you’ll get to know about each other only after getting married! Despite for how long the two of you must be dating (or in love), there are things that’ll lead you to a life full of surprises.

 

Marriage is a “learn on the job” plan. None of us comes into it (or rather falls into it) with all the intelligence or dexterity we need for prosperity. When the going gets rough, it’s most often a sign that we need some new skills — not a sign that we need a new spouse! Marriage is a long negotiation about how two people are going to run things – together. Money, intimacy, parenting, or chores – You can fight, or you can collaborate. The latter is a lot more rewarding. Having said that, marriage is anything but predictable. There are many things you’ll get to know about each other only after getting married! Despite for how long the two of you must be dating (or in love), there are things that’ll lead you to a life full of surprises.

Couples are often surprised within that first year they have almost an identity crisis. Part of it may stem from the recognition that your life is now knotted with another; that you made what will hopefully be a lifetime commitment and are, in a sense, responsible to that person. Plus, there’s wrapping your head around what it means to be “husband and wife,” and who you are outside of that role. For some couples, the decision to share the last name is part of that identity shift. I know many friends who did not realize how difficult it would be. It took two of my friends ten months to actually change their surnames. Not to miss that after six or eight years of marriage, they still miss it. Some of them also feel that it makes sense now that they have kids, and now continue to use their maiden name professionally.

It is with regret that your wedding band does not come with telepathic superpowers, nor does it gift you the knack to decode every brow line and eye scrunch. And when you try to guess what’s prompting the short response, or prolonged silence, chances are you will assume the worst case scenario. So, in most cases, the solution is to ask! And good questions begin with one of two words: how or what. No matter what follows, neither can be answered with a simple yes or no; and both can help get to the real root of the issue. (Instead of “Are you mad at me?” ask “What are you thinking right now?”) Oh, and by the way, your spouse’s ring is made from mere-mortal materials as well. In most cases, he can’t read your mind either! Being married does not mean you should stop expressing your needs. Let go of the idea that if you have to tell him what you want, it’s going to be less meaningful in some way. Priorities change over time—both yours and your spouses, and if you say what you need and the other person responds, it can mean even more because you know they heard you.

Holidays can reach a whole new level of complicated when “Eid dinners are always at my aunt’s place” meets “But we have to go to my mother’s.” That was a reality check one of my best friends did not expect. “I spent a great deal with my husband’s family before getting married,” says H, “in part for a few brownie points during our affair.” However, things changed once they got married. Once the two of them officially got hitched, figuring out how to split holidays—like Eid or summer vacations — became a point of conflict. “Summer holidays have always been one of my favorite holidays, not just because I have a large family (my husband does too), but mostly because my mother is a great cook,” said F, “one that puts other chefs to shame.” Their solution: alternate the big holidays, a plan she said they’ve stuck to for the past five years (and one that includes asking her mother for food leftovers). Other couples may opt to visit both families on a given holiday, or host it themselves and start new traditions. For the newly blended family, holiday pressure may be even more intense. Again, don’t be surprised or disheartened.

I spoke to other women and found that women are more likely to pack on pounds after marriage, while men are likely to gain weight after a divorce. As funny as it sounds, this may be a serious problem for some, especially after they hit their 30s. The people I spoke to didn’t delve into the why, but most of them have their theories: As you get older, a sudden change (like marriage or divorce) can be a bigger shock than it would be when you’re younger, and that can really impact your weight. Joy and grief are strong emotions that can also lead to an increase or decrease in appetite. Besides seeing this as a serious health concern, it is also observed that the husband finds his wife’s sudden (or post pregnancy) weight unattractive, which results in a change of behavior. The same goes for the wife to find her husband’s after-marriage weight gain sloppy and distasteful. Be very mindful of that.

Before another friend of mine got married, she considered her time her own. She’d make her plans for the day which always incorporated seeing her now-husband, but they were still her plans. After they got married and moved in together, free time became about ‘what we’re doing,’ not ‘what I’m doing,’ she explained. “It was a weird shift for me at first, almost like I lost a little control of my day.” My friend enjoyed doing things with her husband, but still craved time on her own. And that need for space and “me-time” is both normal and healthy. You can love your togetherness, but it’s important to have the alone time to do the things you enjoy—not only for your own well-being but also for the health of your relationship.

Mom always took care of this in your family, while dad handled that; you and your hubby, however, may have different definitions of that and this. “People assume their role as husband or wife will mimic what was modeled growing up,” says F. Experts agree it’s best to assume nothing, and instead talk about your expectations. Some couple may take similar roles that their parents did, says F; others may find that who does what evolves gradually, with both people pitching in. But even if you vow to keep the division of labor equal, it’s likely that certain to-dos will move from his list to yours: “Somehow, I was suddenly responsible for remembering birthdays, anniversaries,” says F. “He pretty much just handed it over.”

 

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