Many couples dream about one day getting married or moving in together. But you don’t need to be an expert to know that is no easy task. Sharing lives comes along with both joys and difficulties. That’s why at Porch, we looked for professionals who could provide their expertise and put it on the table to help couples start their journey into this new stage of their lives as smoothly as possible.
In this article, our featured experts provide advice on finances, decoration, communication, decision-making, and of course, relationship tips. This is what they told us:
Which healthy boundaries do you recommend setting with your partner when you start living together?
I’ll preface this by saying that any and every expectation and boundary you set should be done with very open and clear communication. Boundaries are great, but without communication, they can come off as insensitive.
That said, a great boundary to set is to simply pursue your own hobbies and passions. Love knitting? Take a course. Want to get fit? Get a gym membership. I’ve known many couples who, by most other standards, have a great relationship but they don’t feel empowered to venture out and try new experiences or develop new hobbies on their own. They say things like, “I would start working out if ‘John’ would come with me.” Or, “I’d like to get into writing more but I just don’t know if we have time for that.”
Couples should feel free to pursue hobbies whether or not their partner enjoys it too. And again, open communication can only help your cause. By saying something along the lines of, “I know you’re not really into it, but I’d really like to try ______ more. Would it be alright if I spend some time each week persuing that?” you’re letting your partner know how you feel and getting on the same page with your expectations and time management.
Maybe eventually they’ll even want to join the fun, but if not, you’re ultimately developing your skills and indirectly maintaining a healthy level of independence.
Living the Sweet Life
What would you advise a newlywed couple to build a stronger mutual trust?
If I had to give two words of advice for a newlywed couple to build stronger mutual trust, those two words would be communicating and prioritizing. Allow me to briefly explain.
Poor communication is the most common reason for breakups, so this places communication high on the list.
The disconnect is in how men and women communicate. Men use few words but make them count. Women use many words and often attach a lot of emotion to them.
“We need to talk” are four words that strike fear in a man’s heart, not because he’s afraid of what you’ll say but because communication isn’t his strong suit.
Pay attention to how you each communicate and try to learn your partner’s language. If you’re a guy, understand that your new wife is looking for words, even though you’re action-oriented.
If you’re a woman, understand that men use few words but speak more often through their actions.
Of course, good communication also means practicing great listening skills, which can be truly challenging. Don’t form your response until your partner is done speaking. Repeat something back if you’re unsure and ask questions to let him know you’re listening.
The worst feeling for one partner in a relationship is that of feeling unimportant to the other. The trick is understanding which actions are truly harmful and which aren’t.
For example, a man who works an extra job is prioritizing his family and making sure he can provide, but it can be seen as him prioritizing work over his family instead. Rather than assuming your partner’s thoughts, ask.
Prioritizing your relationship includes:
- Showing appreciation for one another
- Learning and speaking your partner’s love language
- Remembering that love is a verb – an action word
- Flirting and keeping things fresh
- Assuming good intentions instead of bad
- Planning a weekly date night that can’t be canceled
- Remembering what a gift your great relationship is
These two words of advice for a newlywed couple to build stronger mutual trust will take you a long way toward a happy, healthy relationship!
Dating and Life Coach Author for Women
Which agreements are most important to have for a couple moving in together to make the transition go smoothly?
When couples are moving in together, there are SO many things to consider! Where to move, what furniture to bring or buy, general house rules and the list goes on! There are three key agreements that will make any co-habitating couple feel more secure about this big transition! The big three agreements are surrounding expectations, boundaries and quality time.
When it comes to expectations, everyone has a different idea of what living together might look like, feel like even smell like! Before moving in together, sit down and discuss what your expectations are and make sure that they are realistic. Come to an agreement on what expectations you can deliver on for your partner and vice versa. These expectations could be around cleanliness, guests, pets — whatever is most important to you as you’re starting this new journey together.
Boundaries are HUGE when it comes to cohabitation. Set a time to write down your own boundaries before discussing them as a couple. Come up with one physical boundary, one emotional boundary and one communication boundary. You may have more than one in each category, of course! Some examples…
- Physical: when the door to my office is closed I need to be alone, having a specific space in the home that is just your dedicated space or this could do with having guests over and having other people in your physical space.
- Emotional: needing a certain amount of alone or together time, being able to unwind at the end of the day, talk to friends in privacy or vent to your partner and have them hold a safe space.
- Communication: talking about the bills at certain times of the month, how will you handle issues that come up inevitably as you live together and how do you want to communicate through conflict.
The 3rd big agreement is about quality time! Spending time together has a whole different spin when you live together. You’ll want to make sure that you define what quality time actually is for you both. It may not be sitting on the couch and watching TV. It will likely be something where you are both more intentional about being present with one another. You can write down examples of what you’ll both consider quality time with one another.
Living together as a couple is a big step in any relationship! Beyond these three agreements, communication is absolutely key. If something is bothering you, find a way to bring it up and discuss it. You’ll face new issues that you haven’t had to deal with in your relationship yet, and it will hopefully bring up some great conversations and bring you closer.
Founder & Matchmaker
The Social: Modern Matchmaking
Which toxic, unhealthy behaviors should a couple avoid having when living together?
One of the most widely-known marriage and relationship researchers, Dr. John Gottman, identified that there are four universally toxic relationship behaviors that signal likely negative outcomes for the relationship. These four behaviors are so ominous for relationships that Gottman labeled them the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”: Criticism, Contempt, Defensiveness, and Stonewalling. You can visit this article on The Gottman Institute website to learn more about these behaviors and how to avoid them, both now while you are moving in together for the first time and at any point in your relationship.
In addition to avoiding universally toxic, unhealthy relationship behaviors, some specific challenging behaviors may arise at the time when partners first move in together. Couples would be wise to pay attention for the following behaviors and strive to replace them with the healthier alternatives below (along with links from our Healthy Relationships Initiative for additional tools and information):
|Common Unhealthy Behaviors when Couples First Move In Together||Alternative Healthy Behaviors|
|Avoiding conflict or disagreements||Learning strategies to address conflict in healthy ways|
|Letting financial stress get out of hand||Working together to build a solid financial foundation|
|Having too close or too distant boundaries in the relationship||Building a shared understanding of healthy vs. unhealthy boundaries in relationships|
|Expecting a great relationship to just happen||Being intentional about investing time and effort into the relationship|
|Taking your partner for granted||Practicing small, daily acts of appreciation to keep love alive over time|
Christine E. Murray
Ph.D., LCMHC, LMFT
Healthy Relationships Initiative / UNC Greensboro Center for Youth, Family, and Community Partnerships
What are some basic tips to help newlywed couples solve disagreements and prevent them from escalating?
If you have a need to be right in your relationship, chances are, there’s going to be relational problems in your future.
The reason being is that in any relationship there are two subjective realities. Unless you have a camera crew following you two around all day, and you can readily access that film, you’re not going to be able to hang your hat on “objective truth.”
This is because, our mind state affects how we record memories, and it also affects how we retrieve them.
For example, if I’m stressed and my partner is not, I may perceive and remember a situation differently from my partner. This is because stress affects the functioning of our hippocampus – the short-term memory part of our brain.
The same is true if I’m in a good mood, I may perceive current and past events in a favorable light, and I may also be able to put them in a different context.
So, if I’m coaching a couple in an objectivity battle on what did or didn’t happen, I say, “You two are both right, and both wrong.”
And the most basic (and best) tip to solving the question of who’s right and who’s wrong is, “Who cares, what can we do to fix this?” Thank you Terry Real for that quote…
In other words, the relationship is more important than being right and so there’s no need to escalate the issue.
When couples make the shift from “I’m right and you need to see it my way,” to “Let’s solve this collaboratively” the entire relationship feels better.
Have you ever been in front of a couple arguing over who said what? If you have, you know how uncomfortable it feels.
Don’t be that couple!
Have the mind state to solve disagreements collaboratively and respectfully. Because if one partner feels like they lost, eventually you’ll both lose.
Basic tips for how to do this is to allow enough space to understand where your partner is coming from even if you don’t agree with them. Then, come up with a win-win for the disagreement even if that “win” is going to come in the future.
You can be right, or you can be married. Which one do you want?
Colorado Relationship Recovery
How can a newlywed couple deal with anxiety and frustration, and understand each other when one or both have a health condition?
When you first marry, your time should be focused on coming together as a partnership and establishing a life together. This can be challenging when one partner has a chronic health condition. The implication of how this affects couples is often not fully felt until after marriage. By then, both the individual who has the health issue and their partner can struggle with feelings of anxiety and frustration.
We often think that love will help us overcome any obstacle in a marriage. This can be true, but we must face the realities that come to bear in the relationship. Newlywed couples can mitigate obstacles arising from a partner’s health condition by using open communication, empathy, and home improvement.
Open communication is essential for couples managing through health issues. Both partners need to feel supported and trusting of the other’s feelings. Using active listening and “I” statements will aid in these discussions. These conversations will likely make both feel vulnerable, especially in a new marriage. However, these feelings are normal and can lead to improved intimacy and connection.
Having empathy allows each partner to experience each other’s emotional state and get a sense of the physical and psychological suffering that each other is experiencing. Empathy fosters compassion and can strengthen a marriage tremendously. Sharing and learning knowledge of the particular health condition for both partners can improve understanding. The partner may want to attend healthcare appointments to provide support and learn more about how to help.
Home improvement refers to making accommodations and practical changes in the household. For instance, if a partner is struggling with chronic pain, he or she may need to adjust their sleeping environment to reduce pain or install ramps for improved access. Likewise, making functional changes in the home can help newlyweds feel comfortable and secure in their space.
Newlyweds can improve their marriage despite a partner’s health conditions. When they come together and help each other through these challenges, there is an opportunity for growth and enduring love.
Rae Mazzei, Psy.D.
Health Psychologist, Teacher
Evolutions Behavioral Health Services
How can a couple detect an incipient abusive or toxic behavior, and what can they do to overcome it? (for one or both members)
In the first few months of being together, both partners are probably on their best behavior. You do your best P.R. for yourself then, selling your best self to the other. The bright shiny view!
As the newness wears off and the P.R. agents go home, your real selves—your everyday, at home, unvarnished selves—emerge. Everything still feeling good? Or are there behaviors that are surprisingly hurtful and thoughtless?
If there is frequent blaming, shaming or other devaluing words or behaviors, this is a BIG red flag. If both partners engage this way, the relationship is likely a competition, not a romance. Hard truth.
When you have been together for a while, you will know if you feel safe with your partner. If something is said or done that feels unsafe, notice. Talk it over with your partner to see if they gloss it over or are interested in your perceptions and in working through the issue. Healthy partners MUST be able to resolve difficult things fairly, demonstrating equality in the relationship.
BEWARE: Toxic people cannot be wrong. They do not tolerate equality. They will not acknowledge—or take responsibility for—their words or actions. Somehow, issues always become your fault. When you say what is bothering you, these toxic people I call Hijackals® turn the tables and point their fingers back on you. This is blameshifting. Not good!
Learning whether you can work through difficult things successfully is essential. Catch these early and get expert help to determine what can be resolved.
Emotionally abusive people refuse to be accountable. That needs to be a dealbreaker!
© Rhoberta Shaler
PhD. Relationship Crisis Consultant. Podcaster. Author.
What would you advise to do when the relatives of one of the members of the couple have too much influence in the marriage?
Triangulation in a Relationship.
Being a couple means we are a team together. It means our relationship is singular in its importance, and we protect it against outside influences or agendas. Stan Tatkin (developer of A Psychobiological Approach to Couple Therapy) refers to this as a “Couple Bubble.” WeConcile calls this “We-ness.” Regardless, sometimes a partner has ties to another person, often a relative or past relationship, that infringes upon the sanctity of their current relationship.
This situation usually causes frustration, pain, or conflict within the couple. It also causes the ‘pushed out’ partner to feel emotionally unsafe. We need to know that we come first and that what we need is honored by our partners. Our dearest hope is to be cherished, not second to another relationship.
Often the ‘outside’ party doesn’t want to let go of their ‘special’ relationship or influence. And the enmeshed partner can’t seem to disappoint or release them.
This type of triangulation indicates that the partner and outside party are not differentiated. It means they are underdeveloped in terms of being able to stand up and say, “I am me. I can make my own choices. I don’t have to protect someone else’s needs at my partner’s expense.” This issue often indicates a need for personal therapy or other therapeutic help.
If you want a long-term relationship, can you imagine living in this situation for the foreseeable future? Likely, resentment will arise and begin to erode an already compromised situation.
If you are a newlywed or considering moving in with your partner, resolve this issue first. Act and set a boundary. Tell your partner that you are sorry that they need to put another person ahead of your relationship, but this is not what you want. Suggest they get some help. If they are unwilling, you may have to pick your future happiness over this relationship.
LMFT & Founder
What would you advise a newlywed couple for a long-lasting and satisfying marriage?
I’ve been a divorce lawyer for over twenty-five years and married (mostly happily) for over thirty. The advice I (frequently) provide new couples on how to remain happily married is both extremely simple and extremely hard: Be kind.
Marriages endure their inevitable tough patches due to the sheer stubbornness of the participants involved. However, marriages thrive on kindness. Kindness is giving one’s spouse one’s full attention when one’s spouse seeks attention—even if the attention is merely to determine whether a matter is urgent and suggest a time when one might be able to better focus on one’s spouse’s request. Kindness is accepting one’s spouse as he or she is while supporting his or her efforts to become a better version of what he or she hopes to become. Kindness is accepting that one’s spouse might have different goals and tastes and that these goals and tastes are valid even if one doesn’t share them.
Living with other human beings in close quarters while sharing myriad aspects of one’s life is certain to test one’s patience. Yet it is astounding that folks who would rarely talk harshly to their children, treat their children with contempt, or minimize their children’s hopes and dreams, have little problem showering their spouse with contempt. Such folks are capable of being kind—they are kind to their children—but simply won’t make the effort to be kind to their spouse. They often find themselves in my office (or find me representing their spouse).
Yes, life is exhausting, humans are frustrating, and the demands on our attention are relentless. It’s hard to be kind. But a kind spouse is a blessing and an unkind spouse is dispiriting. Be kind.
P.C. Attorney at Law
What is love language in a relationship and how can you know your partner’s love language?
Every day, my husband Ryan makes the bed. He’s never liked doing it, but when I see our freshly made bed, I know that he did it because he loves me. Because my love language is “acts of service.”
The concept of a love language is simple but can make all the difference in a relationship. Whether we realize it or not, we all have unique preferences in how we want to be shown love and affection. Pioneered by Dr. Gary Chapman, the author of the popular book, The Five Love Languages, suggests that the five love languages are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, receiving gifts, and acts of service.
While each of these has its place in a relationship, you likely prioritize one over another. For me, whenever I see Ryan making the bed, it means far more to me than if he had complimented me or even surprised me with breakfast from my favorite bakery. Once you know your love language and that of your partner, you can optimize how you show your love for each other.
After utilizing love languages within not just my marriage, but with my friends, family, and coworkers, it becomes easy identifying what they are. To get started, I recommend either reading the book or taking a free quiz online which emails you the results (https://5lovelanguages.com/quizzes/love-language).
Personally, we like to take the quiz every year because our love languages change over time as our lives change. Before the pandemic, we both needed a lot of quality time, but now that we work from home together, our love languages have shifted toward other things.
Ryan and Alex Duo Life
What advice would you give to a newlywed couple under 20?
The early stages of a relationship are fun and exciting. As you begin your life together, there are a few things I would encourage you to keep in mind.
- Continue to date each other every day. This looks like flirting, regularly checking in, and taking time to have fun together.
- Continue to make time for each other. Just because you are married and live together doesn’t mean your time will always be quality. In fact, you might find your time together is less quality than when you had less time together because you take it for granted.
- Continue to work on your relationship. Your relationship doesn’t hit perfection the moment you say, “I do”. There will always be something you can work to improve. And if you stop working on your relationship, it will eventually deteriorate because you are not putting in the effort.
- Continue to grow together. Set goals as a couple and work towards those goals as a couple. Set your own individual goals, share them with each other, and figure out how you can support each other in achieving your goals. As you learn and grow individually, share with each other so you can learn and grow together instead of growing apart.
In conclusion, as you work to make your marriage a priority every day and take time to connect with each other on a personal level, our love will grow and your marriage will become stronger and your relationship will be long-lasting.
Certified Family Life Educator
A Prioritized Marriage
What advice would you give to a newlywed couple to make their relationship endure if one or both members were married before?
Marriage is often a mixed bag of trials and triumphs, bickering and shared laughter, milestones worth celebrating and disappointments that eat away at you, wet towels and loud burps, messy buns and unshaven bodies; not essentially the sunny and rosy happily-ever-after it is painted out to be. The complexity of this bond augments manifold when either one or both partners have been married before.
This is, perhaps, why second marriages have a higher divorce rate. That said, statistics and numbers shouldn’t govern how you choose to live your life. If you have met that special someone who seems to be just the person you have been waiting for all along and you can’t wait to spend the rest of your life with them, by all means, take the plunge, without letting cynicism about the future cast its shadow over your bond.
At the same time, it helps to be mindful of the potential complications that you may have to contend with in such a relationship, such as:
- Baggage of the previous marriage
- Clashes between children from the first marriage (in the case of blended families)
- Insecurities about money and financial security
- Involvement of exes in life
To make sure that these issues don’t turn into triggers for conflict, first and foremost, the partner/s who has been married in the past must work through the emotional trauma of that relationship failing before taking the plunge. Once married, honest, transparent, and consistent communication is key to making the relationship work.
Whatever issues crop up along the way – be it unmet expectations, insecurities about the past/future, or clashes with the spouse’s family – lay it all on the table, without bottling up your feelings or resorting to unhealthy coping mechanisms like passive aggression. In addition to this, here are some other things you can practice to make sure your union is happy and fulfilling:
- Set boundaries early on.
- Set realistic expectations and state them clearly.
- Avoid drawing parallels between your past and current marriage.
- Take cognizance of patterns that may have contributed to the failure of your first marriage and make a conscious effort to steer clear of them.
- Be flexible and accommodative of your partner’s needs, wants, and desires.
- Learn to celebrate your differences.
Not giving up on the hope of building your happily-ever-after with your new partner and consistently working toward turning that hope into reality is the essence of success. Hold on to it steadfastly.
What are some common warning signs of a toxic relationship with your partner and how to avoid having these behaviors?
A few common warning signs that your relationship may be heading towards the land of toxicity would be things like….
- There is a theme of “push and pull” when it comes to sharing emotional experiences. Said differently, when you share something emotional with your partner you notice that they tend to pull away or when you tend to refrain from sharing things that are emotional (because they haven’t been met with kindness), they tend to come towards you. You can’t seem to connect with them emotionally.
- When you express something that was upsetting to you and they quickly dismiss it or focus on “solving” it rather than leaning into your pain and hurt and being curious.
- Isolating you from your friend group and always having something negative to say about your friends and why they don’t want to hang out with them.
- They don’t have many (if any) close friends whom they’ve known for longer than 1-2 years.
While this list isn’t exhaustive by any means, it is representative of some of the more common situations I see in my counseling office with folks who are in toxic relationships. The single most important thing you can do right now is to take stock of your relationship.
Are there area’s that you feel mystified by, you can’t seem to pinpoint what it is that is going on? Are there things you choose not to share with your closest friends for fear of how they will react (they just don’t “get it?”)? When we can slow down and begin to identify things that are helpful and working for us in our relationship and conversely, things that are not serving or honoring ourselves, we can begin to make change.
Do the brave thing and honor yourself (and your relationship) by naming things that are working and things that are not. If your partner chooses not to hold those pieces with kindness and compassion, it may be time to engage in some couples counseling as a next step in your journey.
Sunshine City Counseling
What would you advise a newlywed couple to keep the honeymoon going?
Sometimes marriage sucks.
It really does. You’re individuals who have decided to always be together and at times it is really annoying that you are so different in some ways. Make sure you each have space to just be you and remember to hang out with other people. You are not an island.
“Never go to bed angry.” Bullshit.
Two people who are tired and already upset are not going to make good decisions. They are going to be unreasonable, nonsensical, and cranky. Go to bed, wake up recharged, and figure it out like two well-rested grown ups.
You will change and your spouse will change.
People change, it’s sometimes scary, but you’ll live and get used to it. Just because he/she decides to take up yoga/go vegan/become a cheese maker/become a power lifter doesn’t mean they are some other person. They’re evolving. Don’t let it divide you — evolve together.
“Two becoming one.” No.
You are not becoming one entity, you’re not welded together, you’re not one part of a ball and chain. You are two people who even on bad days choose to stay with that person, because even on the bad days you’d rather be there with them than with anyone else. You know that the bad will pass, you’ll take it on as a team, and kick the bad’s ass.
In my previous point I say you’ll get through the bad, but don’t become so totally infatuated that you ignore your own well being. We all have bad days where we yell too much or get a little crazy, yes, but don’t become a victim.
Please name a few activities newlywed couples can do at home to spend quality time together and strengthen their bond.
The newlywed stage is one of the most exciting and fun times in the journey of a couple. It is the time when the feelings are high, the desire flows and you just can’t get enough of each other. So, actually, in this period of the relationship, there is a plethora of things you can do together at home, but what matters the most is that you spend quality time together – just the two of you.
Use this time to bond together by talking about meaningful topics, like your future plans, mutual interests, likes, and dislikes. Sure, if you are married then you think you might already know everything about each other, but you might be surprised how often that is not the case.
You can also taste new foods (maybe try preparing something together), start watching a new TV show together, and have a home date night by dressing up fancy.
Also, a great option is to play a relationship card game (check out this and other great items we have, at our online store) that will introduce you to many new ideas and activities in a safe and fun environment.
And last, but not least, the newlywed period is a fantastic time to have a lot of fun under the sheets. During this time couples usually are more open to experimenting, so use this opportunity to find out the things you both enjoy.
And most importantly – cherish and enjoy this time as much as you can!
What are five ways to keep the ‘newlyweds’-spark alive further in the relationship?
The newlywed spark is the initial burst of excitement and energy that comes with getting married. It’s that feeling of being on top of the world and being so in love that you can’t imagine anything ever going wrong. It’s a time when everything feels new and fresh and you can’t wait to spend the rest of your life with your spouse.
However, the newlywed spark won’t magically last by itself forever; life gets in the way!
Maintaining the spark is something both people in the relationship will need to work at. The goal is to nurture that spark into a roaring fire that will and keep your marriage strong even in hardest of times and coldest of winter’s nights.
Here are some tips to keep the newlywed spark alive:
- Make time for each other. In the midst of work, kids, and other obligations, it can be easy to let your relationship take a backseat. But it’s so very important to make time for each other, even if it’s just for an hour each day, connecting over a meal. Whether you have a weekly date night or just carve out time to talk each evening, consistent quality time is crucial to keeping the spark alive.
- Be as thoughtful as when you were dating. Little things mean a lot in a relationship. Whether it’s a surprise gift, a heartfelt card, or just a random act of kindness, small thoughtful gestures go such a long way in making your partner feel loved and appreciated. Our favourite; leave a random love note for your partner to let them know you’re thinking about them!
- Be intimate. Both physically and emotionally. Physical intimacy is important in keeping the spark alive, but so is emotional intimacy! Share your thoughts and feelings with each other, and be open and honest. Developing emotional intimacy means you’re able to listen to understand, not respond. Physical intimacy means understanding your partner’s likes and needs and trying new things together. In a recent Couply survey; 90% of people wanted to try new things in the bedroom, but only 50% felt like they could discuss this with their partner!
- Talk to each other. The quality of your relationship rests on the quality of your communication. Talk about your day, your thoughts, and your feelings. Keep each other updated and in the loop. But also, ask each other new questions and explore new things about each other. Stay curious about your partner!
- Keep things fresh. It’s easy to get into a rut, especially in a long-term relationship. But it’s important to keep things fresh and exciting. Trying new things together really helps with this. It could be a new hobby, a challenge you both commit to (with a reward!) or just planning a relaxing weekend away together! It’s so important to find new things to explore together as a couple.
If this is interesting to you in Couply we’ve helped 250,000 people build a better relationship using personality quizzes that unlock personalized relationship advice, unique daily questions and weekly date ideas all tailored to your relationship.
How can feeling distanced from your partner be avoided if one or both work long shifts?
It can be challenging to create intimacy if your partner or both of you work long shifts. I mean, who has much energy when they come home after long hours at work? The first thing your spouse will want to do is relax and enjoy what little time he has to himself, right? I completely understand, and I’m sure you do too, even if there is a secret wish for more time together.
In case you didn’t know, intimacy and vulnerability go hand in hand. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings with your spouse, especially if you miss him! Just remember to do so without criticism or defensiveness. Nothing will kill your connection faster than making your spouse feel wrong or bad for providing for the family. Instead, put your attention on the outcome you want. If you’re lonely, try saying “I would love to spend time together tonight watching our favorite show!”
Physical touch is powerful and can help to create a deeper bond with your significant other. There is a reason why a hug feels amazing during times of stress! Incorporate small acts of physical touch throughout the day, even if it is just a gentle stroke on the back as you pass by. Try a lingering kiss goodbye in the morning or holding hands when you talk. When you engage in these activities your brain releases oxytocin, which is a feel good hormone! And who doesn’t want to feel good when around their partner?
Did you know expressing gratitude at least once a day will deepen your connection? Gratitude can turn an average relationship into a lifelong romance! So, don’t be reluctant to thank your partner for anything, including small acts that you feel are shared responsibilities anyway – like washing the dishes, taking out the trash or picking up the dry cleaning. Think about it, who would be doing these things if your partner didn’t? Doesn’t that deserve a simple thank you?
New York Times Best Selling Author & Relationship Coach
What is the first thing you would recommend a couple to do right after they get back from their honeymoon?
Write and send out all of their thank you notes. it doesn’t even have to pertain to a gift, but for guests to receive a hand written note after having traveled or spent the weekend celebrating is such a special treat. Plus if you put it off, it’s harder to get done, and we don’t want to see the art of the thank you note disappear.
Owner & Creative Director
Tara Guérard Soirée
What are the most common ways couples manage the expenses and home finances when living together?
When it comes to combining finances, what is important is the communication between a couple rather than what accounts they have. While one person may do the actual bill paying, it is essential that both people are involved in all financial decisions, including budgeting. The first step as a couple is to agree on shared goals. Goals could be as simple as getting out of debt or as complex as retiring to another country. The key is to be on the same page. With your goals in hand, the next step is to work together on a budget that gets you there. As a couple, you need to agree on the budget and should have weekly budget meetings to make sure you are on track.
Working together on budgeting is a way to keep improving your communication around finances. Make sure both people actively participate in the budget creation and weekly meetings. To keep it simple, set a rule that you both need to make at least one change to the budget, and don’t accept ‘Its OK’ from either of you.
PhD, CFP® & Founder
What would you advise a newlywed couple to do to start saving for their retirement?
When it comes to financial planning for retirement, newlyweds have a lot to consider. Here are some tips to help you get started:
- Figure out what you both want. Do you want to retire early? Do you want to travel the world? Or do you just want to be able to live comfortably in your golden years? Knowing what you are both working for will help you make the right decisions as your marriage grows.
- Talk about money. It may not be the most romantic thing to talk about, but newlyweds need to be on the same page regarding finances. Figure out how much each of you earns, how much debt you have, what your spending habits are, and what your money personalities are. Knowing how each of you thinks about money at your core will make your retirement planning and other money discussions much easier.
- Start saving now. The sooner you start saving for retirement, the better off you’ll be. Even if you can only save a little bit each month (seriously, even if it is only $5), it will add up over time. Have your bank auto-transfer this money to your savings account every day you get paid!
- Make a plan. Retirement planning can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Newlyweds should sit down and create a retirement plan that outlines their goals and how they will achieve them. This plan will be revised as needed, but it’s a good starting point.
As you can see, newlyweds have a lot to think about when it comes to financial planning for retirement. But by following these tips, you can get started on the right foot.
Taylor Kovar (CFP®)
The Money Couple
How can a marriage stay stable when going through a financial problems season?
I met with a couple last week who are fighting all the time and unhappy with their marriage. The husband has even suggested they get a divorce. What is one of the main subjects they fight about? Money.
The husband has been secretly gambling online and lost their $6,000 savings. No big deal to him. They can get it back, he said. It is a big deal for his wife though, and not just because of the deception and lying, but because she hates living paycheck-to-paycheck like they’re having to do now.
Finances are one of top reasons for conflict in marriages, as well as a cause of many unhealthy coping choices, such as over working, drinking too much, cheating, even gambling.
As a marriage counselor for 20 years, and one who’s also a financial counselor, I can tell you that most couples don’t seek help for problems they have in their marriage around money. If they do seek help, it will be because “we don’t communicate” or “he’s drinking too much,” not finances.
So, if you’re going through a period of having problems around finances in your relationship, what should you do?
Here are 5 places to start:
- Work on developing healthy and regular communication. This one is crucial, but also hard to do on your own. It’s even harder to do when you’re already in this stressful place. So, do like the couple above did and find help.
- Create a spending plan. Yes, a spending plan, not a budget. No one likes a budget. But deciding how you’ll spend what you have is much more appealing, and what the goal really is anyway.
- Set some boundaries. These will be unique to every couple. But think about where you each need to set some limits. For instance, the couple above needs to limit his access to online gambling sites.
- Address any problem behaviors.
- Get help. Many people get help with financial planning for retirement, but not financial counseling for daily money management. Help is available to learn better money management, but also on how to talk about it and deal with the strong feelings that comes with it.
Dr. Kurt Smith
Guy Stuff Counseling
What advice would you give newlywed couples to plan their first holidays together as a married couple (without killing each other)?
So you’re newly married! Congratulations! What a crazy, wonderful time this is. You’re probably still on cloud nine from the wedding (we don’t blame you), but now it’s time to start planning your first vacation together as a married couple. Vacation planning can be daunting, especially when you’re trying to please both yourself and your new spouse, but never fear! Keep reading for our top tips on how to plan the perfect first vacation as a married couple… without killing each other in the process.
Tip #1: Talk, talk, talk… then talk some more
The first step in planning any vacation is communication. You need to sit down with your spouse and discuss what kind of trip you both want to take. Discuss things like how much you’re willing to spend, what kind of activities you both want to do, and what your ideal vacation schedule looks like. This will help ensure that you’re both on the same page from the start and will make it easier to come to a consensus later on.
Tip #2: Set a budget—and stick to it
Once you’ve got an idea of the kind of trip you want to take, it’s time to start talking money. Vacations can be expensive, so it’s important to set a budget before you start booking anything. This will help prevent any arguments down the line about money being spent on unnecessary things. By being diligent about sticking to your budget, you can avoid any financial arguments during or after your trip.
Tip #3: Make a list of must-dos
Is there somewhere you’ve always wanted to go? An activity you’ve been dying to try? Now’s your chance! Sit down together and make a list of all the things you want to do on this trip. This will help narrow down your options and make sure you’re both happy with the final destination.
Tip #4: Don’t forget about logistics
Do you like to plan everything out in advance or do you prefer to wing it? Are you comfortable doing it all on your own, or prefer the sense of security of having a professional travel advisor walking you through every step? Understanding each other’s travel styles will save you a lot of anxiety during the trip!
Tip #5: Do Your Research
Once you know what kind of vacation you want to take, it’s time to start doing your research, making deposits, and confirming reservations. Make sure to do it with enough anticipation. Top resorts, cheap flights, and popular activities book really fast. Trust me, I work in the industry!
Just because you’re married now doesn’t mean that planning a vacation is any less work—in fact, it might even be more challenging now that you have to consider your spouse’s needs and preferences. However, if you approach the task with a sense of adventure and fun, you’ll be sure to have an amazing time on your first vacation as a married couple. Use these tips to help you plan the perfect getaway without driving each other crazy in the process. Bon Voyage!
What is the recommended time frame for a newlywed couple to start having kids?
Taking the big leap from being a couple, to engagement to marriage can be such an exciting time! Each new step as a couple can be an exhilarating time. Each new step is an adventure to learn and explore your partner in the newness of your marriage.
Like most major life decisions, it’s vital for newlyweds to first communicate their desires and intentions about raising a family before they get started! Taking the leap into parenthood, brings not only a new life into the world, but a completely new dynamic into the marriage.
As a newlywed couple, you’re tackling what can seem to be minor feats like combining spaces, finances, and responsibilities. These are important steps that can take time to adjust to. The most important piece to adding yet another major piece to the marital puzzle is deciding when to bring a little person into the world and make your two-some into a full-fledged family.
Before considering how soon to have a baby, it’s vital to the longevity of the marriage to maintain good communication. As newlyweds, you’ll want to make sure that you’re able to affectively communicate your individual needs safely with your partner, not triggering major conflict. Conflict is an ongoing source of contention for couples, so you’ll want to make sure that you and your partner have the skills to manage issues as they arise.
Parenthood comes with its own unique struggles, like who’s taking the night shift and if mom chooses to breastfeed, how can dad/non-breastfeeding parent participate and help mom with feedings throughout the day? It’s natural for mom to assume all the immediate needs of the baby but where can your partner help? There’s now laundry for 3 and more dishes to wash each night.
Sleep deprivation is a huge factor in becoming a new parent that tends to get swept under the rug and can become a major issue in relationships. Losing out on sleep will affect your overall mood, which can trickle down to how you communicate with your spouse.
To sum it up, be sure that your relationship can withstand change and conflict affectively to know when the right time is to introduce a new life into your family. Newlyweds or seasoned couples should be able to communicate their respective
needs without fear of retaliation or unnecessary conflict. Having a baby is no small act. It’s a lifetime commitment that requires both parents be actively engaged and are willing to make sacrifices. Parenting is hard work, and it genuinely takes a village. It’s not a decision to enter lightly, so proceed with caution – someone else’s life depends on it.
Nicole Davis (Supervised By: Latrice McNeal, M.A., LPC-S)
How can couples help each other to cope with post-wedding blues?
Planning a wedding can be a bonding experience for a couple. Together, they dream and visualize the day they will celebrate and honor their love for each other. They spend months or years planning for their big day.
Post-wedding blues can impact couples because they don’t have a huge event to look forward to. Upon the return of their regular schedule after the wedding, some couples feel as though something is missing or that there is nothing to look forward to, hence post-wedding blues.
Below are some ideas for overcoming those post-wedding bluesy feelings:
- Find sweet ways to show each other you love each other throughout the week. For example, leave your partner a love note in a random place. This feels good to both the giver and the receiver.
- Get involved in a shared hobby. If you both like to dance, take a weekly dance class together, or if you both like softball, join a team.
- Grow your family by four feet. Perhaps you have more time and energy to get a pet now that the wedding is over. Pouring over a furbaby together is a wonderful bonding experience.
- Be adventurous. Pick a novel experience and get involved in planning and preparing to try something new together.
- Celebrate each other’s wins. Make sure you take an interest in the other’s life and make time to honor when your partner accomplishes something professionally or personally.
My name is Lauran Hahn, I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Orlando, Florida. I’m also the owner of Mindful Living Counseling Orlando, a trauma and anxiety healing center, where we focus on helping people heal from trauma, anxiety, and toxic relationships.
Lauran Hahn, LMHC (FL MH 15246)
Mindful Living Counseling Orlando