Five Top Tips For Newlyweds
Movie goddess Audrey Hepburn once declared: "If I get married, I want to be very married." She did marry -- twice. But what did she mean by “very married”?
This is the time of year many would-be brides and grooms go through the same thinking process -- wondering what the key is to being "very married", in other words, happy and committed to a long lasting relationship. June is one of the busiest months for weddings.
(Each of Hepburn’s marriages, by the way, lasted 13 years. And there’s no record of whether she thought she succeeded in her aim -- though she opted to live with her next lover for another 13 years without marrying!)
Anyway, everyone has different tips about marriage success and they also know that all long-term relationships have their ups and downs. Your job, if you're about to become a newlywed, is to find the ways to keep your relationship on an even keel.
Unless you've been together for a number of prior years, when people marry, their relationship often changes as they get to know each other -- and each other’s habits, good and bad.
After all, it's only a short trip from the wedding altar to the laundry room or the honey-do lists!
But even though every marriage relationship is different and everyone will offer you a different formula for success, there are five pieces of advice they nearly all share:
1. It's A Partnership.
That means both partners pulling their weight in terms of running the home and managing finances. Research by the OECD shows that while men think they do the most work, women actually do twice as much as them in the home. In some cases, that might be because of circumstances -- say if the woman is a stay-at-home Mom. But that's less and less the case these days. The way to avoid house chores becoming a source of conflict is to agree a who-does-what and to hold yourself accountable for what you agree to do.
As for financial management, it's okay for each partner to have their own bank account and cash or credit card (which they pay from their own account). But there should also be a joint account, with its own card, for running the household budget. And you need to agree upfront how much each of you contributes to it -- and then review it every week to identify any potential issues.
2. Share Space and Make Space
Finding the right balance between spending time together and spending time apart or even alone is crucial to a solid relationship. Each of us is different. Some people enjoy being with others, some don't (even with their partners). It's important to do things together that you both enjoy. But it's just as essential that each of you has your own space to which you can retreat -- whether it's a den, a garden shed, a bedroom used as an art studio, or even just the kitchen.
Get to know your partner's boundaries, true nature and preferences and then respect them. Wondering where to start? Try -- and get your partner to try -- this free online personality test: https://www.16personalities.com/
It'll also highlight each other’s strengths and weakness, providing further information and understanding about your partner.
Never take your partner for granted. Listen to what they say, whether it interests you or not. This is a vital behavior when there's a disagreement. Listening to the other person and accepting that they believe in what they are saying can open the way to a proper, rational discussion.
Listening also helps you pick up nuances hinting that things may not be quite right -- so you then have an early opportunity to fix them.
According to Sheri Stritof, co-author of The Everything Great Marriage Book, one of the main reasons couples divorce is because they lost the ability or never had the skills to communicate with one another. She offers 10 tips on how to become a better listener here: https://tinyurl.com/listen-tips
4. Settle Family Issues.
Mother-in-law jokes aside, family relationships are a serious issue and often the source of marital disharmony. That can happen in many ways -- for instance, at holiday family gatherings, when one partner brings a child or two into the new marriage, or disagreement over whether you'll have children or even a pet!
Discussions about additions to the family ideally should take place before the marriage. If one wants children, or a dog, or a cat, or a parrot, and the other doesn't, this can prove toxic in a relationship. And even if you're both in agreement, you need to discuss and agree timing. Remember, ever addition will cost you money.
As for your extended families, make it a rule not to get involved in disputes with your partner's family -- or to criticize them too forcefully. If you're not happy with the way your partner interacts with your, his or her family, discuss the issue calmly when they're not around.
5. Plan For The Future
While you enjoy the novel, early years of marriage, know that many challenges, financial and otherwise lie ahead. At the outset, it pays to put money aside for the future, even if you can only afford a little. And commit to adding a proportion of any raise into savings.
Of course, money can't buy you love, as The Beatles once sang, but it can give you a good foundation that allows you the opportunity to focus on your relationship.
Make time too to explore and understand each other's hopes and dreams so you can both work to make them happen and to support each other's personal growth, for example in a career. Be realistic about the near term but also think about setting longer term goals -- perhaps by drawing up a bucket list that you can work together to fulfill in the years ahead.
Don’t Forget This Important Action
As we've suggested above, financial security is one of the keys to a successful marriage.
But, unless you’re very rich, you can’t have true financial security without insurance to protect your life, your home and anything else that you cherish.
It's not just a nice-to-have but an essential component of marriage partnerships and family life.
So, it's not something to be left till later, because later is sometimes too late.
And if you are (or about to become) a newlywed -- congratulations! May you both live in harmony, happily ever after!