Friday, November 11, 2011

7 Mistakes Newlyweds Make

I’ll admit it.  I receive emails from The Nest (the “grown-up sister” website of The Knot) and sometimes I actually do read the articles.  Earlier this week I got an article for The 7 Mistakes Even the Smartest Newlyweds Make.  I found the article pretty interesting and am going to share my thoughts/our experiences on the matters.

Mistake #1: Not Dealing With Debt
Newsflash: Money is the #1 thing couples fight about. Fess up about your personal debt -- because for better or worse -- and then set up a financial game plan with our budgeter.

Fortunately, we don’t have any issues here.  We started combining our finances as soon as we moved in together (1.5 yrs before we were married).  We pretty much sat down and wrote out everything that we shared in expenses: rent, groceries, dog supplies, bills, gas, etc. From there we decided to open a joint checking account for which we each deposited a set amount every paycheck.  Whatever is left in our personal accounts after we’ve deposited in the joint account is ours to keep and spend/save as we please.

For the most part, this method has worked well for us.  I should say that I do make more than Ben does.  Ideally, since I make more, we would each into the joint account the same percent of our paycheck (so say we each put in 60% of our checks so I may put in let’s say $700 and 60% of Ben’s check is $550).  However, there is one place that we have disagreed and that’s the one and (thankfully) only debt we/I have and that’s my student loans.  A lot of people/magazines say that when you get married “my” debt should become “our” but Ben doesn’t see it that way….which is fine with me, but as I result, I put the same amount into the joint checking as he does because I have to use that difference in our pay rates (so from the example above, $150) to pay on my student loans.

The other thing I don’t like about our current finance plan is that we don’t have a joint goal for savings.  The money that is put into our joint account is spent, with a slight buffer remaining in the account every week as a cushion.  We each save separately from our “leftover” funds, but to me, there’s not as much accountability to say no, that’s savings, don’t touch it.  However, for now this whole process has been relatively smooth and works for us.  I know other couples completely combine all accounts.  So if they want to buy a gift for their husband, their husband has to either approve the amount or has access to see what amount was spent.  To us, this is too controlling.  But, ideally, each couple needs to find a method that works for them that they can abide to.

Mistake #2: Alienating Your Friends
Friends are key for a successful marriage, so tag along on those girls' nights out. Just because you're not guy-hunting doesn't mean you can't be a supportive wingwoman.

Amen! I’ve mentioned this a few times I’s just as important to spend time a part as it is together.  Sometime a person just needs some “me” time.  If Ben’s debating going out with the guys because I’m at home and he feels bad, I encourage him to go out and get that time to bond with his friends without me being there too.

Mistake #3: Not Having Enough Sex
Over 60 percent of newlyweds we surveyed were already in a sex rut! Yeah, you're busy, but that's not a good enough excuse not to get busy. Initiate sex, even if you don't feel like it or have to schedule it. If you get in the habit of having it, you'll start wanting it (and liking it) more.

No comment.  I'll keep this private.

Mistake #4: Letting Yourself Go
So you put on the "newlywed nine." Big've already found your mate, right? Wrong! Make a plan to get fit together or at least respect each other's goals.

For the most part, we’ve avoided this.  Both Ben and I really enjoy exercising and running.  I have put on some weight since the wedding, but the months prior to the wedding I had a personal trainer and was eating salad for two of my meals five days a week.  It honestly expected that I would gain some weight back and it’s only been about five pounds.  Obviously training together for a marathon helped us to keep active.

Mistake #5: Outlawing the In-Laws
Fifty percent of couples we surveyed have a problematic relationship with their in-laws (ya think?). Manage expectations, like saying you'll call on Sundays so his mom doesn't guilt-trip you for ignoring her weekday messages. Even if your spouse is bitching about his family, resist the urge to chime in. It'll bite you in the butt later.

We’re normally pretty neutral on the in-laws.  Some weeks it seems like I communicate more with Ben’s mom than my own mother via email.  Both sets of parents are respective in knowing that Ben and I need to spend time with each household and have been understanding when we try to set up plans.  Since we live three hours from our parents, it can be trying when we’re in town visiting, but at the same time it’s not an everyday occurance.

Mistake #6: Crazy Fighting
Getting hitched isn't a free pass to hit below the belt (sorry!). When you're getting really heated, walk away to cool down for a few minutes.

We really have never been bigger fighters and I really can’t remember a fight (ever) when it’s turned into a screaming match.  Like the note on the article suggests, I think both Ben and I are good are realizing when we need to take a break and sometime to cool down if we’re not agreeing on an issue.

Mistake #7: Becoming Baby-Obsessed
It's easy to fixate on that next big step, but chill out -- the average couple has a kid within three years of marriage. So really, why rush? Savor the moments (and vacations you can take!) now...when you won't have to be waking up for a brutal 4 a.m. feeding.

This is definitely not a problem for us right now.  Neither of us are in the baby mindset right now.  I think if anything, later in the future the issue may become that I think we’re ready before Ben is.  But our current plan is to start trying around age 30.  We agree that we need to be financially stable.  We’ve joked, although it makes sense, that couples in the city are on a later time track than couples in a low cost of living community simply because everything is so much more expensive.  We’re currently saving for a down payment that is about three times what my parents paid for their first house back home.  It’s crazy.  I am 100% certain that if we lived in our hometown, we would be homeowners already. So, in order to save and enjoy ourselves, nope, we are not in baby-mode by any means, more  like savings and enjoying our times together as just the two of us-mode.

And there you go; I actually think (although I’m biased) that we’re ahead of the game on these “common” mistakes.

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