While every marriage is different, all marriages will have ups and downs. It is common for newlyweds to get caught up in the excitement of their romance while in the honeymoon stage and assume things will stay the same throughout their marriage. Once that phase is over and reality sets in, that’s when the challenges set in. It is usually after a year or two of marriage. Many marriage counselors suggest that knowing about these tough years before can help couples navigate through the challenges that come their way. So, which are the hardest years of marriage?
The first year of marriage
This year can be challenging as it serves as your transition year. Some couples who have lived together for some time before marriage may find this year easy as they are well-adjusted to this living situation. However, there is still a considerable difference in the degree of commitment marriage brings into the relationship.
Yes, you may still be in the honeymoon stage, but after 10 or 11 months of being together, the reality of married life confronts you. You must work out issues involving finances, your careers, shared engagements, etc. Taking care of the home and your other living expenses, such as food and utility bills, and managing a life-work balance can be some of the issues you will face together as a couple.
Moreover, the year (and months) leading up to the wedding is usually the most stressful. Planning for weddings gets in the way of your daily life. There is also a “post-wedding anti-climax,” where the two of you have been working hard for your big day, and then you have to plan your honeymoon. And just a few weeks after that, you have to return to your regular life.
If you haven’t bought a home or apartment yet, this point in your marriage is when you start to think about that. House or apartment hunting is a stressful activity for any couple. You should consider saving up for your down payment and finding a mortgage loan provider. You also have to juggle your other living expenses, while saving up for your home as a married couple. Improving your credit score becomes an issue, as it will have an impact on whether or not you can afford to buy a home or qualify for a home loan.
Third and Fifth Year
The third and fifth years will pose some difficulties, as this is usually the stage where couples decide to have kids, or already have kids and struggle to juggle house responsibilities and work. Dividing your attention and energy between work, attending to kids’ needs, doing household chores, etc., can be exhausting. This is also the stage where most couples consider getting a bigger house to accommodate the kids, and experience a dwindling sex life. Many couples who feel overwhelmed during this stage may contemplate getting a divorce.
Almost 20% of divorces happened during the first five years. Common reasons that caused problems during this time include divided attention, poor communication, disagreements over responsibilities, overbearing in-laws, and contradicting life plans.
Another study showed that over 67.5% of marriages end with divorce due to poor communication, followed by the inability to resolve issues at 43%. However, making it past this stage means your marriage is a lot stronger as you have learned to solve problems together, successfully plan your family, and share your financial responsibilities.
Seventh and Eighth Year
While the popular belief of the “7-year itch” is undoubtedly unproven, it is a fascinating theory, to say the least, as it is supported by data. The median duration of first marriage in men is 7.8 years, while in women it is 7.9 years. Second marriage is not too far away, averaging 7.3 years for men and 6.8 years for women. So, what happens during this time that leads to a marital split? A lot actually.
During this time, the couple is no longer as passionately interested in each other as they used to be. Not to mention the added stress from working and raising children brought into the relationship.
For most couples, this is the stage where they start sending kids to school, and their daily routine of sending and picking up kids to school, going to work, and going home, becomes too monotonous and unexciting.
Boredom kills romance at this stage of the marriage. It is common for people to feel like they are stuck in a rut and have no idea when their monotonous lives will ever change. As a result, they become unhappy, dissatisfied, and distant from each other.
Altered sex life is another factor; raising kids, chasing careers, and meeting goals can get in the way of intimacy. While both will still think (and fantasize) about having mind-blowing sex, it will not happen as often as they want. And less sex can lead to falling out of love.
Fortunately, couples who get past the seventh and eighth years of their marriage should have a longer and happier relationship.
The hardest years of marriage are the first, third, fifth, and seventh or eighth. As mentioned earlier, the lack of communication and unrealistic expectations are the ultimate relationship killers. However, finding solutions and sticking through the ups and downs will strengthen the relationship.
The age of the internet and socially made taboos about talking about marriage challenges, make it difficult for couples, especially the younger ones, who want to make their relationship look “perfect” in the eyes of others. However, there is no shame in admitting that you two struggle to handle (and juggle) multiple responsibilities. Couples need to understand that talking about these tough times doesn’t mean you regret getting hitched.
So talk to your partner and talk to someone who can help better your relationship. Don’t wait until everything falls and falters before attempting to save your marriage.