We know you can't wait for your wedding day to arrive -- envisioning the first time you see your spouse-to-be, your first kiss after you proclaim your vows and your first dance as a married couple... Your transition to married life will be filled with even more milestone "firsts" that will strengthen your relationship.
Here's how to prepare yourself for all the celebrations (and challenges) that you'll face together down the road.
By: Sharon Naylor, Wedding Expert and author of The Bride's Guide to Freebies
You've had arguments before, but you may have noticed that this one felt different; more charged, somehow. Chalk it up to being a learning fight, one where you're doing the good work of marriage, learning how to argue more productively next time. Avoid red flags (phrases like "you always" and "you never") and bringing up old points of contention just to weaken your partner. Whatever you do, don't jump in your car and speed away—testing him to see if he'll chase you—or launch into round two when he's on the ropes. That old adage is true: People don't remember what you said, but they'll always remember how you made them feel. Just go to your separate spaces, unwind a little, then tell your partner you love him, hate fighting, and you're sorry if you hurt him. <strong>(Related: <a href="http://www.bridalguide.com/planning/married-life/marriage-commandments" target="_hplink">10 Commandments for a Happy Marriage</a>)</strong>
Accept that your marriage might be a strange first for your circle of friends. Some of them may feel their married-by-30-clock ticking, or become bitter that you have "the perfect life." The truest of friends just need to see that you haven't completely changed and your happiness isn't a threat to them. So when you're invited to girls' night out, show up, even if you're tempted to blow it off. If you make time for friends, you show them that they're still important. Don't talk nonstop about how amazing your wedding was or tell single friends "your time will come." Things have been all about you for a while, so make an effort to be a good listener and supporter. This applies to social occasions with your husband's pals, too: Try to be cheerful, even if you're nervous. Smiles and compliments go a long way! <strong>(Related: <a href="http://www.bridalguide.com/beauty-fitness/health-fitness/beat-the-after-wedding-blues" target="_hplink">How to Beat the Post-Wedding Blues</a>)</strong>
Before you begin a huge project, you both have to be 100 percent open about your financial position—whether or not you can afford this right now, if you have good credit or bad and if you feel like making this investment right now. You might like to charge full-steam ahead with new projects, while your husband may be more slow and methodical. <strong>Compromise and you'll get a crash course in budgeting and working together towards a shared goal. </strong>Although this sounds unpleasant, tasks like painting a room, picking out stainless steel appliances and applying for a variance of property codes can actually be fun. You're creating a home together, after all. Another perk: You may get to impress your spouse with something he never knew you were good at and vice versa, as life takes you into new adventures. <strong>(Related: <a href="http://www.bridalguide.com/blogs/the-budget-guru/what-to-know-before-buying-your-first-home" target="_hplink">What to Know Before Buying Your First Home)</a>)</strong>
Your husband is used to his family's flaws: He's learned how to tune out Mom's criticisms, Dad's elitisms, his sister's jealousy. And he just wants you to let their comments roll off your back too. If you stand up for yourself when they strike at you, your spouse may get angry with you for being too sensitive, not respecting them, and so on. Avoiding family parties and dinners also won't work—that's what mean people want, to divide and conquer. <strong>After the conflict clears, explain to him that you want to have a close relationship with his family because they're important to him and you need his help making that happen. </strong> Ask him for shared topics of interest you can use to bond with them and ask if you can say a quick hello when they call to speak with him. They may still act snotty, but he'll love you for trying! Consider it a gift to him to be cordial when you're with his family. Even if it takes years, your relationship with them may very well grow. But at least you've kept them from driving a wedge between the two of you. <strong>(Related: <a href="http://www.bridalguide.com/etiquette/family-friends-guests/getting-to-know-your-mother-in-law" target="_hplink">Getting to Know Your Mother-in-Law</a>)</strong>
Think of the baby chatter as them wishing you a happy blessing, and a compliment that this person thinks you'd be great parents. Don't make it a problem by overreacting to the topic itself, assigning all kinds of pressures and judgments that reflect how <em>you</em> feel about having a baby. It's a common mistake for newlyweds to interpret too much from these kinds of comments. <strong>Just say, "We're not quite there yet, but you'll know very soon after we are!" Then, move on to the next subject.</strong> <strong>(Related: <a href="http://www.bridalguide.com/planning/10-things-you-must-do-before-you-have-children" target="_hplink">10 Things You Must Do Before You Have Children)</a></strong>)
Just have fun! Don’t ruin it by putting too much pressure on yourself, crying because you couldn’t find anise root at the supermarket or waking up at 3 a.m. to iron the napkins. <strong>Expect that some things will go wrong and you'll just have to adapt. </strong>Just keep your first dinner party on the small side (around six to eight guests), so that it doesn’t become an ordeal with rented tables and linens, a larger amount of food to prepare, and the threat of you working all night to keep guests’ drinks and plates filled. A smaller group for your starter dinner party lets you mix, mingle, and enjoy, while also being a fabulous host. <strong>(Related: <a href="http://www.bridalguide.com/planning/youre-a-mrs-somebody-now" target="_hplink">5 Rules for a Balanced Marriage</a>)</strong>
<strong>The first time a flirty girl comes on to your guy, give him a smile and say, "I can't blame her. You're the hottest guy in the room."</strong> That way, you've boosted his ego, and the woman in question just did you a favor. Your husband will love that you're confident in his loyalty to you. Don't overreact; unless he gives her his number, this is likely just a chatty woman who acts this way towards all men. If she's a maneater, most guys don't react to that act anyway, and you can believe that yours didn't interpret anything by her casual bump into him at the bar. She may have shot you a look afterward, but he didn't see it, so don't go ballistic on him. Don't be that wife: the always-angry one who's suspicious of every woman in the room, giving the silent treatment in the car or causing a scene when he's just being polite and engaging in conversation with someone. Insecurity can be a huge turn-off. <strong>(Related: <a href="http://www.bridalguide.com/beauty-fitness/health-fitness/the-ultimate-sex-advice-for-newlyweds" target="_hplink">The Ultimate Sex Advice for Newlyweds</a>)</strong>
Honor established rituals that were passed down from both of your families (especially holiday-related ones), and create new traditions of your own. <strong>Choose two or three traditions to maintain that you'll both stay enthusiastic about.</strong> Your tradition doesn't have to be something big, like renewing your wedding vows every six months. It could be something small, like choosing a holiday ornament that represents your biggest adventure or goal of the year. For example, my husband and I swam with turtles during our honeymoon, so our first ornament was a glass turtle. We've added to our collection with dolphins (a trip to Sea World) and a tomato (putting in our dream garden). Or you could make a sparkling Prosecco toast on half-anniversaries; anything that you'll look forward to that represents the two of you. <strong>(Related: The Tr<a href="http://www.bridalguide.com/planning/first-year-of-marriage" target="_hplink">uth About the First Year of Marriage</a>)</strong>
Before you talk to your families about this—they may approach you about it months in advance, to get a jump on the competition—talk with each other about any special circumstances that will help make the decision easier for you. Perhaps a parent or grandparent has an illness, or your brother and his wife just had a baby. <strong>One family's circumstances may make it a no-brainer as to which "side" gets to have you first. </strong>Accept the fact that someone might not be happy about changing family tradition, so you might have a Scrooge at your table. Don't let that overshadow the importance of this being your first married holiday together. If you and your husband decide to host, consider this first year an experiment; you can always switch it up next year. But no matter what you plan with your families, it's also important to plan something special just for the two of you. Start a new holiday tradition you'll keep going every year and make your gift exchange really special, so that the last hours of the holiday are blissfully yours together. <strong>(Related: How to<a href="http://www.bridalguide.com/etiquette/family-friends-guests/how-to-split-the-holidays" target="_hplink"> Decide Where to Spend the Holidays</a>)</strong>
In a great marriage, you feel comfortable saying, "I don't know what I'd do if I ever lost you." It shows the depth of the love you share for your partner. <strong>Make sure you appreciate each other, have fun together, be kind to one another and continually work at strengthening your marriage.</strong> If you find that the panic doesn't subside over time, and you test your spouse's love level by picking fights, speak with a qualified, reputable counselor who can help you figure out what's going on. Negativity and fear can be offshoots of depression or anxiety. It's always smart to get an expert's opinion—rather than just confiding in Mom or your best friend—because their opinion isn't colored by previous experiences with you and your husband. If couples counseling is necessary, consider it an investment in your marriage. Tackle your problems head-on and do the smart thing by protecting your relationship (and yourself) against destructive thoughts. <strong>(Related: <a href="http://www.bridalguide.com/blogs/real-brides-speak-out/preparing-for-marriage" target="_hplink">Plan Your Marriage—Not Just a Wedding</a>)</strong>
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