10 Shocking Secrets of The First Year of Marriage

Think that your first year as newlyweds will be total bliss? Of course it will—but even paradise comes with surprises. Here's what to expect.


1. THE SHOCK: You'll gain a little love weight.
You've been dieting since the moment he put the ring on your finger. But chances are that celery-and-Fresca regimen will end as soon as the honeymoon begins. (Christening every Thursday "Pasta Madness"? Go for it!) "I starved myself for months to get in shape for the wedding—I even ordered my ring a size smaller to force myself to keep dieting," admits Melina M., 29, of Cambridge, Massachusetts. "Of course I've gained it all back—and a few extra pounds."
WHAT'S A COUPLE TO DO?
Putting on a bit of weight is normal for a newlywed. "Give yourself permission to enjoy your new life and the food that comes with it," says psychologist Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D., author of A Happy You: Your Ultimate Prescription for Happiness. But don't make chili-cheese dogs an everyday thing, or the pounds will keep piling on. Spanx has its limits.


2. THE SHOCK: Your B-list buds will go MIA.
You're a single girl with a tribe of friends. Once you're hitched, though, some may mysteriously vanish from the scene—unless you bribe them with Friday-night drinks.
WHAT'S A COUPLE TO DO?
If a friend is keen on getting married, jealousy may play a part, or she may be having a hard time dealing with a former free-agent pal's wanting to check in with her hubby before making plans. But don't worry—your closest girlfriends won't leave your side, especially if you make a conscious effort to keep them there.


3. THE SHOCK: Your sex life will be off the charts—sometimes.
After an XXX-rated honeymoon and a happy homecoming, life can turn PG. One night, you may want to do the laundry instead of each other. Or there'll be a Project Runway marathon that you really, really want to watch. Before you know it, a week will have gone by since you two tore up the sheets.
WHAT'S A COUPLE TO DO?
Nothing. Studies show that, over time, married people have more—and better—sex than singles do, says Scott Haltzman, author of The Secrets of Happily Married Women: "The sense of commitment helps loosen a couple's inhibitions and strengthens their sexual bond."


4. THE SHOCK: You won't unpack your china for six months.
Engaged girl's fantasy: kitchen shelves full of gleaming new china and stemware organized by color, pattern, and size. Married woman's reality: stacks of unpacked boxes in every corner.
WHAT'S A COUPLE TO DO?
Everyday things—working late, paying bills, taking the dog to the vet—will get in the way of setting up that idyllic space. Try this as a compromise: Open one box each week until you've achieved that sublime kitchen display. And then use the stuff!


5. THE SHOCK: You'll do the dishes; your husband will fix stuff.
It'll be like living in a Mad Men episode as you fall into clichéd roles—you're in charge of laundry; he hammers things. "One day, when our dryer's bell went off to signal that the clothes were done, my husband jumped a foot off the couch and shrieked, 'What was that noise?' That was when I realized he hadn't washed a sock since we'd been married," says Anna W., 28, of Austin, Texas.
WHAT'S A COUPLE TO DO?
Devise a plan, if you'd prefer to split chores 50–50. "Consider which chores each of you doesn't mind doing, and agree to divvy up the responsibilities in a way you both think is fair," says Lombardo. Studies show that when roles are clearly defined and equitable, everyone's happier.


6. THE SHOCK: Even though you'll have two paychecks, you'll still feel broke.
That "we'll have twice as much money" theory? Just an illusion. While you'll save on housing if you weren't living together before (and don't move someplace swankier), you'll also be spending more. For example, that hand-me-down couch was fine for a single gal, but now you'll want a nice sofa in a lovely home that looks as if grown-ups live there.
WHAT'S A COUPLE TO DO?
Don't fret too much, says Haltzman. The investments you're making now will pay off for decades to come, whether they're in furnishings, friendships (throwing dinner parties), or the future (loading up your retirement accounts).


7. THE SHOCK: You won't want to spend every moment with your new husband.
Your spouse may be your best friend, but he won't suddenly become your only friend.
WHAT'S A COUPLE TO DO?
"My husband and I have no problems maintaining individual friendships," says Meghan E., 29, of Richmond, Virginia. "The poor guy shouldn't have to be dragged to every new chick flick simply because he's married to me." She's right. Go out with the girls, and give him nights with his guys. You'll come home and swap stories—and your marriage will be the better for it.


8. THE SHOCK: You'll go to bed mad, even though you vowed not to—ever.
Count on falling asleep fuming at least once that first year.
WHAT'S A COUPLE TO DO?
"It's okay if you're getting nowhere with a compromise," says Lombardo. "Forcing things will just make them worse." So don't be scared of getting some shut-eye. Most likely, you'll both wake up refreshed and ready to make up. Studies show the best predictor of a marriage's success is the couple's ability to repair the relationship after a fight, so as long as you resolve your conflict quickly, you can rest easy.


9. THE SHOCK: Being a wife won't mean you'll instantly have skills worthy of an Iron Chef.
"When I was single, I rarely turned on the stove in my studio apartment. Then I got a husband, new kitchen gear (all those shower gifts!), and my grandmother's take- care-of-your-man attitude," says Molly S., 32, of Baltimore.
WHAT'S A COUPLE TO DO?
Marriage vows are powerful, but they don't include instructions on how to make meatloaf. "I'd rush home from work and try to cook a spread worthy of a magazine photo shoot, but I couldn't take the pressure," says Molly. "Now making dinner might mean opening a bag of salad or a take-out menu," she says. "And we're both okay with that." Or you may find your husband grabbing the apron—now there's a win-win!


10. THE SHOCK: The world will feel like a better place.
Marriage is more than changing your last name and getting a joint checking account.
WHAT'S A COUPLE TO DO?
"Getting married is a declaration to the world that you want to be with each other forever, and a huge sense of security, devotion, peace, and love comes with that," says Lombardo. That intensity will not only deepen your bond but also give you quite a buzz. Says Krista N., 31, of New York City, "We were really supportive of each other before, but now that we're married, it feels like we're tackling life together, and that's a pretty great feeling."

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