The Newlywed Hibernation

by Laura Demetrician

We have all seen it. Our friend starts dating (or maybe you start dating). Then this “seriously dating” friend suddenly becomes engaged, which leads to an elaborate wedding, honeymoon, and married life. So many promises and explanations are made during the whole drama.

“Of course we won’t grow apart.”

 “Once we get past the wedding planning, I will have more time to hang out.”

“I would never let a man come between us.”

“Sure, our guys’ night won’t change. I won’t let that happen.”

“After the honeymoon, our fishing trip is back on.”

I know how the story goes. Every well–meaning engaged couple is determined to not let their close relationships change. They truly believe that they can retain that closeness with friends and family after the wedding. Many couples are certain that they can get through a wedding, honeymoon, and combining of two lives into one home without changing their present relationships. Oh, I believe their motives are pure, and their intentions are good. What do I say to this? Impossible! I call this phenomenon the Newlywed Hibernation.

The problem with this Newlywed Hibernation is that it may go against what you believe. You don’t want to disappoint those you love. You don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. Your family and friends certainly do not want you to retreat from them, but believe it or not, this is exactly what the Bible tells us we should do. Genesis 2:24 says, “That is why a man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two of them become one body.”  And Deuteronomy 24:5 says, “When a man is a newlywed, he need not go out on a military expedition, nor shall any public duty be imposed on him. He shall be exempt for one year for the sake of his family, to bring joy to the wife he has married.”

I can remember the first year of my marriage. We moved to the opposite side of the country to attend graduate school. We had little income and a tiny apartment, but it was wonderful. There were no expectations of time and attention from our families and friends; it was just me and my husband. We spent every possible moment together, and it was perfect…for about the first year.

Then, it dawned on me. My husband was not a woman. You may be astounded by my intelligence, but it had taken me that long to realize that I might need someone else in my life besides this wonderful young man I married! He didn’t enjoy shopping, his choices for my nail polish were horrendous, and he didn’t understand why I wanted him to come to the bathroom with me after a scary movie.

The first year of marriage is special, sacred, and a turning point in your lives. Take this time to become one. Savor the moments of your new life together. Snuggle. Stay in bed until noon on Saturday. Burn some dinners together. Laugh at your mistakes. This is the foundation of the rest of your life.

Just remember one thing. Your wonderful mate cannot be your everything. Eventually you will come out of that Newlywed Hibernation and you will be hungry for those relationships that you miss. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Reflection questions:

  1. Have there been times when friends and family members complain about not having enough time with you? How do you respond?
  2. What qualities of your spouse seemed the most endearing to you before your wedding? How about now?
  3. Scripture supports the value of taking a break from other responsibilities and focusing on your marital relationship. Does this surprise you? How does this make you feel?

 Laura Demetrician, MFT, is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.