Friday, May 30, 2014

Creating Your Personal Space Once You're Married

We all need our personal space. Just because you're living together or married doesn't mean you have to do everything together either. It's healthy and important for you both to maintain your individual uniqueness while moving towards your mutual goals. Here are three ways you can create your own personal space within marriage:
1) Physical Space -  Whether it's a separate room, corner, or shelf, each of you would benefit from having your own personal physical space for some of your more meaningful possessions. Decide together where your special spots will be and what it will be used for. This shows respect, interest, and support for both of your needs.
2) Emotional Space - You and your partner may have different hobbies or interests. Going out and participating in the things you enjoy, even if it's not together, is a big part of maintaining your individuality. So if you play tennis and he plays music, support each other. See if you can schedule your hobbies around the same time, so you're both doing something enjoyable and neither of you feels left out.
3) Mental Space - We all need to clear our minds at some point or other. That means we don't always want to be around others, spouse included. It's perfectly natural to want private time and sometimes it's hard to find when you live with someone else. Discover new or easy ways to create moments where you can recharge yourself mentally and spiritually. You can choose a time when you know your partner won't be at home, take a quiet bath, or practice meditation. Let your spouse know how you plan on getting your mental space so that he understands what you're up to and doesn't interrupt the peace and calm you hope to achieve. Encourage each other to take a break from it all. Not only will it help you unwind, it will help you think and focus better in the long run.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Planning a Wedding...Together

You're marrying the man you love. He adores you and the two of you get along in every way. For that very reason, you figured planning your wedding together would be a piece of cake. But lo and behold, it's not. The two of you are fighting more than ever and can't seem to agree on the wedding day details. What's up?
For starters, try not to be alarmed. Becoming engaged and planning a wedding is highly emotional. And when emotions run high, so do stress levels. This might be the first big "test," on working together to achieve a common goal, in your relationship. And how you weather it could predict the success of future challenges you face as a couple. But don't let that scare or stress you out more. Start by taking a step back. Why are you and your fiancé getting married in the first place? Tap into the feelings and emotions that brought the two of you to the decision to get engaged. If you have a solid relationship built on mutual love and respect and share the same goals, then there's a strong foundation for your new life together. This will make it easier to get through difficult situations.
Next, learn flexibility. No matter how perfect you and your fiancé are for each other, no two people are exactly alike and you may have different opinions on wedding related matters. That means both of you must learn to compromise for the sake of each other and the wedding. Decide together what part of the wedding day details matters most to each of you and give each other the reins in that department. This takes a great deal of trust, another key component in all good relationships. If both of you like to be in control, find ways to learn to be more flexible or get outside help, if necessary.
Third, talk about it. Before you start planning your wedding, review what it is you love about each other and why you are so happy to be getting married. Then discuss how the two of you will fit wedding planning into your busy schedules. Always show respect and remember to listen. Make sure you both have a chance to communicate your ideas and concerns. If the two of you continue having trouble planning your wedding together, you may want to consult an event planner to help with the details or a counselor to help with the challenge your relationship faces.
Finally, take breaks from wedding planning. Learn to unwind together and individually. A little stress is good. It helps you move forward and get things done. Too much stress, on the other hand, is draining and unhealthy. Finding balance amid all your responsibilities is important in maintaining your health and relationship. After all, your love for each other is what this wedding day is all about.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Taking Sides

Your mother-in-law is critical of your every move. Your father is beginning to frustrate your husband with his interest in your finances. Your sister's unannounced visits is becoming intrusive and bothersome. Is it fair to ask your partner to pick a side and stand up to his family or vice versa?
An argument can be made for both sides. On the one hand, you both love your respective families, as well as each other. Asking one of you to pick a side can be unfair, especially if only one of you sees the behavior as a problem. In that case, you may have to fend for yourself and resolve the issue on your own. That doesn't mean you shouldn't let your spouse in on the plan. Let him know what's bothering you and how you plan to tackle it or what you intend on saying. This gives him a better understanding of your feelings and won't catch him off guard when his relative tells him about it.
On the other hand, sometimes presenting a united front makes a greater impression than acting on your own. If both you and your spouse are in agreement about the problem behavior and want to bring it up with the guilty party, then go for it. This works best if both of you are offended by the way family is treating or talking to the other. Remember your communication skills though. Try not to be accusatory and instead, use your "I" statements. For example, "It hurts me when you question John about his job and salary whenever you visit. He is working hard and we do the best we can."
In either case, don't set unrealistic expectations for your partner. Discuss the situation, express your feelings and decide the best way to move forward that's most comfortable for both of you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

5 Things to Consider When Making Wedding Day Decisions

As you are plan your wedding, you will come to realize that many decisions need to be made. From choosing centerpieces to inviting guests, you will likely be in charge of having a final say. But what if you have trouble in the decision making department? Indecisiveness can cause you more anxiety, which you don't need or want. So here are five ways you might be able to come to quicker conclusions:
1) Go With Your Gut- Your intuition speaks volumes. When making wedding planning decisions, always consult your gut. How you feel about or get along with others plays an important role in decision making, especially since you'll be spending a lot of time with specific wedding professionals, for example. If everything feels right, it probably is. Likewise, if something isn't clicking you may want to revisit your decision.
2) Don't Get Too Many Opinions- It might seem like a good idea to ask your friends and relatives what they think about your choice in food, venue, or dress, but sometimes soliciting opinions from too many people can make you more confused than when you started out. It's okay to ask others their thoughts, but limit it to a few trusted and supportive individuals. Make sure they are people who understand and share your wedding day dream, so they can help you accordingly.
3) Take Note of Recurrent Worries- If there is something specific that keeps worrying you or creeping into your head, pay attention. Say, for example, you can't decide if you want to hire a DJ or use a couple friends who volunteered. You think you'll just have your friends do it, but you keep wondering if a DJ would be better or more fun. If these thoughts keep hounding you, you may want to consider going with the DJ. What it costs you in extra money, it may save you in anxiety.
4) Ask the Professionals- Wedding professionals are just that...professionals. They have the experience and knowledge to give you the information you need to make better decisions. If you can't decide on something, consult a professional. Better yet, hire one, such as a wedding planner, whose job it is to help you realize your wedding day dreams and to take the guesswork out of planning.
5) Go With It- At some point, you will have to make a decision and stick with it. Once you do, learn to let it go and not worry about it further. Cross it off your list and move onto the next thing. And remember that whatever comes of the decision you make, your wedding day and the union between you and your fiance is paramount to it all.

Friday, May 16, 2014

3 Ways Newlyweds Can Start Saving

Now that you're married and all the excitement of your wedding and honeymoon has come and gone, probably too quickly, it's a good idea to begin implementing a financial savings plan. If you don't already have one, it's never too early to start. If you do, you're already adding financial security to your new lives together. I've always been interested in finances, so I've done research and spoke to advisors over the course of the years. Here are three good ways newlyweds can start putting money away for savings. Keep in mind, that this blog is intended as informational and not advice and that every couple's situation is different and would benefit from receiving financial counseling for their specific needs:
1) 401(k) or 403(b)- If you work outside of the home, look into signing up for your employer's retirement plan. For 2014, you can sock away $17,500 pre-tax dollars in a 401(k) plan. That's a huge chunk of change! And if your company matches your contributions, definitely try to put in enough to get the match. That's free money that will build up each year to serve as a pretty nest egg once you retire. Plus it grows tax deferred as long as it's in there!
2) Roth IRA- If your company doesn't offer a retirement account or you're a small business owner, consider opening a Roth Individual Retirement Account. Your annual contribution limit depends on your income and can be up to $5,500. The great thing about a Roth is that once you retire and meet the appropriate guidelines, the money you receive is tax free!
3) Emergency Fund - Most advisors would agree that having a savings account for emergency purposes is essential in your financial plan. Life is unpredictable. Think layoffs, new baby, or other unplanned expenses. It's best to be prepared...12 months prepared. Having a year's worth of salary in liquid cash set aside will keep you comfortable and less stressed out while you get back on your feet. 
If you're thinking, "I don't have that kind of money to save," don't be discouraged. The key is to start saving whatever you can. You can always add more, as you are able. Once you get in the habit of saving, you'll find it becomes easier and will enjoy seeing your new wealth accumulating together!

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

5 Ways to Beat the Bridal Blues

After all the excitement of your engagement and jumping into preparing for your big day, there may come a point where your energy and enthusiasm about wedding planning begins to wane. Feelings of stress and overwhelm may start creeping in and dampen your mood. Don't let it. Here are five things you can do to stay happy and maintain your wedding planning mojo:
1) Surround Yourself with Positive People: People who are happy, optimistic, and easygoing can rub off on you. The same is true of the opposite. Planning your wedding brings you into contact with lots of people who want to help or hear about your plans. Spend most of your time with those who are positive and support your vision and dreams. That will help keep your happy momentum going; whereas if you spend your time with negative individuals who don't necessarily see eye to eye with you, it might bring you down. This is such an exciting time; so it's important to keep happiness around you!
2) Take a Break: Don't let planning your wedding consume your life. While there is a ton to do, it's necessary for your physical and mental health, as well as your relationship with your fiancé to have down time. That means still going on dates, sans wedding stuff, and taking care of yourself by exercising, meditating or other ways that help you relax. Also don't neglect your family and friends. While this is a busy time for you, they still want to be part of your life and want you to celebrate with them as well.
3) Visualize Your Wedding Day: Surely you've heard about the power of visualization. Now it's time to put it into practice. Begin and end each day with a mental picture of the wedding you envision for you and your future spouse. Don't limit your vision to your surroundings either. Note the mood, your feelings, and other positive emotions you want to carry with you on your wedding day. Not sure how to put this into practice or need some help? Check out the Bridal Balance Guided Imagery that combines both a meditation and a visualization geared towards brides!
4) Ask for Help: As much as you might think you can do everything on your own, you don't have to. Give yourself permission to get help from capable wedding professionals or family and friends you want to work with and are willing to assist. Aside from planning your big day, you have other commitments and everyday responsibilities. Trying to tackle it all on your own is the quick route to burn out. Getting help when needed can protect you from that fate and the negative feelings that come along with it.
5) Let Go of the Need for Perfection: Very little in life is perfect. Life is full of little surprises. That's what makes it interesting and often provides you with a good story to tell. If you find yourself constantly thinking or worrying about how you can make your wedding perfect, stop. You'll just end up with a lot of pre-wedding and wedding day anxiety. It's great to prepare as best you can for everything to run smoothly, but there are so many variables that you can't control, like environment, nature, and other people. Trying to control it all wastes a lot of energy, which you can be putting towards more important things. Replace the need for perfection with peace of mind knowing that regardless of what happens on your wedding, it will be a beautiful day, celebrating the love of two people. And isn't that what this special day is all about?!

Friday, May 9, 2014

Newlywed and Newly Expecting: 5 Things You Can Do for Yourself Once You Get the Good News

You're just married and find out Junior is on the way. Before you rush out to buy the latest baby books or start furnishing the future nursery, take a moment to consider yourself and do the following:
Breathe: Whether you're excited, nervous, or both, take some time to digest the news. Much like when you got engaged, give yourselves time to enjoy the good news. Sure, you'll have tons of questions and lots to prepare for, but it's important to understand the emotions and feelings going on within you, as well. Talk to your husband and share your hopes and dreams or anxiety and fears with each other. You may not have everything figured out, but processing your pregnancy at some level will help you better deal with all the changes to come.
Get Support: All changes in life stirs up emotions. But with pregnancy, you have the added physical and hormonal changes that make you feel everything from anxious and depressed to excited and happy. You may also feel lethargic and low energy. Keep in mind that, within reason, all of these feelings are normal during this period. If you have concerns, talk to your doctor about what's going on in your body and your mind. Don't shut out your husband either. Let him in on what you are going through so he can understand and help where necessary. Roundup some supportive girlfriends too. Whether it's your mom, sister, or best friend, they may know what you're going through and can lend an ear or shoulder if you need it.
Get Away: Once baby arrives, your lives will become a bit crazy for a while, as you acclimate to your new life. So make a point to get away with your husband for a little vacation before the due date. It's good to have some quiet time for yourselves and you'll appreciate the rest, relaxation, and time with each other. Post delivery travel will be a lot different and more challenging, as well. So definitely give yourself a break now if you can.
Protect Yourself from Overwhelm: With everything going on in your life and all the changes taking place, it's easy to get overwhelmed. And while it's helpful to learn what to expect during pregnancy, don't go overboard. One good pregnancy book is enough. You don't to read them all or even read every chapter in your book. Some may seem foreign or scary to deal with and that's normal. Remember that every pregnancy is different and all the details you read may not apply to you. Make time each day to focus on yourself too and not worry about the future.
Rest, Rest, Rest: Unless you're one of those fortunate people who's baby like sleeping from the get go, you'll likely be sleep deprived for the first few months or so. Now's the time to sleep in if you can and get plenty of rest. Not only will it help you physically and mentally, the stores of energy might even help you when you need it most: after baby's born.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Being Mother-of-the-Bride

You're engaged and soon to be married. You have never been happier. Everyone around you is excited and you're energized and ready to begin planning the wedding you've always dreamed of. There is only one problem. Your mother.

You are sure she is going to want to take control over everything. After all, she has been that way for as long as you can remember. Or maybe your mother has always been the supportive type, but all of the sudden she has her own ideas and isn't as understanding as she seemed to be prior to your engagement. And if you're fortunate, maybe your mom wants you to have your wedding as you envision it and is agreeable to whatever you decide. Like all people, every bride's mother is different. Acknowledging that and understanding what's going through mom's head can help ease some of the emotional drama that comes along with planning a wedding.

Like other attitudes, needing or wanting control has it's place and reasons. It is quite common for brides to experience this with their mothers; so know that your are not alone. There are a number of explanations. Here are a few to consider:
If you and your mother had a good relationship in the past, mom might now feel as if she is "losing you." Her baby girl is moving on and out and what's left for her to hold onto, but the wedding? By grasping at ways to stay involved in your plans and life, it might give her the sense that she doesn't have to "let go" just yet. If that might be the case, talk to her about your feelings, expectations, and relationship. Give her some pointed tasks, so she knows you still need her. Also, remind her that regardless of your relationship with your soon to be husband, you'll always love her.

Another possibility is that your mother had hopes about her own wedding. She can be trying to recreate them through you or right some past wrong she may have done while planning her wedding. This is more of a delicate situation and may be better handled if brought up by a third party. Similarly, if a mother has her own emotional challenges or a controlling personality, it can be harder to deal with on your own. In these cases, mom wants everything to be perfect, may be concerned what her friends will think, or simply feels she knows what's best. Emotions run higher in these instances and trying to talk to her about it, may not get you anywhere, but more frustrated. Professional help may be warranted if you feel at your wit's end or your relationship is becoming more strained.

Finally, maybe your mother doesn't know what to feel or what her role is in your wedding. Being proactive and directive in this case helps. Give your mother a role, a job she will enjoy and that helps you. This gives her something to focus on, rather than to try and tackle it all. These are just some examples of what mothers of the bride might be thinking. There are a myriad of other possibilities too. Remember that all mothers are unique and respond differently to various situations. Use your best judgment to determine what might work best with your mother. Happy Mother's Day!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Don't Jump Into Decisions: Choose Your Party Hosts Wisely

You're recently engaged. That may mean parties are on the horizon. Whether it's an engagement party or a bridal shower, you'll be deciding who might host specific celebrations. To make the most of this exciting time, decide on what kind of parties you do or do not want. You don't need to have a special affair simply because someone asks to host it or because it's done in other circles. You and your groom can choose what works best for you.
Next, you'll determine who might play host to your decided on celebrations. One person or more may volunteer to throw you a party but that doesn't necessarily mean you should agree to it. In most cases, people who want to host a celebration for you, know you well. If that's true, it means you know them too. Before giving someone the thumbs up, think about them and their personality. Do they have a take charge personality? Would they take your ideas into consideration? Are their views in line with yours? Is this a person who you know worries a lot or has to call or text you frequently for minor issues? Is she unreliable or challenging to work with? Asking yourself some of these questions ahead of time, may save you from making a poor choice. There are always polite ways to decline someone's invitation to host or to choose someone else who you feel confident will make the experience as easy and fun as possible.
What if it's too late? What if you already agreed to someone who is now making your life more stressful. You're starting to feel annoyed by their behavior and wish you never decided on a party in the first place. You have a couple of choices. Either you can confront the person about their behavior or you can ignore it. Neither choice is easy and both are uncomfortable in different ways. If you decide to talk to your host, get some counsel ahead of time as to how to approach the topic. This will be a good lesson to remember for the future as well. It won't be the last time, people will want to give you a party. So when the same individual begs to throw you a baby shower, politely decline, and save yourself from being in another uncomfortable situation.