“I do,” we did... now what?
Invitations, decorations and congratulations. Dresses, tuxes and kisses. Planning, dreaming and vowing.
A wedding is a lot of work and when it’s over, once the dress is off, the much-sprayed hair is taken down, and the dancing shoes are removed, you may wonder: what do we do now?
With no plans to focus on, sometimes people look up and realize that it’s just the two of them. No distractions, no preoccupations, no seating chart, just two people who have agreed to live together as man and wife. Forever.
How to keep the spark alive? There are nearly as many ways as there were details to arrange for the Big Day. Here are my top 9 tips...
1. Treat it like a living, breathing thing
Think of your relationship as a third entity of energy that sits between the two of you as if a child or a pet. Check in with it—how does it feel between you? What are you noticing that you might like to voice? Some relationships feel very playful, others serious. It’s your job as the new guardian of this union to notice what is happening in the space between you and address it. If it feels tense and like there are things not being said, you’re probably right and your relationship will be served by bringing it up in a gentle way.
2. Keep exploring your own interests
You joined your lives but you’re still individuals, and continuing to honour your separate interests will add energy to your relationship and ensure that you both continue to be the very best versions of yourselves for each other.
This may sound redundant, given the wedding that just took place, but it bears emphasis. Decide how you would like to proceed as a team and then honour the baby steps it will take to get you there. This is the nitty-gritty of the vows, where you get a little more specific about what it means to commit to a life together where you both get to thrive and grow. For example, if you have identified career goals or a wish to travel the world together, work together to break these plans into manageable pieces together.
4. Get comfortable with being uncomfortable
It is in the moments when we are outside of our comfort zone that we grow the most, so look for opportunities to work together and work through the differences you find. One couple I spoke with made a commitment to travel far and wide before they started a family together, and in doing so they worked through challenges they could never have imagined, together. These experiences helped them be amazing parents together.
5. Talk about sex
I always tell couples that if you’re on the same page about how much sex you’re having, then there isn’t a problem, but if there’s a mismatch in this at all, it can lead to some tension. So talk about it before you don’t really want to. I know a couple who has been married for almost 35 years and they both credit their success (at least, partially) with agreeing to have sex once each week, no matter what. It forced them to be in that intimate space together even when they were tired and didn’t necessarily feel like it. It kept them together.
6. Build strong habits
We know that strong and successful marriages are built with small acts of commitment, performed often. This means you are kind to each other, accept influence from each other, express mutual fondness and admiration, and make a point of spending time together each week. If you build these habits early, before there is more responsibility and less time, it will serve you well.
7. Seek out support
I like to say that coaching for a relationship is the secret proactive weapon of success. If you walked into your kitchen and found a fire, would you patiently wait for the fire alarm to go off before attempting to douse the flames? Most conflict in relationships is unspoken for an average of seven years, and by then, it can be too late to address the issue. The perfect time to work on your relationship is when you’re “fine.” From there, you can make it great so it never catches on fire, at all.
8. Don’t be afraid to stink at it
It may look like the same old relationship, especially if you lived together before marrying, but it’s a little deeper, now. You’re letting go of your old life and there may be some grief that shows up. Admit that it’s hard and that you’re struggling. Take responsibility for your actions. You’re safe.
9. And finally... celebrate!
\You made it. You married your very favourite teammate. You chose (and will choose, every day) to stand with this lovely person who hangs their towel in the bathroom next to yours and sleeps next to you at night, and that’s a great start for a life together.