In a new marital relationship, even if the people know each other before, there is a period of adjustment that is needed. This period can become stressful if the spouse (husband or wife) has to adjust and compromise with the immediate partner as well as the family members. In India, more often than not, the wife moves in with the husband and probably his family by extension. The wife, thus faces the brunt of the adjustment as she tries to meet the spousal expectations, her expectations and the expectations of the family.
The first year of the marriage forms the basis for the foundation for the couple to develop closeness- emotional, physical, bonding, attachment. However, marriages seem to be breaking apart even in the first year.
If you had an arranged marriage, it takes time for your wife to adjust to you as a spouse or husband and to adjust to your family members. If the family does not give the space to grow into the relationship, and rushes to make judgments that are unpleasant and uncomfortable, then the foundation to build upon becomes weak. The relationship moves more towards preventing and reacting to situations than a real growth in the relationship. Comments such as “She does not mix well with people, she does not cook well, she is not social, she talks back to my parents, she has an attitude etc etc” only serve to make the atmosphere more unpleasant than bring about any real change. It is important for you, as a husband, to understand that you are the bridge through which the bonding between your wife and parents is formed. If you are not skilled enough or take time to balance this delicate situation, it might create friction between you and your wife as well as both families. It is important for you to understand that your wife has spent a considerable part of her life growing up in a different family that may have a different culture, different personal habits, food habits etc. It might be difficult for her to give up or break habits and adjust as much as it might be difficult for you to accept a set of behaviors that are different from your own. Your wife should not end up feeling that she is like a lab animal that everyone keeps scrutinizing every minute just to make unhealthy inferences or to draw conclusions. It is very important that you, as a husband, should still understand the complexities of your wife and parents living under one roof peacefully. If you are a single child, the responsibility becomes even more as you try to give and take from everyone without making anyone feel isolated
It may be easy to manage a team as a team leader, or run a complex business with its unpredictable loss and profits, but it is not easy to maintain harmony at home. Logic and reason helps to score points in an argument but you need to consider if winning the argument is more important than understanding the other person. This requires an ability to listen and empathize. When your wife expresses something to you about your parents, it does not always mean she is complaining. It could be that she is sharing with you to improve her understanding and looking for an emotional connection. We need to remember that your wife has not spent as many years as you have with your parents to understand them well. Her relationship with your parents will be driven in parts by her relationship with you and what she sees in you that reflects your parents. The more intimate and connected you are with your wife, the easier it is for your wife to relate and understand your parents.
There is also the need to manage your parents expectations, especially the feeling of a mother that her son is now being “taken away” from her by the new young woman. Your mother is no longer the primary care giver and that is a transition that can be difficult for some. It is important for you as a son to understand your mother and work to balance the relationship.
It is not necessary that the whole family has to always go out together. As a young couple, you and your wife do need the space to develop an understanding of each other when both of you can focus just on each other. When both of you understand each other, both of you can work together to stop any negative intrusions into your life. These can sometimes be minor for your eyes but possibly intrusive for your wife, maybe there are no bad intentions behind it but is perceived as such. For example, if your mother selects a dress your wife should wear for a function while you wife wishes to wear something else. It is important for you to see the view point of your wife as well. Consider that she may have her own wishes and desires. Work out minor adaptations that everyone can be comfortable with. Of course, this does not always happen very easily!
It is also your role to encourage your wife and parents to have a clear expectation from each other to build peace and bonding. The couple living by their own in a separate house is no longer considered taboo. Though physical absence may create a distance, sometimes it is necessary to escape a stifling atmosphere and to create the calm to think in a balanced manner.
What is needed for a relationship to build, maintain and grow is clear expectations that are realistic, practical and possible