After the honeymoon phase comes the "honey move away from the remote or else" phase. It's like clockwork. But determining what you'll watch on Sunday night is just one of the common conflicts that arise in the first year or two of marriage. To help you handle the usual fights like a pro, we chatted with licensed marriage and family therapist associate and relationship specialist Melody Li to help pinpoint issues many couples face. Even better, she's offering solutions to help you get through those troubles with ease.
Expectations of what men and women should be doing in the home have changed a lot over the years, and with this remodeling of gender norms comes a remodeling of the kitchen—that means there's now plenty of room in there for the guys. But even the most progressive men might not be cleaning the gunk out of the drain as often as one might hope, and simple household chores tend to become a big sticking point for a lot of first-year fights. "A simple solution is to make a chore list that both partners can be on board with," Li explains. With a list in place (complete with timing expectations), you may even be able to trade-off on each of your most-hated duties. But there's one important catch: "Neither partners can poke and prod each other or check on progress until the chore is 'due,'" says Li. This rule is to safeguard against the hallmark nagging that turns couples everywhere into their moms.
If checking your credit card bill holds as much suspense as a gender reveal video, this may be a big one. To prevent learning that your spouse considers fantasy baseball gambling a "necessity" until it's too late, Li suggests having monthly finance discussions. "Keep it short and sweet and make some mimosas. Some questions to kick start the conversations are: Are you generally a spender or saver? What are your worst financial fears? How much debt do you have and how do you plan to pay it off?" Throughout these talks, understand that there's no right or wrong way to approach personal finance, just different ways. Being understanding of why your partner might feel a certain way about money will help you create a budget both parties feel invested in sticking to.
"There is a common misconception that one should care for the marriage first, even at the expense of one's wellbeing," says Li. "But just like the airplane safety procedure instructs us, we have to put on our own oxygen mask before helping others." In short, being loving, patient, and kind to your partner is much easier after a spin class and a mani pedi. Being a couple isn't two halves that make a whole, it's two whole people coming together. So never feel guilty about needing a little "me" time—your marriage will thank you.