Monday, August 31, 2009

Don’t Forget to Prepare for the Marriage, Not Just the Wedding

Guest post comes from nationally renowned author Sharon Naylor
Sharon Naylor is the author of over 35 wedding books and has appeared as a top wedding expert on Get Married With Colin Cowie, I Do! With The Knot, Good Morning America, Inside Edition, ABC News, and many more. She is the iVillage Weddings expert and blogger, a host of ‘Here Come the Moms’ at Wedding Podcast Network, and a contributor to the top bridal magazines such as Bridal Guide, Southern Bride, Brides, and more. Visit her at to find her books and articles.

We know you’re mastering the art of planning your wedding – you’re organized, you’re dreaming up fabulous, beautiful ideas for your big day, you’re hiring the best vendors and staying close to your budget, but there’s something else – something HUGE – you need to work on now: preparing for life after the wedding.

Couples who don’t take the time to pre-think how they’ll handle such essentials as finances, housework, how they’ll split holidays with their families, when they’ll have kids, and more, wind up stunned and overwhelmed when they return home from the honeymoon and Reality hits them. Hard. What do we do now? They call it the post-wedding blues, and some people think the semi-depression that weighs them down after the wedding is just missing all the action and attention a wedding gets you. But a large part of post-wedding blues is a numbing fear that you now have to make your marriage work. You don’t want to be that couple, so here are the top 10 insights from my book Home From the Honeymoon: The Newlyweds’ Guide to the Celebrations and Challenges of the First Year of Marriage to set you on the right path to marital bliss:

1.Create a plan for your finances. Money is a top stressor for married couples, and the weight of financial pressure really takes a toll. So sit down right now to make a plan about your bills. Decide how you’ll divvy up your bill-paying. Will you each choose separate utility bills to pay, or will you split each bill equally every month? Here’s your marriage-saving mindset: Agree that you can change your bill-paying plan down the road if either of you finds you’ve chosen the Big Ones. Just knowing you’re not locked in, not trapped, and can co-create a better bill plan together later is the essence of a healthy partnership.

2. Decide on your bank account plan. Establish one joint checking account, but keep your own individual checking accounts so that you have your own money. It’ll be a comfort to know you keep your financial independence, that you do get your own play money. Set up a joint savings account for an emergency fund, too, which every financial expert says is crucial right now. Even if money is tight, stash a little something in there every month so that you have a fund for peace of mind.

3. Make a plan for household chores. Yes, that’s right. Laundry. Food-shopping. Dusting and vacuuming. Believe it or not, even if you’ve already lived together for a while, something strange happens when you get married and one or both of you gets hit with the ‘wife expectations’ or ‘husband expectations’ virus. Why is it always my job to do the food shopping? Because I’m the WIFE? It might sound a little nutty, but you’d be surprised at how this topic can throw the newly-married couple. So choose your tasks, and again, your marriage-saving mindset is that you can sit down in a few months and trade household tasks. You might find that your husband loves doing the food shopping because he’s quite the gourmand, and you’re happy to take over his task of doing the dishes every night. Great partnerships require flexibility and compromise.

4. Give positive reinforcement. When you compliment your partner in lots of ways, whether it’s on the great job he did with the food shopping or how you’re still thinking about how much he impressed everyone at your office party, you put the focus on the positives. We all get criticized a lot at work, so isn’t it fabulous to come home to a cheerful, compliment-giving partner? Your marriage-saving mindset: It’s all about how you make your partner feel. Compliments make everyone feel fabulous.

5. Establish your own, independent life. Even if you love each other to pieces and love being together as much as possible, it’s still super-important for you both to maintain your own identities, spend time with your friends, get back into your favorite hobbies and find new ones that you can enjoy without your partner. Newlyweds say they love spending time together, but when one partner is a bit too clingy, it can start to feel suffocating…and then they don’t want to offend their partner by saying so, and resentment builds, and so on and so on. Having your own life keeps you interesting, captivating your new husband when you show your excitement to learn a new skill or language, and you get that great welcome-home kiss when you return to him after a fun night out with the girls. As he will when he returns from his guys’ night out.

6. Establish a good relationship with your in-laws. We all have different in-law experiences. Some of us are blessed with awesome in-laws who have embraced us and make us feel loved and welcome from Day 1. And some of us….not so much. Some in-laws are troublemakers during the wedding plans, and some just have crummy personalities. We take the hand we’re dealt. For your marriage to start off well, you need to accept that holding grudges against his family is just going to stress him out. Complaining about his mom or his sister isn’t going to make you look very good. Brewing a family feud just hurts your marriage. So wipe the slate clean, try to find something you have in common with the in-laws, and know that a lot of brides start off with contentious in-law relationships and then over time grow to love them very much. It will take time, so start off with forgiveness now, move into a pleasant demeanor when you see them, and be patient as you build a foundation of a more positive extended family situation. Your husband will appreciate you making the effort.

7. Establish a healthier lifestyle together. You’re in a big time of stress right now, and stress takes a toll on your body and mind. When you return from the honeymoon, you don’t want to turn into that couple who just spends their free time watching TV – even if they’re cuddling – and ordering pizza delivery because they’re so wiped out from the wedding season. It’s a common scenario, couples gaining the Newlywed 19 because they just want to chill out. Establish a healthier diet, go for walks together every night, play basketball out in the driveway or at the park…play together, and get healthier together. Staying fit brings more energy and self-confidence, not to mention avoiding bad health problems in the future.

8. Tackle combining your households with a better plan. If you’re moving in together after the wedding, or moving to a new home after the wedding, you’ll face the daunting task of setting up your household with His stuff and Her stuff competing for available space and your décor wishes. It can be immensely stressful to see all of your stuff replaced by all of his stuff – even if his stuff is fabulous Pottery Barn furniture you love, and yours was a bit less fabulous. Your marriage-saving mindset: Don’t throw anything out for six months. Your framed artwork, your coffee table, your wine rack…stow it all in your basement or attic if you can, so that you know you have the option to switch something of yours back into your décor plan. And the same goes for his chair, his barware, and whatever else didn’t make the cut. At a later date, when you’re a bit more relaxed in your marriage transition, then you can donate or sell anything you can live without.

9. Make intimacy a priority. Besides sex, we’re talking intimacy like giving each other a foot rub while you’re watching TV, or just coming up behind him while he’s drying the dishes, telling him he smells awesome, and kissing him on the neck. Just little intimate moments that make each other feel fabulous.

10. Don’t take on anything huge for a while. Some newlyweds are so excited to get started on their married life that they dive right into a home renovation or big landscaping project, or they adopt a puppy immediately. It’s part of the picture of married life they’ve always had, and it’s going to be so much fun! But when reality hits and that home renovation has your house in a shambles, covered with dust from the contractors’ work, and you can’t use your kitchen for months, and the puppy is howling through the night for weeks, that’s a lot of stress. Way too much stress for newlywed life. So just hold off on any big projects or commitments for a few months and just enjoy being together. Just enjoy celebrating those fun married Firsts like your first dinner party, the first time you get to see your wedding photos, the first friend’s wedding you attend as a married couple, and more. You have a great life ahead of you, a great partnership, and a great marriage to grow and nurture for as long as you both shall live…

Follow Sharon Naylor on Twitter!

Want a FREE copy of Sharon's latest book? Stop by her website and then leave a comment here on Bride Tide by SATURDAY, September 12th, 2009 (midnight CST), telling us which one of Sharon's 10 tips above you feel is the most important, and you'll be entered for a chance to win your own copy sent directly to you. We will choose one random winner. Please, one comment per person. Good luck!


  1. Wonderful post! I think establishing a healthier lifestyle together from the beginning of your relationship is important because it defines a certain method of well-being that will allow each of you to focus on other life priorities instead of arising health issue due to bad health habits.
    Thanks, Nina J.

  2. Good advice! I agree that settling financial issues early saves a LOT of stress later on. Also, being honest with each other about spending and debt issues is key.

  3. we have been talking about finances and life goals a lot lately. btw, our wedding isn't even until 10-10-10. to me, i'm loving the lifestyles change issue these days. we both want to get in shape and hopefully, my fiance will be exactly the motivation i need to eat better and actually set up a workout plan. and if we can do most of the activities together, then we both win.

  4. Just sent this article to my daughter-in-law. She and my son got married 3 weeks ago. If I don't win the book, I'll definitely buy it for them. I think it would be a great Christmas gift. Good stuff.


Blog Widget