You’re Officially Married! What Happens Now?

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You’ve exchanged vows, cut the cake, and danced the night away. That means it’s official—you’re married! Congratulations! Whether you’re the one who put a ring on it or the one who adopted a new last name, you’re now part of the newlywed club. It’s exciting, right?

But when the wedding bells are fading, it’s more important than ever to recognize that life is going to look a little different than it did when you were single—or even when you were dating. Marriage is fun and challenging and provides plenty of opportunities for you both to grow as individuals and as a team.

And one of the best pieces of advice you can hear in this season is this: Remember that you are newlyweds.

It sounds like information you can just discard, but think about it. You may be living in an apartment that’s decorated with the same furniture you had in college. You probably don’t have a huge savings account or investment portfolio. And chances are you haven’t reached the pinnacle of success in your career quite yet.

And that’s okay.

When you get married, you may start to feel like you suddenly need to have it all—or have it all together. You may feel pressured to buy a big fancy house with that classic white picket fence. Or to have children that always look like they came straight out of a fashion catalogue. Or to buy that fancy sports car with the customized name plate.

Okay . . . maybe not everyone thinks newlywed life is like that.

But there is definitely a social pressure to look, act and be a certain way once you get married. Whether they realize it or not, a lot of young couples subconsciously compare themselves to their parents after they tie the knot.

Here’s the thing, though: Your parents are decades ahead of you—in their faith, finances and more. For instance, it simply isn’t realistic to expect you can afford the same house on the same street when you’re 20 that you can afford when you’re 50.

Hear this once more—that’s okay!

Related: 7 Money Tips for Newlyweds

Just because you’re not there now doesn’t mean you won’t get there. And it isn’t an excuse to keep you from setting goals and working toward a bright future. But if you’re newly married, one of the greatest things you can do is cut yourself a little slack. You’re going to start out lower on the totem pole than your parents and probably even some of the other married couples around you. So don’t feel like you have to compare yourself to other people—especially straight out of the gate.

Instead, enjoy this season. Embrace it. Recognize that you’re going to have ups and downs. There may be some pointless arguments and bickering, but there are also going to be a lot of sweet moments, new memories and plenty of laughter.

And when (not if) you feel the urge to compare yourselves to the people around or ahead of you, do this instead:

1. Figure out what it is about their life that you like.

Stop for a moment and pinpoint what it is, specifically, that you admire about their life. Is it their career? The way they handle their finances? Something to do with their faith?

2. Make a goal.

Once you identify what it is you admire about other people, write it down. Discuss it with your spouse. Is it something you both want for your future? If it is, decide to make it a goal for your marriage.

Related: 3 Tips for Soon-to-Be-Newlyweds

3. Make a plan for how to get there.

What steps do you need to take in order to make the goal a reality? For example, if you want to be debt-free like your friends, make a plan to get out of debt. Breaking the big goal down into bite-size pieces will give you momentum.

Most importantly, be patient—and pray. You won’t reach your goals overnight. If you want to buy your dream home, you probably need to save for a few years. If you want to develop the same spiritual maturity as your parents, you may need to make a habit of reading your Bible daily, volunteering in your church, or going on mission trips.

So quit the comparisons. Instead, dream with your new spouse about what you want your lives to look like and make a plan for how to get there. And don’t forget to enjoy the journey while you’re at it. You’re newlyweds, after all!

marriage | @ChrisBrownOnAir