On the rocks

Sunday, 10 February 2013 - 10:30am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Contrary to popular belief, the first year of marriage is not exactly the ‘honeymoon’ phase. It’s actually the toughest year in a couple’s life, writes Geetanjali Jhala.

Here’s a secret that most married couples will attest to: The honeymoon ends on the wedding day. People believe that the first year of marriage is full of romance, but in reality, that first year is when most marriages fall apart.

Recently, a study by Deakin University’s Australian Centre on Quality of Life found that couples are unhappiest in their first year of marriage. So why do people expect it to be ‘bliss’?

The courtship, especially the period between the engagement and the wedding, may be to blame, say married couples. It raises the couple’s expectations. Mallika, who has been married to an armyman for over five years, says that for her, the relationship changed after the wedding.

“My husband used to be a lot of fun. He partied a lot, stayed up late chatting with me, and we had a great time. I didn’t expect it all to change so suddenly. Soon after our wedding, he started sleeping early and had less and less to say to me with every passing day,” says the 29-year old.

“The fights also increased exponentially. We’d fight about everything — even trivial things like why I hadn’t wiped dry the bathroom floor after a bath. One time, after a fight we didn’t speak to each other for three whole months,” she adds.

According to Manisha Pravin Tembhekar, head psychologist, Coffee Counselling Centre, even if a couple know each other well before the wedding, the quirks that actually lead to conflict come to the fore only after they start living together. “When two people come from different backgrounds and have contrasting habits — like if one partner likes to wake up early and the other is a late riser, or if one partner doesn’t like socialising, or if one has a higher sex-drive than the other — a newly-wed can feel very lonely,” says Tembhekar.

Take the case of Mumbai-based Pankaj, who says that the sex used to be much more frequent in the two-year courtship than it was in the first few months after the wedding. “We had so much other stuff to focus on — setting up a house, being accountable to someone else, sharing a bathroom — that we didn’t have the time, or the inclination for sex,” says the 35-year old, adding that all that changed a year after marriage when they decided to move to a two-bedroom apartment. “We stopped sharing a bathroom. It was like we had nothing to fight about anymore. The sex became much more frequent after that.”

Being married also changes the expectations between couples, even those who have been together for a long time. Ambika, 29, lived in with her boyfriend for almost five years before marrying him last year. “It was as if our expectations had changed overnight. Of course I had expectations when we were living in too, but I didn’t stress too much if he didn’t live up to them. For instance, while living in, his money was his and my money was mine to spend as we saw fit. Now, there’s a common kitty, and suddenly, we aren’t splitting rent money in Mumbai anymore,” she says.

Names changed on request.

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