How to Live Life After Marriage

Five Parts:Adjusting to Life with Your SpouseDealing with the Loss of IndependenceDealing with FinancesCarrying Out Long-Term GoalsGetting Along with Your In-Laws

The honeymoon is literally over, and it's time to start adjusting to life as a married couple. Even if you and your spouse have lived together before getting married, there are still elements of being married that can require some adjustment. From communication to finances to dealing with in-laws, marriage can be challenging in new ways, no matter how long you and your spouse have been together. Work together, love each other, and you'll do fine with life after marriage.

Part 1
Adjusting to Life with Your Spouse

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    Communicate. Even if you feel like you and your new husband or wife have always communicated well, you need to keep working on it. There will always be unexpected changes and challenges in life, and you and your spouse need to be able to work through them together. Be open and honest. There are going to be times that you need to bring up issues that might be uncomfortable or difficult, but you have to do it. Think about what you might say beforehand.[1]
    • ”I’m really not sure that I’m ready to have a baby yet. It’s a big commitment and I need to think about it more.”
    • ”I am really sad that you might have to move for work. Could we talk about whether there are any other options? I am really happy here.”
    • ”I am worried that one of us is going to have to get another job. How can we make enough to cover our bills?”
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    Always says please and thank you. Sometimes it’s easy to think that our spouse should anticipate our needs or doesn’t need to be acknowledged. But that’s not the case -- if anything, you should be more aware of making sure your spouse gets asked kindly for things and thanked afterward. [2]
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    Don’t use ultimatums. No one likes them, and they typically don’t get you what you want. Even though it might be satisfying at the time to issue an ultimatum, chances are you will regret it later. The kinds of statements you might regret later include: [3]
    • ”If you don’t stop leaving dirty dishes in the sink, I’m not going to cook again.”
    • ”If you keep smoking, I am taking back your birthday present.”
    • ”If you don’t start looking for a job today, I’m not going to pay for your therapy.”

Part 2
Dealing with the Loss of Independence

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    Make standing plans with friends. Even though you might not have thought your relationships with friends would change once you got married, they usually do. It becomes harder to get out on your own and hang out with your friends as you once did, so it’s important to make plans so that you can continue to keep those friendships. Realize that some of your friendships will fade -- it’s just part of your life changing and getting older. [4]
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    Keep up with your interests. It’s important to have activities and interests outside of your marriage. Even though you and your spouse may share a lot of the same passions, it’s necessary to have some things that are just for you as an individual. It might be as simple as going to a movie alone sometimes, or joining a yoga class.
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    Adjust to your new couple-centric situation. Don’t resent your spouse. It’s easy to get mad at the other person when they seem to be impinging on the freedom you had before you were married. And it’s often difficult to adjust to the fact that you always have someone waiting for you at home when you’re out with your friends. Think about your actions from the other person’s perspective, and ask yourself if you would like them to act in the way you are acting -- this can often dispel the anger you might feel at the person for wanting you to check in or let them know when you might be home. [5]

Part 3
Dealing with Finances

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    Decide how money will work. Are you going to have a joint account, or keep things separate? These are good questions to discuss even before you get married. Every couple has different ideas about how to make money work best in their marriage. If you are worried about it, you might want to talk to a financial counselor as you’re setting up your marriage finances. [6]
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    Discuss saving and spending. Make decisions together about where your money will be going. If one person is better at keeping track and being frugal, put him or her in charge of your savings account and working toward your goals. Some questions you might want to discuss include: [7]
    • If one of you enters the marriage with debt, how is it going to be dealt with -- by the couple or just the person who incurred it?
    • What are your first priorities to save for as a married couple? Getting debt paid off, a car, a house?
    • How will you budget as a couple for monthly bills?
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    Consider how finances will change with life events. These might be children, a bigger house, change in job. Think also about saving for difficult times -- job loss, medical bills, etc. [8]
    • Are you planning to have children? If so, how will they fit into your money management?
    • Do you want to eventually move to a bigger house?
    • Are you worried that one of your jobs is not stable?
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    Make long-term financial goals together. Think about how you will save for retirement. Look at the kinds of packages each of your jobs give you, and think about whether you will need more money. Who is better suited to keeping track of your retirement funds and deciding what action to take? Make one person in charge of retirement saving. [9]

Part 4
Carrying Out Long-Term Goals

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    Share your long-term goals with your spouse. Think about where you want to be in 10, 20, 30, 40 years. Discuss where you want to live, what you want your work life to look like, and what role family and marriage might take in your life. Share your goals and ambitions.
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    Discuss children. Most people talk about whether they might want children before they get married, but for many, it’s also an ongoing discussion. It’s also true that people change their minds about children and when they might want them. It’s particularly tough when one person decides they want a child and the other doesn’t. If you are certain you both want children, when do you plan to start trying to have them? [10]
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    Talk about career plans. Some of us will work at the same company all our lives, working up the ladder. Most of us, however, will work for a variety of organizations in many different jobs. Discuss with your spouse how he or she sees their working life:
    • What are your career goals?
    • How do you plan to deal with work/life balance?
    • Do you see yourself changing careers at some point in your life?
    • Would you be willing to move for the sake of your job?

Part 5
Getting Along with Your In-Laws

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    Work to have a good relationship with your in-laws. Since they are your spouse’s parents, you are going to be sharing holidays and important moments with them. Many of us have in-laws who are very different from ourselves, and at times it’s difficult to see eye-to-eye. But it is important to have the best relationship you can with your father and mother-in-law. Think about the ways you can welcome them into your new family composed of you and your spouse.[11]
    • Invite them over for dinner and make foods they like
    • Offer to help them out if there are tasks around the house or yard they find difficult
    • Take them to an event they would enjoy – possibly separately. This could be a movie, a sporting event, or a play.
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    Get holidays set early. Holidays can be a stressful time, because now you have two families that will probably want you to be present. Talk to your spouse early about how holidays will work and let both families know. [12]
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    Include your spouse’s family in events. Make an effort to treat your spouse’s family the way you treat your own. Invite them to the parties and events you would ask your own family to. And if your spouse has siblings, make sure they are part of your events as well – not just your parents-in-law. Marriage is partly about the merging of two families, and you need to try your best to bring your extended family together with your spouse’s extended family. If it doesn’t work out, it’s fine, but it’s important to try, particularly in the early days of your marriage.[13]

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Categories: Marriage Issues