I had a few requests lately for advice on the first year of marriage. Today we have a guest post from Annette Babich. In her 24 years of planning weddings, Annette Babich has learned that her job is less about the logistics of the big day and more about caretaking and therapy. She has seen the good, the bad and the ugly and has developed relationships with her clients, giving her unique insight into both before and after the “I do’s.” Annette has learned that there is little awareness about the realities of marriage. In her experience, much of the focus seems to be on getting married and not much attention placed on staying happily married.
Advice for The First Year of Marriage: 5 Things I Wish I Knew
I’m a wedding planner, and for over 20 years have flawlessly planned and organized hundreds of weddings. The wedding planning process is often stressful but for the most part a lot of fun as dreams and ideas become reality.
I’ve always thought that there is so much attention and information out there on getting you to the wedding day, but not much is said about what happens after you get married. After all isn’t that what it is all about? No one tells you “how to be married”.
The same thought and attention you put into planning your wedding day should be put into your planning your happily ever after. In fact, it will take even greater thought and attention. According to my father, who was married to my mother for 51 years before passing away the day after their 51st anniversary, it takes patience.
I’ve seen many couples get married. Some are still married. Some divorced after a number of years and some married for just six months. I was in a marriage for 10 years, divorced, and now in a new relationship where all of my observations on “how to be married” come into play:
- Share your finances – I list this as number one because money issues are the number cause of divorce. Don’t wait till you’re married to develop budgets, talk about savings, and make financial plans. Talk about this now! Be transparent! Do you have any debts? Are you both aware of each other’s spending habits? Are you living within your means? Having the money conversation is uncomfortable, however being real and working together on financial matters can save you a lot of heartache in the future.
- Work on your marriage everyday – You’ve heard time and time again about couples getting comfortable in their marriage and taking each other for granted. Marriage is hard work. Be committed! Your spouse does not have to be with you forever. Your spouse is not bound to you by unconditional love. Your spouse is not your child. In good times and even more in bad times, you have to earn each other’s love. Stop trying to be in control of the relationship and be fair. Learn to be accountable for your part of the relationship, good or bad. And learn to agree to disagree.
- It’s not all about you – Don’t just focus on yourself. What your spouse is thinking and feeling matters too. My boyfriend always says to me “it’s the little things” that he finds very special. And those little things can happen every day. Don’t get lazy in your love. You will find what you get in return is tenfold.
- Make love often – I remember listening to Dr. Ruth Westheimer on the Howard Stern Show and she said that if your partner wants to make love, and even if you don’t, you should take the time to do it. Dr. Ruth says it is 15 minutes of your time during your day and if it makes your spouse happy, why wouldn’t you want to. Make each other happy!
- Communicate – This should probably be number one on the list too but I’ll list it last as my final thought. Sometimes it is hard to communicate clearly and frustrating to both partners when they feel they are not being heard or understood. Be honest and say what’s it on your mind. Expectations cannot be met if they are never spoken. Speak up! You and your spouse are not mind readers. Don’t assume your spouse knows what you are thinking or what you are angry about. It will save you needless emotional festering.
As my father said it takes patience, if you take the time to love everyday and learn “how to be married”, you will find yourself falling in love over and over again.
Founder and CEO of Annette Babich Events, Annette has been in the Wedding Planning and Events Industry since 1992. Her expertise and network of partnerships have successfully planned and executed events across a wide range of industries from high-profile weddings to the financial sectors, consumer markets and non-profits.
Annette has served on the Board of Directors of the Long Island Music Hall of Fame and was the Long Island Chapter Leader of the Association of Bridal Consultants. She is a member of the International Special Events Society and National Association of Female Executives. Annette Babich is a graduate of New York University Stern School of Business where she has returned as Adjunct Professor and has taught “The Art of Wedding Planning” and “Special Events Management”.