The big questions all newlyweds face–and how to deal
How do we deal with money?
If you and your partner haven’t broached the money subject, you’re not alone. “I'm always shocked at the subjects couples seem to forget to discuss before the wedding, like how to manage a budget,” says Deborah Dunn, L.M.F.T., a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in Raleigh, N.C., and the author of Stupid About Men: 10 Rules for Getting Romance Right.
How to deal with money as newlyweds
Get a copy of your credit scores at annualcreditreport.com, which will show your credit standing without requiring any additional feeds or “credit monitoring” programs, says Kim Fusaro, marriage and weddings expert for Glamour.com’s own Save the Date blog. Come to the table with research about how much you each owe (credit card bills, student debt, car loans), what your month-to-month expenses are, and what you want to save for (a house? vacations? erasing debt?). “The initial conversation is a good time to touch on your plans for the future. Will one of you quit working once you have babies? When do you hope to retire?” Fusaro says. She adds, “Don't feel obligated to combine all your money. A joint account that you each contribute to is great for vacations and big purchases, but it's not ‘wrong’ if you want to keep most (or even all) of your money separate or to combine everything.”
Why are we suddenly arguing about the little things?
“Most couples argue about small nothings—completely common events such as who controls the remote or leaving a soapy dishrag on the sink,” says Patricia Worthey, Ph.D., an Edmonds, Wash.–based psychologist and certified Gottman relationship therapist. These little arguments are especially frequent with newlyweds. “During the first year of living together, newlywed couples are undergoing some unique major transitions.” In other words: You’re both adjusting to your new life—of course you’ll feel some growing pains.
Dealing with little 'nothing' arguments as newlyweds
First, breathe. “If you can’t pick a dinner restaurant without a petty squabble, you probably both need to exhale,” Fusaro says. “Make an effort to shake off the stress by taking weekend bike rides together or signing up for a couples massage. Then, when you're both feeling calm, have a sit-down conversation about your communication style. There's a good chance neither of you enjoys the bickering, so discuss how you can make decisions without butting heads. A good first step: Alternate who gets to pick the movie or how you'll spend your Sunday afternoon. Make a conscious effort to let your spouse ‘win’ when the decision isn't all that important.”
How often do we have to see each other’s families?
For better or for worse, your family is now his—and his is now yours. That can come with a whole new list of responsibilities, in the form of lending your mother-in-law a hand when she needs a ride home from the doctor’s office, your husband helping your dad tile the patio, or just extra face time during the holidays. New duties can cause resentment and tension in your relationship while you get used to the new roles—even more so if you don’t especially like your new in-laws (or he doesn’t like his).
Dealing with seeing each other’s families as newlyweds
Communication is key, Fusaro says. “Discuss your expectations. Is a once-a-month visit with your in-laws enough? Can you see them less frequently?” she says. “You probably dealt with splitting up the holidays when you were engaged, but it can't hurt to review your plans going forward. Beyond the holidays, if you grew up seeing your grandparents every Sunday, you might want to continue the tradition. But if your husband plans for the two of you to see his parents only every other month, give him a pass on alternating weekends.”
Why didn’t I know this about him before?
You thought you knew everything about your husband before you got married, like not to talk to him pre-coffee—just like he knows not to disturb you during your A.M. beauty rituals. “ But eventually your spouse is going to do something that has you asking, ‘Wait, who did I marry?’” Fusaro says. “Think about how different a person you were five or 10 years ago. Assuming you're with your guy for the long haul, you should expect him to grow and change over the years too.” And besides surprises like his newfound interest in tap dance or veganism, expecting you can predict exactlyhow he’ll act in a certain situation can lead to tension and disappointment when it doesn’t play out that way.
Dealing with surprises about each other as newlyweds
You’ve changed, right? So it makes sense that he’ll change too, and that’s a good thing. “Do you really want to spend the rest of your life listening to that Nickelback CD he was playing on repeat when you met?” Fusaro says. (Spoiler alert: No!) If he starts getting excited about fly-fishing and salsa dancing, she says, encourage him. He’ll still be the person you fell in love with. Don’t feel duped or shocked that you didn’t know everything about your husband from the beginning—just try to enjoy the discovery.
Why aren’t we as passionate as we were before getting married?
Like many couples, you’ve progressed from lunch dates, date nights, sleepovers, and weekends to being together just about all the time. Passion during every minute of every day isn’t necessarily relaxed—or rational. “Couples don't seem to know how to make the transition from the excitement of getting married and being euphorically ‘in love’ with each other to the more realistic pace of everyday life,” says Dunn. Trouble for newlyweds can start when couples accuse each other of not caring as much as they did before getting married. “During those times the temptation is to feed the hunger for excitement and emotional intimacy in unhealthy ways.”
Staying passionate as a newlywed
Be realistic. McMillan suggests staying focused on you—in a good way—to keep feeling positive about yourself, which will make you confident about your marriage. “Marriage is not, of itself, going to make you feel like a whole person,” she says. “Only developing yourself can do that. So don't become so fused into your couplehood that you stop building your own life, your own interests, your own self.”