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|Rachel Dack • 5/13/16|
Welcome to Bravo TV’s “Newlyweds: The First Year.” Season two premieres March 10 and will highlight the joys and challenges couples commonly endure during the first year of marriage.
Meet Kirk and Laura Knight, one of the four couples who will be featured on Bravo’s hit series. Kirk and Laura will share their lives as they embark on their journey as newlyweds.
Last week I had the opportunity to interview Kirk and Laura about their experience on Bravo and their first year of marriage. Residing in the Washington, D.C. area, Kirk and Laura have been together for almost six years and have a lot to say about the strength of their marital foundation.
Like all relationships in transition, Laura and Kirk had to find the right groove as newlyweds, adjust their expectations and utilize effective communication to do more than just survive the first year of marriage. Laura and Kirk are hopeful that viewers will relate to their story.
While being in the spotlight was initially an additional adjustment accompanying her new marriage, Laura reported that once she got used to the, “added pressure when you have a camera crew following you around and knowing that the personal and private parts of your life will be exposed on national television … the camera fades into the background.”
Kirk said that after deciding to be on Bravo, “You get really comfortable with your decision to open up your life and show your relationship.”
Below are five lessons about dating, relationship and marriage derived from my interview with Laura and Kirk and how you can apply each lesson to your own love life.
My favorite part of my interview with Kirk and Laura was hearing about their first date. It was articulated with such love and excitement as they looked back on the risk they took by going on a blind date. The date took place at a Starbucks in Bethesda, Maryland.
“We were set up on a blind date, and it was a true blind date where we hadn’t seen photographs of each other or social media sites or anything, “ Laura said.
Kirk added, “All we had were each other’s names.”
Laura recalled her first date jitters by saying, “I remember I got a little bit panicky as I walked up to Starbucks because I realized I had no idea what this guy would look like and be like. I got a little bit nervous. He was so handsome and had a great smile, and he looked at me directly in the eye. I knew this was a special guy right away.”
Kirk remembered believing their blind date was simply another practical joke that his friends commonly play on him. He recalled giving his friend a hard time over the phone while waiting for Laura to arrive, thinking the date was going to be with someone he would not be interested in. After instantly hitting it off and both feeling attracted to one another, coffee turned into a two-hour date.
Dating is naturally filled with nerves, jitters, excitement and anxiety, making it unrealistic to expect that you will feel comfortable in all dating situations. While it feels safe to put up walls of protection, being open and viewing dating as an adventure aids you in taking risks and saying yes to new dating experiences, opportunities and potential partners.
Therefore, it is crucial to gain awareness of how you use walls or defense mechanisms to protect you and what steps you can take to be more open to love. Rethink any behaviors or thoughts that keep you stuck in old patterns or interfere with your ability to be open to finding love.
It is also important to let go of any rigid expectations or fantasies of how you will meet your future partner. Letting go will allow you to say yes to a multitude of dating methods.
Kirk and Laura are great examples of two individuals who were open to the blind date experience, despite increased nerves due to not knowing much about each other prior meeting.
Kirk quickly recognized the importance of patience throughout the “trials and tribulations” that being married entails.
“A lot of times going into a marriage, you may not realize how much patience it does take to work with someone and put your lives together,” he said.
“Patience is not just about getting through daily issues that may be encountered, but also putting [it] into major decisions and planning for the future,” Laura added. “A lot of little arguments are misunderstandings.”
All relationships require patience, especially those that are romantic and intimate in nature. Impatience or a lack of patience can easily cause a relationship derail.
More specifically, during adjustments and decision-making, patience keeps you and your partner connected and on track while eliminating impulsive decisions. It also makes it easier to forgive your partner for mistakes and misunderstandings. Patience is the platform to getting to know and understanding your partner’s needs, feelings, desires and dreams.
Practice patience in your relationship by slowing down the decision-making process, especially when faced with major life decisions about finances, children, living situations, parenting, etc. These decisions are not supposed to be rushed, despite the fact that leaving them hanging may breed temporary anxiety.
During disagreements or discord when your patience is tested, make a conscious commitment to fight fairly, use assertive communication and active listening skills. Resist any urges to degrade your partner or lose your temper by remaining in control of your actions and words.
Ask yourself: Have I tried hard enough to work out this problem with my partner? Is losing my patience or hurting my partner worth it?
These questions will help you think and act more mindfully in the moment, regardless of intense emotions.
Although, connecting with your partner is not all work and no fun.
Laura and Kirk shared many ways in which they care for each other and their relationship. It was clear that they were proud of the “fun” vibe of their partnership, which includes romantic dinners in Washington, D.C., long walks on a local trail with their dog, after-work cocktails and concerts.
Laura also added, “You have to flirt with your partner.”
On a deeper note, Laura reported, “You have to be willing to compromise, be willing to share and communicate everything … You have to have that open line of communication … and trust that your partner has your best interest at heart.”
Kirk said, “We have been on the same page since day one on being direct about how we feel … You have to deal with the root problem and not just the trigger.”
No matter how long you have been with your partner, it is important to find ways to stay connected and reduce boredom.
All too often couples fall into relationship ruts when the relationship feels so secure and comfortable that they forget it still requires attention, work and loving acts. Even when life is busy, do not forget to make time for your partner and nourish your relationship.
Create daily rituals for check-ins, quality time together and communication. Plan regular dates away from family, children and friends that include a wide range of activities to spice up your relationship and keep your love alive.
Focus on communication that is direct, honest and open to ensure that you are authentically conveying yourself to your partner, your partner understands you and vice versa.
When I asked Laura about the preconceived notions and expectations she brought into her marriage, she said she expected, “the honeymoon phase would last all year long and be all butterflies and rainbows.”
She said she had to let go of these expectations and “be realistic,” knowing “life is full of twists and turns.”
Naturally you bring your own beliefs, expectations, desires, values and opinions into your relationships, which all directly influence your actions and feelings about your relationship and partner. The willingness to let go of or adjust any unrealistic beliefs and expectations is essential to ensuring that your relationship is healthy.
For instance, if you expect your partner to cook you breakfast every morning, you will be disappointed and potentially angry when your partner is unable to meet your expectation. Therefore, it is healthier to operate on expectations and beliefs that set your relationship up for success.
Using the breakfast example, you can let your partner know he or she cooking breakfast for you is something you value and appreciate, but you must be realistic and understand that this might not happen on a daily basis. When your partner cooks you breakfast, focus on your gratitude and enjoyment of the experience instead of making it into a “must-have” for your happiness.
Practice adjusting any beliefs that are not based on reality, as they only create amplified pressure on your partner and induce resentment when they are not met.
Road bumps and different stages happen as intimacy and commitment are developed and deepened.
Kirk reported that he believes the most relatable part of his relationship is, “how to merge your lives together and also make major decisions, like are we going to start a family and when to start a family. Couples have to merge lives through marriage, and they have these major obstacles to come together. It’s not just two lives being merged or scheduled. You have to merge your dreams and aspirations together. It is a balancing act.”
First and foremost, understand that you are not alone and your relationship is supposed to go through challenges, stresses and adjustments. In fact, it would not be normal if a relationship did not involve some twists and turns.
Relationship milestones, such as moving in together, getting married, having a baby, moving to a new state, etc., are commonly filled with a mix of positive and negative emotions. Feeling worried or nervous when your relationship is progressing in the way you want it to is not a sign to run or leave the relationship.
Expect there to be obstacles ahead. What is most important is how you and your partner navigate them and support each other. Focus on turning toward each other while understanding that emotions around change can feel overwhelming and intense.
Also remember to practice acts of self-love and self-care so you are mentally and emotionally able to handle what is in store for your relationship.
Tune into Bravo March 10 at 10 p.m. EST to watch Kirk and Laura’s first year of marriage unfold!