feet of bride and groom, wedding shoes (soft focus). Cross processed image for vintage lookfeet of bride and groom, wedding shoes (soft focus). Cross processed image for vintage look
You and your partner just got engaged and, naturally, you're floating on cloud nine. While you're loving all the warm comments and heart emojis on your post-proposal selfie, you're eager for the dust to settle so that you can begin planning your dream wedding. You're in a state of total bliss, and you feel as if nothing could burst your bubble.
After the excitement of the wedding wears off, however, your life as a married couple truly begins – and, real talk, married life is not always a piece of cake.
Now that you're merging your lives together, you're bound to have disagreements over how you'll spend your money, where you'll go on holidays, and who does what horrible household chore.
In order to avoid a damaging fight that could lead to an even nastier split, engaged couples need to look at marriage as the major, life-changing commitment that it is and have those hard discussions about important issues before the big day.
We turned to Jamie Golombek, managing director of CIBC Wealth Strategies Group, and Sig Taylor, marriage counsellor and psychotherapist, for 15 things that every couple should know before tying the knot.
1. Your partner is going to annoy you in a million different ways You just moved in with your partner and, to your dismay, you discover that he likes to chew his ice cream. Instead of finding this quirk endearing, it's the most obnoxious sound you've ever heard. According to Taylor, your partner's personal habits – no matter how good, bad or ugly – are going to come out in your marriage. The key to dealing with those habits is learning to agree to disagree. "You have to get into that mindset that the other person is different but not wrong, that's respectful and understanding," notes Taylor.
2. It's important to have a game plan before you have kids You likely had the 'kids or no kids' discussion before tying the knot but that's probably as far as it went. You can rest assured that the pressure to procreate will intensify once you're married (your parents will want to know when the grandkids are on the way!) and the stress of raising little ones can definitely put strain on a marriage. There's research to back it up – couples are likely to experience a 70 per cent reduction in their relationship satisfaction after the birth of their first child, notes Taylor. "The biggest mistake that a lot of couples make is that they make their kids more important than their relationship," he adds. "Couples have to really say – we have to keep our marriage and our relationship a high priority, and we can't let the kids dominate or take all of our time and attention."
3. You’re going to fight, but that’s okay It's inevitable that you and your partner are going to argue, whether it's over something silly like whether or not rocks have souls, or something serious like how your partner is spending too much time at the office and not enough time with you. No matter the conflict, never blame your partner for your feelings, cautions Taylor. Instead, have a calm discussion about the issue without letting your emotions get the better of you. "You're not going to agree on everything, but you need to be able to hear each other," he adds. "Healthy couples don't have to be throwing dishes at each other or yelling at each other if they learn to manage [their] emotional reactivity and learn good communication skills."
4. Your romantic life isn’t always going to be exciting, but that’s okay too When you first start dating, you were constantly going out for candlelit dinners and sunset walks, unable to keep your hands off each other. But realistically no couple, no matter how in love they are, can sustain the fireworks forever. To keep the romance alive for years to come, Taylor suggests learning your partner's love language (whether that's words of affirmation, physical touch, quality time, receiving gifts or acts of service) and expressing your affections accordingly.
5. You both need to communicate well, otherwise it’s not going to work You're peeved that your partner forgot to pick up dinner like he promised, and that quickly devolved into a screaming match about transgressions that occurred months ago. "Communication goes out the window if either one of the people get into an emotional reaction," warns Taylor. Instead, you need to keep calm while trying to find common ground with your partner.
6. Marriage is hard, and you both need to put in the effort As much as we hope that married couples are happily in love all the time, it's simply not the reality. "I always say that love is a feeling and it's wonderful, but feelings come and go," says Taylor. Marriage, on the other hand, is a contract, and takes hard work from both parties to sustain it. The happiest couples are making their relationship a priority, he adds. "Good relationships don't just happen. They're intentional."
7. It's important to have a serious talk about money You can't resist a good housewares sale (because who doesn't need a third strawberry destemmer?!), and your partner saves every nickel he's ever come across. According to a new CIBC poll of Canadians who plan to get married or live common law within the next 24 months, a mere 35 per cent have actually had a serious talk about money. The best way to reconcile any financial differences is to talk it out well before you tie the knot, says Golombek. “It’s extremely important to make sure you are both on the same financial page otherwise you’re setting yourselves up for disaster down the road,” he cautions. “It can really help to talk to someone, like a financial advisor, who can be impartial to help with difficult questions and concerns to coach you along the path to financial health and harmony before your big day arrives.”
8. You’re not just marrying your partner but their whole family You're head-over-heels in love with your partner, but not so much with his meddling parents and immature friends. But whether you like it or not, they're not going away anytime soon, laughs Taylor. "You're not only marrying your partner, but their friends and family and all their problems and all their quirks," he says. In order to keep loved ones from needlessly interfering in your relationship, you need to create boundaries within your partner's family and within your own, he adds.
9. Jealousy is going to happen, but it’s how you deal with it that matters Hopefully your partner won't accuse you of cheating with a girl named Wendy when you were simply indulging your burger cravings, but there's no denying that temptation lurks around every corner. "You need to realize that there's attractive people in the world and probably flirting that's going to happen," notes Taylor. "Some couples are hugely jealous and they're walking on eggshells with each other and that's not a healthy way to have a relationship." To tackle feelings of jealousy in a healthy way, you need to take responsibility for your feelings and not blame your partner, he states.
10. It’s important to have alone time and separate interests You might love watching trashy reality TV with your partner, while he prefers to take in artsy documentaries on his own. It's important to remember that you and your partner have very different wiring, notes Taylor. Naturally, there will be one person who assumes that marriage means doing everything together, while the other wants to be on their own. The solution is to meet in the middle. "The person that's 'independence first' needs to be a little bit more togetherness oriented, and the person that's 'togetherness first' needs to be able to tolerate a little more independence," he says.
11. Navigating the holidays is a whole new beast It's your first holiday season as a married couple, and your social calendar is flooded with invites to parties all over town. To avoid a blowout fight, you and your partner need to agree on a game plan that includes a workable set of obligations as a couple and as part of two families, suggests Taylor. In good relationships, Taylor explains, there's something called equal regard – meaning that no one person's feelings, perspective or family are more important than the other's. "You can tackle anything if you have a mindset of willing to meet in the middle, and come up with solutions that are win-win," he adds.
12. It’s the little things that matter more than the grand gestures Announcing your affection for your partner with a sea of red roses or a message in the sky is super romantic, but far from an everyday occurrence. Instead it's the little acts of kindness that foster marital bliss, notes Taylor. Whether it's your partner leaving you a Post-It love note on the bathroom mirror, or you cooking his favourite casserole even though you can't stand the smell of it, seemingly insignificant gestures of love deepen your bond in a way that a grand declaration never could.
13. Your partner isn’t just your partner, but your best friend for life While it's important to find your partner physically attractive, you should consider them a friend above all else. They're the person that you can be your true self around, that you can laugh with, confide in, and lean on when times get rough. "Couples that are the happiest have a high level of fondness and admiration for each other," notes Taylor. "They're really good friends. They really like each other."
14. Comparing your marriage to someone else’s is a recipe for disaster Your friend group has a Will and Kate-esque couple that is nailing married life, making you feel like you and your partner will never measure up. The problem with comparison is that it cheapens the unique bond that you and your partner share. "Every marriage is different and there's no one size fits all," explains Taylor. You and your partner need to forge your own values, habits, and traditions, he adds. It's also important to remember that appearances can be deceiving. "People present a really positive image out there but you have no idea what's actually happening when you look inside."
15. If your relationship was great before, then getting married won’t really change anything Marriage naturally comes with some major changes – your extended family has doubled in number, you check the 'Mrs.' box instead of 'Ms.', and you wear a sizeable diamond ring around your finger. It's understandable to feel that those changes, while surface level, will shake your relationship to its very core. But if you and your partner had a solid foundation before tying the knot, transitioning into married life should be a breeze.
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