With all the details that go into organizing a once-in-a-lifetime party for 50, 100, 200 or more of your nearest and dearest, it's easy to forget that life goes on after the wedding is over. Even if you dated for years and/or lived together, the weeks and months that follow can sometimes be a bumpy road. But planning for the potential downs should make them a little easier to manage.
Riding the Emotional Roller Coaster
For many couples, the initial feeling is relief (no more seating charts to rearrange, and the best man kept the toast PG), says Lissa Coffey, a relationship expert and author of What's Your Dosha, Baby?: Discover the Vedic Way for Compatibility in Life and Love (Da Capo Press, 2004). "But then the afterglow wears off, reality sets in, and they figure out that there are still thank-you notes to write and bills to pay."
That realization that the "magical time" in which you're the recipient of everyone's love and attention (and gift giving) is over and it's time to transition into full-time focus on responsibilities, can be crushing, says Sharon Naylor, author of over 30 wedding books, including Home from the Honeymoon: The Newlyweds' Guide to the Celebrations and Challenges of the First Year of Marriage (Stewart, Tabori & Chang, 2009). Luckily you'll also experience plenty of highs to balance out the lows and ease the transition, Naylor says, from your first dinner party as newlyweds, to putting your wedding gifts into action, watching your wedding video, and referring to your spouse as "my husband" or "my wife."
The Newlywed To-Do List
With your new Mr. and Mrs. status comes new practical priorities. If you haven't been living together, your first step is finding a place, says Coffey. Ideally you'll want a space that blends your styles and has room for both being together and maintaining some privacy, and you'll want to divide up the chores and work out a routine. If your goal is to buy a house, Naylor advises not rushing, educating yourselves on the process, and having a good-sized savings account: "Homeowners have to be ready for pricey emergencies, so make your financial nest egg a higher priority than finding a home with a pool."
Regardless of whether you've lived together prior or not, getting married may also be the motivation to combine your finances. Naylor warns that this step can be stressful if one of you earns more than the other, or if you've never revealed the amount of your student loans, or your credit score — but it's necessary. "Money secrecy is toxic to a marriage, so get it all out in the open and create a plan to pay off debts, pay monthly bills and put some cash in savings," Naylor says.
Insurance (homeowner's, renter's, life, health, disability) also is a high priority, Naylor adds. Meet with a qualified specialist to determine the plan that fits you best. Yes, it isn't that romantic, but you want to be sure you're protected financially if anything should happen to you, or to your new spouse.
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