Articles

Great Advice for Wedding Planning

Happily Ever After

by Sandra Mardenfeld

Sometimes we forget—in between the seating arrangements, the first dance selection, and planning the honeymoon—that after all the spectacle, what’s important is having a healthy marriage. Before obtaining the title of husband and wife, talking about certain subjects prior to the wedding can help make your first year go more smoothly. Even if you’ve lived together or been married, having a heart-to-heart conversation still benefits your relationship.

“Get to the minute details,” said Paula Bisacre, publisher of RemarriageWorks. “It will be well worth it.”

Tackle the difficult subjects, especially money and children. “You’d be surprised at how many couples don’t discuss whether or not they want any (or more) children,” said April Masini, a relationship columnist and book author.

She suggests a few general talking points to start: 

• Talk about what it means to each of you to be married.

• Discuss deal breakers—what you will not tolerate of yourselves and each other.

• Ask the tough questions: What would you do if he/she was unfaithful? What would cause infidelity? What would happen if you became accidentally pregnant? What would you do if you had to choose between a family member and your spouse?

“This kind of discussion brings out the monsters underneath the bed, so you can  examine them,” said Masini. “It also creates intimacy and brings about a new romance.  Old romance is flowers and rainbows and unicorns…The new romance takes into account the divorce rate, step-children and mixed (racially, inter-religious, and culturally) marriages as the norm, not the exception.”

Don’t forget to have the conversation about difficult family members. Your beloved is a package deal so you’ll need to address the role your in-laws, cousins, siblings, etc. will have.

“Newlyweds need to have time to themselves to really engage in and develop their own relationship as a newly formed unit, so this will impact the amount of time spent with the in-laws at first,” said Jacqueline Del Rosario, president/ CEO of Recapturing the Vision International, an organization that promotes healthy marriages.

Later, if a relationship “negatively impacts your spouse, then you must initiate measures to deal with it, keeping in mind that you’re committed to looking out for each other,” she offered.

Not only is it important to talk, but you should really listen to your future spouse’s answer as well. Each of you should have the opportunity to voice all opinions, all concerns—even if you don’t like where the conversation is going. If things get rough, take a time out to breathe and consider the other person’s perspective.

Be realistic about what a long-term relationship really means. 

“People tend to think that they will find a “soulmate” and never experience different needs and feelings. Then when these differences come up, they feel betrayed, confused, rejected, hurt or angry. They want to be just the same,” said Jan Harrell, co-author Love Again Creating Relationships Without Blame. “The challenge is to eliminate blame and look for ways to coordinate our needs and accept that we are complements for each other, not identical twins.”

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Does it really matter if he occasionally leaves the toilet seat up or if you sometimes forget to clean the hair from the shower drain? No one is perfect so discard that expectation.

“One couple I know disagreed over whether the can opener belonged in this drawer or the other drawer,” said Patty Newbold, a marriage educator from Enjoy Being Married, a resource for couples. “They finally realized this drawer and the other drawer was fine with both of them, and they bought a second can opener—20 years after the disagreement began.”

Some part of the talking process should involve goal setting.

“One at a time, express your vision, your goals, one, five and maybe 10 years ahead,” said Piet Draiby, a co-author of The Vibrant Relationship. “Your partner listens attentively. Change roles. Out of this process come goals that are surprisingly different as well as some that are surprisingly congruent.” Write these down and post them somewhere, maybe on your fridge.

When discussing money, take into account the now as well as your future. Andrew Schrage, editor of the Money Crashers, a personal finance blog, suggests writing out all your accounts and investments, including savings, debts, credit cards and insurance policies. This helps you see what your financial position currently is, but it also allows you to decide which accounts should be separate or merged.

Some things, such as your retirement savings need to remain distinctive, but sharing savings, checking and credit card accounts can simplify tracking your money.

After you figure out what is going where, look at your finances and set some financial goals.

“Talk about your individual goals for your money management, and then write down any common goals,” said Schrage. “For any goals that you do not agree on, find a compromise that will work. Also, make sure to review your goals periodically because that will help you stay focused on what you are trying to achieve.”

Part of this conversation should cover your budget. In general, the biggest portion of your budget goes towards the rent or mortgage. Schrage suggests allocating 20% to 30% of your gross income for this. You also might want to set aside a percentage for savings. The rest of your income goes towards everything else.

Figure out what are the necessities and what are your wants, says Cathi Brese Doebler, author of Ditch the Joneses, Discover Your Family, which will help you better manage your spending.

“Realize in the very beginning,” said Dr. Taffy Wagner, a certified educator in personal finances at Money Talk Matters, “that a budget is an ongoing workable document. Create the budget based on actual numbers and not guestimations…Each month the budget may need to be tweaked based on the type of jobs each has and if a bill gets paid off here or there.”

Remember, ultimately, the trick to a happy marriage is commitment and love. So, after a few months when you’re about to utter the words, “the honeymoon is over,” it’s time to rev up your romance. It’s easy to be starry-eyed when planning your big day:  sometimes not so much a year later. Take time to nurture your relationship. Have date night or a spicy night-in. Appreciate each other.

“Expect love, and you will watch for it, smile at it, invite more of it,” said Newbold.

All of this will help lead to have a happy marriage.

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Sometimes we forget—in between the seating arrangements, the first dance selection, and planning the honeymoon—that after all the spectacle, what’s important is having a healthy marriage. Before obtaining the title of husband and wife, talking about certain subjects prior to the wedding can help make your first year go more smoothly. Even if you’ve lived together or been married, having a heart-to-heart conversation still benefits your relationship.

“Get to the minute details,” said Paula Bisacre, publisher of RemarriageWorks. “It will be well worth it.”

Tackle the difficult subjects, especially money and children. “You’d be surprised at how many couples don’t discuss whether or not they want any (or more) children,” said April Masini, a relationship columnist and book author.

She suggests a few general talking points to start: 

• Talk about what it means to each of you to be married.

• Discuss deal breakers—what you will not tolerate of yourselves and each other.

• Ask the tough questions: What would you do if he/she was unfaithful? What would cause infidelity? What would happen if you became accidentally pregnant? What would you do if you had to choose between a family member and your spouse?

“This kind of discussion brings out the monsters underneath the bed, so you can  examine them,” said Masini. “It also creates intimacy and brings about a new romance.  Old romance is flowers and rainbows and unicorns…The new romance takes into account the divorce rate, step-children and mixed (racially, inter-religious, and culturally) marriages as the norm, not the exception.”

Don’t forget to have the conversation about difficult family members. Your beloved is a package deal so you’ll need to address the role your in-laws, cousins, siblings, etc. will have.

“Newlyweds need to have time to themselves to really engage in and develop their own relationship as a newly formed unit, so this will impact the amount of time spent with the in-laws at first,” said Jacqueline Del Rosario, president/ CEO of Recapturing the Vision International, an organization that promotes healthy marriages.

Later, if a relationship “negatively impacts your spouse, then you must initiate measures to deal with it, keeping in mind that you’re committed to looking out for each other,” she offered.

Not only is it important to talk, but you should really listen to your future spouse’s answer as well. Each of you should have the opportunity to voice all opinions, all concerns—even if you don’t like where the conversation is going. If things get rough, take a time out to breathe and consider the other person’s perspective.

Be realistic about what a long-term relationship really means. 

“People tend to think that they will find a “soulmate” and never experience different needs and feelings. Then when these differences come up, they feel betrayed, confused, rejected, hurt or angry. They want to be just the same,” said Jan Harrell, co-author Love Again Creating Relationships Without Blame. “The challenge is to eliminate blame and look for ways to coordinate our needs and accept that we are complements for each other, not identical twins.”

Don’t sweat the small stuff. Does it really matter if he occasionally leaves the toilet seat up or if you sometimes forget to clean the hair from the shower drain? No one is perfect so discard that expectation.

“One couple I know disagreed over whether the can opener belonged in this drawer or the other drawer,” said Patty Newbold, a marriage educator from Enjoy Being Married, a resource for couples. “They finally realized this drawer and the other drawer was fine with both of them, and they bought a second can opener—20 years after the disagreement began.”

Some part of the talking process should involve goal setting.

“One at a time, express your vision, your goals, one, five and maybe 10 years ahead,” said Piet Draiby, a co-author of The Vibrant Relationship. “Your partner listens attentively. Change roles. Out of this process come goals that are surprisingly different as well as some that are surprisingly congruent.” Write these down and post them somewhere, maybe on your fridge.

When discussing money, take into account the now as well as your future. Andrew Schrage, editor of the Money Crashers, a personal finance blog, suggests writing out all your accounts and investments, including savings, debts, credit cards and insurance policies. This helps you see what your financial position currently is, but it also allows you to decide which accounts should be separate or merged.

Some things, such as your retirement savings need to remain distinctive, but sharing savings, checking and credit card accounts can simplify tracking your money.

After you figure out what is going where, look at your finances and set some financial goals.

“Talk about your individual goals for your money management, and then write down any common goals,” said Schrage. “For any goals that you do not agree on, find a compromise that will work. Also, make sure to review your goals periodically because that will help you stay focused on what you are trying to achieve.”

Part of this conversation should cover your budget. In general, the biggest portion of your budget goes towards the rent or mortgage. Schrage suggests allocating 20% to 30% of your gross income for this. You also might want to set aside a percentage for savings. The rest of your income goes towards everything else.

Figure out what are the necessities and what are your wants, says Cathi Brese Doebler, author of Ditch the Joneses, Discover Your Family, which will help you better manage your spending.

“Realize in the very beginning,” said Dr. Taffy Wagner, a certified educator in personal finances at Money Talk Matters, “that a budget is an ongoing workable document. Create the budget based on actual numbers and not guestimations…Each month the budget may need to be tweaked based on the type of jobs each has and if a bill gets paid off here or there.”

Remember, ultimately, the trick to a happy marriage is commitment and love. So, after a few months when you’re about to utter the words, “the honeymoon is over,” it’s time to rev up your romance. It’s easy to be starry-eyed when planning your big day:  sometimes not so much a year later. Take time to nurture your relationship. Have date night or a spicy night-in. Appreciate each other.

“Expect love, and you will watch for it, smile at it, invite more of it,” said Newbold.

All of this will help lead to have a happy marriage.

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