Whether you know it or not, you've likely got a few preconceived notions of what your newlywed status should look like. "Many of us have picked up impressions and beliefs about love, relationships and marriage from movies, TV, and romance novels," explains Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great and professor at Oakland University. "We've also formed opinions by observing the ups and downs in the relationships of our parents, family, and friends. Without realizing it, we have developed these strong rules and expectations about marriage — and the early years of marriage — that aren't necessarily supported by research or the realities of marriage."
With that in mind, here are five rules you might be ready to follow — and exactly why you should break them.
Rule 1: Partners need to spend every second together.
"In my long-term research on marriage, many couples said that space, or 'giving each other plenty of space,' was the single most important reason they think their marriage has survived," says Orbuch. "Space gives people time to process thoughts, pursue hobbies and relax without responsibilities to others. And the time apart gives partners something new to talk about."
Rule 2: Always be happy with your new spouse.
Just because you just got married doesn't mean you just met — which means you've had plenty of time to learn all of your spouses quirks and flaws. "It's normal to have good days and bad days," says Alisa Ruby Bash, a Malibu-based licensed marriage therapist. "Sometimes you will feel extremely in love, and on some days you may question your decision. That is normal."
Rule 3: Never argue with your spouse.
Surprise: It's actually A-OK to disagree with your spouse. "A lack of conflict means you aren't probably talking about important issues or concerns," Orbuch says. "You can't expect to agree on all things with your spouse — particularly since you come from different backgrounds, families, neighborhoods, etc. It is how you manage the disagreements that is important for the longevity of your marriage."
Rule 4: Put a bun in the oven ASAP.
"For some couples, this may be the reason that they got married and they cannot wait to start a family. If that is you, then surely go for it," says Bash. "But, for other couples, perhaps they feel pressure from friends, family, or other sources telling them to get to it right away. Personally, I think if you have the luxury of time, there is nothing more important for the future of your marriage than taking time to truly enjoy each other as a couple." The rule you should follow instead? Bash says, "Focus first on your growing love so that you will be able to be the happiest, best parents possible and a solid team."
__Rule 5: Have sex all the time, every day, every night. __
It's sad, but true: "Passion declines over time in a marriage," says Orbuch. "It doesn't say anything about you, your partner, or your relationship. Once you realize that this is normal after the first few years of marriage, you can commit to rebuilding passion in your marriage and finding new ways to boost the excitement in your marriage."