04/04/2012 12:23 pm ET Updated May 30, 2012

Why The First Year Of Marriage Can Be Rocky

Everyone thinks of the first year of marriage as the "honeymoon" period, but newlyweds can often be dismayed to find that the first year can be rockier than they expected. So don't be surprised if your marriage is a little volatile during the first year.

The truth is that the first year tends to be unstable for a few reasons. For one, you are testing each other's boundaries to see how far you can push one another. For another, you are each coming to terms with the disconnect between fantasy and reality, the fantasy idea of who you thought you were going to marry and the actual person you ended up marrying. No matter how much you love your partner, you probably never envisioned how your life would play out on a day-to-day basis, unless of course you have already lived with him or her for a long time. In the year after you tie the knot, you realize that who you thought you were going to marry and who you did marry in the end are probably pretty different.

The first year of marriage is often a reality check. It takes time to build a bridge in your mind between the life partner you'd always fantasized about since you were in your teens and the partner who is now in your home. The more quickly you can be more realistic and let go of expectations, the better, because staying in that fantasy place can cause a lot of stress and frustration. The more quickly you can appreciate your partner for who he or she really is, the better.

Oli and I were much more volatile in our first year of marriage than we are now. I remember arriving in Sri Lanka for our honeymoon. Oli was nursing a headache, he had an upset stomach, a crook in his neck from sleeping badly and he had one more issue that I probably shouldn't tell you about! He was walking slowly, almost limping, in front of me because he was so uncomfortable! One of his hands was supporting his head and the other was on his stomach, and I remember thinking, Oh, shoot, this is who I married? I had always thought I was going to marry an athlete! Of course there were many things -- and are many things -- that I love about my husband. But at that moment, fantasy and reality collided, and I had to take a minute to readjust my perspective and to remember and appreciate my husband for all his wonderful qualities: the things I love about him that I never would have dreamed up in my wildest fantasies!

Excerpted from "How Happy is Your Marriage? 50 Great Tips to Make your Relationship Last Forever." To find out more about happiness expert and speaker Sophie Keller and her highly acclaimed new "How Happy is" four-book series, go to You can also join the conversation on Happiness on the How Happy is Facebook Page.