Tips & Tricks

Handling the adjustments to newlywed life together.

There is a lot to love about being married. So many more things, I believe, than any husband or wife could even fully recognize—let alone count. It’s just a lovely way to live your life.

But marriage isn’t about easy or simple or hassle-free. It’s about commitment, partnership, and permanence. None of those are easy things to offer, and when it’s unfamiliar, it can be tough to wrangle a new way of life.

Erik and I were the first in our close circles of friends to marry, and among the firsts in our immediate families—so there have been a lot of adjustments requiring inexpert maneuvering and limited advice from peers. Based on that experience, the list below is a slightly unconventional look at the hard parts of being a newlywed.

If you’re a fiancée, fiancé, or newlywed, I hope you consider giving this a read. And if you love a newlywed (or a pair of them), it might give you some insight into the not-so-warm-or-fuzzy stuff, too.

  • Traditions.

Every holiday you’ve ever experienced has had a familiar cadence. But a new marriage means new traditions. And, unfortunately, starting new ones means breaking old ones.

That means Thanksgiving, Easter, and every event in between is going to be different. Own that. Longstanding traditions from two distinct histories are just hard to navigate. For some, that means one side of the family will opt for something new, and you can’t adhere because of conflicts with the other side. For others, it means you’ll have to be brave, offer to host, and start some traditions of your own. For everyone, it means respecting your in-laws’ and your spouse’s feelings, balancing that with your own family, and being true to yourself, too.

Amidst the madness, remember that your collective family is different post-wedding. Two have become one. Do everyone justice by being as accommodating as possible, but also by acknowledging the necessary change in your new beginning.

  • Distance.

This one’s a doozy. Sure, getting married means moving out and, possibly, moving away. But it’s almost worse to feel the emotional distance that a new life inevitably creates.

You cannot see your friends, your siblings, or your parents as much as you once did—no matter how much you tell yourself otherwise. Your spouse is your sole partner and, naturally, they deserve the majority of your time. That’s the way it should be.

Nevertheless, it’s never right to break away from the family that’s raised you and known you from birth. Work hard to help your relationships grow and evolve, and prevent them from suffering. Involve your spouse when you can. Give your friends and family the love they deserve. It takes practice, but find new ways to stay in touch—and never hesitate to reach out. It’s different, but it doesn’t have to be bad. Remember that, and commit to it.

  • Finances.

I am a firm believer in fully sharing finances with your spouse. It’s practical, it’s an act of trust, and it’s another way to commit yourself to your marriage. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t stressful.

Money is among the most frequent drivers of divorce. But if you ask me, it’s rarely about the money. It’s about learning to share, be selfless, and stay sensible.

Do yourself a favor and tackle this from the beginning. Practice full disclosure. Agree to a large purchase threshold (at what dollar amount should any purchase be discussed before it’s made?) and stick to it. At the heart of it all, recognize that when you spend money as a married woman or man, you’re not just spending your own—you’re spending your spouse’s.

  • Pride.

Arrogance, stubbornness, and self-absorption—the three themes of pride—are a problem in any relationship. But, while a good marriage naturally propagates the positives of your partnership, the close proximity of wedded life simply makes it easier to see the negatives.

Everything in life is relevant to you as a couple. It’s not about you, them, who’s better, or who’s right. You spend your time together, endure every discomfort, and share everything. It is essential for you to let go of shame, because shame makes us closed off, pig-headed, and selfish—making pride a defense mechanism for it. Your marriage is a safe space, so allow yourself and your spouse to let go and level with one another in all things.

Additionally, most arguments are worsened (if not caused) by pride. If you know your spouse deeply and you’re properly prepared for marriage, the disagreements themselves aren’t what break your heart—it’s the way you fight over them. Give your spouse the respect they deserve. Make an effort to think before you speak, give 100% (because marriage is 100/100, not 50/50), understand there is no winning, and forgive readily.

  • Compromise.

Everyone says compromise is key, but it’s easy to forget how hard compromise can be until you’re in the middle of a disagreement. Sure, you both get some of what you want. But no one gets everything they want. After a few decades of individual living, that can be hard to swallow.

Your routine, pastimes, home, diet, and household duties won’t be everything you want them to be. It goes without saying that you must accept that. But I’d suggest you start liking it that way, too.

Logistically, choose to live your life as if your spouse needs you to do everything you physically can for them. They should do the same. That’s marriage. There’s no “meet in the middle” or “come halfway”—husband and wife must each give their all. Accept that, and you’ll be happier with what you give and receive. And for the non-logistics? Try new things. Be selfless. When you do it your spouse’s way, learn something about them. Take an interest and have conversations you haven’t had before. If you and your spouse do this for each other, neither of you will lose. You’ll each maintain your own interests, share them with the other, and learn to love some new pastimes. It’s a great way to continuously grow as individuals and as a couple, and the openness to new things will help you avoid a rut.

My young marriage isn’t perfect, and Erik and I still struggle with all of that tough stuff. But I am striving to be a better wife, and he’s striving to be a better husband. And we have our whole lives to get there.

Marriage Commitment

Favorite (and not-so-favorite) Deets of Getting Wedding-Ready

My husband and I dated for exactly eight years before we said “I do.” We attended the same preschool, grade school, middle school, and high school, and started dating at freshman homecoming. We attended different colleges, but stayed steadfastly together. After graduation, Erik got a job almost immediately. I found one a few months later.

The same week I started my career, he proposed. He took me fishing at a small pond near my dad’s house—a favorite pastime of ours. The weather wasn’t ideal, and the fish weren’t biting. He convinced me I needed to change my lure, so he switched it for me.

When he turned around and dangled the line in front of me, all I could see was something sparkly. For several seconds, I had no clue what I was looking at. And then he was on one knee, and I saw it:

Engagement Ring

By then, we were thrilled to finally take the leap. Both of us felt entirely committed to the other, and we ached to make it whole. We didn’t feel a hint of fear; nothing about marriage gave us anything but joy.

We set a date for seven months later. The timeframe was tight, but we couldn’t wait another year for the fall wedding we’d always wanted. So that was that.

Honestly, I think there’s very little is fun in the logistics of planning any kind of large event—even if it’s a wedding. I don’t know if I would’ve said that before I did it, but there’s no arguing with me now.

We had a fairly conservative budget (by the modern wedding’s unreal standards), and we wanted to make the most of it—which, ultimately, meant we had to do almost everything ourselves.

I am not an organized person. Some brides-to-be have three-ring binders with labels and color-coded paper ordered by chronological relevance. Not me. I had a poorly sorted inbox and a few handwritten notes floating between my desk at work, my purse, and my bedroom. Yikes.

I didn’t mean to be that way. At the beginning, I tried. I got a wedding planning app for my phone, which told me when and how to do what. I scrolled through the to-do lists. For a little while, I updated it: I added the info for our church, our priest, our date, and the wedding colors. The basics.

Then I got freaked out looking at that long to-do list every day, and I stopped. I told myself I didn’t need it and, naively, I believed it.

Turns out it’s harder than you think.

I won’t bore you with all the details, but here’s a list of simple tips for the bride-to-be. They’re broken down into highlights and struggles.


  • Picking the little details. Flowers, the wedding party’s attire, and the little decorative details are so much of the fun. They make it your wedding.
  • Working with your husband-to-be. Don’t let him get lost in the shuffle—or avoid it. It should be fun to work with him. Like nothing else you’ve ever done, this is a project you two must accomplish together. Consider it practice for the years ahead.
  • Finding the dress that sings to you. Pick the one that makes you feel as beautiful as your fiancé knows you are. Bring the most important women in your life and share the moment, but don’t let them decide for you. And don’t bring your fiancé. There’s nothing like a first look at the altar on your wedding day. Cherish that. Protect it.
  • Bringing your dreams to life—humbly. Don’t settle, but find joy in what’s within reach. That means avoiding materialism. Ultimately, your wedding is about the way you begin your married life. “Things” don’t make that special. Focus on making this precious time with your new husband and your favorite people jubilant. Obsessing over the tangible will taint that, and it doesn’t set a good precedent for the shared life ahead.
  • Counting down the days. Each step in planning—even the annoying phone calls with vendors and the difficult conversations about who you can invite—brings you closer to your marriage. There’s no greater motivation. Hold onto it. Keep it in your sights.
  • Preparing for your marriage. A wedding is simply a stepping stone to something much bigger: a whole, permanent, and loving marriage. Catholic marriage isn’t just a new chapter—it’s sacramental. This “intimate community of life and love” is “a partnership of the whole of life,” and it’s not to be taken lightly (CCC 1602 & 1603). The Church helps you sit down with your fiancé and prepare, together, for the life you’ll share. If you complete that work with a genuine spirit, you’ll be thankful for it when the tough stuff arises later.


  • Husbands and wives aren’t perfect. Neither are weddings. As soon as you accept that, you’ll be happier. The prep is stressful, but allow yourself to let go on the big day. The people who love you won’t care if your dress gets a little muddy after the photo shoot, or if you don’t have an open bar. Free yourself to enjoy and share the day.
  • Everyone has an opinion. Take your loved ones’ feedback to heart, and respect the wisdom of your elders. But don’t let their preferences cloud your judgment—or your wedding dress, menu, or guest list.
  • Ask for help. You can make the decisions that matter and not have to do everything by yourself. Erik and I handmade our invitations, favors, centerpieces—everything. It was fun, but it was hard work. At one point, I had to talk to vendors on the phone almost every day. We could’ve shared the load. Everyone offers to help. I should’ve been humble and patient enough to take it.
  • Weddings are beginnings, but they’re also endings. Life isn’t the same after you get married. Understand that that’s okay, because it should be profoundly different. But you can commit yourself to wedded bliss and stay accountable to your friends and family, too. You’re starting your own family unit; the healthiest ones lean on and lift up the same supporters they had before the wedding, as well as each other.
  • Butterflies. As I mentioned, my husband and I weren’t nervous about getting married. But minutes before I walked down the aisle, my stomach was all aflutter. Most of us aren’t used to being in the spotlight. Quick fix: above all, keep your focus on your soon-to-be husband. Everyone’s there to celebrate you, him, and the love and life you now share. Let their joy chase your butterflies away.

Plenty of things went awry on my wedding day. To name my favorites, we forgot to make programs for the Mass, and a few speedy family members had to rescue us during my dad’s toast because we didn’t have toasting flutes or champagne in front of us.

But you know what? I’ll always remember it as a perfect day—unequivocally the best of my life. And you will, too. So relax, prepare calmly, and, when the big day comes, don’t let a single minute pass unappreciated.