Getting married is one of the most drastic changes a person may experience in his or her lifetime. So, preparing for married life presents several challenges and requires adaptation. If you’re newly engaged, here are three imperative tips for making the transition from “I will” to “I do.”
Accept That Mixed Emotions Are Normal It is normal – healthy even – to experience a polarity of emotion after the ring has been slipped onto your finger. Joy usually comes first, a feeling of exhilaration and anticipation that washes over you. This is the expected emotion. But what some couples may find confusing is the sensation akin to mourning that follows. In a sense, you are losing things as you gain this new role in your life. Your own place, maybe your last name, your identity as a single person is forfeited when you decide to become a spouse.
The key in understanding and working through these juxtaposed feelings is to accept that these two people – your single self and married self – are not all that different. You do not forfeit your core self; you refine and adorn it. This married self is the wiser self, the grown up self, and acceptance of him or her is key.
Seek Couple’s Counseling Even though the thought of seeing a counselor may seem like a downer, the complexity of identity and maturity that is involved in marriage make seeking counseling a solid plan. The period that comes after accepting an engagement and before taking vows is the perfect time for you and your partner to talk openly with one another about expectations, needs versus wants, long-term goals, and any issues concerning finances.
It is possible that the two of you envision marriage roles differently. Seemingly insignificant details, such as who is expected to do the laundry and who is expected to take out the trash may cause major conflicts later on down the road. Having a trained professional ask you questions and mediate discussions about topics you may not have even thought to ask can save you both a lot of bickering down the road.
Plan for the Future Together When asked what advice they would give newlyweds, married retirees surveyed for a 2015 Fidelity study said to start planning for retirement early and that all financial decisions should be made in tandem. Such answers suggest that envisioning and safeguarding a clear future ranks highly in importance. Use clear communication about where you want to be in 10, 20 or 50 years into the future and make sure your visions align.
The study also focuses on financial decision-making and whether or not couples agree with each other. Money can be a tense topic, but it’s important to be open and honest about how you will spend your money as a couple. Between your day-to-day expenses, such as groceries, and your more frivolous purchases, like a new smartphone, you need to know if you are making the decision to spend money jointly or separately.
The small conversations you and your betrothed have between popping the question and that final, confirming kiss, speak volumes about how your marriage will proceed. It is normal to fear the road ahead, but if you are ready and honest with each other, you can plan for a strong marriage.