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!
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.
“The Christian family…is the first community called to announce the Gospel to the human person during growth and to bring him or her, through a progressive education and catechesis, to full human and Christian maturity.”
— On the Family, Pope John Paul II
It is important to spend time together – one to one – during your first year of marriage. And, it is also important to find a happily married couple who can guide you through the common minefields that newlyweds often encounter.
What is a Marriage Mentor? Basically, it is another married couple who has more than 10 years of experience at being husband and wife. This couple has already experienced many of the ups and downs of the married state. They understand that a quality marriage takes work and commitment. They are not afraid to face conflict head on. And, they are willing to talk with you about their experience and listen to your questions.
How do you identify a couple who might mentor you?
Look around you; at your aunts and uncles, couples at church, people at work… Search for a couple who gets the marriage is forever message. They speak highly of their spouse. They make their spouse and family a priority over work and recreation. They have a palpable sense of joy. They are easy to be around. They are not busy all of the time.
When you find a couple that looks like this, pay attention to how they interact. Observe their tenderness for each other. And, take the risk and ask them to help you learn to do what they do. Who knows, they might just invite you over for a cup of coffee and some conversation. If they do, you are on your way to being mentored.
Saints Joachim and Anne, pray for us.
Marriage Tips from foryourmarriage.org
Have you developed any parting or reconnecting habits that confirm your love? A goodbye kiss or welcome home hug is a great start. Save the first five minutes of reconnecting to check in with your spouse.
What have you done for your marriage today?
For Your Marriage has ideas to help you make your marriage healthier.
An initiative of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
Take this survey to help identify the issues for couples at various times in their marriages.