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Being a Newlywed is Kinda Terrible

August 21, 2022 | by Kayla Levin

Here’s the secret they don’t tell you: Being a newlywed is kinda terrible.

Actually, that’s a lie. People usually do tell you. They warn you about the transition. They gently mention that things might be bumpy while you learn to navigate one another.

But your engagement-brain has no interest in that information. After all, that’s for those people. You and your partner? You two are a match made in heaven. Shame for them, you’ll listen with compassion, but you won’t be needing that information.

Then, it might be days or months later, the first fight. The first time he does something and you actually feel – is it possible? Disgust? Yikes.

Their gentle hints resurface in your memory. Is that what they meant? Us, too?

Being a newlywed is kinda terrible. Bumpy is a cute euphemism. And it doesn’t help that you go from the high of the wedding celebration and becoming a Mr. or Mrs. (which, by the way, is accompanied by quite the cocktail of infatuation hormones) and at some point come crashing down to reality.

If you aren’t married yet you’re probably thinking, poor lady. If you’re married, you’re probably nodding and smiling.

Turns out that Judaism has some thoughts about being a newlywed, and they aren’t anything like what I learned from Disney.

I grew up in Orlando, Florida. Not only did almost my entire family work at Disney, we loved Disney. We knew ALL the songs and ALL the movies. Let’s just say that Happily Ever After did not prepare me for this.

But Judaism does.

I wasn’t just a newlywed. I was also newly learning about Judaism. And as we navigated the laws of keeping a kosher kitchen and building a Shabbat-observant home, we also learned about this thing called Shana Rishona, which literally means “The First Year.” It turns out that Judaism has some thoughts about being a newlywed, and they aren’t anything like what I learned from Disney.

According to Jewish law, a newly married man isn’t allowed to be drafted into the military.

He also shouldn’t travel out of the city unless he has his wife’s permission.

Why? “To give happiness to the woman he has married” (Deuteronomy 24:5).

Wait, so they can stay home and party?

Nope, it goes deeper than that.

Our sages teach that it takes a minimum of a year for the couple to feel solid. It takes a year-long investment for the edifice of a marriage that seemingly just popped into existence to become a new reality – not something that can crumble after one bad fight.

Basically, we’re expected to need to work at it. We’re not expected to have a smooth transition, an easy time, a happily ever after. If being a newlywed is bumpy, Judaism tells us: you’re doing it right. And that’s why the groom can’t be drafted and needs to stay around the home; building the marriage is the top priority.

Stepping back a little, the initial bumps in a marriage make sense. After all, most roommates have a period of adjustment, and that’s without the idea “this is forever” to add an extra flavor of panic to every misdemeanor.

Imagine a student entering med school and nobody ever mentioned it would be challenging. She expected to sail through exams, get plenty of rest, and have her schedule easily accommodated. What a huge disservice not to give her a heads up that med school is going to be challenging. And she’ll put in all that work because that’s what it takes to be a fantastic doctor.

Building your marriage can be challenging. It takes work to figure out your dynamic, your communication, and how to navigate your entire life together. But at the end of the day, this isn’t a sign that something has gone wrong; your newlywed period is a perfectly designed training ground for building you and your spouse into the couple who will love and support each other for many decades to come.


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