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How to be prepared for each phase of married life

From the tough initial years to parenthood, and finally as empty nesters, couples need to have a few strategies in place to handle the challenges that each phase of married life throws up

Couples can opt for pre-marital counselling, wherein a lot of issues that are known to arise in the initial phase are addressed. Photo: Pexels

By Simran Mangharam

LAST PUBLISHED 13.04.2024  |  01:00 PM IST

How long a marriage lasts is not an indicator of how healthy or happy it is. People change along the way; what they want from life changes as they are exposed to different environments at work or via recreation. There could be movements across geographies or, perhaps, boredom, which sets in when one does not make enough effort to keep a certain level of excitement alive in the relationship. The truth is that anything seemingly big or small could potentially impact a relationship for the better or worse.

When it comes to situations that could have adverse impact on a marriage, as a couple, you need to have a few strategies in place to handle them. Otherwise, they keep piling up, leading to the demise of a healthy relationship.


To help explain this, I have addressed some of the common issues that come up in different phases of married life.

The initial years

The first year of marriage is tough for most. I am a big advocate of pre-marital counselling, wherein a lot of issues that are known to arise in the initial phase are addressed. These include:

Conflict resolution: Ways to resolve a fight, or even a disagreement, in a romantic relationship does not come naturally to any of us.

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Effective tone of communication: I can’t even begin to tell you how many couples have an issue with the tone their partners speak to them in.

Identifying how the finance will work: If there is no clarity on this, it can very well be what tears apart partners.


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Handling the extended family: In India, we still hold the concept of ‘hum saath saath hain’ dear. We all know how hard this can be and the heartache many couples go through trying to achieve this one big happy family.


Becoming a parent is the next big phase that a couple needs to be prepared for. Assigning of duties for the toddler, who gets a break when, accommodating for the parent who is taking a back seat from work and the one who is going to work—all of these need to be addressed. Agreeing on the parenting style is imperative. This could prove to be a tough negotiation but one that is beneficial for your relationship and for the upbringing of your child. I’ve seen so many couples fight and grow apart when they haven’t discussed and agreed upon a parenting style.

Onset of boredom in a relationship is the newest entry to the common troubles that cause fissures in a marriage. The biggest trigger for this is when we stop ‘hanging out’ with our partner, doing stuff together, having inane conversations, and being silly with each other on a regular basis. It’s so easy to fall into the trap of transactional conversations. But if there is no daily dose of having some form of intimacy—a kiss, a touch, shared jokes or even just a loving smile—chances are that the relationship will wither and die.

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The other hard, and inevitable, phase that a couple experiences is the health of their old parents. It can take a huge toll on the relationship unless both partners have agreed and committed to how this phase will be handled. My husband and I have been in this phase for a decade. As primary care givers to his parents and my mother, we have smoothly fallen into a conscious rhythm of who keeps an eye on the medical records, whose turn it is to take our folks to the doctor, and how will we manage hospital duties as and when we have to. In this list, we have also included how we will juggle work deadlines. If we hadn’t done that, we both would have been burnt out and resentful of not only each other but even of our parents every time they needed medical attention.

Empty nesters

A significant phase in a couple’s life, which sees many marriages break down, is that of empty nesters. Parenting is an all-consuming 24/7 responsibility. Couples, who let their children be the only connection in their relationship, will most certainly not know what to do with each other after the kids leave home. If you haven’t consciously taken the effort to take out time for each other, this is bound to happen. I’d recommend having an empty nester bucket list of things you can do as a couple, and have the first item scheduled in your calendar as soon as the kids leave. It gives both the partners something to look forward to, especially since children leaving home always leaves an emotional void.

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Know that the journey of a relationship is determined by the choices you make. As long as these choices are fair to both of you, and even accommodate for irrational emotions that we feel from time to time, you will always be able to course correct for it to be a loving relationship.

This is a limited series by Simran Mangharam, a dating in and relationship coach, who can be reached on simran@floh.in