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Your wedding was not the most important day in your marriage. Today is.

What if I could tell you about the future of your marriage? For the moment, let’s say I can. (Because I can.) Brace yourself, my newlywed friend. I come from over 25 years in the future of your marriage. What do you want to know?

This isn’t some Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban or The Time Traveler’s Wife kinda stuff. This is way better. See, I’ve been married for over 27 years, and I’m neck-deep in marriage research. I stuffed all that in my time machine and set the coordinates for your present.

I’ve got five bold reveals about what your future marriage holds. Ready?

5. You’ll begin to take your spouse for granted.

This is a human nature thing. The newness wears off. You’ll settle into routines. The ordinariness of life inevitably sets in. You’ll start to expect your spouse to know and do things. 

I don’t wanna get into time travel paradoxes and whatnot, but you can avoid this future. One researcher advises three ways to NOT take your spouse for granted:

  • Reunite well after being apart. (Big hug and kiss. I missed you! How was your day?
  • Have a few minutes of focused communication each day. (How are you doing? Anything I can do for you? Anything you want to talk about?
  • Practice gratitude and thankfulness for your spouse daily. (And not just for what they do, but for who they are as a person and how they demonstrate love to you.)

4. You’ll discover that you (and your spouse) need individual time alone.

It may be difficult to believe right now, but in the future, you and your spouse are gonna need some time alone to take care of yourselves. This time recharges your batteries and helps your mind, heart, and body stay healthy. You’re gonna need to hang out with quality friends that encourage you and refresh you. Your spouse needs the same. This will have to be a priority that you plan, or it probably won’t happen. This individual alone time will enrich your time together as a couple and deepen your marriage.

3. You’ll have sex less frequently, but it’ll be more satisfying.

There will be seasons in your marriage when you’ll have more sex, and sometimes, less. This is totally normal and lines up with a lot of research. The flip side is that sex itself will be way more fulfilling. Sex with someone who is committed and works to nurture intimacy with your mind, heart, AND body is GREAT SEX. Put your focus there. Ultimately, you and your spouse should have as much sex as you both want and need to have. You’ll understand that sex is one of your ongoing conversations in your marriage.

2. You’ll fight a lot (especially the first few years), but you’ll learn to fight better. 

Living with someone is hard, even someone you love dearly. You and your spouse are two different individuals. Yes, you got married and formed a team, but that didn’t make your individual differences evaporate. Living together, you’ll see each other’s “real” self more clearly. You’ll hit a season when that cute thing they do isn’t so cute anymore. You’ll face decisions and have different perspectives and priorities. And you’ll find out some of your goals don’t quite line up. This is the stuff of marriage. Arguments, fights, and debates will ensue. All. Perfectly. Normal.

You can totally learn how to fight more effectively. Take turns speaking and listening. Don’t escalate with volume, tone, body language, or sarcasm and mean-spirited comments. No bringing up past healed wounds. Make sure you keep the problem, the problem—not the person. Fight for your spouse, not about your spouse. Fight for your marriage, not about it.

Work toward compromise, not winning. Now your future looks so bright!

1. Your wedding was not the most important day in your marriage. Today is.

Time looped full circle from the first line! It’s that important. Learn lessons from the past. Maybe forgive and let go of it. Let it inspire trust and security. The future? Plan for it. Look forward to it. But realize today is all you’ve got. Be in the moment with your spouse. There’s no time travel. There’s just today.

I’ve gotta scoot. There’s a newlywed in Boise who thinks her new husband will never pick his friends over her. Gotta hurry!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

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Do I Have Post-Wedding Blues?

Don’t beat yourself up over the blues; just beat ‘em.

“Post-Wedding Blues” are absolutely a thing. Don’t let anyone tell you differently. And definitely don’t feel bad for feeling them. You don’t need to be worried or secretly guilt-ridden. 

“Blues” are totally understandable. And you can get your head around your heart. Check this out… 

Which of these television couples were you just hoping could make it happen?

  • Ross & Rachel – Friends (“We were on a break!”) 
  • Summer & Seth – The O.C. (That upside-down Spider-Man kiss!)
  • Luke & Lorelai – Gilmore Girls (We knew they loved more than coffee.)
  • Cory & Topanga – Boy Meets World (Aww… Thank goodness for Mr. Feeny!)
  • Jim & Pam – The Office (Rooting. From. Episode. One.)

This is the old “will they or won’t they” television trope. And we eat it up! Two characters that we, the viewers, just know in our hearts should be together forever, but they just can’t. As we hope, they circle each other across episodes and seasons. We’re rooting for them as they overcome obstacles, differences, rivals, or wait on Fate, Destiny… or the series finale. You can slice the chemistry and sexual tension with an iPad. Then, finally! They get to be together! Or don’t. (Lookin’ at you Dawson’s Creek.) 

★ But here’s the thing, sometimes after our favorite couple finally gets together, the big huge buildup leaves us feeling a weird combo of relief and sadness. We’re happy, but we miss the anticipation. If their relationship isn’t all fireworks afterward, we can feel disappointed. With some shows, after the couple finally makes it happen and the big buildup has evaporated, we wonder if we should have binge-watched four seasons, and we feel some regret.

Sounds kinda like “Post-Wedding Blues.” (Please revisit that last paragraph with that in mind.)

Just like you can catch some Post-Favorite-Television-Couple-Finally-Got-Together Blues, it’s normal to catch some unexpected emotions in the weeks and months after the wedding. Your real-life favorite couple finally got together! But you’re feeling some… stuff. It’s as common as Ross not being able to get out of his own way.

Honest Question:

Is it possible you were consumed by months (years) of buildup? You’re busy planning your wedding, riding the rush from checking things off your list, and drenched in anticipation—you just weren’t quite prepared for the marriage after the wedding

You might have created sitcom “happily ever after” expectations, and then “Reality TV” busts in with jobs, bills, routines, and the averageness of everyday life. Settling in can feel like settling.

How To Beat The Blues:

  1. Talk to your spouse. They could be feeling some similar things. Normalizing it helps neutralize it. This is an excellent opportunity to grow together as you work together.
  2. Look back. Remind yourself of what first attracted you to your spouse. What made you think your relationship could be special? Scroll through those pics and videos.
  3. Look ahead. Start planning date nights and your own traditions. Now is the time to think about the marital legacy you’re working toward.
  4. Look around. Rethink your routines. The “average, ordinary” stuff is lowkey the best part of being married. How can you seize “everyday” moments and soak them in as you connect with your spouse?

Don’t beat yourself up over the blues; just beat ‘em. Your marriage will be its own Netflix-worthy dramedy streaming ahead of you in Hi-Res glory. Binge it up. Or, as Pam puts it in the final line of the last episode of The Office, “There’s a lot of beauty in ordinary things. Isn’t that kind of the point?” (That’s what she said.)

Check these out:

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

The morning light playfully casts its shadows on my husband’s face. I ask myself, once again, in my half slumber, if this is really my life. My mornings are filled with “I love you’s” and kisses (morning breath and all) and an alarm set purposely to snooze so we can cozy up to each other before the real world starts knocking. I never pictured something so imperfect feeling so perfect. Our marriage has its flaws like any other relationship, but we’ve used them as reminders of our humanity and mile markers of where we can grow.

This first year of marriage has been a beautiful mess.

Filled with chaos calmed by Tyler’s deep voice and aptitude to forgive and apologize without hesitation, but also with humility. This has been a year of learning to do old things a new way, learning to let go and let loose, and learning even more so, how to love with a reckless abandon. How to love unconditionally even through some harsh conditions. We weathered the storm of my losing a parent and we also learned to be okay with not being able to be everything the other person needs. I needed my husband through that tragedy, but I also needed my best friends and my sisters to help me process what happened in a different way. 

This dreamy relationship of ours isn’t clouded by rose-colored glasses. We are very aware of the gift of newness and the romance it inspires and of the brokenness and falling short we have already done and will continue to do. It’s all a part of it. We have said things that hurt each other. We’ve stayed up late searching for resolutions to issues that we could have prevented if we had communicated our expectations sooner. 

If I’ve learned anything in my first year of marriage, it’s that marriage itself is a state of becoming.

It’s active, not passive. Our relationship as spouses doesn’t get the luxury of the title “Married” solving our problems, having the hard conversations magically disappear, or the sense of accomplishment you feel when you reach a finish line. Marriage is a state of becoming. Becoming closer, more honest (and more tactful), more humble, more loving, more forgiving, more adaptable, and more intentional. 

Our wedding day was the beginning of a public commitment, but we spent almost seven years curating and pruning the best parts of ourselves while revealing our weaknesses. Tyler’s way better at apologizing than I am and I’m better at communicating my feelings on a whim. We get to hold each other accountable—and if we don’t, we miss the potential for our relationship to flourish. It can be tempting to assume you know what your spouse is thinking and feeling on the basis of you knowing them better than anyone else knows them. If we live in a state of assumptions, we miss the chance to get to know each other more intimately. 

We aren’t off the hook now that we have some pretty circles around our fingers. If anything, it has never been more important to press in and run from the idea of getting comfortable. Your lifelong commitment is an active one. It’s not an “I do” to say I already did. 

I’ve learned marriage is a pursuit. Though we may be within a few walls, we still need to go out of our way for each other like we did when we had opposite schedules or were long distance. For us, that may look like sacrificing a night out with a friend if it’s the only night he and I could spend quality time together. Being married means considering each other first; plans don’t just affect you anymore—they affect both of you.

As humans, we are constantly changing, balancing on a tightrope of circumstances in flux—some we don’t have any control over (pandemic anyone?). I don’t fear the tightrope or my lack of balance sometimes because I know my spouse is my safety net. Tyler is there to catch me when I fall—not only there to, but wants to be there to catch me. In this state of becoming, we both are challenged to pursue each other. It looks like keeping our conversations real and curious, flirting just because, and being quick to admit when we’re wrong.

Takeaways: 

  • Marriage is a daily, active commitment to each other.
  • You have to pursue each other to have a worthwhile marriage.
  • Acknowledging you and your spouse’s humanity helps set realistic expectations.

Questions to ask each other:

  • How can we continue pursuing each other? What does that look like for us? (i.e., writing each other notes, texting each other during the day just because, planning a weekly date night, etc.)
  • Talk about each other’s strengths and weaknesses and how you can be a team.
  • Do we have a plan to handle conflict/hard situations? If so, revisit it. If not, come up with one.

Bonus blogs to help you prepare for your first year of marriage:

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

After you say “I do,” there’s a lot that changes and there are new things to get used to when it comes to friends and family. Add the holidays to a new marriage, and it’s easy to feel incredibly overwhelmed. It quickly becomes obvious that friends and family influence your relationship.

As a married couple, you’ll have a different dynamic when it comes to your friends and family because there is an added measure of checks and balances. Your marriage is the one friendship and ultimate relationship that should come first. It’s very important to wean off relationships that could potentially cause problems in your marriage. Now, you can’t just all-out ditch family because you don’t get along, but you can definitely set boundaries and determine how much time you will spend with those “problematic” members.

Here are 5 ways friends and family can influence your relationship with your spouse.

1. You are who you hang around.

Remember when every adult used to say this to you no matter who you were spending time with growing up? Well, it’s true. For better or for worse, your friendships can lift you up or tear you down – and now it’s affecting more than just you. What if you or your spouse has a toxic friendship that is negatively affecting your marriage?

How to deal: Talk with your partner to see if they are even aware that they are hurting you or causing tension in your relationship. Be gentle, don’t accuse, and be open to hearing their perspective as well. After you bring it to light, assess where to go from there, such as less time spent with that person? A discussion with that person about behavior that you want to change/ have an issue with? You have to decide together what the best thing to do for your marriage is. And remember, friends should be encouraging you to be better every day and lifting you up to be the best you you can be! Invest in strong friendships for both you and your partner!

2. Your parents are just too intrusive:.

Just like on that old sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, your parents or friends may feel a little too welcome in your life. “If you have parents who show up uninvited, or who spend too much time with you, you might have too little time to be alone with your new partner and formulate your life as a couple,” says Susan Newman, Ph.D., a social psychologist.

How to deal: Set some rules – and fast. “You need to clearly define your boundaries in regard to visits and time spent with your parents,” Newman says. Once you and your mate agree on the ‘rules,’ tell your parents you love them, but they need to call before they come by, or even ASK specifically before they just decide to do something that affects you and your spouse. Set whatever guidelines you need to set for the sake of your marriage.

3. They make a mountain out of a molehill.

You picked your sister-in-law’s wedding over the annual family reunion (insert your own situation where you had to choose between two family or friend events) – and now your parents aren’t speaking to you, or they’re being nasty.

How to deal: Gently remind them that you now have two families and lives to consider when you’re making decisions. “They have to learn that you have a new family now [and new relationships] and that you’ll [still] be connected, but not joined at the hip,” says Tina B. Tessina, Ph.D., a psychotherapist.

4. They bad-mouth your partner.

You know the saying, “If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all?” Well, sometimes family and friends don’t really listen to or apply that.

How to deal: Explain that the snide comments upset you – and firmly tell them to stop. Always stand up for the person you have chosen to spend forever with. Be their #1 advocate! Most people will stop after being directly confronted. If they really care about the relationship – at least an effort will be made. But if they continue, you need to show that you mean business. “When your parent [or friend(s)] starts, simply say, “I’m not going to listen. I married [them] and I’m happy,” Newman advises. If friends continue to speak poorly of your partner, reassess your relationship with them. Then decide if that’s really someone you want a part of your new journey.

5. Sometimes, your in-laws (or your own parents) AND/OR your spouse’s friends can create marital problems simply by being who they are.

Different personalities sometimes just don’t jive.

How to deal: Talk it out with your partner to see if you can sort out why there’s an issue. Seek out resources to help you determine what the problem is and how to work through the conflict. Combining two families + friend groups with different backgrounds and lifestyles is not easy, but it’s not impossible. Strengthen your relationship with your spouse by being at peace with each other’s “people,” and sometimes agreeing to disagree.

Looking for more engagement resources? Click here!

Image from Pexels.com

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!

*Note: I’m an early riser. Always have been, always will be. My husband, on the other hand… not so much. Being newlywed and trying to stick to a routine, I’ve learned to let him sleep until I’ve had my coffee, had my shower, and have start working on breakfast. And for about a month, it has actually worked! That is, until one morning, I had gotten my coffee and was in the shower when I heard that knock….

“Hey, Caroline?”

Surprised that he was even awake enough to voice a question, I responded, “Yes…?”

“I really need to use the bathroom. Are you done yet?”

Me, knowing that I probably didn’t want to be in the bathroom once he came in, but also in the middle of shampooing my hair, responded to his question and said, “Not really, but hold on… I can step out in just a second.” In slight frustration, I quickly rinsed the shampoo, turned off the water, and grabbed my towel.

You see, my husband and I are trying our best to save for a house as soon as we can, which meant signing a lease on a tiny apartment for the time being. One bedroom. Barely enough space for a couch in the living room. And, as I’m sure you’ve figured out by now, one bathroom.

Moving in, neither of us thought it would be a problem! I’d just get up early, get things done, then he would be able to do the same after me. But, as with everything in life, things don’t always go according to plan.

That morning threw off the rest of my day, and it took me quite a while to understand why.

But by that evening, I realized something: I was frustrated with him, despite neither of us being to blame for the situation. I was upset, not because he had to use the bathroom, but because it wasn’t a part of our original plan. I wanted to be in control.

Yes, it seems a little exaggerated to get to that conclusion from a disrupted morning routine. But let me tell you. It opened my eyes to a whole different perspective of myself that I was not at all aware of.

So many people warned us that marriage is a great magnifying glass on all your flaws. But I didn’t realize how true it was until the honeymoon phase had left, and our true, imperfect selves showed again. Since that day, I have been very conscious of what I can and cannot control and my reactions to those things.

So, bottom line. Never assume that just because you have a plan or routine in your newlywed relationship, everything will go according to plan. A spouse is not there to point out your flaws, but to walk with you. They are there to support you and grow with you through each and every interruption.

Lastly, and most importantly: if possible… have more than one bathroom for your first year if you can.

Looking for more engagement resources? Click here!

***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear your computer or device is being monitored, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

If you’re anything like me, I used to (literally) dream about the day that the love of my life would take a knee, spout off some poetry, and say those four long-awaited words that made up the question that would change my life forever: “Will you marry me?”

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For many, the first week on the job is full of uncertainties, adjustments and even mistakes. Joining a new sports team or a band is sure to start off with some failed expectations, missed notes or assignments, too. I’ve worked at companies where I had an awful first week. But my time there ended up being fulfilling, successful and beneficial for everyone involved. The first week of anything new can be hard!

When a couple marries, each person has their own history, experiences, traditions and culture. They also have their own way of thinking, relating and communicating. So, why in the world would it surprise anyone that the first week of marriage (usually during the honeymoon) doesn’t go as planned? I’ve heard some horrific honeymoon stories from numerous couples I’ve worked with over the years. From big arguments and no sex to major disagreements and running out of money (and beyond), these couples’ biggest fear is that their awful honeymoon is a sign that their marriage is doomed from the beginning.

Let’s understand why it’s not the case.

An awful honeymoon doesn’t mean your marriage will be awful, too.

It doesn’t matter whether we lived together, lived nearby or hundreds of miles apart. For many, the wedding day is a game-changer. The day we commit to do all that we can to make our marriage work is when life changes. Often, because of expectations. Sometimes our support circle doesn’t help because we’re in our “honeymoon phase” and they feel they should respect our privacy. The media doesn’t help because it paints an unrealistic picture that all honeymoons are perfect. Ironically, couples don’t help each other, either. Why? Because we think we know all there is to know about being marriedeven though we’ve been doing it for a grand whopping total of 2 days.

Marriage is a journey, and the ceremony is just the beginning. Two people truly functioning in step with one another takes years to get really good at it. Our habits, beliefs and ideas were perfect in our minds until our spouse told us differently. Of course, we didn’t agree with them when they told us. But before the years of learning how to “click” as a couple scare us, we need to know there’s a lot of joy in the journey.

The journey is a process where hopefully each spouse is learning to be considerate, generous and loving toward the other. This process usually comes after we realize that we may have been a little more selfish, inconsiderate and stingy than we thought. When we drop the expectations that both parties already know how to do this well and embrace the journey, we can find joy in learning to do this marriage thing together. Instead of seeing a disastrous honeymoon as a sign that we shouldn’t be together, see it as the first step toward learning how to do marriage well.

 ***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at: 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***

Headed down the aisle soon? You probably have some thoughts rolling around in your brain in terms of being engaged and your expectations. Don’t worry, you aren’t alone.

Almost everyone comes to marriage with some pretty specific ideas about how things will be. These expectations might be based on what people have experienced in their own family (things they liked or didn’t like and don’t want to repeat), a romantic movie, a previous relationship or even the Hallmark Channel.

Here’s the thing: Whether it’s how you plan to handle money, accepting support from family and in-laws, how often you will make love, being on time, handling conflict, career aspirations, helping with chores or cleanliness, if you don’t talk about your expectations ahead of time, there’s a really good chance it could lead to some disappointing and frustrating moments in the future.

People often don’t voice their expectations because they fear the other person won’t live up to them.

If you do talk about them and your spouse-to-be doesn’t see these expectations as a big deal or doesn’t plan to change their approach to these issues, you may try to convince yourself that once you have a ring on your finger and things are more final, things will be different. Don’t be fooled, though. There are plenty of studies indicating the best time to look for behavior change is before the wedding, not after.

Unspoken expectations can silently kill relationships. Do yourself and your fiancé a favor: Be honest about your expectations. Just because your family did something a certain way doesn’t mean you necessarily have to do it the same way. It could be that while discussing what is important to you both, you realize your expectations aren’t realistic.

One thing you want to guard against is sacrificing who you are in the name of your relationship. If your faith is very important to you and you strongly expect your fiancé to one day share your faith values, realize that change is possible. But it could place a hefty load of tension on your relationship.

It’s totally possible that you and your fiancé have engaged expectations of each other that you don’t even realize you have. Taking the time to go through a premarital education experience either in person or online could help you both identify things you feel strongly about and help you to work through those issues before you get married. Talking about your expectations ahead of time can save you a lot of headaches and heartache down the road.

Image form Unsplash.com

Weddings are time-consuming, expensive, and stressful.

We totally get it. There’s hardly any time to breathe, let alone enjoy this season with your soon-to-be spouse! But that’s why we created Preparing for Marriage Online. This online class will guide you both through the answers to these questions and MORE! And the best part is, you can watch each video in the comfort of your own home and on your OWN TIME – and right now, it’s all for FREE!

During this class, you’ll cover topics like…

  • Clear & effective communication skills,
  • How to handle the in-laws,
  • Conflict management,
  • The importance of dating your spouse,
  • Planning, budgeting, and finances,
  • What to expect your first year,
  • And more!