Flowers. A white dress. Pachelbel’s “Canon in D.” Nothing makes the heart soar like a romantic wedding. But now that the wedding is over, you may better recognize the differences between you and your spouse and the realization that you need to learn to live with these differences. The truth is marriage is one of the most challenging human relationships to maintain.
To help transition from unmarried to married life:
• View the relationship as a “we AND me.” Too often newlyweds lose sight of personal goals and desires because they place so much emphasis on the relationship. A good marriage is made up of two good people. It is important for each person within a couple to take time for him or herself, pursue individual goals and better him/herself as an individual while also putting time and energy into the marriage. Think about marriage like a car — each of the parts needs to be maintained for it to run well overall.
• Accept the Differences. Differences exist in all relationships. Try to balance what irritates you with what you love about your partner. Remember that you both have strengths and weaknesses. Keep in mind that some differences might be meaningful, worth holding on to or meeting halfway. Couples must figure out which differences they can let go of, accept and live with.
• Communicate and work through conflicts. There are many life issues that a couple will need to discuss — finances, jobs, housework and intimacy. It is important to maintain an open line of communication, especially when times are tough or things are particularly stressful. It is advantageous to communicate the issues and properly problem-solve to best manage conflict. Remember to attack the problem, not the person.
• Schedule and maintain date nights. Every marriage goes through a “honeymoon phase.” This is the romantic, passionate, stars-in-the-eyes phase of a marriage. But with time, daily stresses and busy schedules, some newlyweds stop making time for quality time together. Dating your spouse helps keep the spark and spirit alive. A consistent date night can help couple keep the spark and spirit alive.
• Talk Money. Poor money habits and secrets can doom a marriage and bring about endless arguments. Some couples pool their money and others keep finances separate. It is important to decide and agree on what works best and to make a financial plan to which you can stick. Upon getting married, each person should bare his/her financial soul to avoid dragging debt down the aisle. Regardless of joint or separate finances, every couple needs to make and follow a budget. Couples may decide to put one person in charge of the bills, monitoring investments and crunching taxes — but both people should have an understanding of what is going on and both names should be on major accounts. It is also important to build “mad money” into a budget for each person to spend at his or her own discretion. This will help you to better compromise and avoid sweating the small stuff. As newlyweds, it is easy to overlook financial emergency planning, as it is hard to think about something bad happening. However, financial security and protection from life crisis is one of the best gifts you can give to your spouse.
• Maintain a team mentality. It is destructive to frame fights into a win/lose situation. Try to create a non-judgmental environment that helps both of you to be on the same team.
• Seek counseling. Counseling helps newlyweds prepare for the inevitable conflicts that arise when two people of different backgrounds meet and join lives.
Burt, E. (2012). Six money mistakes of newlyweds. Kiplinger Report. Retrieved February 22, 2012 from http://www.kiplinger.com/columns/starting/archive/2009/st0428.htm#ixzz1nB5qVHvf
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Morales, T. (2009). After I do: Tips for Newlyweds. Retrieved February 22, 2012 from http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2002/06/28/earlyshow/series/main513746.shtml
Source: Amy Hosier, Extension Specialist for Family Life and Matthew Carlson, UK Marriage and Family Therapy Intern, University of Kentucky, College of Agriculture