I spent some time with my siblings and their families this Thanksgiving. In addition to sharing our lives and reminiscing our childhood memories, I learned that my niece Tiffany and her boyfriend are planning for their wedding next year. While I rejoice with them about this new and exciting chapter, I also know how challenging it could be at times to merge two lives into one. They inspired me to write this “transitioning from a single to a married life” blogpost.
Getting married is a huge step in life, and it represents your commitment to that significant other of yours. Every married person hopes to live “happily ever after” on her/his wedding day, but it’s simply a fairy tale if happiness at all times is expected. Bumps are guaranteed, and learning, adjustments and compromises will be required for a successful marriage. Yet, with the right expectations, mindset, attitudes, and action, marriage can be beautiful and is worth every ups and downs for the rest of your lives.
Let me present a few important topics for you and your spouse to discuss either before or throughout different stages of your marriage. None of these below is a point of contention when you are single and only accountable to your own feelings, goals, and satisfactions. On the contrary, when you’re committed to sharing your entire self with someone you love for the rest of your life, these important topics need to be talked about and even agreed-upon between the both of you as one newly formed entity: ONE married couple.
Here we go:
Adapting to the newness
I heard many times before I got married that couples could easily get into arguments because of their differences; it could be as small as how they squeeze toothpaste differently. Surprised? Don’t be. Each of us is raised differently which shapes the way we interact, behave and value things. Therefore, acknowledging, adjusting and sometimes compromising on these differences become necessary, and they must be done with gentleness, understanding and patience.
Making a new home together
When my husband and I moved into our first home, we not only brought our own truckloads of belongings, but also brought our own sense of esthetics and style. How we worked through purging and combining our belongings and made a new home for this new life together was definitely a learning process for the both of us.
Open, honest, sincere, calm, and two-way communication is the key ingredient for a fulfilling marriage. You want to be heard, and you also want to hear what the other person is saying. When my husband and I did a major house remodeling project a long while ago, before we kicked off the construction, our contractor Freddy emphasized the importance of good communication in a marriage. He told us he’d seen too many couples go separate ways during major home remodels because of their poor communication and lack of listening skills and patience toward each other. Freddy advised us not to insist on personal taste and style, but focus on building a fulfilling marriage for each other.
We all know how money can ruin anything, so it’s necessary to face this inevitable issue clearly and openly. From holding joint VS. individual accounts, to spending habits, to investment strategies, from saving for a vacation to buying a home, and from day-to-day budgeting to setting up a retirement fund, sharing the same financial goals will not only strengthen your relationship but also create a harmonious life together.
Baby talk matters
Having agreement on kids or not, or having how many kids could be another major topic in a marriage. How you raise your kids, may it be about education, values, or beliefs, contributes to a healthy and happy family!
Shared hobbies, interests, and visions
Developing shared hobbies and interests is crucial for bonding. A shared vision on your life goals will bring you and your spouse much stronger together and propel you both forward while stay united. My husband and I share many similar interests; we like making new friends by playing pickleball, we often host dinner parties with close and new friends, and whenever we can, we support each other and volunteer together. Our shared interests not only bring us joy, but also a greater purpose for our marriage.
“Me” time and boundary
While doing things together is good for bonding in a marriage, it is equally crucial to regularly have your own time, space, hobbies, and friendships. In moderation, the idea of “distance creates beauty” surely works wonders in a marriage as well.
Disagreement or conflict is inevitable in a marriage. The key is not about avoiding it, rather, it’s to learn about each other, accept different thoughts and views, and eventually and peacefully find a common ground and solutions.
Someone told me that she loved her spouse with everything she’s had, but her husband didn’t feel loved at all. They were both tired and drifting apart. It turned out they have different love languages, and she used her own, instead of her spouse’s languages, to love him. Deposit your spouse’s love language into his/her love bank account will make your marriage stronger. Check out Dr. Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages.
A weekly date night
A 93-year-old friend, Bob, who was married to his sweetheart for over seven decades once shared with my husband and I that “having a weekly date night” was one of the most important elements that kept their marriage strong through the years. Putting aside the chores, work, kids and the overall busyness of life and spending time alone will bring the focus back to each other and continue to flame your passion and commitment for each other. Take that extra effort to de-noise and slow down for the person you love one evening every week, and it will do you wonders especially in this fast-paced technological era we live in.
Seeking advice and help
Like what I told my niece Tiffany, marriage is not a journey she needs to figure everything out between the two of them. Just because you are married doesn’t mean you know what it takes to be a good spouse to your other half in your unique context. Reach out to people whom you trust, who’s been there and done that, and done that well. Inviting someone to come alongside you and your spouse to share the good and tough times transparently and vulnerably will go a long way. As soon as you look and ask around, you will be amazed at how many loving couples with experiences are willing to be your support partners.
Mindset and commitment
Having the right mindset and commitment to each other is another success factor to a happy marriage. The mindset of embracing change and growing together is crucial, the commitment to always work things/conflicts out even when you aren’t fond of what’s happening, hear and love each other even when you feel irritated is what will build long-lasting strength to your marriage. Commit to never calling it quit when facing challenges or experiencing bumps, open to compromise, always give more than you take, and always serve each other even when the other person isn’t too likable at the moment, and you will get through it and see your marriage being up-leveled again and again.
Whether it’s anniversary, birthday, conflict resolution or “just because,” celebration is a fabulous way to reflect on your journey, cherish each other, and look forward to the future together. There are many ways to celebrate, and be creative, do it lavishly or inexpensively as you wish, as long as you slow down and celebrate in each other’s presence.
Transitioning from a single to married life involves lots of mixed emotions and decisions, and it could be overwhelming to many. Yes, the new chapter of your life may require you to make change and adjustments; however, with the right mindset, preparation beforehand, and on-going communication, marriage is one of the few most beautiful, fulfilling and rewarding journeys in life you can take. I wish you live happily ever after, just as how I sent the same wish to my niece Tiffany.
About Faye Weng
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Faye Weng is an expert life and career coach who works with clients to take back control of their lives by rediscovering their passions, living/working with a clear purpose, and becoming people who can positively impact the communities around them. As your life and career coach, Faye will help you minimize noises and distractions, focus your effort and attention on the right things, execute a clear plan of action, and celebrate alongside of you when each milestone is reached. Click here to book a complimentary session.