real life

The toughest year of marriage (it's not what you'd expect).


My first year of marriage was hardly smooth sailing. Really it was more like the Titanic at some points.

Despite the fact we’d lived together first, I still had to get used to my new husband Brad’s completely mental system for doing the laundry (he insists on washing new clothes separately first. It is insane and a waste of water, right? ).

And he had to get used to my methodical and deeply sensible system for stacking the dishwasher (Is it weird I like to group my cutlery? No, I don’t think so either).

And don’t get me started on the ugly African masks he insisted on hanging in our kitchen.  Because that’s where you want a creepy mask — IN YOUR KITCHEN FREAKING YOU OUT WHILE YOU EAT YOUR WEET BIX.


It turns out, this is all very normal and common.

Research released today by Deakin University has finally proven what every married couple may have suspected: the ‘honeymoon period’ is a big fat lie and that the first year of marriage is actually the unhappiest. According to the study:

“The honeymoon period for Australia’s married couples barely extends beyond the bridal waltz, with new research revealing people are least satisfied with life in the first year of marriage.

“The latest Australian Unity Wellbeing Index survey released today finds people married for less than a year have lower levels of wellbeing than people in any other year of marriage.

The research is in….

The telephone survey conducted by the university’s Australian Centre on Quality of Life measured the happiness of 2000 people on a scale of 0-100. People married for less than a year have an average Personal Wellbeing Index (PWI) score of 73.9 while the average score for the Australian population was 75. (Interestingly, couples who had been married for more than 40 years who came in top at 79.8 … this possibly becuase they have worked out how to deal with conflict. Or, they’re deaf.)

But look it’s not all doom and gloom.  The good news is that by the second year of marriage, most couples have bounced back and their happiness score jumps to 78.4 … assuming *cough*  they stay married long enough to get there.

So should we forget toasters and vases?  When it comes to making a gift registry,  would newlyweds be better off asking for flak jackets, a voucher for marriage counselling and, oh I don’t know, maybe a copy of Sun Tzu’s The Art of War?

Well, yes and yes according to the report’s lead author Dr Melissa Weinberg who says it’s about being realistic about that first year of, er, wedded bliss.

“Big changes occur in the first year of married life, and not all of them are comfortable for newlyweds. Significant costs can be associated with a new marriage – the cost of the wedding for a start, and potentially the costs involved in purchasing a new house,” Dr Weinberg says.

“The message for newly married couples is to persevere through that first frantic year, and reap the rewards later,’’ she says.

So what do you think? Is there a way to avoid the ‘post-nuptial blues’?  If you’re married, what was your first year of marriage really like?