Ask a therapist: The struggling newlywed

Question: I am a 30-year-old woman who has been married for nine months. My husband and I knew each other for two years before we got engaged and then were married a year later. Our relationship was good right from the start.

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  • Question

  • I am a 30-year-old woman who has been married for nine months. My husband and I knew each other for two years before we got engaged and then were married a year later. Our relationship was good right from the start. Even though we had issues, it seemed that we were usually able to resolve them satisfactorily. I was a very excited bride-to-be. Our wedding was carefully and lovingly planned and we didn’t skimp on the energy or money needed to make it our perfect day.

  • However, it seemed that once the honeymoon was over and real life settled in, I entered a new phase that brought feelings of sadness, boredom and irritation. The overwhelming feeling has been, “Is this all there is?” These feelings have led me to be more negative — especially toward my spouse. There were always things about him that I found annoying, but somehow I was able to overlook them or even laugh them off, which I can’t seem to do now. It seems that most of the time he just can’t do anything right.

  • Is this situation something you have seen or dealt with before? Is it ever normal to go through a difficult period like this and then work through it and get a new marriage back on a positive course? I’m really frightened but don’t know what steps to take to address it or how to discuss it with my spouse.

    • Wifezilla
  • Dear Wifezilla,

  • I have seen this kind of situation before and have helped newlyweds to identify and address the issues contributing to it. Your moniker clearly states that you see yourself as the problem here. As you describe the situation, you only reference your new husband’s annoying traits while you put the focus on your poor attitude and behavior. It does seem like you are the spouse who is struggling the most, but it’s hard to know as you have not opened up to your husband about what you are going through which would give you more information about what he is feeling.

  • Examine your relationship dynamics

  • The fact you haven't discussed the issues is very telling, in and of itself. It’s hard to believe that he is content when you are so unhappy or that he is completely unaware of the problem. Therefore, the first step would be to talk about your feelings with your husband and to examine your relationship and its dynamics in this post honeymoon phase. This would help to expose any underlying issues and give you the chance to address them together as a team, before they increase the distance between you. I recommend you seek the help of a professional who is trained to help couples communicate effectively and work productively toward solutions, because as you have said, you are at a loss as to how to even begin.

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  • Address unresolved issues

  • As I read your letter, several things jumped out at me. You mention issues or annoying things about your spouse that were always there but that you were either able to resolve together or just laugh off. The ones you didn’t resolve may have been brushed under the rug because you were afraid to confront them, but they are now coming to the surface and can no longer be ignored.

  • Post-wedding let-down

  • You also talk about what an excited bride-to-be you were and all the care and planning that went into your special day. In my experience, many couples focus on the wedding itself as the end point, instead of the beginning of a long and at times challenging life together.

  • When a perfect wedding is the goal, folks can ignore warning signs and red flags until after saying, “I do,” and then experience a very difficult let-down period once life settles down and they are confronted with the realities of their new marriage. This sounds like a possibility here that you should explore with your spouse and a competent therapist.

  • You could be struggling with depression, which can be either situational or clinical in nature. Depending upon which it is, you may need to address this separately with a competent therapist, lifestyle changes and additional supports.

  • It’s important to say that even though there may have been issues you did not address before you took this step to commitment, your relationship is not necessarily doomed. You can now work on these together, applying newly acquired tools for more effective communication and problem solving that will help you to create the win-win solutions that help build long-term, mutually satisfying relationships.

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Toni Coleman, LCSW, is a licensed psychotherapist. She is a well-known relationship expert and author, working with many publications, television and radio programs. Follow her on Twitter @CoachToni and FB at www.facebook.com/coachtoni.coleman. Toni writes for HopeAfterDivorce.org and FamilyShare.com.

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