Feature Archive

Newlyweds' 5 Biggest Pitfalls

Experts say unrealistic expectations, avoiding conflict after marriage can lead to disaster.

By Leanna Skarnulis
WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Michael Smith, MD

Love and marriage may "go together like a horse and carriage," but most newlyweds set off without a shared road map. Each partner comes to the journey with their own set of directions including -- assumptions about roles, expectations about how to spend time and money, and deeply held beliefs about children. Then there's also -- baggage. Experts say it takes desire, honest communication, and hard work to move a relationship from the romantic stage through the power struggles to a loving marriage based on shared meaning. Get off to a good start by avoiding these five major pitfalls:

  • My family does it this way.
  • Marriage will make me happy.
  • My partner will change once we're married.
  • Talking about issues like his rowdy friends, her credit card debt, when to have kids, and who should clean the toilet, will take the bloom off romance.
  • We should avoid conflict at all costs.

My Family Does It This Way

His family sits down together around the dining room table for dinner every night. Her family scatters and grabs dinner on the run.

Couples often underestimate the influence of their families. "People go into marriage with expectations that are engrained almost subconsciously," says Addie Leibin, MS, LMHC, a private mental health counselor in Winter Park, Fla. "They think, I'll get married, and I'll do it like my family did it. But you can't build a house with two sets of blueprints. The whole object is to come up with your own set of plans. It's not your mom and dad's house."