Planning a wedding? That’s exciting news and I bet you are light on your feet and full of the “warm and fuzzies” as you imagine the big day and future with your new spouse. You and your fiance likely are “floating on cloud nine” thanks to the love chemical bath associated with the honeymoon phase. It serves a biological purpose to connect you and your partner. And it’s powerful!
But I need to gently break something to you… There is usually a fall from cloud nine.
It’s called work, responsibilities, stress, kids, negotiations, emergencies and life in general. As the gushing love bath faucet becomes a drip, you are left with your more realistic selves. The good, the bad, the ugly and the reality of who you with less of an ethereal sheen. Warts might even reveal themselves. This is all expected and part of being human, by the way. And hopefully, your relationship foundation is strong from the start, with emotionally safety and security to turn towards vs away from each other when in distress.
Couples who don’t have the tools at hand to successfully transition out of the honeymoon phase can struggle at this point. So if you are preparing to get married, consider ways you can soften a fall from cloud nine. If prepared, you might not even feel a thing.
- Work on your friendship. When you are truly friends, there is an inherent trust that you have each other’s backs.
- Learn to communicate well. Communication is to relationships like water is to plants. If you are unable to speak openly to each other, you will stand a greater chance of experiencing disconnection when you don’t know how to productively deal with things that come up.
- Get familiar with your issues. If one or both of you had challenging histories with parents or experienced trauma, it’s important for you both to be aware of how these wounds can show up in your relationship.
- Are you in balance or out of whack? Imagine your relationship as two overlapping circles where the “you” and “me” are on the outside and the “we” is the overlapping space on the inside. Most couples thrive when there’s attention to all of the parts but sometimes one partner has a greater need for togetherness – or a greater need for independence. There are reasons for this but an important first step is to evaluate your dynamic. Are you in alignment?
- What are your expectations? How do you see your marriage working as far as the roles you will each take? Don’t allow assumptions to backfire down the line because you haven’t talked about who does what, kids, religion/spirituality, finances, chores, etc.
Because the honeymoon phase is not only associated with feeling GREAT but also putting your best face forward, it can be a bit of a shock when you move out of it. It’s doing your due diligence as an engaged couple to either discuss some of the points above together, speak to your pastor, seek premarital counseling or use a self-help tool (see my premarital counseling workbook below). It might be that simply touching on these topics together is enough. But perhaps not. Consider what level of support might be the most beneficial to the health of your marriage.
Successful marriages often have a strong relationship foundation from the start. They get full enjoyment of the honeymoon phase but have some awareness that the intensity of the initial feelings might not last forever and they will have to rely on other important elements of long-term love.
And in case you already are married and have taken the “fall,” it’s never too late to learn the skills of healthy and connected relationships! You married each other for a reason so get to work on laying a sturdy foundation for the partnership to stand upon.