I didn't have cold feet or a single second thought at the altar. The moment I exchanged vows with my husband, Michael, I knew I had done the right thing. Yet just a few days later, I wasn't so convinced. What happened to cause my anxiety? I call it the Ring Rash Incident.
It seems my wedding ring, a wide platinum band I loved, had made my finger swell up and given me a nasty tomato-red rash. My neurotic diagnosis: I was allergic to marriage! The actual problem: My too-tight ring was trapping moisture and causing irritation. What shocked me was not so much my response—I tend to overreact—but Michael's. My new husband was hurt that I could suggest, even in jest, that I was "allergic" to being wed to him. Didn't my new husband know me well enough to understand my neurotic tendencies and twisted sense of humor? Were we doomed?
Of course not: Michael and I recently celebrated our first anniversary and couldn't be more sure that we're meant for one another. But boy, is that adjustment phase a killer! If anyone you know is telling you, right now, that there'll be some rocky moments during your first few months of marriage, promise me you'll listen.
"Your first year of marriage will not always be a blissful extension of the honeymoon," says Phillip C. McGraw, Ph.D., author of Relationship Rescue (Hyperion, 2000). Trouble is, when you're newly married you don't expect to have doubts, fears or problems. Most of the discord, says McGraw, will likely boil down to unmet expectations: You're counting on bliss but you're confronted with rashes and other everyday realities. Every couple adjusts to the aftershocks of post-nuptial days, weeks and months differently. I checked in with a few happily married couples I know (all of their names have been changed) to find out what rocked their worlds in the first year of marriage. Hopefully, the advice doled out to them by our experts will help the two of you emerge from your first wedded year on solid ground.