Forget what all the cookie-cutter couples have to say and play it your way.
By Jennifer Benjamin
You made sure your wedding was enviably original, dismissed pushy advice that made zero sense to you, and have been calling all the shots. But, despite the fact that you’re doing things on your own accord, people have a funny way of making you feel like there are certain expectations that you’re supposed to live up to as newlyweds. And if you don’t buy into them, you’re not doing the whole married thing right. Well, we say forget that. Here are some so-called rules you shouldn’t think twice about ignoring.
Rule 1: You have to be Mr. and Mrs. Same Name/Same Account/Same Life
Ignore it. Maybe your friends were psyched when they finally got to use return address stickers featuring their new last name. Or dialed you after setting up a joint bank account, excited to share their “Guess what we just did?” news. Funny, but you may not be able to muster the same enthusiasm. In fact, you may be reluctant to merge your money with your spouse’s, put him or her on your mortgage, or, if you’re a woman, take his name.
So what’s wrong with you? Nothing. While other couples might strive to become a living, breathing pair of monogrammed towels, it’s natural to feel pangs over giving up some of your autonomy.
There’s no set rule on how you two should go about merging — you have to do what’s right for you, and that could mean keeping your name and maintaining your own accounts. If you’re on the fence, consider using a joint account for all your household bills, while maintaining personal checking and savings accounts for all your other expenses. Just one quick trip to the bank, and you’re done. No identity crisis necessary.
Rule 2: Once you’re married, you need to put a five-year plan into place
Ignore it. Some couples have their entire future mapped out. “We’ll probably move to the burbs by ’09, and then we’ll have to start thinking about having kids — two girls and a boy — and buttering up to preschools in the area.” Well…alrighty then. Just because some of your friends may have a master plan — including the exact month they want to conceive — doesn’t mean that you should, especially since life rarely goes according to plan anyway.
Also, so many more exciting things can happen while you’re moving from point A to point B — a career opportunity in another city (or country), inspiration to start your own business, graduate school, winning the Powerball…hey, you never know. These are real-life fantasies that Mr. and Mrs. Stick-to-the-Plan would never have the guts to indulge in. But if you have a more fluid attitude about your joint future, you absolutely can be five-year-plan-free. While their kids are standing in line at stuffy private schools, yours might be, say, running barefoot through the sand in Bali. Look who’s jealous now.
Rule 3: You need to phase out your individual friends and meet new couples
Ignore it. Why is it that as soon as you get hitched, you’re expected to be hot on the trail of other duos to befriend? You suss each other out as if you were on a first date before deciding, “Now these are people we could spend a ski weekend with.” It’s like being in high school, only with wedding bands and mortgages. And don’t kid yourselves, guys: Men do this just as much as women. You’re still the same people you were before you got married, so don’t buy into the pressure to fill some arbitrary couples quota. The individual friends you’ve had for years — the ones that were with you long before your spouse showed up — are still a big part of your lives, even if they’re in different stages than you are.
And let’s be real: After years of friendship, you have more exciting things to bond over than relationships — your careers, your trips, your hobbies, your embarrassing memories. Certainly more than you’d have to say to your coworker’s alchie spouse. True, you share one new thing in common, but come on, that’s one thing.
34% of Nesties felt pressure to change their last name when they got married.
42% of Nesties feel pressure to have a five-year plan mapped out.
43% of Nesties crave spending more time with their friends.
Rule 4: You should be spending all your free time together
Ignore it. Having quality time together is important, but you had a full life before getting hitched, and you still should now (hello, that’s why you found each other interesting in the first place). Plus, when you’re spending too much time together, there’s no opportunity to share anything new (you’ll also annoy each other to death). So make a point to schedule more nights doing your own thing or take a short vacation if the opportunity comes up. Yes, your other half will survive and — shocking revelation here — will enjoy having some space.
Rule 5: As newlyweds, you should never fight
Ignore it. You might have heard that fighting after just a few months of marriage is a bad sign, or hear people claim, “We rarely fight.” Well, any new couple that tells you that they don’t tiff here and there is full of it. The first year of marriage can be really hard, and you might even feel like you’re duking it out more than ever. So why pretend? If your spouse pissed you off, you’re more than entitled to (respectfully) go back and forth in the ring. This period is a training ground to build healthy communication skills.
35% of Nesties crave more alone time.
17% of Nesties think they fight too much to be newlyweds.