When you walk down that aisle and pull back the veil to start your life as a married couple, many people talk about it as a beginning. You’re beginning your life together, you’re embarking on a journey, and you’re starting your family. And with this sense of beginning, there’s also the idea of a clean slate—that it all beings now, new and fresh. Which is maybe why, in the middle of your happily ever after, it can feel like a real shock when suddenly you find yourself fighting.
That’s right—married couples fight. Try not to panic. Even though you may know, intellectually, that couples argue whether they’re married or not, there can be something really jarring about your first fight as a married couple. You might feel panicked that you’ve made the wrong decision, you may feel like something’s become tarnished or tainted. But try to take a deep breath and gain a little perspective. Your first fight as a married couple might feel more significant than the fights you had before, but here’s why there’s really no reason to panic.
Marriage Is a Milestone, Not a Beginning
On the most basic level, the idea that marriage is a beginning is a little antiquated. While at one point marriage was the time when people started their life together—when they would first begin living together, sleeping together, or even just spending a significant amount of time together—that is definitely no longer the case. That’s not to say marriage isn’t huge, significant, and important, but you’re probably not starting your life with this person. You probably had disagreements with them before you were married and you’ll keep having them now. That’s OK. Try to think of marriage as a celebration of your relationship, rather than a line in the sand where there’s a before and after. If you expect everything to magically change overnight, then it’s important you sit down and try to be more realistic about your relationship (and what marriage) means.
Good Fighting Is a Good Thing
Whether you’re married or not, it’s crucial to remember that not all fighting is bad. In fact, disagreeing can be really healthy—it shows that you’re both comfortable enough with each other to share how you feel, to be open, and to fight for what feels right to you. As long as you're being constructive, listening to each other, and willing to find a compromise then fighting is a great way to learn about each other and help solidify your relationship—which is so important in a marriage. If you find that you disagree but you do it in a respectful, healthy way, then you should take that as a great sign that your marriage is on the right track. So try to see disagreements as an opportunity, not a sign of incompatibility.
Everybody Does It
This may seem like a basic point, but it’s one that needs repeating from time to time—everybody fights. Not yelling, screaming, horrible fighting—but disagreeing, stressing each other out, or getting annoyed and just needing a few moments on your own. If a couple doesn’t disagree or bother each other, it’s because they’re not being honest with themselves—or one person is burying down their needs to be totally pliable to their partner. So if you feel weird about your first fight as a married couple, talk to your friends and family. Asking a parent or aunt how they dealt with disagreements early in their marriage can be really reassuring, as can reaching out to married friends. If having a fight makes you feel uneasy, it can help to hear from so many people who have, undoubtedly, been there too.
Your Relationship Is About More Than Its Weakest Point
If you’re fighting with your spouse or going through a difficult time, it’s easy to see this moment, this current weakness, as somehow representative of your relationship as a whole—but your relationship is about so much more than that. Think of all of the things you love about them, all of the ways in which you are compatible, and, maybe most importantly, all of the things that made you want to marry this person in the first place. Sure, you’re disagreeing—but there’s a whole relationship, a whole world, of love and compatibility that you’ve built together.
See more: The First Year of Marriage Is Tough, No Matter How You Spin It
The first fight of a married couple can feel a little unnerving—like the real world suddenly crashes in to ruin your fairy tale. But you don't need to panic. Your relationship didn’t really turn into a fairy tale just because you got married and it probably wasn't a fairy tale beforehand, either. This is your life, your relationship, for better and for worse. Disagreeing doesn't making you incompatible—it just makes you human. If you can handle it in a constructive, healthy way then you’ll be all the stronger for it.