You may have known each other for years; you may have even lived together. But once you vow 'til death do you part, you enter uncharted territory. The newlywed years abound with passion and romance, yes — and some dashed expectations, disagreement and compromise, too.
Yin and Yang
Chris and Jen Carlin — married June 14, 2008
This bride and groom couldn't have more different personalities. Chris Carlin, 31, is high-maintenance; his wife, 28-year-old Jen, easygoing. "Neatnik" describes Chris, while cleanliness never tops Jen's list of priorities. Chris plans; Jen goes with the flow. Despite this variety of differences, "our personalities balance each other out," Jen affirms.
When it comes to their values and life goals, Chris and Jen say they've always been on the same page, 100 percent. "We both want a family. We're very white-picket-fence kind of people," Chris explains.
The couple met about two and a half years ago at a kickball game: Chris was playing and Jen watching with her puggle (beagle-pug mix) puppy, Oliver. After the game, Chris walked over to watch Oliver and another friend's puggle playing together. The puggles prompted the couple's first conversation and eventual romance. "We just seemed to click like we'd known each other forever," Jen says.
So far, marriage has taught these newlyweds to communicate about their problems. Jen tends to be more reticent than Chris, who admits he can be defensive. Now, she's speaking up sooner, and he's listening more.
Granted, they're still practically on their honeymoon, but what do they do to keep the honeymoon feeling alive? "We're big food people," Chris says. Either Jen cooks for Chris, or they walk to a restaurant near their home in the Fan.
A romantic dinner in, or out — something to keep in mind when you return from the honeymoon.
Open to Adjustments
Arun and Deepa Aravind — married Dec. 30, 2007
When you have a master's in quantitative finance as Arun Aravind, 29, does, it's inevitable that you'll have a few ideas about financial management in your personal life.
"I'm very conservative about how I spend my money," Arun says. In the first year of his marriage to 25-year-old Deepa, Arun endeavored to instill his pecuniary perspective in his bride, who tended to buy before considering cost. "Maybe now I look at the price tags more carefully than he does," Deepa says with a laugh.
Meeting through an online matrimonial service (Arun was in Richmond, Deepa in India), the couple spent very little time face to face before saying "I do." Arun even proposed via the Internet. At this point, however, he and his wife are used to grappling with everyday matters like budgeting.
Arun and Deepa are still working on dividing the household chores. "He's the one who actually showed me the basics of cooking," says Deepa, who didn't have much culinary experience before her marriage. "But now I don't even let him come in the kitchen." While they both pitch in to clean, they agree that Arun has room for improvement, both in quality and quantity.
The two understand that minor differences like these contribute to a marriage. "We don't give that a lot of importance," notes Deepa. Her husband agrees: "We need to always be ready to make small adjustments. We have a lot of time for adjustment."
Rick and Sara Snyder — married Sept. 30, 2006
A pair of wooden wedding ducks helps strengthen Rick and Sara Snyder's marriage during trying times. Friends brought the souvenirs from Korea, where tradition dictates that the position of the ducks symbolizes marital satisfaction. Beak to beak means harmony; tail to tail signals a standoff. The Snyders, both 26, keep their ducks atop the mantel in their home, and when there's tension between them, they use the ducks' positioning to defuse it.
"When we're having a disagreement, one of us goes and turns the ducks around [tail to tail]," Rick explains, "and the other person starts laughing." Rick, whose sense of humor was one of the first things that attracted Sara to him, recommends a little levity when one partner has ruffled tail feathers.
For those conflicts that a little duck maneuvering won't fix, Rick and Sara advise putting yourself in your mate's shoes. And be aware of the other's communication style, they add. (Sara tends to clam up when she's tense.) Understanding each other's personality facilitates compromise.
The Snyders, who met in college and were friends for months before dating, find that sharing activities, particularly new experiences, brings them closer together. Best of all, the experiences don't need to be extraordinary. Simply cook a new recipe for dinner, Rick and Sara suggest, or visit a new park.
Ultimately, the key to the Snyders' marital success, a principle they recommend to any couple, is not taking the other person for granted. "Each and every day we show and tell each other we appreciate each other and love each other," Sara says.