The wedding is over, the honeymoon a distant memory, and you're ready to launch yourself into the world as a married couple. Here are some simple Do's and Don'ts to help you negotiate the marriage minefield:
When introducing your partner to a group of friends (at a party for example), always indicate the marital relationship ("This is my wife Marian", "This is my husband James"). This will avert any potential social embarrassment (unsolicited flirting, slighting remarks about the partner when they've left the social circle, and so on).
Try to cut loose in social situations. Traditionally, married couples are always seated apart at formal dinner parties (except for during their first year of marriage). This convention reflects the willingness of society to see married couples as two individuals, rather than a unit that is joined at the hip. So socialise freely, and don't develop a clinging over-dependence on your spouse.
Keep your eyes open for people who are on their own, and make sure they don't feel excluded by couples.
Don't cling together in social situations. Hand-holding,
touching, huddling together... this body language will send out the
message that you're an impregnable couple, with no interest in
Don't use pet names in public, or litter your conversation with endearments such as "darling", or "my love". This kind of language is very exclusive; it is guaranteed to make the people around you feel like spare parts. While it is certainly important to 'claim' your marital relationship, this can be done very discreetly, with a passing reference to your 'wife' or 'husband'. More intimate terms of affection should be reserved for the privacy of your home.
Don't let your coupledom dominate other people. A floor show in which you regale your fellow guests with anecdotes about your life together, your mishaps, your home, family etc. is just another way to make everyone else excluded. Concentrate on looking outwards, not turning inwards.
Don't row in public. You don't want your life to start looking like a scene from 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?'. If tensions are growing, read the signs and take it home. Nobody should be forced to witness the spectacle of a couple in full fight.