by Charli Penn-Watkins
We learn as we go. Marriage works that way. No matter how painful the lessons, we appreciate the wisdom that follows them. Our marriage will turn two this year, and the other night over dinner Man and I had a great conversation about our successes and failures from year one. This is a list of some of the mistakes we made that we’ve seen or heard of other newlyweds making also. Can you relate?
Succumbing to baby pressure
“When are the babies coming?””...”You don’t want to be too old to keep up with your kids do you?””...”There’s no such thing as the “˜right time’!””...We’ve heard them all, hundreds of times “” mostly after we got married, but a few times before also. It’s been exhausting coming up with new and polite ways to say, “Please, mind your business.” My husband and I have always been very clear on why we’re choosing to wait, but I’m here to tell you, enough of this talk from your FWKs (Friends With Kids) and you’ll actually find yourselves going, “Wait”...what are we waiting on again?” Luckily, we snap out of it before we wind up on a road we’re not ready to travel, but we have seen other newly married couples catching baby fever from their FWKs and throwing their original plan out the window. Let me be clear here: Having a baby is not a mistake. But, I do believe that if you and your spouse decide to become parents because you feel like it’s what all the other adults around you are doing or because your friends and family want you to, you’re making the mistake of putting others’ needs and goals before your own, and that’s just no good.
Ignoring the money discussion
Money is the root of a lot of evil ““ this we know ““ and not discussing it properly with your new spouse can also mean the demise of the trust in your marriage, if you’re not careful. (Trust me, we’ve experienced some of this first hand.) Before the “I do”s it’s easy to justify keeping your finances separate, especially if you’re both very private people. But, when you agree to share a last name, a life, and a home, like it or not, you’re agreeing to share finances too. If you’re resistant to this idea, and you’re juggling a lot financially within your marriage, suddenly you’re using phrases like “my money” and “secret savings” and being very defensive and petty about the earnings you bring to the table. How you choose to divvy out your finances is a decision you must make together ““ I’m just suggesting you talk about it day one, not the day after you find out one of you has been stashing cash and lying about it. Those arguments are brutal, dangerous, and totally avoidable.
Comparing themselves to other couples
They have a house but you rent. They can afford a housekeeper, but you can barely afford premium cable. Your last romantic getaway was courtesy of a Groupon deal to Jamaica, and they just posted fabulous photos from their luxurious Turks and Caicos getaway. So you’re living different lives ““ who cares?! If you let what other couples have turn your eyes green, you’ll be so distracted by trying to keep up with their marriage you could lose track of your own. Enjoy your married friends; don’t envy them.
Charli Penn-Watkins is the blogger behind Man, Wife & Dog. A newlywed that’s blogging her way through all the ups and downs of marriage, Charli is also the relationships editor on Essence.com. Check her out on Twitter at @ManWifeDog.